Going into the holiday season, some have called for boycotting certain games or developers. I don’t think that this is a good idea, for a couple reasons: without media amplification, a call to boycott is probably not going to reach enough people to have a significant impact; we should use alternative means to get our message across that will be more effective – and we shouldn’t be doing anything that will hurt someone who is “undercover” in a hostile work environment but secretly supports Truth And Freedom in Gaming™ aka GamerGate.
I much prefer the “buy-cott” strategy – to spend social media bandwidth recommending certain games instead. This will have a secondary boycott effect anyway; limited budgets for entertainment mean that for every good game bought, there will be a little less cash available to flow towards the less deserving items. It will also send a clear and positive market signal: just think of how many times the book publishing industry will spawn what seems like THOUSANDS of copycats of the latest bestseller. (If you’re a gamer who doesn’t read much, be assured that this is what happens Every. Single. Time. It’s like how Hollywood keeps doing all these remakes and sequels. Only worse.) Boost the signal for what you want to see, and even Teh Evil media empires will jump on that bandwagon, because they really, really want the money.
Boycotting certain developers, on the other hand, is likely to hit people in the production crews who don’t deserve it. “Stealthing” in the entertainment media is not uncommon; I’ve overdrawn on my Internet Research Time Bank lately so I can’t send you to a specific link, but scifi/fantasy author Sarah Hoyt has talked several times on her blog about what it’s like to have to keep your beliefs closeted in order to avoid industry blacklists and shunning. The anti-GamerGate people are demonstrably in favor of blacklisting people for ideological reasons – so there may well be many allies behind that Iron Curtain of fear. We don’t want to hurt them; we want to give the indie sector enough economic power that those people can jump ship and be assured that they’ll still be able to buy food and cover rent at the end of the day. It’s one thing to say they should be brave enough to speak out, and another thing to realize that they’re probably afraid that their future careers will involve saying “do you want fries with that” if they rock their employers’ boat. Very few people have the courage to put their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor on the line like that. Let’s support the ones who’ve done so already – so we can encourage the others to do likewise!