GamerGate and Internet Culture


This is a topic you may not want your kids to see, but it’s sadly important to the realm of gaming culture right now. Think of this as a warning sign — but this involves the culture of the internet, home of a horde of trolls, so this may not be new to you.


For the record, if anyone here has a child with a Twitter or social media account, this is of particular importance to you.

If you’re not involved in the gaming community, you might be unaware of something called GamerGate.  It started with one Madam Zoe Quinn, a female video game developer in a world that generally lacks female developers.  During her declared monogamous relationship with her boyfriend Quinn, she cheated on him. Said boyfriend released a surprisingly clinical dissection of their relationship, documenting proof of cheating, etc.

Why does anyone care about Quinn or her boyfriend? No one does, really.

What people do care about is that Quinn casually and calmly slept her way to the top. Yes, the people that Quinn slept with included her married boss and video game reviewers.  Even in this case, it’s less about Quinn, and more about the industry itself.

There’s no money involved, but dang it, games get made depending on who people sleep with? Games get good reviews merely by offers of sex?  There are gaming journalists. Technically, I’m considered one.

But journalistic ethics? Anyone?

Is that why gamers are annoyed?  Not really.  It’s a minor independent game company. Quinn released a minor game called Depression Quest that’s actually supposed to help people with depression.  It might be interesting, if it works. Though, as a game, it’s bleh.

One of the real problems that gamers are upset over is that none of the major gaming websites uncovered this den of corruption within gaming.

It actually gets worse.  All of these gaming journalists have actually conspired with each other to shape the news.  Really. And on the Quinn scandal.

Emails …. show Kyle Orland, a senior gaming editor at Ars Technica, discussing the Zoe Quinn scandal. He wrote: “I don’t want to in essence reward the jerks doing this by giving their ‘issue’ any attention at all … I’m not even going to give the bull***t ‘journalism ethics’ excuse for these attacks the time of day.”

Orland continued: “I would LOVE to use my platform to reproach this kind of behavior… but that would go against Quinn’s valid and understandable desire not to have this personal matter publicized by the media… Maybe we should just stick to Twitter to boost the signal on this one, rather than our ‘front pages.'”
“Maybe we should get a public letter of support going around decrying these kinds of personal attacks, signed by as many sympathetic journalists/developers as we can,” he wrote. “Maybe we should just use this as an excuse to give more attention to her work… I know I’ve been meaning to review Depression Quest since its Steam release.”

I note that the “jerks” here are the gamers. Not the ones who gave good reviews in exchange for “favors.” Not Quinn’s married employer. Not even Quinn.  Quinn is a delicate flower that must be protected, not a sociopathic liar and manipulator.

It gets better. Here are some other choice quotes from the gaming industry.

Gamers are “socially awkward weirdos who dress like garbage”. (Devin Faraci, Badassdigest)

“These obtuse s***slingers, these wailing hyper-consumers, these childish internet-arguers — they are not my audience.” (Leigh Alexander, Gamasutra)

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

Yup. Zoe Quinn is a good little leftist. “All” of the critics were single white male losers (except for those who are plainly not white or male).  Let’s also ignore that Quinn has actively gone after other women who want to get into the gaming industry.  Quinn might find it difficult to be special if she was one of dozens.

Enter standard censorship.  Anyone with an opinion was no longer allowed to have one on comment threads. Gamers couldn’t even comment on the silence from news outlets. Forget gaming journalists, now gamers were told to sit down and shut up.

Then there was a rallying cry, that Gamers are Dead.

Game writers claimed that all cries of corruption in media were merely thin veils to give cover to what was, essentially, a misogynistic movement. In less than two days more than ten such articles appeared around the internet, on the one hand preaching to the choir, and on the other leading many already-upset gamers to cry foul even louder.

Now that we know that there is collaboration and collusion between game journalists, the multiple articles showing up at the same time are just too fishy to be coincidence.

And the news about Quinn?  Oh my.

 “Who here hasn’t slept with a PR person or game developer? #AMIRITE” — William O’Neal, editor-in-chief, on GameJournoPros.

Nice, huh?

How did GamerGate get named then? Complete with it’s own hashtag?  Enter actor Adam Baldwin, star of Firefly, Chuck, and The Last Ship. If you don’t know who that is, this is a good introduction.  He’s got nearly 200,000 Twitter followers, he’s an all around nice guy, and he’s accused of being a conservative, though if you ask him, he’s an American, and he believes in the Constitution. Period.

And Baldwin is a gamer. He’s voiced video games. For all intents and purposes, he broke the story to Twitter, coined #GamerGate, and has essentially unleashed the hounds.

This is an unholy mess, and the gaming journalists conspiring to manipulate the media coverage of GamerGate to distract from their own corruption? That’s just icing on the cake.  It’s hard to imagine any other industry that would deliberately twist the story to paint their own consumers as the villains.

No matter what anyone says, GamerGate is about media corruption, and the lengths they’ll go to in order to CYA.  Gamer media has declared war on the casual gamer, the serious gamer, and anyone who isn’t out and out “One of Us,” on the their side of the spectrum.

And this is an entire war on social media. One your kids may or may not get sucked into. Think of this article as a weapon in the fight against ignorance.  Also, if you discover that your little gamer may have caught a few blows in this social media crossfire, you at least know what the story is about, and can plan accordingly.

Read more of our Tech Talk columns.

Copyright 2014 John Konecsni


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  1. This controversy is very nuanced and there are many reasons as to why it started. There are many contributing factors, one of which is deinitely Zoe Quinn. However most agree that while she is basically a terrible person, abusive lover, manipulative compulsive liar, and hypocrite; she is NOT the reason why this continued on an on and on. Not entirely.

    what get’s lost in the fighting around Gamergate is the MASS CENSORSHIP that immediately followed after Eron’s post went up. No one was harassing her then. People were just genuinely asking about what was going on as there seemed to be a journalistic impropriety between her and nathan grayson and others. Which is kinda the straw that broke the camel’s back for us gamers.

    they censored us from every forum imaginable, just because we’d bring it up in a questioning manner.

    -Now just imagine a movie where you’re a gumshoe detective who’s found some evidence for a case you’re building and when you go to interview a suspect. Then later you come home to find your place ransacked and a big threat on the wall telling you not to look into the case anymore. Then when you go into work, your boss comes to you and says “Hey, I heard you questioned that person for that case, they said you attacked them, I have to take you off the case”. Well NOW you’re gonna definitely be suspicious and want to find out why everyone is telling you to stop looking into the case. And it also seems like you’re boss is involved in this! where does the corruption lead?!

    this is how it feels to be a gamergater. You know not everyone is a suspect, but you’ve had enough people lie to you and tell you to stop thinking for yourself to believe anything anyone says anymore. We’re hurt. Not because they are attacking our hobby. But because they are attacking us.

  2. i should also add there. that people talking shit about her on the internet is not harassment. it’s shit talking. it may hurt, and it deserves our sympathy, but it’s not harassment

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