The Media’s Hit Job on #Gamergate

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By William Hicks | 4:20 am, April 27, 2016

If you learned about Gamergate supporters from outlets like the Washington Post, the Guardian, or even Wikipedia, you would think them nothing more than a group of woman-hating, foaming-at-the-mouth psychopaths who want nothing more than to restrict gaming to a male-only hobby and fill the inboxes of all women game developers with rape threats.

More: Louise Mensch interviews #Gamergate Founder Adam Baldwin

The level of bias against Gamergate and the dismissals of its reasons for existing are widespread. Short descriptions often first label it a harassment campaign and rarely ever make note of the broader stated goals of many of its supporters — men and women alike — such as fighting to keep political correctness out of gaming.

While harassment of critics has definitely been a problem, Gamergate is a complicated and unorganized movement that at the very least deserves a nuanced definition by journalists claiming objectivity.

Here, instead, is a sampling of how various news outlets have described Gamergate:


1. Fortune’s “Gamergate Guide”

Exacerbated by a Twitter hashtag and the safety of anonymity on the Internet, the movement escalated into a groundswell of hard-core gamers threatening and intimidating female video game developers and writers over fear that the increasing number of female players will change what it means to be a “gamer.”

First of all, the vast majority of Gamergaters don’t care how many female video game players exist in proportion to men. The “gamer” identity comment refers to a backlash against a series of articles saying gamers are dead. These articles (here’s a list of them all) published by gaming journalists at various outlets essentially accused gamers of being misogynistic young men who lacked social interactions and understanding of the outside world. So of course there was backlash after large parts of the gaming media showed just how much contempt they have for their own audience.

2. This Guardian article 

The most notorious recent example is Gamergate. Both Reddit and Twitter were epicenters of this phenomenon, where the ire of mostly male gamers was directed at a handful of female journalists whose only offense was to express their opinions in public.

Let’s look at the issues important to Gamergate. The big ones have nothing to do with female gaming journalists expressing their opinions. For instance when The Fine Young Capitalists’ initiative to sponsor women to make video games got shut down by feminist activists, the outcry had nothing to do with opinions and more to do with the hypocrisy of opposing a plan to support women because the organization is run by men.


3. The Washington Post’s “Only Guide to Gamergate You Ever Need to Read”

Whatever Gamergate may have started as, it is now an Internet culture war. On one side are independent game-makers and critics, many of them women, who advocate for greater inclusion in gaming. On the other side of the equation are a motley alliance of vitriolic naysayers: misogynists, anti-feminists, trolls, people convinced they’re being manipulated by a left-leaning and/or corrupt press, and traditionalists who just don’t want their games to change.

Calling yourself “the only guide you ever need to read” seems to imply objectivity. Apparently this is the only guide you need to read if you’re already convinced everything is a misogynist conspiracy and love getting your opinions validated. In reality, Gamergate has always had women, minority members, and even political liberals involved. Early on, the #NotYourShield hashtag was created to highlight women and minorities who consider themselves “gamers” and generally sympathetic to Gamergate.


4. Gawker’s Explainer of Gamergate for Non-Geeks

Even regarded generously, Gamergate isn’t much more than a tone-deaf rabble of angry obsessives with a misguided understanding of journalistic ethics. But there are a lot of reasons not to regard the movement generously.

This is a great explanation coming from a tone-deaf website most noted for its celebrity stalker feature and the fact that it’s about to go belly up for publishing a sex tape.

5. The Wikipedia Article on Gamergate

The Gamergate controversy centers on the harassment campaign conducted primarily through the use of the Twitterhashtag #GamerGate, revolving around issues of sexism and progressivism in video game culture. Gamergate is used as a blanket term for the controversy, the harassment campaign and actions of those participating in it, and the loosely organized movement that emerged from the hashtag.

The Wikipedia page on Gamergate has been a huge source of contention for the movement. Wikipedia actively banned some editors from editing the page and to this day it remains emphatically anti-Gamergate, in a departure from the site’s usual aim for neutrality.