GaymerX, a convention and support group for homosexual, lesbian and transsexual video game enthusiasts, is under fire for systematically discriminating against gay gamers on the basis of political beliefs, leaving thousands of gay gamers neglected and unrepresented.
Gay, bisexual, lesbian and trans gamers were blocked en masse on Twitter by GaymerX in the wake of the GamerGate controversy, in which a broad coalition of the gaming public complained about low standards in games journalism and rejected feminist critiques of video games.
Despite large numbers of gay, lesbian and trans gamers supporting GamerGate, GaymerX lined up behind far-Left agitators and bloggers. And gay gamers erupted in furious anger in March when microchip manufacturer Intel expressed support for GaymerX despite the conference’s rejection of “the wrong sort of homosexual.”
Critics say that GaymerX supports gay people only if they have the right political attitudes about radical feminism and if they reject the demands of the press ethics movement.
Soon after the Intel announcement, users flooded Intel and GaymerX with complaints. Many LGBT gamers were vocally upset at the decision to partner with GaymerX, an organisation that many argue has helped marginalise the same people it claims to protect.
— Tyler Valle (@TylerValleGG) March 23, 2015
— Andre Machado (@DemonEyeXGMR) March 23, 2015
— Isaiah Aurel (@IsaiahAurel) March 23, 2015
GaymerX: Everyone games! Unless you disagree with us for any reason, in any shape or form. Because then you aren’t being LGBT correctly.
— セイバー (@UsagiOjo) March 23, 2015
To get a better idea of why LGBT gamers are so angry with GaymerX, we talked to Robyn La Sueuer, a transwoman from Brighton, England. Her criticism of GaymerX’s attitude towards political diversity was scathing. “What kind of ‘inclusivity involves ignoring thousands? GaymerX are ‘inclusive’ right up until the point where you disagree with them on anything, or follow someone on Twitter who does.” Speculating on GaymerX’s reasons for blocking her, La Sueuer remarked “I’m probably the ‘wrong’ type of LGBT person”
Erin Buchanan, a bisexual gamer from British Columbia, agrees. “I’m definitely not impressed with Intel’s decision. GaymerX’s idea of a ‘safe space’ is one where they exclude a large number of very diverse LGBTQ people just for having different opinions to theirs. Using a blockbot isn’t professional on their part.”
GaymerX subscribes to the Good Game Autoblocker, a Twitter autoblocking programme which has been covered before on Breitbart. Like the Atheism Plus Block Bot, which recently faced accusations of libel, it claims to protect users from abusers and harassers. It operates on the basis of guilt-by-association; If enough users follow accounts deemed to be engaged in online harassment, the programme assumes that they are harassers as well and automatically blocks them.
The result is a flawed programme that has led to over 10,000 Twitter users being automatically blocked as ‘trolls’ and ‘harassers’ simply because of their followers. At one point, the list included a bizarre range of accounts, including the former head of IGDA Puerto Rico, feminist scholar Christina Hoff Sommers, and the official Twitter account of KFC.
There is also concern in the gaming community that the programme’s creators are using the autoblocker as a political weapon to socially isolate their critics. Recently, its developer created a new blocklist specifically to target the followers of former World of Warcraft developer Mark Kern, after the two had a disagreement. His entire list of 46,000+ followers now run the risk of being blocked by users they have never interacted with, for reasons that are still unclear.
It is possible that GaymerX simply made a mistake in signing up to this blocklist, which has been marketed as an anti-harassment and anti-trolling tool. But GaymerX’s history suggests that their decision to exclude a defined group of LGBT gamers from their Twitter feed may have been a deliberate, politically motivated act.
GaymerX has a history of involving itself in political controversies that have divided the LGBT gaming community. Tweets from Philip Jones, the exhibitor director of GaymerX, indicate a hostility towards ‘liberal cis white gay dudes’ who support the gamergate movement. Jones goes on to accuse gamergate’s LGBT supporters of supporting the harassment of women, despite being challenged on the matter by a number of female gamers. Following external pressure,GaymerX followed Jones’ lead.
liberal white cis gay dudes trying to show the gamer gate thing is a diverse movement. not cutting it for me tbh.
— philip jones (@ProBearCub) September 3, 2014
— Jessica Knight (@GoodJKnight) September 2, 2014
Whatever its organisers may feel about the issues of the day, marginalising LGBT gamers over political disagreements seems to be at odds with their group’s stated objectives. Their website talks about providing a safe, inclusive space for LGBT gamers, with its motto proudly proclaiming that ‘everyone games. However, the actions of GaymerX’s social media team suggest that not all LGBT gamers are welcome, and that some will be deliberately excluded from their online conversations on the basis of their opinions. As long as this continues, GaymerX’s claim to be inclusive of all LGBT gamers must be relentlessly interrogated.
And for good reason. As a recent post from the prolific social justice blogger Stacy Washington highlights, GaymerX have left vulnerable LGBT gamers out in the cold. In a highly emotional post, Washington recounts her experience with an LGBT abuse victim who discovered they were blocked by the organisation.
“The last few months have been hard, dealing with her own trauma and having to help take care of her girlfriend who also suffers from anxiety. This is a full time job, keeping herself well enough to keep her life together and going, and being strong for the person she loves.
“So gaming is a way to help that. Gaming and her significant other. Yet with GamerGate, even the gaming community has become a minefield. When GaymerX began using the block list and the blockbot, it was like a blow to her. And who could blame her? She was a lesbian. She was a gamer. And someone she admired had just more or less blocked her and told her she didn’t belong any longer.
“A lifetime of this, as we all know not everyone is kind to those in the LGBT community, and now told again by the same people that are supposed to accept her, she didn’t belong.”
– Stacy Washington, A Portrait of a Young Woman
GaymerX’s inability to recognise the impact their actions would have on LGBT gamers outside their inner circle is troubling. They are either suffering from a lack of understanding of the political diversity of its core audience, or a lack of empathy. Neither possibility reflects well on the organisation’s claim to speak for the LGBT community, and add to a long line of concerns about its professionalism.
Questions have been raised in the past about staff members using GaymerX to promote personal projects, and the organisation’s leading members have a habit of needlessly embroiling themselves in controversy. Last summer, its CEO was forced to apologise to the publisher NIS America after engaging in a string of public outbursts against the company due to its reconsideration of a sponsorship deal. Taken alongside their (entirely avoidable) decision to auto-block whole swathes of LGBT gamers, this is not a track record that inspires confidence.
LGBT gamers are a unique community with a unique set of issues and experiences. They are also small, and it is easy for their interests to be overlooked. It is entirely sensible that they should have their own organisation and their own networks.
And that is precisely why Intel and other businesses should think twice before engaging with GaymerX. LGBT gamers do need representation, but an organisation that demands political conformity is likely to do more harm than good. The LGBT community does not think in lock-step: some are liberals, some are conservatives, and some are libertarians.
GaymerX seems to have trouble recognising this, and have thus divided the already-small community of LGBT gamers. They deserve better.
GaymerX did not respond to repeated requests for comment.