So, I’ve been hanging out on Twitter, and it’s been a lot of fun. It’s the one place I can trot out accurate information and truth in a polite but merciless fashion, and eviscerate some blithering jackass holding forth on a subject he knows nothing about. Plus, you can carpet-bomb a series of brutal, but funny one-liners into a continuing discussion between 10,000 people, and earn a few small kudos for it.
John — my good friend and ∞ Infinity playtester — pointed out that I hadn’t mentioned anything about #GamerGate yet, despite my involvement with it on Twitter. (Carpet bombing, etc.) He’s right, I haven’t.
The problem is, #GamerGate is not a simple subject. Seriously. It’s like six different Internet shitstorms got together, got drunk, had an orgy, and birthed a monstrosity that was an unholy amalgam of all six. My current level of shit-giving is not sufficient to motivate me to spend the hours of work necessary to fully untangle the spaghetti strands of interwoven scandals and flamewars.
Instead, here’s a short and inaccurate summary that omits reams of important and pertinent information:
#GamerGate is a Twitter hashtag, a rolling discussion between tens of thousands of people. It kicked off after a scandal involving a video game developer and several game journalists broke. None of the major gaming press sites —Kotaku, Polygon, IGN, etc. — covered it, though many minor sites did.
Total radio silence from the big guys. This torqued some gamers off.
Gamers opined on the scandal and the silence, and found their comments censored, their threads deleted, and their accounts banned. (On both the press sites and general forums like Reddit, NeoGAF, and 4chan.) The radio silence of the majors was now coupled with an apparently coordinated effort to silence gamers.
At this point, there was no shitstorm. Then something funny happened. On literally the exact same day, sites like Kotaku, Gamasutra, Badassdigest, Polygon, and others all posted articles with substantially similar content and messaging: “Gamers are Dead”.
Not only were these gaming sites triumphing the death of gaming culture, but they were all saying similar things at the exact same time. (For reasons hard to explain, gamers suspected that perhaps collusion might possibly be involved.) And none of them were complimentary towards gamers. Here’s some quotes from the articles in question.
Regarding the scandal, gamers represented the side who “folded its arms, slumped its shoulders while pouting like an obstinate child”. (Chris Plante, Editor-at-Large Polygon.)
Gamers are “socially awkward weirdos who dress like garbage”. (Devin Faraci, Badassdigest)
“These obtuse shitslingers, these wailing hyper-consumers, these childish internet-arguers — they are not my audience.” (Leigh Alexander, Gamasutra)
Got that, gamers? This was how games journalists think of you, as infantile whiners, as socially awkward weirdos who get rejected by real women, and as idiots.
Queue the shitstorm, and enter Animal Mother. That’s this guy:
That’s Adam Baldwin, Hollywood actor (and no relation to the Baldwin brothers). That’s a pic from Full Metal Jacket. He also played Jayne Cobb in Firefly, John Casey in Chuck, and is currently appearing in The Last Ship. He’s also done voices in several video games, including Mass Effect 2, Halo 3, and Batman: Arkham Origins. He’s a Hollywood star, and his Twitter account is followed by a lot of people (190,000+).
Baldwin watched a video by pseudonymous Youtuber Internet Aristocrat (which you can see right here). The video detailed the roiling scandal, the intimate relationship — literally, in many cases it was sexual — between gaming journalists and those they covered, and the extent that gaming journos worked in concert to shape coverage and suppress stories. It closed with an impassioned plea for gamers to take back their hobby and call dishonest journalists to account.
Baldwin saw the video. It pissed him off. He coined the #GamerGate hashtag, and tweeted the video to his followers. “Tweet it and they will come.” And the gamers came.
This is where damned politics enters the picture. The original scandal involved a female game developer, a staunch Leftist, allegedly doing some very unsavory things, like giving blowjobs for good reviews. (The allegations were credible but, so far as I know, were never corroborated. Internet Aristocrat’s video discusses the supporting evidence in detail.)
Those who defended her with the “Gamers are Dead” articles claimed that those who objected to her habits were — every single one – white men who hated seeing games made for women, hated women game developers, hated women’s rights in general, and indeed, were sexually frustrated straight, white, male virgins who just hated women.
This political dimension — crusading Leftists (labeled Social Justice Warriors, or SJW) versus the gaming community, many of whom are themselves Leftwing — was baked in from the beginning. This becomes important in a bit. Back to the scandals.
This same female dev was notorious for demanding more female devs in gaming. She then sabotaged the crowdsourcing campaign of a group of female devs, torpedoing their efforts to break in. Then, a few days later, launched her own fundraising campaign.
