This is very simple. The video games industry should be and must be a safe and inclusive place for every participant, regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnic or social background. This is includes developers, publishers, journalists, anyone working within the games industry and extends all the way to players themselves.
Bullying, harassment, abuse and threats of any kind are never acceptable.
The recent campaign of hate, abuse and threats against several prominent female developers and a great many more journalists, editors and bloggers is purely and simply a hate campaign. Despite the protestations of ethics within the games media, the amorphous network of gamergate proponents are simply using these concerns as a smokescreen for an ongoing process of intimidation and bullying.
The failure of the games industry as a whole to condemn this movement has provided tacit, if inadvertent support for those behind the campaign, while leaving those who are actually working within the industry and subject to abuse, isolated and without any apparent ‘official’ support.
This cannot continue. The global games industry has struggled for years to be taken seriously. For games to be treated as a viable cultural medium. For the audience to be seen as more than angry, isolated young men. For the industry to be seen as a professional, credible and creative sector, which is driving the future of interactive media, new technologies, new devices and an ever larger and more diverse audience.
The inaction of the wider games industry has left a vacuum into which the Gamergate group has appeared. A group with an actual agenda, albeit one driven by hate, fear, paranoia and spite.
We are the people who make up the industry. Whether we are developers, publishers, distributors, journalists, students, gamers, businesses, amateurs or academics.
We need to recognise and value the fact that our players feel like they’re part of the process and want to contribute to the games we love. But we need to work together to stamp out the culture of hate, abuse, casual sexism, harassment, bullying and intimidation.
It’s our industry. It’s changing fast. It can be scary. Very few developers in the world relish the idea of sticking their heads above the parapet to receive criticism and rage.
Yet many of our colleagues are facing this every day. For the crime of being female, or for calling attention to people online conducting a hate campaign. Ignoring the issue does not make it go away. This is too entrenched. Having female colleagues who as a matter of course ‘never read the comments’ because they know they’ll receive abuse. Or the acceptance of the loutish and foul behaviour in online games which ‘just happens’ is unacceptable.
This is not and never has been about the media. It’s about intimidation and enforcing an ideology through threats and fear.
It can’t go on. It cannot be allowed to go on. We, the actual games industry are going to have to deal with this issue at some point soon. Or it will be taken out of our hands and we’ll have allowed ourselves to become irrelevant.
This does not mean we need to enforce a single point of view. It does not support any ideology. Different opinions are welcome. A diverse industry is a stronger industry.
But the abuse must end.
So let’s be clear. The Scottish Games Network rejects harassment and bullying of any kind. We will not ignore or turn our back on colleagues who are abused or targeted because of their gender, sexuality, race, social background or any other inherent or acquired characteristics. We will work with the industry, public sector, government and parliament wherever and however we can to ensure a fairer, more equal and above all safe environment for every single one of our colleagues, friends and contacts worldwide.
Because the games industry is an awesome place to be. It creates incredible things and we want everyone to be able to contribute and create and share and enjoy – safely and confidently. Whoever they are.
Scotland says No.