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October 13th I posted an article on my view of #GamerGate. As an outsider I had only read the reports in the mainstream media, which made GamerGate out to be this misogynistic hate group of harassers who wanted to prevent women from altering their video games. So I wrote the article with this idea in mind, but giving these people the benefit of the doubt. This open-mindedness led the GamerGate community to reach out to me and to lead me to answer questions, as well as ask some of my own.
I realized that the well of GamerGate was a lot deeper than I had ever imagined. The first revelation was that harassment was extensive on both sides of the debate, with gaming reviewer King of Pol being doxxed, sent a knife, told to “please kill yourself” and sent a fire service, and Milo Yanniopoulos was sent a syringe full of mysterious fluid. It became obvious to me that the vast majority of harassment on both sides was carried out by internet trolls wishing to carry on the argument, gain exposure and dilute credibility.
That is when I went on HuffPoLive and talked about the experiences I’d had with the #GamerGate community. The truth was those who oppose it had shunned me, banned me from their forums and called me nasty things. The supporters had, with a few notable exceptions, welcomed me with open arms, answered my questions and lifted me high on a gold and velvet throne, simply for lending them my ears. I realised the movement was not how the papers had painted them out to be at all, but a downtrodden and yet ever plucky underdog.
I suffer from bipolar disorder, and while medicated, the rush of adrenaline from the adoration of the supporters of GamerGate simply for giving them a voice was enough to send my body into overdrive. I was taking prescription sleeping pills just to get 4 hours of sleep a night. My mind raced with ways I could help these people. My partner, who opposes GamerGate with every dark inch of his heart, and I fought frequently, in arguments that would last hours and well into the night. He was proud of my achievements, but also partly jealous and harbouring a lot of hatred and resentment for those who had elevated me.
It all culminated in a 2 hour bus ride where he bullied and berated me, for the entirety, simply for helping the supporters of, in his mind, a hate group. My tears couldn’t stop him, nor my constant pleas of “who are you? Because you are not the man I love.” I do not wish to demonise him here; he is not a bad person. He is an amazing and wonderfully supportive person. This situation only goes to show the passion and malice instilled deep in some of those who oppose GamerGate’s very existence.
Becoming a part of the whole GamerGate story has been tough on me. It stretched my body, it tested my relationship to its very limits, and it occupied my every thought, but a lot of good has come from it too. I’m finally getting noticed for my work, I’ve met thousands of amazing, inspiring people, and most importantly of all I am helping bring a voice to those who had been gagged and demonized by the mainstream.
Publications I have written for have been pressured into removing my articles, because they should not give a voice to a “hate group;” I know David Pakman and HuffPoLive have experienced similar condemning feedback. I say they should be given a voice. If they are the hate group which the mainstream media paints them to be, then they will surely hang themselves with their own words. Just as giving Osama Bin Laden time on the news did nothing to boost his popularity, if GamerGate is a hate group terrorizing women within the industry and an entity as evil as ISIS, the KKK or ebola as I have seen it compared, then you have nothing to fear from their media attention.
If you believe that GamerGate is a consumer revolt trying to stamp out corruption in the media through boycotts of fraudulent websites, then the public at large has nothing to lose by giving them their right to speak in the press and possibly are given the hope that there will be less lies, collusion and corruption in our future media. Unless of course you are, or support, those fraudulent media outlets – the only people who can potentially collapse from GamerGate’s balanced exposure.
In the end it was all worth it. The average person still might not see the GamerGate movement for who they truly are: humans, but slowly the media is changing. Perception is changing over what is good or bad practice within the gaming industry, and maybe one day gaming will once again be about the developers, games and consumers and not simply those who choose to write about them.