26 votes

The events that led to Gamergate started 5 years ago today, and The New York Times has just published a series of 4 pieces related to it

I'm posting this in ~tech since I think the stories are more related to social media than games. I haven't read them yet, but am just about to start working my way through.

Unfortunately, they're in a weird and ugly format, with an incredibly distracting background that constantly sends little "mouse cursors" towards the actual location of your mouse. I highly recommend using Reader Mode or something similar to get rid of the styles. You might also have to click a "READ MORE" link in the right place to even get the text of the article to show up properly.

Here are links to the 4 pieces (I'm not even sure if they'll work properly because of this disaster of a layout):

16 comments

  1. [6]
    Deimos
    Link
    Well, I've read all four now, and I'm honestly kind of disappointed. Each piece is about a different aspect, but they're all on the short side (two of them are less than 800 words), and all felt...

    Well, I've read all four now, and I'm honestly kind of disappointed. Each piece is about a different aspect, but they're all on the short side (two of them are less than 800 words), and all felt quite shallow and/or scattered to me. It's very possible that I'm not the target audience at all since I already know a lot about the subjects, but I don't feel like I came away with any new and significant information. Between the framing around the "5-year anniversary" and the special presentation, I was expecting more depth.

    21 votes
    1. [5]
      kfwyre
      Link Parent
      I came away with the same feeling. I really wanted these to be much more than they actually were, and I don't know if that's a comment on me, the articles, or both. If anyone has any other...

      I came away with the same feeling. I really wanted these to be much more than they actually were, and I don't know if that's a comment on me, the articles, or both.

      If anyone has any other recommendations for long reads regarding Gamergate--particularly its legacy--I'd be very interested.

      5 votes
      1. [4]
        Deimos
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        If you haven't read this one before, I think it's one of the best I've read overall (it's from 2014 though, so not about the legacy): The Future Of The Culture Wars Is Here, And It's Gamergate I...

        If you haven't read this one before, I think it's one of the best I've read overall (it's from 2014 though, so not about the legacy): The Future Of The Culture Wars Is Here, And It's Gamergate

        I know it was mentioned/linked from at least one of these NYT articles.

        11 votes
        1. [3]
          kfwyre
          Link Parent
          Thanks for linking that. I remember reading this article back when it was released, and it was interesting to revisit it with fresh eyes and a more informed perspective. Interestingly enough, I...

          Thanks for linking that. I remember reading this article back when it was released, and it was interesting to revisit it with fresh eyes and a more informed perspective.

          Interestingly enough, I think that actually helped me realize part of what was missing from the NYT articles you linked. This one had a position--it had teeth. The other articles felt weirdly...distant? Resigned?

          The article you linked has an energy and conviction that felt right in 2014, when all of this was still new and uncharted for most people. Meanwhile, the articles here, in 2019, feel almost casual or pedestrian in their recapping of abhorrent acts. In allowing myself to read too much into these conclusions, I'm realizing that in the past five years the methods made known by Gamergate moved from oulandish and unconscionable to expected. We've been habituated to assume that hate mobs, death threats, and explosive culture war battles are just part and parcel of internet discourse. If the internet is one big room, then it was Gamergate that came in five years ago and put up really shitty wallpaper. That shitty wallpaper has stayed up long enough that we now just sort of accept that this is how this place is supposed to look.

          What was missing from these 2019 pieces was that it felt like the people writing them had no fire in their fight anymore. This is not a certainty (it's merely my projection), nor is it a critique. Even if go out on the limb of assuming my projections are in any way accurate, I have nothing but empathy and understanding for those people. I've shared on this site before how part of what brought me to Tildes was the fatigue from being a frontline culture warrior elsewhere. Nevertheless, if there's any Gamergate legacy, it's probably exactly this: hateful internet bullshit is no longer a novelty--it's a given.

          10 votes
          1. [2]
            Deimos
            Link Parent
            TechCrunch published this today in response to the NYT's articles, I think you'll enjoy it: The mainstream media have still not learned the lessons of Gamergate

            TechCrunch published this today in response to the NYT's articles, I think you'll enjoy it: The mainstream media have still not learned the lessons of Gamergate

            6 votes
            1. kfwyre
              Link Parent
              This one had teeth! Also, I'd never before heard of the "motte and bailey strategy" but it's an incredibly useful framework for addressing and understanding bad-faith arguments. Thanks for this...

