In light of recent developments in the comic, gamer, and cosplay worlds, I’m doing a series of entries about “fake fans” and how established fandoms treat newcomers, women, and minorities. This entry is the Gamer Edition, wherein I focus on the gaming community. You can read the companion Comics Edition here.
How do you decide if someone is unworthy to be part of your fandom? How do you label someone a poser, a noob, or a fake? Whom do you invite into a fandom and why? Whom do you reject and why? What are the criteria to go from noob to knowledge-master? How does someone graduate from being a “fake geek girl/boy” or “fake fan” into a “true fan”? Is such a thing even possible?
I’m not sure if I want to write this entry. I’m not sure if it’s safe for me to write this entry. In the wake of #GamerGate, it’s become more obvious how dangerous it can be to be a woman online and have opinions. Especially if you are a woman involved in games, and particularly if you have some level of popularity. Granted, my profile is no where near as high as the targets of GamerGate, but the very fact that I’m nervous about posting this also makes me mad. I shouldn’t be afraid to have an opinion, provided I try to express it respectfully.
If you don’t know what GamerGate is, I’ve provided links below to various journals, news articles, and individual blogs that talk a lot more about it. To summarize, GamerGate is the outpouring of misogyny in the gaming world that people tend to ignore, disregard, or minimize. It is the systematic anonymous attempt to destroy women in gaming, be they game developers, journalists, critics, or just outspoken fans. This hate has spewed forth in a fashion that cannot be covered up or explained away (although lord knows that GamerGate tried.)