What is GamerGate?
Lately this hastag, and group, has exploded all over social media and the internet- it is known as GamerGate. Cute, somebody knows history and wants to make a play on the Water Gate scandal. This should give you a pretty good understanding of what GamerGate FIRST started as.
Between all the social media posts, the the Reddit subs, the chan channels, and everything else it’s hard for people to really understand WHAT GamerGate is. Let me try to explain what this eco-system of now-trolls and harassers is.
Originally, GamerGate announced itself to the gaming community with pretty good intentions: We’re here to stop the corruption in the gaming industry.
As an independent blogger, I’m down with that sentiment. Anyone in the gaming industry knows that many reviews put out by major gaming news sources are- more of less- bought. Did your favorite reviewer from Game Informer get a bonus from Microsoft for a favorable review on their latest shitty Halo game? Answer is: Most likely.
GamerGate came to existence in response to some very personal blog posts concerning by Zoe Quinn. Quinn released a free game called Depression Quest- turns out her free game was getting favorable reviews amongst the gaming community, and some people were –honestly- really into it. Depression Quest was sparking debates about what should be considered a video game, because of how the game played. So, Depression Quest is center stage, is attracting a ton of attention and then what happens?
One of Quinns ex-boyfriends comes out of left field, and in several very intimate (very detailed!) blog entries, tells the world that Quinn had slept with several men in the gaming industry. Essentially stating, Quinn didn’t buy favorable reviews for Depression Quest with swag or money- she bought them with her body. All to get ahead in her career.
Hence, GamerGate pops up and pretty much says: “We’re tired of false reviews, we’re tired the false ethics. Just because you’ve been bought off doesn’t mean we have been!”
Not necessarily a bad thing- when I read reviews I want truthful opinions, and when I write them, I’m giving my honest unbiased opinion of something. And I sure hope to god, it stays that way.
However, how GamerGate handled itself during this situation is where the shit show started, and their righteous campaign turned into something much more dark and sinister.
Instead of campaigning for fair and true gaming journalism, GamerGate then goes on to harass Quinn online and begins to threaten her in real life. Quinn’s personal information- home address, contact info- and even naked photos are leaked all over the internet. Quinn had to flee from her home because she began to receive multiple death and rape threats.
GamerGate, the self-proclaimed guardians of fair and true gaming journalism, did not lynch the JOURNALIST for the sexual scandal. He did not receive a fraction of harassment that Quinn did, people only wanted him fired from his job- they didn’t want him dead.
Once you get past all the death threats and the rapist comments, GamerGate, at its foundation, is a grass roots organization that tried to stop corrupt ethics in the gaming industry. Put aside the nasty behavior and they actually did manage to do something good- because they started to light fires under gaming sites asses (that tried to shut them up) they started to flood sponsors of these sites with emails of disapproval for supporting corrupt journalism; said sponsors are now pulling advertisements and funds from these site- Intel being one of them (thought they deny this). However, this does not excuse the gross and violent behavior that this movement has displayed.
Unfortunately, with all the publicity and all the band wagoners, GamerGate started to be monopolized by rapist, bigots and misogynist. I know that isn’t what the movement wasn’t originally about, and I get that- but that’s what GamerGate has BECOME.
Anyone who has tried to oppose GamerGate, particularly women, have been met with not run of the mill internet trolls but with threats would be legitimately (if said in physical contact) could land a person in jail- AND SHOULD, regardless of wherever it is said.
During this hullabaloo, Brianna Wu tweeted a few things that poked fun at GamerGate. GamerGate’s response? Death and rape threats that also drove her from her home. Shortly after Anita Sarkeesian- known for her youtuble series about women tropes in video games- posts a new video that GamerGate did not agree with. Their response? You guessed it, more death and rape threats. Voicing their opinions about the harassment of Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian; Jenn Frank, a gaming journalist, and Mattie Brice, a game designer, we’re met with the same response from GamerGate: a flood of death and rape threats. The harassment had become so severe, and frightening, that both women have publically announced they would be resigning from the industry.
All women, all opposing the violent displays of GamerGate, all threatened by GamerGate.
GamerGate is, clearly, no longer about better ethics in the gaming industry. GamerGate has proven they have no ethics themselves- it is now part of the problem in the gaming community.
I realize I’m opening myself up to same disaster that has befallen many others, but this needs to be heard because the industry- no, not the industry, the community is changing. Gaming is no longer just for the privileged, white, straight, male that the industry has catered to for far too long. The gaming community is now diverse, filled with women, and minorities who also (who could believe it!) play and enjoy video games.
But now, GamerGate has become more than just for a struggle for fair journalism in gaming- it has become, literally, the battlefield for the gaming community’s culture.
The war has been broken down into two factions: You’re either a troll, or a “social justice warrior” who just wants to play/design and enjoy your game without a death threat.
GamerGate started with the right intentions- but now, instead of trying to clean the trash out of other people’s houses, they need to look at their own organization and clean house. Better yet, abandon GamerGate all together- the movement is no longer associated with better ethics in the gaming industry, it is no longer a consumer movement, it is no longer a boycott against a corrupt industry; it is associated with bigots, rape, violence, hate, and misogyny Others have gone so far to say that if you support GamerGate, you’re supporting a group that is geared toward hate crimes. GamerGate has become the inner problem (not corrupt gaming journalism and ethics) that the community has been fighting for years: anonymous, hate filled, monsters. I feel that there is no way for this organization to get back to where it started- it now has the reputation of being one of the worst internet villains.
For those of you still part of GamerGate who really do want to make a difference in the gaming industry, and are not any of those violent morons who spew disgusting threats, I’m begging you…Leave. Abandon ship, go and make a home for yourself somewhere else where your messages for better ethics will not be mudded with terror. I hope to see you in the forums discussing topics, campaigning for what is right, and bettering our community from the gamers, to the developers, the new sources; you will have my support…As long as you’re not part of GamerGate.
It too late to save that movement, and we all know it. The “social justice warriors” you mock so openly, are clearly voicing it’s time for GamerGate to stop, and I believe it will. #StopGamerGate2014