The problem with Gatekeepers

The retrogaming community is for the most part a wonderful, open, welcoming place. You see people from vastly different backgrounds mixing together, enjoying their shared love for old video games and hardware.

Sadly, there is a negative element to the community. I’m talking about the self appointed guardians of retrogaming: Gatekeepers.

I’m sure most of you reading this are familiar with the idea of a Gatekeeper within the community. For those who are not, lets see if we can describe one for you.

A typical Gatekeeper

A Gatekeeper is a member of the community, usually self appointed, who likes to believe that they are the standard bearer for what the community is supposed to be. They have a rigid, limited view of what, and who more importantly, is a valid member of the scene. With a frightening regularity, these Gatekeepers tend to be middle aged, white males who exhibit some less than liberal views.

Frequent targets for their ire are female gamers. For some arcane reason known only to themselves and their like minded enablers, many Gatekeepers believe that women have no place in the retro (or even overall) gaming community. They will openly attack female gamers, streamers, etc implying that they are merely trying to “trick” males into parting with money or gifts. And they often sexualise these women whilst doing so. You will see many references to breasts, “secret” nudes, etc in their attacks. They can not grasp that there are women out there who genuinely enjoy gaming. To a Gatekeeper, any woman in the community is there to exploit men.

The problem with Gatekeepers
South Park nailed the stereotypical image of a Gatekeeper.

And add to that a refusal to accept that people can have mental health issues. A popular cry from the Gatekeepers is that their targets are just after attention, that their MH issues are fake, that it is all a part of their “trap”. If they do accept that someone has a problem, they will usually tell them to “shut up” or “deal with it”.

They will also attack anyone who attempts to engage in a discourse with them about their views. Terms such as “SJW”, “Beta Cuck”, etc. often crop up. Indeed, the Gatekeeper approach seems very tied in to the Far Right/Hard Right approach.

What can be done?

That is the real question. There are some who say we should just ignore them. Well, I’m not an advocate of that approach. Ignoring them doesn’t solve the problem the community has. It simply brushes it under the carpet. And I believe that is unacceptable. The best way, in my opinion, to deal with Gatekeepers is to keep challenging them. Make sure they are aware that their views are not wanted. Explain to them that they need to open their minds and accept that theirs is not the only, or indeed right way. And keep highlighting the issue. Don’t let the community become accepting of their bigotry. And show them that the retrogaming community is for everyone, irrespective of who they are.


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