DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece regarding a controversial topic. Remember that it is a journal entry of its author, and not an article from the main site.
As some might remember,
I’ve touched on the topic of #GamerGate before, and I’ve been in the trenches for the biggest part of it. Unfortunately, most of the mainstream media has been painting an incredibly twisted picture of the entire movement in order to suit a pre-conceived narrative. As today’s world is neck-deep in social justice and political correctness, you can already guess that said narrative is pushing the entire blame on white, misogynistic gamers who do nothing but threaten to rape and kill all the women in the gaming industry (This is a paraphrased twitter statement; I wish I was making it up). So, as Superintendent Andrews of Fiorina “Fury” 161 would say: “This is rumor control, here are the facts.”
To go into lengths about what #GamerGate is and how it started would be a futile endeavor, although these pieces would be well suited to bring you up to speed on the ideologies that both started it and are currently fueling the flames. In addition to this, our previous article on the subject should be enough to paint an accurate picture of the most popular gaming sites and their stance on the whole issue. However, none of this reaches to the heart of the problem; the one thing that makes me, as well as thousands of others fight for the cause despite constant censorship, libel and yes, even threats. Make no mistake, this is a very personal attack by a radical group that wants to tell you that you are a horrible person for being a gamer and that you deserve all that is coming to you.
In the image below I have compiled some tweets from the following people: Anthony Burch (Leader writer for
Borderlands), Leigh Alexander (Editor-in-Chief at Gamasutra), Phil Fish (Creator of Fez), Zoe Quinn (Creator of Depression Quest) among others.
Notice that all of these people are (in varying degrees) prominent figures in the gaming and game journalism scenes. These are the people who are supposed to elevate our hobby into an art form, to not only keep us up-to-date on the happenings of the industry, but also be our face for the outside world. These are geeks and nerds just like us, loving video games above all else. So why would they use the terms “nerd” and “geek” as an insult? This is the most baffling thing about this entire thing – I am a geek and a nerd, I’m sure a lot of the people reading this are geeks and nerds as well! I’ve faced bullying and abuse as a child as a result of this but I’ve never given up on it; it’s what defines me. The word “geek” is literally the first thing that comes to mind when someone asks me to describe myself in one word. So yes, I take the insults thrown around by the people who are supposed to be my “kin” very personally, and so should you.
Make no mistake, the fact that these tweets are old does not mean this isn’t happening even now. These were just some of the “best” examples used to demonstrate my point. These insults are the prime display of just how agenda-driven these people are and how little they actually care for games. Potentially even more baffling are the people who still support these individuals and justify their abhorrent behavior as acceptable.
What the majority of anti-#GamerGate people use as the starting argument when defending their stance is the “fact” that #GamerGate is the result of harassment aimed at Zoe Quinn due to her personal sex life. They cite this as the main driving force of #GamerGate rather than the straw that broke the camel’s back, painting everything else as misogynistic as a result. Anyone who has been a part of this industry for a while will understand however that a revolt such as this was brewing for years. I’ll use the tweets shown above as an example again – that isn’t the first time that the people we “look up to” as gamers have spat in our faces and told us that we’re dirt. A pronoun in my native language (Bosnian) fits the situation perfectly, and it roughly translates to “You can do whatever you want, but not as long as you want”. Gamers are pissed, and rightfully so. Not at women “invading” our hobby (Statistics show that 48% of gamers are women) but the press and certain developers (Gearbox, I’m looking at you) treating us like rabid animals that need to be put down.
Perhaps more important is the second “argument” that you’ll hear from folks opposing #GamerGate: “It originated on 4chan so it must be bad”. It is indeed true that the majority of the movement happened on 4chan (Which is now, incidentally, censoring every mention of it, while the admin has been proven to have attended a speech by Anita Sarkeesian), and has since moved onto 8chan, which was recently pegged as a “Group of radical hater mongers too extreme for 4chan”. Meanwhile, the “able-bodied, white cis priviledge male neckbeard” who created 8chan is
this (lovingly nicknamed Hotwheels, a joke that he’s perfectly fine with). He has recently done a debate on Huffingon Post talking on behalf of #GamerGate. The video itself speaks louder than any article about the nature of the people on both sides of the debate so I strongly encourage you to check it out.
