The below is my attempt to define GamerGate in less than five minutes, something the SPJ Airplay morning panelists were tasked with. Personally, I thought it was a really poor attempt that could have been much better with more preparation, especially considering the definition of GamerGate was a known topic since July 13th.
I tried to present it in a way that showed no favoritism but offered at least some insight as to why GamerGate acts/argues certain things. Below is just a superficial definition I hope will at least let some people begin to understand what GamerGate is exactly.
Also, I should say I acknowledge I have the benefit of writing it nearly like a speech below, selfishly taking nearly the entire five minutes for myself. However, I think much of what is below could be bullet pointed further for all panelists.
It is also worth noting that what is described below is solely my attempt to relay what GamerGate interprets their critics as arguing/believing, not necessarily what they actually argue/believe.
GamerGate is a movement, or consumer revolt as they call themselves, within gaming against unethical practices of game journalism, journalism in general, and those of online communities such as Reddit.
The bud of interest began when it came to light that a developer had likely used their personal relationship with a game journalist to get positive coverage, or coverage at all, of their game. The real catalyst to the entire issue rapidly expanded interest in what was going on when gaming outlets and online communities like Reddit seemed to be censoring any and all discussion of that ethical breach.
That catalyst was triggered even greater when various websites reacted to GamerGate’s outrage at the event by publishing what are known as the “gamers are dead” articles—which seemed coordinated due to their similar message and similar publishing times. In them they attacked the identity of “gamer,” trivialized their concerns (like that of the ethical breach mentioned before), and began the narrative against GamerGate still dominate today: that GamerGate is using ethics as something to hide behind while they try to root out those they disagree with, particularly women, from the gaming industry.
Even greater than that is the notion that GamerGate is primarily a group of harassers hiding behind the hashtag and ethics as they hound their targets for whatever reason. This stems from GamerGate consistently engaging and directly confronting said individuals publicly for whatever the particular reason is, whether it be a conflict of interest or other ethical concern. There may be a little wiggle room for debating whether or not that is harassment (I personally say no), but there is no doubt that critics of GamerGate have consistently decried most interactions with GamerGate members, even criticism, as harassment.
What dominates the discussion today surrounds the progressive, and lack there of, nature of the gaming industry. Those same critics, from the beginning, have argued that gaming is dominated by largely a homogeneous group of white males both in the development of games and the characters portrayed in the games themselves. In addition to that is an effort to make games more politically correct—there is too much violence, sexualization, etc. in gaming they argue.
How does this tie into media ethics? Well, GamerGate argues those same critics are there pushing these same arguments, by, for example, accepting claims with shaky foundations and reporting poorly done studies as fact. In other words, GamerGate sees many of those outlets pushing that progressive, “politically correct” viewpoint while sacrificing ethical standards to reaffirm said viewpoints. More than that, GamerGate is largely opposed to their progressive ideas, arguing that those critics are trying to shame developers into the critics’ viewpoint, thereby attacking artistic freedom.
Put in more specific terms, GamerGate recognizes a large portion of their critics identify with what GamerGate would define as an extreme form of feminism. That extremism is what leads said critics and journalists to ethical breaches in efforts to protect whatever narrative or deny whatever fact may threaten their beliefs. In other words, GamerGate sees those critics and journalists as attempting to force said beliefs onto gaming through shaming developers, ignoring other sides of an issue, and other ethical breaches.
In summary, GamerGate is arguing against that ideology while at the same time exposing and challenging ethical issues from mainly the games media.