Experiencing GamerGate from All Sides
GamerGate tends to be a controversial topic so I’d like to remind you all that my articles do not reflect the views of the entire GeeksWithWives staff. If you do not like them, take it up with me in the comments, Twitter, or e-mail but do not hold the entire website accountable. GeeksWithWives should be commended for giving us all a place to share our views and stories. I guess I should give a possible trigger warning?
I also again feel like I need to stress the fact that I am, in fact, 100% real living female human.
So once upon a time the jilted ex of game dev Zoe Quinn wrote a gazillion-word thesis page on her sexual exploits resulting in fat white misogynist male gamers to start a hate movement for the sole purpose of keeping women out of the games industry and later gaming in general by spamming them with threats of violence and rape and driving them from their homes.
At least that’s what the media had me believing.
For a while all I heard was there was something going on with gamers vs a female game dev over the fact that she was female. Then I learned it had something to do with her sex life. “What business is it who someone sleeps with? How does that affect their dev skills? How does being female affect dev skills?” I thought. Then the #GamerGate tag started to appear on my Twitter feed, being used by people against the tag. I used to follow a woman that went by the handle “Devi Ever” at the time, as I considered one of her best friends to be an awesome Twitter buddy of mine too. We’d all chatted gaming and game development many times before, and she was one of the loudest people on my feed at the time denouncing GamerGate. This had me finally curious enough to look into the controversy past just random tweets. Where did I look? The gaming media…oops. Even one of my favorite comedy sites at the time, cracked.com, did an interview with Zoe Quinn complete with little screenshots of random channers calling her ugly and rating how good a lay she must be. It didn’t occur to me at that point that the only people attributing those comments to GamerGate were the publications themselves. No, I was so wrapped up in the story of a mob of men ruining her life and forcing her to flee her home because her boyfriend “claimed” she slept around to get good reviews of her game that I didn’t think to do any fact checking.
After that I decided I had enough #GamerGate on my feed. I began unfollowing anyone I saw supporting it before finally opening my big-mouth to the tag itself. I tweeted something to the effect of “If you support #GamerGate you’re scum, go kill yourself.” and I am not at all proud of that. Friends of mine against the tag quickly warned me that I was a target now for sure, my life might even be at stake! Sure enough, my notifications instantly blew up with replies from GamerGate supporters. Replies such as “That’s hurtful, it’s never okay to tell people to kill themselves.” “I’m sorry you feel that way.” “I’d love to chat with you about why you think that, but only if you’re okay with it.” The most “mean” response I got that day were people simply assuming I was trolling, and could you blame them? I was surprised and more curious than ever, especially since I had just as many ladies responding as I did men, so I took a few up on their offer to chat with me about it via Skype. I talked with three guys, though one had to drop out early, and it was one of the most pleasant and mature conversations I think I’ve ever had with internet strangers. I asked many questions, and was told that while Zoe Quinn’s ex did write about her cheating and such, and the only thing it had to do with GamerGate was that it brought to light other instances of developers and journalist having undisclosed relationships. Even if hers were not for the purpose of getting good reviews the fact still remained that she and other developers and/or companies had relationships with journalist that were writing articles about and reviewing their games. That wasn’t the only thing that inspired GamerGate, however. There was also articles like Leigh Alexander’s “Gamers are Dead” which ultimately not only portrays gamers as all white man-babies but dumps all over them. The strangest thing about it was that nearly every major gaming journalism site released similar articles all at the same time, GamerGate wanted to expose this and investigate why.
Anyway, thanks to this conversation I decided to really research, and sure enough, I was finding lies and omissions in every Anti-GamerGate article. I also saw many people on my Twitter feed begin to denounce the term “gamer”. “I’m not a gamer, gamers are terrible man-babies so I don’t want to be called one anymore.” If you considered yourself a gamer before those stupid articles, then you’re a gamer and instead of being upset that these “journalists” are insulting you, you tuck tail and change your wording? This is where I really got ticked off. I went on many a rant about how I’ll always be a gamer and that point alone should be proof enough that these journalist are full of it. It pissed a lot of people off, which is pretty sad if you ask me.