Now, I do understand that people who have never frequented any of the *chan boards do not have as thick a skin and might be baffled by some of the stuff that gets posted there but that lack of understanding causes more harm than good. For example, one often cited criticism is the overuse of “fag” on the boards. What seems like a homophobic slur at first becomes much less vile when you realize that on these sites, “fag” is a synonym for “person”, and literally everyone is a fag. The moment you accept that, all of the “gamerfag”, “artfag”, “gayfag” etc. terms suddenly seem much less sexist. The same goes for most other inside jokes and tropes found on these boards. Strip all of that away and you have yourself a quite pleasant bunch of people. Remember that these are the people who helped get
The Fine Young Capitalists funded when radical feminists tried to shut them down, and not one major gaming publication wanted to write about them at first. In addition to that 4chan greatly contributed to the occupy movement and perhaps most importantly, actually found the person who was sending threats to Anita Sarkeesian. If you want to find out more about 4chan in general, this post is an amazing resource.
Also very important to mention is the fact that it is extremely easy for a person to pose as someone else on an anonymous image board. This allows for “shills” – people who pose as #GamerGate supporters but are trying to paint it as extremist, to run rampant.
Here is an image showing a post calling for the harassment of a person opposing #GamerGate. Note the colored IDs – as of recently 8chan has added these to show which posts have been made by the same user. You’ll quickly notice that all of the “replies” to the initial post have been made by the same person trying to put the board, and the entire movement in a bad light. Here’s another thread showing Anita Sarkeesian’s personal info leaking onto the board, and the subsequent responses. The thread was deleted less than two minutes after it’s been posted.
Having mentioned personal info of Anita leaking, an extreme number of #GamerGate critics will lash out against us who do not believe that the threats made against Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian and others have been as extreme as they claim. Both have been proven countless times to have fabricated threats to draw attention to themselves. Anita claimed to have contacted the police after a particularly violent threat (there is circumstantial evidence that she made the threat herself), but subsequent investigation found no record of any call placed to her local police department. Later on there were claims that the police has in fact corroborated her claims of reporting a threat so all of this should be taken with a grain of salt. However, not a single police officer would allow her to continue tweeting immediately after her life was threatened. She’d be told to stop posting as to not aggravate the people threatening her; this is standard online harassment procedure. Not only did this not happen, the subsequent tweets by her and her supporters were generally phrased as “I am so scared, please support my Patreon and buy my game”. The takeaway from this should be that this did not play out in a single incident, this pattern could have been observed on half a dozen occasions over the past two months; these people are all known attention seekers by trade.
Now, allow me to be very clear –
#GamerGate does NOT support harassment. Neither does Gamnesia nor anyone else involved in these events. What we do support is for pathological liars (and everyone else for that matter) to show proof of very serious and very damaging claims. Unfortunately, anyone demanding this is accused of “victim blaming”, effectively resulting in the opposition being able to claim anything without fear of repercussion; something which describe with a term less than suitable for this article.
At the time of publishing this article, an anonymous poster claimed that a lot of major news sources will band together on a coordinated attack against #GamerGate in an attempt to drag the movement through the mud. An hour later, the first articles start popping up, giving the post credibility. If the post was true, then very soon we’ll be seeing anti-#GamerGate articles from a wide range of places. These include N4G, Yahoo News, The New York times and others. Thus, I implore you – think, research and do not believe everything you read online; including this article as well. I very much encourage you to go out there yourself and read up yourself. Go ahead and visit 8chan, or if that’s too outlandish to you, the Escapist forums are one of the few bastions where discussion of #GamerGate is not only active, but shows both sides of the coin.
Damir Halilović is a game developer, avid gamer and supporter of #GamerGate. He is in no way affiliated with 8chan, The Escapist or any other website mentioned in the article other than Gamnesia.