For the Uninitiated: GamerGate (Not According to Wikipedia)

GamerGate: was / is essentially a public row between authoritarians seeking to restrict the acceptable limits of creative expression in the name of social justice and cultural libertarians advocating integrity, freedom of speech and creative expression in entertainment mediums.

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‘Gamergaters’ are a consumer lead movement of video game players who became tired of being lied about and slandered by the gaming media and being told they are racist, sexist and transphobic when they know they are not.

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Despite what wikipedia might tell you #GamerGate was/is a rallying post and pushback against dysfunctional political correctness and has had cultural and political implications reaching much further than just the games industry.

This ‘debate’ has largely been driven by contributions from users of social media and online chat forums.  It has been dogged and, to a fair extent, defined by allegations and counter allegations of harassment which have included rape, bomb and death threats directed at high profile individuals on both sides.

Due to a combination of incompetence, bias, self interest and deference to political correctness, most mainstream media have failed to report on the wider aspects of the ‘story’ and instead have mostly framed it as a nasty, mean minded reaction to (supposed) champions of gender equality in gaming resulting in online harassment of women in the industry (predominately by anonymous male gamers who probably live in their mom’s basement apparently).

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This in itself is indicative of the increasing divide between the political and media classes and the sense of dissatisfaction and alienation that ‘ordinary people’ feel about the way they are talked down to and lied to.

Certainly part of the ‘gamergate’ story involves a debate about perceived sexism in gaming and another is about allegations of nefarious online abuse but anyone suggesting that those two elements are the whole story, or even the main story, are either being entirely disingenuous or they have been entirely misinformed.

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Both sides of the debate appear to accept that the origins of the movement date back to April 2014 and a controversy defined by GamerGater’s as the ‘Quinnspiracy’.

The Quinnspiracy:  refers to the online controversy surrounding the validity of claims made about indie game developer Zoe Quinn’s alleged affair with a number of men working in the industry, supposedly in exchange for publicity for her text-based indie game Depression Quest.

Zoe Quinn
Zoe Quinn

The scandal led to a wider debate about ethics in video game journalism generally which became amplified online in reaction to perceived media suppression of the initial scandal.  This outcome is cited as an example of the “Streisand Effect”.

The Streisand Effect: refers to the unintended consequence of further promoting information by trying to have it censored. Instead of successfully removing the information from the public, it becomes even more widely available than before as a backlash against the censorship attempt.

This lead to a co-ordinated ‘anti-gamer’ backlash from gaming journalists who published a series of  articles calling for an end to the “gamer” cultural identity and then an open letter accusing ‘gamers’ of harassment towards critics and female developers.

Many further twists, turns, allegations and counter allegations followed including the “GameJournoPros” mailing list, censorship on 4chan and doxing of Brianna Wu, not mention plenty of related hashtags such as #savepoint, #iamnotyourshield, #gameovergate, #pizzagate.

You can read more about theses developments by clicking on the picture of gamergate poster girl Vivian James:

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EYEis not a gamer and have struggled to get my head round what exactly ‘gamergate’ was all about.  What is certainly certain is that ‘misogyny and harassment by gamers’ is only a small part of a much larger and more complex story and a lot of people involved in the story clearly think that some of the perceived ‘victims’ of the piece may actually be some of the biggest trolls.

Anyway, if you want a summary that only lasts to one minute I can recommend this:

And if you really want go fully down the gamergate rabbit hole this may help:

 

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