Understanding pro and anti-Gamergate

Published: Sunday, October 19, 2014 - 11:00 | By: Andrew Otton

GamerGate has been going strong for almost two months now, and it seems that most people still don't know what it means to support the movement or to be against it. What follows is my attempt to describe the commonalities those people share. Obviously, not everyone pro-GamerGate will agree with what I put here, and the same goes for anti-GamerGate. Below will be common goals/ideals shared by many of either group.

It is also worthy to note: I lean toward the pro-GamerGate group, which for anyone who has read some of what I have written won't be surprised. However, I do not share many of the ideals that will be listed below. Nor am I so invested, or bought into, GamerGate that I am blinded by some of the legitimate criticisms and fears of those that consider themselves anti-GamerGate.


And, the "definitions" of the two groups that follow should only be thought to apply to the reasonable people among them. Not those on the fringe, the extremists.


By my estimation, here is what it means to be pro-GamerGate:

The motivating force behind the whole GamerGate movement relates to the issue of game journalism corruption. Pro-GamerGate believes that there have been serious breaches in ethics going back many years now, and that the catalyst to bringing a significant amount to light only came recently. Some may argue that the catalyst was the sex scandal itself, but most of pro-GamerGate would argue that the mass censorship on many major websites, like Reddit, caused the issue to explode into what it is today. That censorship is one of the key issues pro-GamerGate hopes to change.

They are worried about the close relationship between game journalists and developers and publishers specifically. Some of the biggest worries are trading favors (publicity/positive press for compensation of some sort), the lack of disclosure about personal relationships, and the inability of game journalism to investigate all sides of an issue (pushing a single ideology).

Pro-GamerGate is also concerned with ethics overall of a game journalist. They claim that many game journalists do not conform to any kind of code of ethics or guidelines, or at least subpar ones, to keep their integrity in check. That can be how they get information about a story, how that information is sourced, accepting gifts/promotions, and a long list of other ethical issues.

Further, pro-GamerGate is against the injection of politics into gaming. Right now, the biggest debate and issue is about gender politics - the possible sexist or misogynistic leaning of video games. On that issue, pro-GamerGate argues that games are not inherently sexist or misogynistic. But on a higher level, they would like to see games evaluated for their merit as games - not for their politics.

The final thing to mention is the assertion that many, but definitely not all, pro-GamerGate people believe, which argues that there is an extreme form of feminism creeping into gaming trying to control the messages of many games. This comes mainly in the form of investigations into the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA). That because there seem to be staunch feminists in the high positions of that academic organization, they can control any credible source for people into research video games. This leads to skewed views of what games actually are and what/how they convey those views - especially to those unfamiliar with games.


This assertion goes beyond DiGRA as well, with the belief that the "indie clique" has slowly evolved into a bastion of extreme feminism. That indie developers associate in many of the same circles and have slowly pushed out those that disagree with their ideology.

Most of what is above should accurately detail what pro-GamerGate individuals believe. The final thing mentioned, about DiGRA and the indie clique, is held by far fewer people than what was mentioned before it. However, it was worth mentioning considering how many prominent figures of GamerGate seem to be investigating/asserting that notion.


So what does it mean to be anti-GamerGate?


The first thing to mention is that anti-GamerGate will tell you that they do not necessarily disagree with some of what pro-GamerGate asserts. Many do see issues with game journalists that need to be addressed. However, anti-GamerGate sees that as a secondary, and far less important, issue to what they see to be the problem with GamerGate.

Essentially, anti-GamerGate believes that most of the GamerGate movement is a veiled attempt to root out women in the gaming industry. That under the guise of corruption in the industry, GamerGate is targeting women that work in the industry under various capacities - as both developers and journalists.

They see the key issue of GamerGate as harassment. Harassment that comes in the form of threats, doxxing, slurs, and everything else. Going along with what was said before, they argue that GamerGate's arguments exist mainly to help hide the harassment and attempts to remove women from the industry.

Anti-GamerGate believes GamerGate to be, at its core, a misogynistic movement against women particularly in the industry. However, that can be expanded and generalized as well. Anti-GamerGate sees GamerGate as a reaction to the gradual inclusiveness of video games. It is a reaction to difference (at this point many anti-GamerGate people would argue that the main difference comes in the conflicting views on the level of sexism and misogyny in the gaming industry). That games and the culture are changing and many gamers don't necessarily like it.

As detailed in the many different "Death of Gamers" articles, many in the anti-GamerGate movement see GamerGate as the final death thrashes of a culture that does not exist anymore. Gamers suddenly realize that games are not only for the "hardcore" or the enthusiasts. That gamers had become a clique that shares many of the same views, beliefs, and attitudes towards gaming because for many years the idea of a gaming culture had been trivialized by society.

Now that culture, which retreated increasingly further into the clique, has realized that what they love has started to be defined and changed by forces outside of their power, leading to the backlash as an attempt to protect what they have. People with different ideologies, ideas, and beliefs have become interested in gaming and put forth their views, some of which are contrary to that original gamer clique.

That is where anti-GamerGate sees the essential conflict. That gamer clique is trying desperately to protect the existence of a culture that doesn't exist anymore so those in GamerGate have started to target those they disagree with in unfair ways, mostly women at this point, using whatever methods necessary to remove the contrarians.

Much in the same way that pro-GamerGate is attempting to expose corruption in game journalism, anti-GamerGate is trying to expose the misogyny and sexism within the gaming industry.

Of course, we must all remember that what was described above only applies to the reasonable, level-headed members of either "side" of this issue. Those that do not listen to reason and try to push their views using GamerGate as that platform, regardless of the issues at hand, are not what was described above. Those are the fringe individuals out for their own personal goals and to describe them is impossible unless one decided to look at each individually.

And please, if anyone read anything they disagree with above, let me know in the comments below (or contact my email if you prefer: aotton[at]techraptor.net). This was not an attempt to put forth my ideals, beliefs, or arguments, but trying to describe those of others. Please let me know of any inaccuracies you see (or something significant that was forgotten).

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Andrew Otton
Editor in Chief

Editor in Chief at TechRaptor. Lover of some things, a not so much lover of other things.