I decided to remain neutral at this point, however, because I had just started on with GWW and I never used most of the offending gaming sites to begin with. See, there’s always been corruption and a lack of ethics in mainstream games journalism and I think most of us know it. While I understood and commended the idea of gamers finally doing something about it, I honestly didn’t see it going anywhere. Big business has a way of squashing the little guy, and I wanted to focus that energy on school and doing unpaid honest reviews instead of fighting those who don’t.
It wasn’t too long after that #NotYourShield began trending, and “Devi-Ever” took up the cause. Just when I started to feel there may really be something to this, the Anti-GamerGate movement started getting minorities and women fired from their places of employment for saying they were women and minorities that supported GamerGate. I watched as the Anti side started “doxing”, threatening and harassing innocent people for disagreeing with them. No one showed me this, I saw it for myself! I was amazed when the loudest in Anti-GamerGate, while claiming they were anti-harassment, would condone doing it to innocent people for the simple offense of…disagreeing. “Well GamerGate started it!” Here’s the thing, since the games media and later mainstream media reduced GamerGate down to a harassment movement against women (hence #NotYourShield starting), the main thing I did was look into every supposed case I could. What I found was Zoe blatantly offering free game codes to anyone that would harass her *Edit: I followed Zoe Quinn for a while after reading her article and saw her egging trolls on, then RTing someone offering game codes to those who would harass her using the #GamerGate tag. I then saw her tweet something to the effect of “go get your free games” and assumed Zoe, too, was in on it based on the rest of her feed. That’s assumption on my part, many apologies, and I stopped following her when I saw it. Thank you Reddit for correcting me.* No one doctored this, I saw it for myself. I saw Anita and Wu come out of nowhere and claim they were chased from homes or events, then did some digging to find they never left or never actually called the police, or that security for said events had no idea what they were talking about. I caught them in numerous lies and no one had to tell me about them, I noticed them myself. So did GamerGate. Suddenly there’s these women getting tons of donation money and all they had to do was claim a movement that had nothing to do with them harassed them. GamerGate, tired of being blamed, even started a harassment patrol where they’d report the offenders regardless of who they were harassing and report threats to local authorities. That wasn’t good enough because “they only reported TOS violators” knowing full well that’s Twitter’s fault, not GamerGate. So they banned together to raise money for tons of charities instead, but that wasn’t good enough because they didn’t donate directly to the people lying about being threatened. “But but these ladies have posted screenshots of their harassment!” Good job, you’ve just discovered trolls! Welcome to the internet! Majority of these “harassers” don’t even use the #GamerGate tag and those that do are still trolls. What can GamerGate do about every internet troll that loves to stir up trouble? Kick them out of a hashtag? Hashtags don’t work like that!
It wasn’t until I started being attacked online by Anti-GamerGate for being neutral that I threw my hat into the ring and became a full-blown GamerGate supporter. I was tired of gullible people believing every word the press said (remember, the corruption of the press was why GamerGate is a thing, so it totally makes sense to believe these “hate group” articles right?) I was also enraged by prominent game companies publicly dumping on their customers! It was then that I noticed “Devi-Ever” spamming the tag with requests for money, and nothing else. I don’t know why it took me so long to notice, but I was dumb to not take it as ominous foreshadowing. Anyway as a full-blown GamerGate supporter I got in plenty of debates with Anti-GamerGate idiots and they only strengthened my resolve with their dim-witted “arguments” which can be summed up as “evidence is just a tool of the patriarchy,” and yes, that is a real quote. That alone should be all you need to know about the entire thing. It wasn’t all stupid stuff like that, though. I had/have friends who were Anti-GamerGate but at least accepted evidence as a real thing. Sometimes the proof would change their minds on things, sometimes it still wasn’t enough, but either way we were able to agree to disagree and still be friends. Soon developers started coming forward, even AAA ones, and many other big-names in support of what GamerGate was trying to accomplish – at the threat and risk of being blacklisted and worse. These are men, women, and minorities under threat of being kicked out of the industry that claims GamerGate wants them kicked out of the industry. Let that sink in. An actual educated feminist Christina Sommers is constantly under attack by not being the Anita Sarkeesian version of feminist, despite Sommers doing more for gaming culture without profiting from it than Anita will ever accomplish while making out like a bandit and using stolen footage for her videos. At the same time I was able to lend a hand in helping GamerGate start up new game review sites, scholarships to help women and minorities get into school to study either STEM fields or game development, and am very excited for #Solution6Months. Even now, while again taking a less active role and going back to mostly-neutrality, I have tons of people in the GamerGate movement ready and willing to help me make my game development ideas a reality. What has Anti-GamerGate done for me? For women and minorities? They’ve told me I’m scum. That I should be gassed. That I’m no better than ISIS. That I’m not real. That I’m not “allowed” in the games industry by their choice, not GamerGate’s.
