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The Ceaseless March of GamerGate

Todd Wohling / October 16, 2014 at 10:00 AM / Gaming, Opinions

Another day, another load of BS shoveled onto the pile of metaphysical manure that is the intellectually dishonest and cognitively dissonant narrative of anti-GamerGate.

At least the enthusiast hating, angular momentum doctoring hate speech factories had the good sense to space out the false narratives and factual inaccuracies over the course of several days instead of doing it all at once, like on August 28th and 29th.

As early as October 1st running all the way through October 9th, an army amassed to inform the unsuspecting public that misogynist hate campaign GamerGate had “pressured” Intel into pulling their advertising from Gamasutra.  Let’s filter through the untruth:

Untruth #1: Leigh Alexander is/was the focus.

It wasn’t one article that started GamerGate, but 14 “independent” pieces of un-marked attack op-eds pointed at gamers that started #GamerGate.  Leigh Alexander just happened to post the most vitriolic of the bunch, and then chose not to have the presence of mind to lie low until the heat died down, preferring to maintain her status as a hate speech mind vomiting fire hose.

Untruth #2: LW and LW2:

Two people who had been irrelevant to GamerGate for 5 weeks at the time most of these articles came out suddenly were the targets of GamerGate again.  That horse has been killed, resurrected, beaten to death, zombified, and had its head removed from its torso, but it bears repeating again: if anyone cares to give enough of a damn to actually look at the data, if every tweet their personal accounts received was negative and from GamerGate, they would, combined, make up roughly 10% of total GamerGate tweets.  In fact, the media sensitivity over those two is so high GamerGate has dehumanized them utterly, referring to them LW and LW2.

Untruth #3: GamerGate isn’t popular or is losing steam:

Pretty easy to debunk this one, so I won’t waste a lot of time or words.  Thunderclap.  Scoreboard.  That is all.

Untruth #4: GamerGate is a right-wing movement

Untruth #5: The goal of GamerGate is to keep women out of gaming:

These bleed together with some of the other propaganda posted this week.  Starting with The Verge on October 2, suddenly #GamerGate is a right-wing movement.  This sentiment was restated in another Verge attack piece by T.C. Sottek on October 8, along with ties to that dirty consumerism word, an attempt to tie GamerGate supporters to people who support Voter ID Laws, and a scolding for GamerGate accepting the help of Based Mom and Milo Yiannopoulos.

My response to that is GamerGate was and is willing to accept the help of anyone in media that is willing to write even a balanced GamerGate article, since no one in major tech media and most mainstream media has the courage or work ethic to do it. Milo, Based Mom, The Ralph Retort, and others are welcome regardless of their political leanings, and if the gaming outlets that are owned by the SocJus Patreon Clique had allowed earnest discussion on forums and in comments in August and September, publicly denounced false DMCA claims in August, reported on harassment experienced by developers, commentators, and news outlets throughout September and early October regardless of views toward GamerGate, and rewritten their ethics policy the same way The Escapist did, we would be on the road to defusing this mess.

Next up on the hit parade is a wandering missive from Katherine Cross on October 9.  It tells the same false narrative of right-wing politics citing the same people, and a few books.  It claims the same falsehood that #notyourshield was made up, in spite of three minutes of video evidence that it is anything but made up.  The missive dedicates an entire section to decrying the role of the consumer in gaming, while crapping on one of the alternative sites that has sprung up in the wake of GamerGate.  The last straw, to me, was the arrogant presumption of dictating moral and amoral to readers; therefore, I choose to dictate back to the author.

Moral: Allow the will of the consumer to be the primary driver of an open market.

Amoral: Conscript a willing set of “cultural critics” to publish 14 attack op-eds on the same day, which have the same ideological basis originating from an elitist think tank’s fishbowl discussion where it was overtly stated that a goal was to usurp both the creative process and the will of the consumer to inject feminist ideology in all aspects to videogames.

Gender and games has always been an issue

Why do we see such tension between academics and game designers?  Less of an issue with indies, but there are always some people in industry that have similar questions until industrial logic takes over later and how can we better intervene in industrial logics to disturb that process.  How can academics bridge the gap to the industry audience to help them do different work?  How can we disrupt the capitalist norms that facilitate this?

Feels quite viscerally injured when someone like Samantha Allen is lost to the industry because the reaction to her by some gamers was so violent that it didn’t make sense to stay. Academia needs to push for more radical positions within the industry to help make things better.

Moral: When the public makes it clear that a topic is matter of public interest, report on it, even if you own a piece of the subject.

Amoral: Stay silent when the subject you own a piece of commits a heinous act that’s a matter of public interest. (To say nothing of using personal relationships with moderators to censor discussion)

Moral: Condemn acts of hacking, doxxing, or harassment regardless to who they happen to.

