A few months ago a disgruntled ex-lover of game developer Zoe Quinn (Depression Quest) wrote a snarky blog which included 5 names of men that she had allegedly slept with. At least one of those names was a video games reviewer. Some came to the conclusion that Zoe had bought positive reviews for her game with sexual favours. The gamergate hashtag was created.
Claims of backhanders and nepotism are not new amongst the video games community but the above was taken as proof of collusion. There will always be a number of comments under every review for a big name release that will either claim that the developer/publisher either paid or should have paid more depending on which side of 8.9/10 the game gets. Events such as when Jeff Gerstmann left Gamespot or the recent revelation that many high-profile Youtubers were receiving sponsorship for featuring certain games on their videos seem to support this bribe culture. From the outside it does seem that reviewers cosy up to developers but the gaming press say that, yes, it is a small community but a journalist is only as good as the contacts they have made.
On the surface, gamergate seems to be about the ethics of journalism and the need for a clear code of conduct between the creators and distributors of video games and those that make their living reporting from them. In this regards I could say that I am pro-gamergate. As a consumer I feel reassured knowing articles are written without any conflict of interests.
However, if you have never been involved in internet forums on major games websites (and others I am sure) it’s hard to describe the petty point-taking and plain nastiness that they can descend to. Users will insult each other in ways that they never would if they were face to face. Any original point is lost and that’s if there was even a point in the first place. In this environment, gamergate spiralled out of control and now we have reached the point where game writers are having to move out of their homes due to the death and rape threats that seem to have become depressingly predictable
Outspoken female voices are receiving the nastiest of online harassment and the writers that are fleeing their homes in police care are women. Would this have blown up if Zoe Quinn was Zack Quinn? Probably not. However it’s worth noting that this isn’t a reflection solely on the gaming community and I think that many have taken offense at this misunderstanding.
So it appears that pro-gamergate = hates women. To be sure about this you would have to check with the gamergate movement to see what they say but you can’t because there is no such thing. There is no gamergate HQ with a gamergate president who is consulting the gamegate manifesto. It’s a macguffin that you can use to push your own agenda whether that’s the ethics of journalism or threatening women. The latest hashtag I have seen is #stopgamergate2014 but once that gains traction then it becomes the new #gamergate as we all try and push our point out through the fog.
To me gamer gate isn’t a movement as a movement has common ideals and goals. Instead gamergate represents online behaviour and our responses to it. Gamergate is howling trolls and the personalities that can’t keep quiet for fear of being seen to condone them. It’s anonymous bullies that make death threats and those that think it’s bad to do so but accept it as part of life online. Worse of all it’s feeling that ignoring it will let it die but still writing 7 paragraphs about it. We are all gamergate.