Then it happened. Angry that she was not getting the tons of money she expected by joining the GamerGate and NotYourShield Twitter tags she used to insult, “Devi-Ever” ran back to the Anti-GamerGate side in hopes they would fill her pockets instead. In a good-faith gesture she listed off everyone she knew was pro-GamerGate to help Randi Harper fill out her illegal and poorly designed blacklist/blockbot, referring to them all as the worst harassers ever. Even KFC and IGDA employees for some reason. I’m on that list, despite trying to avoid Tweeting at any of the big Anti-GamerGate names. Having not gotten enough attention for this move, “Devi Ever” then proceeded to set a bait trap. She tweeted that a tag should be started for the purpose of consumers showing appreciation directly to game devs, and of course everyone in GamerGate thought it was a great idea! Instantly everyone to reply to the tweet was reported by her and her friends and added to the blockbot. Those already on the blockbot where increased in “level” to indicate just how terrible a harasser they are. I replied once, when I realized it was a trap. Even our mutual friend, who I cared about more, got in on the action.
I also noticed more tweets of mine were added to my “pileon” offense in the blockbot when, much later when an Anti-GamerGater jumped into a different conversation I was already having with an Anti-GG friend and decided that somehow counted as me dogpiling (that’s two antis vs one pro, for those keeping count here, meaning technically I was the one that got dogpiled). Truly this is a tool for good and not just an attempt to silence dissent.
So why am I again taking a neutral stance despite still getting about the same amount of harassment? *Edit: There’s a bit of controversy here as well, and when I say “neutral” I mean only that I am no longer playing such an active role in GG happenings. I’m not sure why this is offensive.* Mostly because not all who claim to be Pro-GamerGate are innocent either, and I was tired of being told I’m Anti-GamerGate if I disagree. Yes, it happens both ways but Anti-GamerGate have so far been the rudest and most aggressive about it. I also took on a neutral stance again because Anti-GamerGate has gotten ruthless with their doxing etc. and I have a family to consider. That’s right, as fearless as I try to be with voicing my opinions, Anti-GamerGaters tend to be that cruel and will have a chorus of mostly white, very privileged people (not even going to get into this, it’s so sad) backing up and justifying the terrible and often illegal things they do to people who disagree. Even now I still do and still will get hate mail and tweets from Anti-GamerGaters who claim I don’t even exist in the first place while many GamerGaters support my choices to say whatever I want, even when disagreeing with them.
Now you have a summary of what I experienced and learned so far, but what was my purpose of sharing this? First off, “listen and believe” is the mantra of people pushing a narrative. Facts and evidence makes the world go ’round – seek it out! Even mainstream media outlets have admitted to biased “journalism” regarding GamerGate for clicks and ratings. I’m not trying to convince you to join the movement, hell I went back to a more neutral stance. I do want you to take a good hard look at the big names in Anti-GamerGate. Just about all of them are white, and come from money, yet continue to tell minorities to “check their privilege.” Second, look at all the positive things GamerGate has accomplished while Anti-GamerGate begs for money for personal use. New gaming websites, tons raised for various charities, scholarships created, teaching people to create games, existing game sites updating their ethics policies! Finally, I don’t care who you are, if you have two brain cells to rub together you know full well GamerGate is not and never has been a hate or harassment movement unless you’ve gone out of your way to mute tons of women and minorities just so you can keep thinking such. And that speaks volumes about your character.
Yes, it really is about ethics in journalism. All journalism now. (and anti-censorship)
And if you still think that’s a joke, you’re the problem.
I’m looking at you, cracked.com
Fun fact: I actually tried to reach out to cracked.com for a version of this article too, allowing them to interview and call the shots, but went completely ignored. Who’s trying to silence women again?