Something has been brewing on twitter for over three weeks now, that game console makers such as Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, should be keeping an eye on, as well as game publishers such as Activision, Electronic Arts, and Ubisoft. By extension, you ad agency folks working on these brands should sit up straight, put that pumpkin latte or stanky IPA down for a moment, and take some notes. It's gonna get messy.
While a peek into the hashtag #gamergate may at casual glance look like a hive of wasps and be difficult to read without knowing fifty layers of injokes and gamer-lingo, sites like Knowyourmeme, Forbes, even Breitbart, blogs such as sparkingtruth and countless others too numerous to mention have tried to keep tabs of the events. The hubub has birthed Vivian James who is our poster-girl for this article as I am a sucker for a fellow jaded redhead with green eyes.
It's a messy story that begins in gossip I don't care to repeat, but I'll try to give you the tldr; with the vital info for us advertising people. Gamers have been accused of being rabid death-threat sexist shits, and the "gamer culture" has been wished dead and then declared dead by an onslaught of gaming sites and magazines. The not-dead-at-all gaming culture posse isn't happy at being called names, and gamers are walking away en masse from the gaming review sites, while discussing walking away from buying games in the upcoming large selling season to make a point. As far as consumer protests go you can chose to ignore it if you want, but, there's a problem when the image of the frothing at the mouth lives-in-moms-basement-and-is-a-freak gamer image is promoted by the very media that is a vehicle where you try and sell the games & consoles... We might stubbornly respawn a million times to level up, but we're not all masochists that like our faces slapped before being told what game to buy.
Here comes the part that you, dear adgrunts, need to consider. I'm sure even the new intern guy in accounts will understand this, as our job is expand market and expand market share for the brands we work on. What do you think happens to the market share when all of the media declares the consumers of games downright dangerous misogynists? People will want to step away from that. That shrinks the market. Do you want your clients to risk poor sales during the industry's peak-sales quarter? Digitimes predicts that can happen.
When the gaming media paints gamers as socially stunted, possibly mentally ill, misogynists - parents won't want to allow their children to play video games.
And that's your gateway drug into consoles & more games people. The kids start out with angry bird and sesame street flash games, work their way up to happy Nintendo handhelds and at some point the parental unit invests in a console that can play their Golf and whatever the kids are into. The parental unit will not do that if the parental unit thinks this is a quick road into a real Grand Theft Auto or basement dwelling socially stunted lifestyle for the kids, now will they?
So here's your chance, Nintendo - makers of all the colorful bouncy games and snappy consoles. Microsoft, who make Xbox. Sony who gave us Playstation and all of the games publishers who give us FIFA games, Madden NFL , Destiny, HALO, NBA 2K15, WoW, Gran Turismo, Tekken, Pro-skater and thousands upon thousands of other titles. Step up, connect with your consumer who isn't a basement dwelling sexist shit just because they happen to chill out playing video games once in a while. It's gaming journalism that's dying, this is an opportunity for advertising that so often speaks highly of connecting with consumers in new and interesting ways on social media and in branded entertainment to actually do that for once. Hurry up before the market shrinks as uptight parents hunker down, hiding from what is fast becoming the Dungeons and Dragons scary urban legend hype of the 80s.
Full disclosure: As you might already know, Dabitch was the name used when I toured Duke Nukem 3D and that was what fit in the character-box. You may have met me in networked games back then, and Unreal Tournaments later. My Playstation's buttons wore out on Tekken, all of the Tombraiders, Resident Evil (even as tofu) and Silent hill. I've spent 18 years pointing out sexism in advertising on this website and much longer sending headshots into my friends and co-workers avatars, though these days I try to stealth all the way through CounterSpy. I'm a gamer, and I am not your shield.
Addendum Saturday Sept 20, 19:30 Swedish time: This article is being read by a lot of gamers who are not familiar with me, or this site so here's a quick intro - The site Adland has existed since 1996, and I am ranked #6 in "the world's most influentual bloggers" by Brand Republic, and on the top 22 list at Business Insider. The following articles will give more info on me: Adweek, Maine Today, Economic Times India, and oh I have received death threats over this sites content so that cherry was popped years ago. The only reason Dabitch isn't my legal name is because it's an actual family name and Swedish naming laws do not allow random non-relations to take a family name. Ask Deeped Niclas Strandh, he knows about it.
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#Gamergate OP deleted from Github the official reply to "why?"