Law & Order: SVU episode on GamerGate is every bit as bad as you'd expect

Bear in mind that the starting level of any Law & Order: SVU is somewhere around dreck and self-satire anyway. I watched three weeks of episodes in Rome last October because I could only get one channel of television in English, and it tended to run the worst of American crime-drama shows — which means that LOSVU was in heavy rotation. Therefore, I wasn’t expecting much from the show, and it didn’t disappoint.

By the time the viewer gets to the 10-minute mark in this episode, LOSVU has reduced the issues of GamerGate and undisclosed relationships between game creators and journalists covering the field to “just because Reina doesn’t have money, it means she doesn’t have talent.” There isn’t any mention of the conflict between social-change activists and gamers, nor of the lack of disclosure in gaming journalism that aligned with them. Instead, the male gamers are all dismissed as mindless and bloodthirsty chauvinists, or “slope-headed son[s]-of-a-bitch,” as the victim puts it.

On the other hand, at least Hollywood has discovered “SWATting,” even if they managed to pick the wrong kind of gaming victim:

Patrick Bissett predicted as much, based on LOSVU‘s track record:

The manner in which the writers of “Law & Order” have historically incorporated social commentary into their shows is beyond appalling. They consistently misrepresent complex social issues and pander to political and intellectual lowest common denominators. There is nothing wrong with a TV drama highlighting and making accessible important social issues. It is, however, patently clear that the makers of “Law & Order” have no interest in balanced, fair commentary and are instead focused on ensuring that their treatment of moral, legal, political, and ethical issues move in lockstep with prevailing ideas.

Ten years ago, an SVU episode entitled “Game” was aired in which kids who played violent video games were replicating virtual violence in real life. In the episode, detectives are puzzled by a strange homicide in which a sex worker is run over by a car and then beaten to death by the driver. (No points for guessing which video game was the subject of this particular program.)

The message was clear: violence in video games causes real-life violence. It was a thesis extremely prevalent among many politicians and activists at the time, most notably Jack Thompson, but it is one that now, a decade later, is viewed with widespread disdain. Numerous studies as well as a downward trend in violent crime and a corresponding uptick in game sales have shown that the idea is pure nonsense.

If NBC’s teaser is anything to go by, then the events as depicted in “Intimidation Game,” just like those depicted in “Game,” will also be completely at odds with reality.

Forbes’ Erik Kain, who has covered GamerGate with remarkable balance, is flat-out appalled:

That’s in response to the hostage video that male gamers force the main victim to make and their somewhat familiar group flag. It’s not an accident that they’re connecting GamerGate with terrorism.

Lazy Gamer’s Zoe Hawkins says it made her blood boil:

I’ve been preparing you all for the GamerGate Law and Order episode. I still held out hope that they might make it somewhat balanced or interesting for gamers. I was obviously far too naive – they butchered gamers, gaming, and made the whole thing into a cartoon caricature of good vs evil. Yeah, it was way worse than I imagined. …

I suppose it’s the nature of the show. It’s not meant to show any kind of high level debate or discussion. It’s just about pairing some cheesy plot with even cheesier writing. I just wish they could steer clear of sensitive topics if they’re going to handle them like a bull in a china shop – it doesn’t help anyone, and it isn’t even entertaining to watch. Shame on you Law & Order: SVU, and shame on you Ice-T for being involved in projects that make your fellow gamers look like a bad 90s stereotype.

“DOES HE PLAY VIDEO GAMES? WHERE DOES HE PLAY?” Even apart from the hackish treatment of GamerGate, the writing on this show is amazingly bad, and not just on this episode. They managed to exceed their usual level of stupidity, right down to the first-person shooter perspective at the climax of the confrontation.

Be sure to stick around to the end, though, to reach the final level of the LOSVU dungeon to hear Ice T say, “See, I know the difference between video games and reality.” That might be the least self-aware statement on television this year from Hollywood.

Update: Erik Kain goes into extensive detail on just how many people LOSVU insulted with this episode:

I’ve never felt so insulted after watching TV before, and not just me: the show manages to insult everybody, from the gamers it takes on to the police to women in video games and, perhaps worst of all, victims of actual sexual assault. …

One thing leads to another and pretty soon SVU has uncovered a Serious Terrorist Organization of some sorts, made up of gamers who can’t tell the difference between games and reality and want both women and social justice out of gaming. Yes, we hear this sort of thing on Twitter. Social Justice Warriors are the enemies of many in the so-called #GamerGate movement. This has yet to reach ISIS levels of terrorism outside of the inflammatory tweets of some industry insiders.

So these gamers kidnap a high profile female game developer, Raina Punjabi, during her game launch (for  her fictional Amazonian Warriors RPG, which is a non-violent game because of course women who play games don’t like violence!)

The Gamers are super high-tech. They use the “Darknet” to make sure everything they do is totally untraceable. Scary! And they post their awful videos to Redchanit which, I mean, come on people is this for real?

(Alas, and are already registered. Update: By NBC last October….)

Alas, DARKNET domains are also already taken — but not by NBC. Anyway, be sure to read the whole thing.