1) Gamergate started out with a huge misogynist outburst against (female and feminist) game developer Zoe Quinn. The term “gamergate” itself was coined by right-wing actor Adam Baldwin (of Firefly fame), endorsing a Youtube video which falsely accused Quinn of sleeping with a male journalist in exchange for a good write-up of her game. The misogyny was not subtle.
3) But that in no way excuses Gjoni’s abusive acts against his ex-girlfriend (publishing tons of private correspondence and encouraging gamergate), or the huge misogynist flood against Quinn, which Gjoni encouraged while maintaining a very thin shell of deniability.2
4) I don’t see how it’s possible to look at something like the wildly disproportionate, almost incomprehensibly numerous, violent,3 misogynistic overreaction to Anita Sarkeesian criticizing sexism in games, and not conclude that there’s a misogyny problem in the gaming community. And yet, many gamergaters deny that there’s a misogyny problem there at all. To me, this saps them of credibility.
5) Gamergate got huge – too huge to be any one thing. I think there genuinely are gamergaters who aren’t misogynists, don’t participate in abuse, report abuse when they see it, etc.. I’ve met some Gamergaters who seem to be not at all woman-hating (although imo they are making the wrong call by associating themselves with GG). There are tens of thousands of gamergaters, and I’m not comfortable with painting them all with a single brush.
6) But on the other hand, it’s not like Gamergaters couldn’t simply choose another label. They could very easily disassociate themselves from their misogynistic beginnings, if they wanted to, just by creating a new name for “anti-corruption-in-gaming-journalism-but-not-rooted-in-misogyny.” Instead, they choose to associate themselves with a name that is obviously rooted in large-scale misogyny.4
7) There’s abuse from both sides. The death threats referred to in my previous post almost certainly came from anti-gamergaters. Less seriously (because not threats) but more seriously (because thousands of times more common), I’ve seen a huge amount of mean and dehumanizing tweets from both sides.
9) But after a certain point of mindless and mean tweets becoming commonplace on both sides, as well as death threats and the like being used repeatedly by the outliers on both sides, I no longer want to associate myself with either side, even if one side is worse.
10) On the substantive issues that they claim to be concerned about, Gamergaters are, imo, mostly wrong. It is not corrupt for critics to discuss sexism in their written criticism of a game. It is not corrupt for an award for indy game design to go to a game that most gamergaters don’t like. Etc, etc.
10½ ) I think gamergaters are also wrong to say that it’s corrupt for a critic or reporter to write about work by someone whose patreon or kickstarter they’ve supported. Supporting a patreon is not a friendship relationship, or an investor relationship; it’s more like supporting someone’s zine by subscribing to it. There is nothing corrupt about critics writing about work that they passionately support. However, this is a somewhat grayer area, and what gamergaters are asking for here – disclosure – seems harmless.
11) The gamergaters I’ve spoken to have a truly terrifying lack of depth in how they view art and art criticism.
12) Some Gamergate actions are – although not literally censorship – doing pragmatic harm to freedom of speech. Gamergaters attempt to use economic coercion to shut up reporters and publications with opposing views. This is contemptible. I have not seen a single gamergater disagree with this common and much-publicized gamergate tactic.6
13) I think gamergate has vastly increased the number of feminists and nerds who parse these issues as “feminists vs nerds” conflicts. Unfortunately, this parsing erases the existence of feminist nerds, who comprise approximately 99% of everyone I’m friends with ever, so I’m really annoyed by this.
- I’m a little bothered by the conflation of “cheating on your lover and lying about it” with “abuse.” There is a big difference between what a cheating liar does and what someone who beats up their lover does, even though both of them are doing great harm. There is a good reason only one of these two things is a crime. But probably I’m trying to stop a train that actually left the station years ago. [↩]
- I’m in agreement with people who say “Quinn was emotionally abusive and grossly unethical and we shouldn’t make her a hero.” I’m not in agreement with people who deny that Gjoni was also emotionally abusive and grossly unethical, or who say that what happened to Quinn is in any way justified by what she did to Gjoni. [↩]
- If you don’t think that counts as violent, there’s also this. [↩]
- It is true, as I’ve seen some pro-GG folks argue, that the Democrats began as a racist party and we’re mostly willing to overlook that now. But there’s a difference between overlooking a group’s origins in 1782, versus overlooking a group’s origins this past August. [↩]
- Adam Baldwin will not be forced to cancel any public appearances by threats of a repeat of the Montreal Massacre. [↩]
- And yes, I have looked. I’m sure there are some out there – there are, after all, so many thousands of gamergaters – but any gamergater who questions these economic-strongarm tactics must be an extreme outlier. [↩]