I was watching someone play a game called Lichdom Battlemage and some form of PR person handed me that wristband. I didn’t look at it until I had walked away, but I verbalized my confusion: “what the fuck?”
I asked the PR person if you can fly in the game and she said no. What a boring game about wizards.
We’re in the midst of something called “GamerGate.” I’ve been paying attention to it, read Storifys and tweet conversations about it, and even had conversations with ‘gaters myself. I don’t know how anyone can come to a conclusion other than this one about those events: it is a longform anti-women harassment campaign cloaked in concerns about ethics in games journalism.
Today I saw that a trans* developer who was previously a supporter of the “movement” was pushed out of it by extensive transphobia from the GamerGaters themselves. I saw responses to her announcement that she was abandoning the cause that asserted that she was being too sensitive.
I wonder who decided that “synergy motherfucker” was the best way to go with this small throwaway tchotchke. I wonder who they think they’re appealing to, and who the “edge” is supposed to play heavily toward.
I have this experience a lot in “videogame culture.” The same set of questions apply to the “tell it like it is” YouTubers who recycle videogame common sense in a hyberbolic, extremist tone. I wonder about who is wearing the wristband right now or idly watching the YouTube video and nodding along.
The wristband, the YouTubers, and GamerGate share a skeletal substrate of self-righteous indignation paired with twenty years of marketing horror. They sell the values of their audience back to them as common sense packaged in edgy language. They present the standard beliefs of their audience back to that audience as truth telling, like they are speaking through some kind of cultural taboo in order to enlighten the people. In reality, it is the rhetoric of Bill O’Reilly used to shovel videogames into the screaming maw of consumers.
None of this, of course, is new. A thousand people have written this blog post before me. But if you’re going to make a wristband that embodies all of this violent garbage culture, maybe don’t do that. #badassmage or whatever.