“Gamergate” also normalized orchestrated pile-on troll attacks on anyone deemed a political enemy of the far right, which now routinely include graphically detailed and imaginative death and rape threats. “Gamergate” set forth a template for doing battle on-line that mirrored Trump’s brazen disregard for civility and benefited his rise out of the muck to power.
The over-the-top viciousness of the death and rape threats we saw aimed at Dr. Christine Blasey Ford when she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about Brett Kavanaugh attacking her in high school were perfected during “Gamergate.”
It will be interesting to see the alt-right Gamer response to Trump throwing them under the bus by going full Joe Lieberman on their asses.
Following the mass shootings in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton, Trump, the “Glorious Leader” to legions of young Gamers, made a powerful statement condemning violence “in our culture”:
“[W]e must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this, and it has to begin immediately.” (“Remarks by President Trump on the Mass Shootings in Texas and Ohio,” The White House, August 5, 2019, 10:08 AM EST) [emphasis added]
Perhaps a few Gamers marked that day on their calendars: Monday, August 5th, 10:08 in the morning, Eastern Standard Time, the “Glorious Leader” is now dead to me.
In the same speech, Trump dumped on those in the Gaming community who are constantly virtue-signaling their heroic defense of First Amendment free speech rights that sound a lot like the “social justice warriors” they despise. Said Trump:
“We must recognize that the Internet has provided a dangerous avenue to radicalize disturbed minds and perform demented acts. We must shine light on the dark recesses of the Internet, and stop mass murders before they start. . . . The perils of the Internet and social media cannot be ignored, and they will not be ignored.”
Trump chose to “go there.” He reiterated the idea that video games (as well as the “free speech” sub/-Reddits & chan message boards) are to blame for violence in society and even mass shootings. You’d think this kind of talk would piss off a great number of Gamers and alt-righters.
We all know that every serious sociological and psychological study ever done proves that games do not cause violence and certainly do not cause mass shootings. If gaming had any connection whatsoever to the prevalence of violence in American society then South Korea and Japan would be having stabbings and mass shootings every half-hour.
Trump was mimicking the old moralizing of Joe Lieberman. Lest we forget, Lieberman was once a Democratic Senator from Connecticut, and then a Democratic vice-presidential nominee, and then a “Republican” who chummed around with Lindsey Graham (and even gave a big speech at the 2008 Republican convention), and then a Trump supporter, and all along Lieberman was crusading against the “immorality” of any video game that even hinted of “violence.”
Way back in 1993, when most of today’s Gamers hadn’t been conceived yet, Lieberman was holding Senate hearingsabout trying to find ways to take their games away. On December 2, 1993, with great fanfare, then Senator Lieberman held a press conference where he stood next to the children’s TV star, Captain Kangaroo, to drive home the idea that games cause violent behavior:
“Few parents would buy these games for their kids if they really knew what was in them,” Lieberman said at a Capitol Hill news conference. . . .
Lieberman showed reporters segments of two video games, Mortal Kombat and Night Trap. . . . “We’re not talking Pac-Man or Space Invaders anymore,” Lieberman said. “We’re talking about video games that glorify violence and teach children to enjoy inflicting the most gruesome forms of cruelty imaginable.”
Lieberman and allies from both parties put the power of the federal government behind attacking games and invented an entire discourse that has never gone away. It has been trotted out every time a mass shooting takes place – all the way up to Trump’s remarks of August 5th. The N.R.A. fucking loves it.
“Hollywood and computerized games have undermined the core values of civility,” declared then Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in 1999. And as Senator from New York, Hillary Clinton introduced a bill trying to hold game designers accountable whenever a game fell into a minor’s hands. (One can only imagine what the response from Gamer trolls would be had Hillary Clinton said the exact same thing Trump said on August 5th. Ooh-Wee!)
Blaming video games for mass shootings has been a bipartisan blood sport for decades. And now Trump added to this tired trope. Trump dissed his legions of fans among the gaming community to protect the precious N.R.A.
Given that Gamers have been fighting against government and industry censorship ever since Tipper Gore and her parents’ brigade first targeted games in the 1980s, I wonder what they think about Trump parroting those same talking points? Are they cool with it? They don’t think Trump’s words will have any consequences? Really? It looks like Gamers vs. the N.R.A. to me.
By blaming video games, Trump killed two birds with one stone: He shielded the N.R.A. once again from criticism following mass shootings; and tried to help his reelection bid by saying stuff that might fly well with white suburban moms who have been abandoning the GOP.
In many ways, Gamers and their allies inside the “alt-right” Internet universe invented Trump. After “Gamergate” in 2014, they paved the way for Trump’s rise to power. They utilized their undeniable skills at meme-making and shit-posting on the sub-Reddits and the chans, which enabled smart propagandists like Steve Bannon over at Breibart to giddily vacuum up free content for political gain.
And this is how Trump repays them? Blaming games for the mass shootings? The fact that Tipper Gore or Lieberman’s ideas could ever pass through the lips of the “Glorious Leader” should give pause to every Trump-loving Gamer.
