So if you haven’t noticed, I have avoided talking about Gamergate. One of the main reasons is I try to keep the negativity in my life as low as possible. And Gamergate is nothing but negativity in the worst way. I mean, hell, I hang out on the internet for entertainment, not to be accosted by the sad excuse for internet trolls that are trolling around in Gamergate hashtags because they can’t see beyond their own privilege.
So it dawns on me that some of you may have lived in a delightful bubble where Gamergate isn’t a thing. This is your chance to stay there or if you continue… We will traverse this rabbit hole together.
So, to make a long story short, Gamergate began when the boyfriend of an Indie game developer decided to post a very long diatribe
IT’S OVER 9000! claiming that she slept with a media journalist at Kotaku in exchange for a favorable review of her game.
The diatribe was carefully crafted and went through numerous edits before being posted online. It was purposefully written to incite the most hate and rage from its intended audience: male gamers.
And then the gaming community lost its shit.
The developer and the journalist were both bombarded with threats and harassment. The developer, in particular, received gendered threats: like threats of rape and sexual assault.
And while this, in and of itself, is disturbing, the fact is what the boyfriend (now ex-boyfriend, obviously) wrote was fabricated, at least in terms of her indiscretions.
The developer never slept with the journalist. The journalist nor anyone at Kotaku never wrote a review regarding the game in question. But once this came to light and the post removed, the harassment stopped, right?
Oh, my sweet summer child, you know nothing of how gamers on the internet work.
They doubled down and doubled down hard.
Women in the game industry pre-Gamergate already faced misogyny, but gaters took it to a whole new level. Soon multiple women were receiving death and rape threats, their families were also being targeted, and their private information (SSNs, addresses, e-mails, etc.) was being posted online for the whole world to have access to.
Still with me?
Okay, well somewhere along the line, Gamergaters started touting that their cultural movement was about ethics in games journalism.
And somehow harassing women in the game industry is going to restore these fabled lost ethics?
Yeah, didn’t make sense to me, either. Still doesn’t. But it was never really supposed to. See, the spark that ignited Gamergate was just that, a spark. The origins of the movement at its core were also those who categorically hated the “other.” They then recruited those who were terrified that the games they loved so very, very much were being ruined by feminists and women. And thus the circle jerk began.
Each group within the Gamergate conglomerate was able to hide behind the other with the phrase that quickly became its own meme: Actually, it’s about ethics in games journalism.
Actually, youtuber mrskimps at Innuendo Studios does a great job in breaking down this whole mess:
The video is so long, but so worth it as far as rhetorical analysis of Gamergate goes. One thing mrskimps gets wrong though: Gamergate isn’t dead. In fact, the group has reared its ugly head just recently at SXSW. The spectacle is being covered ad nauseam despite it only having occurred earlier this week.
The response to SXSW has been overwhelmingly in favor of not giving in to the terroristic threats. Doing so clearly gives those threatening the message that they’ve won and that marginalized people are easily silenced.
And this whole thing just shows that those behind Gamergate haven’t actually stopped harassing women, despite news coverage of the group fading up until recently.
However, they are escalating. And the tactics they use–the misuse and abuse of rhetoric: Harassment, threats of bombs, rape, and death, doxxing, etc. are working. Prominent women in the game industry have gone into hiding because they fear for their lives.
And these women are being threatened this way because… they have opinions about video games and they dare to speak out about them in a public forum.
Let that sink in.