A whole year. For people who are part of the Internet culture and follow it with some interest, the way people like myself do, here’s a reality – no hashtag movement has EVER been this big, save something that (back when he was big) Justin Bieber Tweeted. This movement started so small, and thanks to some unfathomably poor decisions on the part of the people opposed, blew up into a culture war that took large chunks of the gaming community by storm. It also revealed a lot about the personalities of the people involved. What do I mean? Well, let’s talk about it.
It all started with a blog post, talking about why Eron Gjoni left “game” developer Zoe Quinn. It was long, it was boring, and it was a pain to sit through. Then came Mundane Matt’s video about it. He cited the fact that Quinn had been sleeping around, stressing that this wasn’t about her infidelity. It was who she had been sleeping with. One of the people being Nathan Grayson, a person who had given her positive coverage and is even listed in the credits of her “game” Depression Quest. Then came the DMCA attack on Mundane Matt’s video. This was the catalyst. The spark that set off a fire. People were talking. Lots of people. After all, if it was such a non-issue, as people started to say, then why were those who spoke out about it being blocked? Forum posts were shut down, bans were happening. A big ol’ shitstorm was brewing. Then came Internet Aristocrat’s video. This guy is a soldier, who likes to have a confirmed enemy to fight. And when he did some digging, there were a lot of things to uncover. Evidence of collusion, conflicts of interest and straight-up lies. It got really ugly. The Streisand Effect is real, and that is what made GamerGate into what it became. If the SJWs had just let this die, and hadn’t gone on their next move, this would never have gotten as big as it became.
Next came the response. Kotaku, Polygon, and a ton of other games media sites released a storm of articles talking about how gamers are dead, bad people, misogynists and a thousand and one other things. It was a deliberate attack…on their own audience. Think about that, for a moment – a publication that wants views just gave its own audience the finger. That is just baffling, to me. What’s more, it all seemed so coordinated, which didn’t help the line about there being collusion between members of the gaming press. That’s when another bomb was dropped. The reporter, Milo Yiannopoulos, released some information about a Google + group called Gamejournopros, along with a series of emails from that group (now defunct) that showed that there had been collusion, that the attack gamers was a coordinated effort by the members of the organization. This was all crooked dealing, to shoot their own nose to spite their face. Adam Baldwin, the actor, came up with the tag #GamerGate, and the war was on.
I don’t know how many of you know how long things stay big on the Internet. It’s not long. Typically, holding the Internet’s attention for a day is an accomplishment. Holding the Internet’s attention for a week is crazy. But for something that started online to go a whole year, and still be relevant, that is utter madness. But that’s not a bad thing. It’s an amazing thing. A movement that started over corruption in games media had morphed out.
That’s not to say that the fighting wasn’t brutal. It was. You had insane demagogues like Brianna Wu come into the fray. An evil person who used the death of Amber Lynn Schraw too sell her victimhood. Who lied about being driven out of her home (the interview with MSNBC the next day was done from her office. Five guesses where her office is). Who trolled her own game on Steam, using her own account. People like that started selling their victimhood to the media as hard as they possibly could. Naturally, the masterful con artist Anita Sarkeesian got in on the fun. Zoe Quinn did everything she could to keep her 15 minutes of fame going. It was both hilarious and sad at the same time. But it was also bitter. The hit-pieces on GamerGate was lacking in any context, because the media that reported on them were so lacking in initiative to do their jobs and actually get the whole story. Media coverage, vicious Internet fighting with a group of people (SJWs) that are so willing to shoot themselves in the foot to hurt someone else, things got pretty crazy.
There were also heroes for GG who came forward. Christina Hoff Sommers, a person that few of us had heard of before GG, came out with a video showing that video games and gamers are not sexist, and that the claim that they are is based on no real evidence. It was a major boost. There was another coordinated response from games media against her as well. As is typical with their attacks, they talked about how she’s a conservative and against women. Never mind that she’s been a registered Democrat for over 20 years, and has stated several times that she considers herself liberal. Doing basic research is too much to ask for Kotaku, so I get that.
