10 Big Ethical Issues In Video Games That #GamerGate Won’t Touch

This article is not about harassing indie developers or anyone’s sex life.

Preface: #GamerGate has never been about ethics in video games journalism.
The first target of GamerGate’s harassment campaign was Zoe Quinn, an independent game developer. The hashtag was coined by TV’s Adam Baldwin, posting a link to a YouTube video called Quinnspiracy Theory: In-N-Out Edition, which included the description “Whose [sic] a guy gotta fuck around here to get some fries with this?” Their second prominent target was feminist media critic, Anita Sarkeesian—not a journalist. Their third biggest target? Brianna Wu, another independent video game developer. #GamerGate’s largest and most coordinated campaign against an actual gaming publication was over an opinion piece that they didn’t like (or read).
So far I have posted three visual rants about #GamerGate (Rant 1, Rant 2, Rant 3). And one reply to an absurd rebuttal that made my head spin. I have highlighted posts that demonstrate why #GamerGate is not about ethics, how #GamerGate has made it harder for women and minorities to talk openly about issues in the industry on social media, and have shown that even when #GamerGate comes close to identifying a valid topic for criticism—their solutions are always worse than the initial problem. (For shits and giggles, here’s their Gamer’s Bill of Rights.)
My criticism of #GamerGate has never relied on video games journalism (or the video games industry) being free from ethical issues or credible accusations of corruption. My criticism has always been about #GamerGate attempting to target vulnerable people on the fringes of the industry, using ethics as a cover. This visual rant is an attempt to go beyond #GamerGate to highlight the big issues in video games journalism and the video games industry as a whole. These are the issues that #GamerGate is entirely unqualified to deal with; issues that can’t be solved by harassing independent developers or digging into their private sex lives.
This visual rant owes a huge debt to Leigh Alexander’s List of ethical concerns in video games (partial), which inspired my very first entry to this series.

10. App stores discouraging developers who want to make games that deal with politics or sexuality.

While GamerGate was berating Steam for temporarily pulling Hatred, Apple has been restricting (far less inflamatory) speech in the App Store for years.

9. Nothing tells women, “we’re not here to speak to you,” like hosting a networking event at a strip club.

This isn’t a knock against sex workers, it’s looking at who developers are catering these professional networking and hiring events to.

8. There is often no legal recourse for a small developer if a large studio clones a game’s design wholesale.

Excerpted from the United States Copyright Office’s description of registering copyright on games.

7. Publications hungry for content, eager to pass off promotional material as news, presenting touched up renders as in-game screenshots.

This practice is so widely acknowledged that Kotaku wrote an article on how bullshots are made.

6. ‘Crunch time’ and other exploitative labor practices.

The above excerpt is from a post made in 2004, but exploitative labor practices continue in the industry to this day.

5. The use of conflict minerals and other ethical violations in the supply chain.

Nintendo recieved the lowest rank from Raise Hope For Congo’s 2012 Conflict Mineral Company Ranking.

4. Publications that brazenly accept payment for advertorial ‘sponsored reviews.’

As described in Android Headlines’ ‘App Review Service.’

3. Hiring practices that treat developers as disposable.

There are comments like this for almost every major video game developer.

2. The troubling relationship between video game developers and arms manufacturers.

To say nothing of the US Military using video games as a recruitment tool.

1. When you buy games, you don’t necessarily own them—and may not be able to play them in the future.

You would think this would be the first issue a so-called consumer revolt would address.

Bonus: The only credible person in tech who gave #GamerGate the time of day is now the target of a #GamerGate harassment campaign.

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