Ian P. Buckingham recently published a piece on the Huffington Post boasting a number of claims with no citations, and making many factually inaccurate statements about #GamerGate in an attempt to further smear the campaign that aimed to reform ethics in media journalism.
The piece is titled “Female gamers: The Moral Case and The Business Case In A Post #Gamergate World”. It was published on the Huffington Post’s U.K., branch on May 4th, 2017.
Buckingham starts with a citation-free claim, writing…
“#Gamergate was used as the cyber club with which to anonymously beat leading, outspoken women in the gaming industry.”
It wasn’t all anonymous. The hashtag was actually used by thousands of people to send millions of tweets, some of whom were actually prominent figures from television, movies, gaming and the academic field, including but not limited to former professor Christina Hoff Sommers, actors Adam Baldwin and Jonathan Daniel Brown, author Oliver Campbell, and YouTuber and prominent gaming critic TotalBiscuit. So Buckingham is factually wrong in stating it was only used “anonymously”.
Buckingham also has no citation for #GamerGate being used as a “cyber club” to “beat” leading women in the gaming industry. In fact, according to the Deepfreeze.it database, which tracks behavior and contains unethical practices by video game journalists, the majority of those with multiple breaches of ethical standards are committed by males.
Buckingham goes on to state…
“[#Gamergate] appears to be part of a long-running culture war resisting attempts to diversify the traditionally male video gaming community.”
A citation will be needed for this statement. No where in the mission statement on places like 8chan or Kotaku In Action do they state that the point of the hashtag was to resist attempts to “diversify” the gaming community. And according to New Zoo’s 2016 report, gaming is already globally diversified across various gaming platforms. According to Big Fish Games, EMEA and Asian regions are also constantly on the rise in contributing to global gaming industry revenue.
Buckingham provides no stats, links, examples or citations for his claim that #GamerGate is trying to stop gaming from globally diversifying and growing.
Nevertheless, Buckingham miscategorizes the vector of complaints from gamers, claiming that #GamerGate was re-positioned to condemn the “dumbing down of virtual reality gaming”…
“Much subsequent sleight-of-hand PR has sought to re-position Gamergate as a reactionary attempt to avoid the dumbing down of virtual-reality gaming.”
Again, there is no citation for this claim, and there are no stats or studies to back up that this was ever an issue with those using the GamerGate hashtag. In this regard, Buckingham has literally fabricated a strawman with which to attack #GamerGate… unless, of course, he can provide a source for that claim.
Buckingham then cites the misleading ESA study about male versus female gamers, writing…
“Stats, like the 2014 annual survey by the Entertainment Software Association show that nearly as many women play video games (48%) as men. Shocked? What is unsurprising is that this broader audience will challenge many assumptions and norms hitherto common in games and the groups playing them.”
It’s true that half of all gamers are women… but he doesn’t specify that the ESA was also counting casual gamers who play things like browser games, online checkers, Candy Crush, and other mobile titles like Words with Friends.
The casual market and the hardcore market are two completely disparate markets that target two completely different types of demographics. Much like the ESA, Buckingham attempts to muddy the stats to make a point, as opposed to pointing out in studies conducted by outfits like Quantic Foundry, they found that for most hardcore AAA action games and MOBAs there were less than 10% of female gamers who said they played those games out of the sample size they collected, making the percentage of male to females in the community even smaller than that.
Half of all gamers are women, but majority of them aren’t playing the games that the average male gamer plays, and it typically isn’t a $60 AAA hardcore shooter, according to every single report, study and data sample out there.
Buckingham then moves on to discuss an anecdotal experience playing as a female avatar in a game. And rounds out the piece by writing…
“I guess my primary criticism remains the commercial one. Failing to understand or do anything to cultivate the gaming experience for half the gaming population is simply stupid. Investing some of the profits the developers make back into proper game experience management to cultivate a culture of mutual respect wouldn’t be that difficult”
Ultimately, his subtext is about changing the representation and facilitation of community for games that the majority of female gamers don’t even play or even care about.
According to DeltaDNA, you have less than 10% of females playing FPS titles. And as pointed out in the Quantic Foundry piece, even though females have taken to certain MMOs like World of Warcraft, it turned out it was an outlier, along with Star Wars: The Old Republic — which was one of the only few sci-fi oriented MMOs that had 29% of survey participants admitting they played the game, even though only 11% of the female gamers in the survey admitted to liking sci-fi MMOs.
Essentially, Buckingham is arguing in favor of upending and appropriating a culture catering largely to a demographic that is made up of young male gamers; games that typically females have no interest in playing.
If companies really want to reach a broader female demographic it won’t be through making typically male-played games more effeminate.
Worse yet is that he fabricates information to attack a strawman and fails to cite any relevant data to back up his point other than a personal anecdote.
It’s this kind of unethical journalism that helped push a lot gamers into supporting #GamerGate, and writing to the FTC to help enforce ethical standards in media journalism.
(Main image courtesy of BadMK)