— Adam Baldwin (@AdamBaldwin) October 21, 2014
Readers won’t let go of the debate:
As Arthur Chu artfully pointed out, the basic dynamic of #GamerGate is no different than that of the Tea Party: white dudes angry about Those People encroaching on their turf. What #GGers lambast as the “corruption” of gaming journalism isn’t part of the creeping menace of sponsored content; it’s the default mode of operation. Gaming publications have always been willing and enthusiastic adjuncts of the industry PR machine. The field’s evolution is no different than any other kind of entertainment journalism – critical film, music, and sports coverage didn’t emerge until the 1960s. To this day, no major entertainment media outlet meets the journalistic standard #GamerGate purports to demand (see: ESPN and the NFL). Really, where’s the scandal?
The difference now, of course, is the existence of social media and how it enables new ways of lashing out. No one has more skill with the Internet’s tools of harassment and abuse than the stereotypical gamer. Pretending that violent threats against outspoken women – whose collective influence in gaming, I should point out, is minuscule at best – have nothing to do with #GamerGate is absurd.
The video game media, generally speaking, is garbage. … But here’s the thing, you guys: if video game journalism is garbage, then #gamergate is garbage from an Egyptian restaurant that’s been baking in the sun in July in a heatwave on a New York corner, complete with extra dog poop and infested with cockroaches that have names like Misogyny and Threats Against Women. However well-intentioned some members of #gamergate may be, and however much I may agree with some criticisms of the video game media, the grimy sexism and hideous threats that have been made in the name of #gamergate renders the whole “movement” totally unpalatable to me.
Yes, it is unfortunate to define any group by the actions of its worst members, and there are times in life, particularly when it comes to political struggles, that you have to hold your nose and align with people you can’t stand. But this isn’t one of those times, and too many people who complain about how #gamergate is discussed in the media refuse to be frank about how rife with ugliness the phenomenon is.
I mean, there’s even legitimate criticism of Anita Sarkeesian, such as her unpaid appropriation of other women’s artwork, which my friend Alex Layne of the brilliant site Not Your Mama’s Gamer discussed. That behavior bothers me. But in a world where Sarkeesian is subject to such insane, violent threats, my instinct is not to criticize her about intellectual property but build a bunker to defend her from attack.
That’s the thing about surrounding your movement with threats and misogyny: people who might be inclined to listen to you feel compelled to reject you out of hand. Whether through refusal or inability, the principled people who consider themselves part of #gamergate have failed to eject the sexist, threatening core of the movement, and for someone like me, that makes it impossible to take the whole enterprise as anything but ugly.
Laura Hudson adds:
While there are legitimate ethical concerns about games journalism, it’s telling that the movement remains laser-focused not on the ethically shady behavior of the multimillion-dollar gaming studios making the mainstream games they enjoy, but small, often impoverished independent creators and critics—and even within that subset, the targets are nearly exclusively women.
Jesse Singal pens a Reddit letter to all the Gamergate people trying to convince him the press has it all wrong:
So what is Gamergate “really” about? I think this is the sort of question a philosopher of language would tear apart and scatter the remnants of to the wind, because it lacks any real referent. You guys refuse to appoint a leader or write up a platform or really do any of the things real-life, adult “movements” do. I’d argue that there isn’t really any such thing as Gamergate, because any given manifestation of it can be torn down as, again, No True Gamergate by anyone who disagrees with that manifestation or views it as an inconvenient blight from an optics standpoint. And who gets to decide what is and isn’t True Gamergate? You can’t say you want a decentralized, anonymous movement and then disown the ugly parts that inevitably pop up as a result of that structure. Either everything is in, or everything is out.
Faced with this complete lack of clarity, all I or other journalists can do, then, is journalism: We ask the people in the movement what they stand for and then try to tease out what is real and what is PR. And every, every, every substantive conversation/forum/encounter I’ve had with folks from your movement has led me to believe that a large part of the reason for its existence is discomfort with what you see as the burgeoning influence of so-called social-justice warriors in the gaming world.
Update from a reader:
In case you missed it, Clickhole has the ultimate encapsulation of GamerGate ( … unless anyone in GamerGate disagrees with it).