There was another related scandal, about journalists reviewing devs who they supported financially, via Patreon and other similar sites. These same journalists were giving positive coverage to those they financially supported.
Another scandal had broken, involving a different female dev who hired a female PR rep. The rep was sexually involved with the operator of an Indie games festival, and all of the rep’s clients won awards at the festival. (Six horny little scandals got together to play…)
After Baldwin’s first tweet #GamerGate grew fast, as did the counter-assault. Abuse was flying back and forth between both sides. Gamers objected to the abuse, journalists and supporters unleashed more torrents of abuse (sexist, misogynistic, etc.), and gamers struck back. Gamers were being banned and censored, even on Twitter itself. (The “#TwitterGulag”, see here for details.)
A bunch of non-white, non-male, non-straight, non-American gamers started #NotYourShield, in which they defended #GamerGate and decried journalists abusing gamers. (And themselves were attacked in return.) One example: this Youtube video by female Syrian gamer @Partisangirl, discussing #GG from her own unique point of view.
In the larger #GamerGate discussion, the sexual scandals had been sidelined, and most involved had shifted focus to the ongoing journalistic malpractice, especially coverage of #GamerGate itself. Accusations of collusion were laid on, with journalists dismissing them as conspiracy theories.
Back to SJW. Milo Yiannopoulos, a journalist on Breitbart, highlighted #GamerGate just a couple of weeks after it began, focusing on the political aspects of the story. Another Brietbart journalist, Noah Dulis, talked about journalistic malpractice and why that was the most important aspect. Then Yiannopoulos was leaked some very juicy emails, and wrote a story. And this one, you’re just gonna have to read.
There was, for years prior, a secret Google Groups mailing list called GameJournoPros. On this list, the individuals implicated above, whom gamers suspected of colluding to shape coverage, exchange ideas, and ban certain topics… colluded to shape coverage, exchange ideas, and ban certain topics. (Though, unlike what the article implies, not everyone on the list did so.)
Game journalists. On a secret email list. Discussing what stories to cover and censor. Deciding, deliberately, to attack gamers in their publications.
Everything #GamerGate believed and asserted, everything game journalists mocked them for believing, was true. One journalist had publicly referred to gamers suspecting collusion as “conspiracy theorists”, while he was on the list, actively colluding. (The balls on this fucking asshole.)
And, oh yeah, about the allegations of sexy-fun-naked-time-for-good-reviews thing?
“Who here hasn’t slept with a PR person or game developer? #AMIRITE” — William O’Neal, editor-in-chief, TechRadar.com on GameJournoPros.
The story keeps getting wider and wider play. Forbes has covered it, developers are opining (and, occasionally, blocking and banning people who gave them money via Kickstarter, just for mentioning #GamerGate), and the GameJournoPros are alternately abusive and close-mouthed. (If they keep ignoring it, surely it will go away.)
Some sites have announced changes to their disclosure and review policies, and earned kudos from #GamerGate. Reddit and 4chan began censoring GamerGate supporters. (Censored by 4chan!)
After the Escapist began to allow discussion of GamerGate on its forums, breaking the embargo of the majors, it was subject to a DDoS attack from a large number of IP’s, all aimed at that single thread. Anti-#GamerGate people have mailed syringes full of an unknown liquid to Milo Yiannopoulos’ house.
And then, just a couple of days ago, the Blogfather, the Instapundit, the first and biggest name in blogging began covering the story. Instapundit’s the most read blog on the planet. He gets millions of pageviews. Senators read his blog. And he’s now covering the ‘Gate.
<cloik!> Achievement Unlocked: Epic Shitstorm!
That’s why I haven’t discussed #GamerGate. It’s ugly, it’s political, and it’s not going away anytime soon. (It’s got over a million tweets, twice as much as #Destiny.)
If you want the most sane and most balanced #GamerGate commentary I could find, here it is. A different overview of the scandals, which includes a large number of links to primary sources, is available here.
Thank you and good night!
EDIT: A big hello to the teeming multitude of new readers. (From Twitter and Facebook and Know Your Meme and PJ Media and Ace of Spades HQ and a few other places I haven’t tracked down yet.)
Welcome to the House! Leave a comment below, hang around, read some posts, subscribe to the RSS feed, and follow us on Twitter. We’re geeks, we like geeky things, like RPG’s and movies and comics and all that. If you’re a fan, you’re in good company.
But mind Rule 2: No politics. Ever. The House is for all geeks, no matter their politics. So keep them to yourself.
Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.
EDIT II: New! Improved! Now less short and less inaccurate.
EDIT III: Newer! Improved-er! Now with 100% fewer F-bombs. Because actual rocket scientists are dropping by (that’s not figurative), and we have to look at least a little respectable.