Amoral: Exclusively report uncorroborated, twitter accounts of hacking, doxxing, or harassment against those ideologically aligned with your Editor in Chief, or who your Editor in Chief owns a part of.

And, of course, what list of recent false narrative nonsense would be complete without the Jay Hathaway’s GamerGate Explainer for Non-Geeks, published October 10 that’s a combination of every attack article written since August 28th put together in one easily digestible piece of propaganda.

For six weeks, this has been the consistent, unending, unchanging narrative.  The Escapist took the time to interview female and male game developers about GamerGate; otherwise, GamerGate has been left to fend for itself, save a very few outlets.  What GamerGate has done over those six weeks, to paraphrase the best mic performer in professional wrestling in the best promo of 2014, can best be described as “basic GamerGateonomics”: Eat. Sleep. Op-ed. Repeat. News post. Repeat. Live Stream. Repeat. Youtube. Repeat. Op-ed. Repeat. Op-ed. Repeat. Op-ed. Repeat. Op-ed. Repeat. Op-ed. Repeat. Youtube. Repeat. News Post. Repeat. News Post. Repeat. Live Stream. Repeat. Op-ed. Repeat. Live Stream. Repeat. Op-ed. Repeat.

When Erik Kain comes out and says GamerGate is not a hate movement, it’s time to circle the metaphysical wagons.  So, while Friday night’s events were deplorable, they weren’t all that unexpected in hindsight.  I hate that GamerGate and my investigations into its details have made me so cynical and bitter toward reports and coverage of doxxings and harassment that my default stance is skepticism.  That said, here are the events leading up to and including Friday night as I understand them.

Brianna Wu apparently “reused” (Reuse is tech industry speak for steal) an image from an autism Powerpoint template to use for some snarky and bitter shit posting at  8-chan caught wind of this and epically dunked on her, to the tune of 60 pages of replies.  At this point, the victim card was played, declaring a “twitter break” for safety.  Later on Friday, Brianna’s personal information was posted in an 8-chan thread mocking her game; the twitter break for safety ended almost immediately, as Brianna tweeted out that 8-chan and GamerGate had doxxed her.  There’s not a shred of evidence to support the assertion, other than the information showed up in the /gg/ board.  When the information did show up, users immediately reported the post and denounced the poster; similarly, when #GamerGate Twitter supporters were made aware of the threatening tweets minutes later, they mass reported the offending account to get it suspended.  Again, there’s not one iota of evidence to suggest 8-chan or Gamergate is involved in any way.  That didn’t stop Brianna, or her supporters, for coming out in droves to condemn GamerGate as a hate group, using Friday night’s events as “proof” without evidence.

It also didn’t stop the usual suspects from yellow journalism.  Re/code, Kotaku, and Gamasutra all ran virtually identical narratives, laying the blame for the attack directly at the feet of GamerGate and “GamerGate chat logs” which allegedly “have shown clear ties to organized harassment campaigns rooted in misogyny and sexism against women.”

I guess when you’re getting your ass handed to you in the baseball field of ideas, the best tactic is to traffic in human misery and manufacture a couple of runs for your side.  Bullying GaymerX in to denouncing GamerGate, calling Based Mom scum after the passing of her husband, and filing false plagiarism claims against a #GamerGate supporter pale in comparison to the beginning of the weekend, but all these events reek of desperation.

I feel dirty writing 1700 words about this; not because I have second thoughts about why I chose to support GamerGate or why I believe GamerGate is absolutely necessary—the Re/code, Kotaku, and Gamasutra articles I linked should make that abundantly clear.  I feel dirty about writing 1700 words on this topic because we, pro-GamerGate and anti-GamerGate alike, never should have made it to this point. Dialogue should have happened long before now. Boogie tried to initiate it, and was crapped on by both sides for making the effort.  Erik Kain suggested it less than a week ago, only to have the T.C. Sottek hatchet piece hit.  To his credit, Mr. Sottek did hit up the burgersandfries IRC channel to chat with folks in there, but most of that conversation was people talking past each other, with Sottek trying to convince people to go after AAA, and the IRC folks trying to explain why an Editor in Chief owning a piece of an indie developer is an obvious conflict of interest.

The silver lining, if there is one, is that law enforcement is involved.  There are two possible outcomes: vindication for GamerGate, or the end of GamerGate.  Everyone will report on the latter; the question I have is who will report on the former?

Todd Wohling

A long time ago on an Intellivision far, far away my gaming journey started with Lock n' Chase, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons The Cloudy Mountain, and Night Stalker. I earned both a BS-Physics and a BS-Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Today I spend most of my time on PC. I left a career of 14 years in aerospace in Colorado, so I could immigrate to Norway.