As with everything Republican it comes down to one thing…who has bought their allegiance…….$$$CHA-CING$$$
On one hand we have a bunch of slackers, living in their parent’s basements, who contribute nothing to society or the Republican party…..on the other hand, a well funded group of slackers, who contribute nothing to society while living in their well stocked bunkers, contributing millions to Republican coffers….
….it isn’t rocket science to determine who will get the support and who will be thrown under the bus.
Good observation – I wonder if any Trump-loving Gamer will figure out they got played
I never got into computer games. I’m old enough to have been entering young adulthood when Pong & Space Invaders came along & both pissed me off because no matter how well you played if you had quick reactions & great small motor skills the game wouldn’t let you win – it would just speed up and/or overwhelm you & there was no way to win Pac Man seemed pretty stupid to me and more of the same. So, as more sophisticated stuff came out after personal computers started to be produced I didn’t spend time or money on them. Some people did and have enjoyed the stuff. To each their own although I understand some of the games got pretty disgusting in their “goals.” Not all, but some.
As for their effect, I have to say the violence & other stuff in some games and its link to acting out always seemed like a tenuous connection and research has born this out. For those screaming about it I’d like to remind them that I grew up on Captain Kangagroo, but also cartoons of the era as well. Bugs Bunny and its characters had an awful lot of violence, as did other cartoons where characters got “killed” in spectacular ways or had things happen to them even a young kid would know would kill someone/something yet the character was left just seeming stupid and/or dejected at failing to “foil” their opponent. It wasn’t just limited to cartoons btw.
I’ve never understood why but The Three Stooges was immensely popular as both a TV show and even movie versions. The things those guys would do would in real life cause serious injury at best and often would in real life be fatal! Like cartoons everyone knew it wasn’t real, and while there was the rare incident like Charles Whitman killing those people at the University of TX rare is the operative word.
What changed wasn’t the advent of video games or I believe more graphic violence in movies. No, I think it was a combination of three things. First, the NRA went from being primarily an organization that promoted gun safety and education on use of firearms that also pushed gun rights into primarily a gun rights group that strongly advocated more guns & more people carrying guns. Second, they pushed more people acquiring certain guns that were suited to mass shootings/murder – and they especially advocated people acquiring their very own military style assault weapons and tacitly endorsed (not openly but with the whole wink & nod bullshit) ways to make the civilian/semi auto versions fully automatic. This was in conjunction with a nationwide effort to both limit the ability of federal and state authorities to “enforce the laws we already have” AND promote/pass laws to have more and more people carrying guns out and about “just in case.” That last part is important because a separate effort not only included glorification of the concept of “jumping in and being the hero” but also promoting the govt. as an enemy ready to roll tanks through the streets and “take over” as well as promoting a paranoia about “the other.”
Add all that up and I think you can explain the steady rise of mass shootings to epidemic proportions. Lots more people have lots more guns & not just guns that were designed primarily for hunting but rather specifically to kill other human beings – assault weapons (with after market products such as special magazines and semi-to-auto conversion kits) as well as semi-auto handguns with not only high capacity (beyond the seven rounds from the old classic M1911 .45 Army sidearm) magazines but even magazines that extended well beyond the grip of the pistol to hold twenty or thirty rounds. These guns and their accessories have nothing and I mean NOTHING to do with hunting or target/competition shooting – they are designed to and intended to kill other human beings. Combine such weapons of war/mass killing pushed aggressively into the hands of anyone who wants to buy one with a decades long political strategy of division that has gotten ramped up to new levels every time conservatives felt the need to do so and here we are.
I am NOT anti-gun. I grew up hunting and got my first shotgun (my Christmas present) when I was seven. The only reason I don’t hunt anymore is due to physical limitations. Btw, the very best week I had of deer hunting back in the day, the one I enjoyed the most and still look back with awe on what I experience I didn’t even get a deer! In fact, I missed out on a chance to get a “trophy buck” that any deer hunter would want to have. It was the experience of blending into the woods and immersing myself in nature, the journey that was what made hunting enjoyable. Meat (whether deer or waterfowl) was for the table/freezer was just a bonus. But my point is that the weapons of war/killing human beings in high numbers that the NRA and others have so fervently pushed are not the kind of firearms one would hunt game with. On the contrary. As a result while I’d object to taking everyone’s guns away, I’m fine with banning certain types and severely limiting possession of others and/or carrying them in public. After all, there is an initial part of the Second Amendment that the gun fetishists always skip – “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state;” – even Scalia noted in an otherwise appalling ruling that the government can and should be able to enact & enforce certain gun laws.
It’s long past time to start doing exactly that.
You raise many good points – thanks for reading it – I have both serious gamers & gun nuts in my extended family – I know that nothing makes gamers madder than hearing their games cause violence – & since Gamergate the gamers have been pretty much in the alt-right Trump camp – so I thought they should take seriously their Glorious Leader when he makes the same point that Lieberman makes – they despise anyone who makes that argument that Trump did – if this article lessened one gamer’s Trump love I’ll be happy.
Your post was impressive, the writing exquisite. I had no idea about the history, only vague memories of Tipper, little about Lieberman other than a man who kept going further right. I learned a lot. Thank you.
Thanks for reading it!