But the fight would lull, then the aGGro crowd had to go and stir up shit by posting some dumb thing or another. You had the likes of Tim Schafer making an absolute ASS of himself at a professional event, with a sock puppet. Then there was the event that will be forever remembered as the 21st century version of Reefer Madness – an episode of Law & Order: Stupid Voters I mean Special Victims Unit that decided to take all the Kotaku talking points and roll them up into an episode that made GamerGate into a nice mix of Anonymous and ISIS. I called it “AnonyISISGate” in a post I did talking about the episode. That episode of hilarious garbage fiction did more damage to video games in 45 minutes (the runtime of the show if you take away commercials) than years and years of effort to help gaming become accepted by mainstream culture.
I can’t even talk about how much stuff happened in this. There was Kotaku back-pedaling SO hard at the end of the year and doing everything they could to suck the dick of their audience. You had Brianna Wu going to whatever publication would listen to her, instead of just bowing out of the limelight gracefully. You had Gawker being out seven figures in ad revenue when GamerGate was more than happy to send their garbage statements to advertisers (like when Sam Biddle said we needed to bring bullying back) and ask them if this is the kind of organization that they want to affiliate with.
But the real thing that GamerGate was able to show is just how nuts and self-destructive the SJW movement really is. It is so clear that these people are all-or-nothing. Either you agree with them on every little thing, or you are worth nothing to them. They will tolerate NO dissent, NO questioning of the party line, and especially – NO talking with what they see as the enemy, no matter how innocent and professional. When Brianna Wu went out to coffee with someone they didn’t like, her own group turned on her like wolves. It reminded me of a story.
When I was younger, my family and I were going on a trip to one of my favorite places. The day that we were leaving, as they were packing up the camper, there was a noise in the woods that got my attention. After telling my old man, we went to investigate. Turns out, there was a team of dogs that had gotten loose as a guy was planning to take them out for some training. You gotta regularly work mushing dogs, if you want them to stay in top form. Out where I grew up, that’s something that you saw a lot. This guy had the team all hooked up, but not hooked to the four-wheeler, so when one took off, they all did. The lot of them and their harness got hooked around a tree and wrapped up. They had been trapped out there for at least a few days. A few days, and these are sled dogs. They got hungry. When we unhooked the dogs from the tree, we found something out – one of them, the smallest of the gathered bunch, had been eaten from the waist back. That’s dogs for ya. In desperate circumstances, they turned on each other.
That is SJWs. Whenever someone steps out of line, goes against the flow, then the rest of them will throw them to be ripped apart by their masses. Inevitably, that’s what always happens. Anyone remember Atheism Plus? That little SJW movement, once heralded as the new face of atheism, devolved into message boards where everyone has been banned except the mods, working constantly to check each other’s privilege. GamerGhazi, the SJW, aGGro side of their struggle, has devolved into a bunch of screaming and hand-wringing, where people are getting banned left and right if they voice ANY amount of differing opinion.
GamerGate has had an effect on gaming. It was a defining moment when gaming stood up to the SJWs and said, “No! We are not letting you co-opt our hobby! We are not letting you do to gaming what you have done to EVERY single movement that you infest and destroy. This will not be another Occupy!” And it worked. They were beaten back. The tide turned. But really, that’s just what I see as important.
The reality is that GamerGate did a really good thing for the industry. When you have articles on Kotaku giving disclosure information whenever Nathan Grayson publishes something, that is what GG has done. When you have sites like The Escapist, working very hard to repair their image and to adopt ethics policies, that is because of us. When you have sites like Tech Raptor and Niche Gamer growing because they show that they care about ethics, that is because of GG. The industry is being made better, now that GG has gone from a battleground to a watchdog, looking out over the industry and being swift to call out any collusion. Sites like Deepfreeze.it exist because people want a place where dishonesty is called out.
When I saw this year’s SPJ AirPlay, and I saw the panel discussing GamerGate, it was great to see a bunch of professionals coming together and being willing to discuss some shortcomings and how things can be better. Though, there was the dick-waving contest between that loathesome hack Koretsky and Milo. That was a little frustrating, save for some great moments where Milo shut that pompous ass down.
If someone where to ask where things go from here, I would be honest and tell them – I don’t know. It could be anywhere. The reality is that gaming is changing, and GamerGate is a part of that change. The fact that we STILL have people trying to argue that it’s all about misogyny and sexism shows just how much the SJW side is not willing to let this die and how badly they just want to be right. I don’t know where the future goes, but I am stoked to find out. These are interesting times we live in.
Until next time, a quote,
“It’s a funny world we live in.” -The Joker, The Dark Knight