              This one had teeth! Also, I'd never before heard of the "motte and bailey strategy" but it's an incredibly useful framework for addressing and understanding bad-faith arguments. Thanks for this one as well.

              2 votes
  2. [3]
    ThisIsMyTildesLogin
    Link
    I'm still confused about Gamergate. As far as I can tell it was an attempt by a group of angry gamers to clean up games journalism by issuing death and rape threats to women involved in gaming.

    I'm still confused about Gamergate. As far as I can tell it was an attempt by a group of angry gamers to clean up games journalism by issuing death and rape threats to women involved in gaming.

    6 votes
    1. nothis
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Besides loot boxes, gamergate is the worst thing that ever happened to gaming. It's a topic that baffles me and that I know more about than I care to, so here's my wall of text: While I don't want...

      Besides loot boxes, gamergate is the worst thing that ever happened to gaming. It's a topic that baffles me and that I know more about than I care to, so here's my wall of text:

      While I don't want to use names, it's IMO important to remember that "gamergate" had an actual start. It's telling in that it shows you exactly what kinds of events get gamergate people raging and how little they have to do with any actual concern with "game journalism".

      It started with the ex boyfriend of a female indie dev posting a 10,000-word "manifesto" of her cheating on him, accusing her of hypocrisy (I think the juiciest example was her equating not telling your partner about cheating on them with rape). It was a long and sad personal drama about infidelity and personal values colliding that should never have been made public, despite the somewhat paranoid claims of the boyfriend that he had to post this preemptively to protect him from her future-lies.

      The only reason it blew up was that one of the people she allegedly slept with was a game journalist for a major website. It didn't matter that he never really mentioned her games extensively or that the games having being fairly popular anyway, for covering a rather niche topic. No, she was accused of sleeping her way up, which gamers could not allow! So the origin of a movement that passionately called for "ethics in game journalism" apparently drew the line at female indie devs (probably less than 5% of the industry) sleeping with journalists, despite that never having been heard of before, their example being based on hearsay and there definitely not being an overabundance of female indie devs present in mainstream games coverage. I believe it's save to assume the problem was something else.

      Steve Bannon once said:

      You can activate that army. They come in through Gamergate or whatever and then get turned onto politics and Trump.

      I think gamergate blew up around the same time the right truly started to understand the internet and a lot of right wing online commentators used it as a platform: "The feminists are coming to get you, they have no respect for you, they hate you and they will take your games! Also they will take your freedom. Also the only anti-feminist running for president is Trump, just saying!" I don't think the last two jumps are an accident.

      Gaming communities are fertile ground for this because it's a collision of two things:

      First, gamers are always afraid of mainstream media taking video games seriously leading to censorship or bans. This goes back to the 80s but got serious with articles blaming the Columbine shootings on Doom. The best defense used to be "when I shoot a virtual guy, I don't really think of shooting people, it's just silly fun". This worked for a long time but now indie devs talk about "serious" social issues and make the news. A lot of it revolving around sexual harassment and an under-representation of positive female game characters (see "Tropes vs. Women in Video Games"). So how does this "threaten" videogames? Sigh, well, it's against overly sexualized videogame character designs. That's it, mostly. They want to take away the boobs!

      Secondly, and probably just as important: Gamers tend to not have the best social skills and very likely have been rejected by women a lot. The reason for that might be gaming being a tech-heavy hobby and techy stuff tends to be your escape from reality if you struggle making social connections since the logical thinking involved in STEM fields can be trained more easily and painlessly than social skills. Of course, gamers also tend to be young, so what 15 year old hasn't been crushed by unrequited love? So there's an incel tendency in many gaming communities and it turned from being a little sad to a little dangerous, in recent years.

      Mix the two and you end up with a group of people who, to a probably unhealthy extend, try to find escape from reality in videogames where women are beautiful and have simple character traits suddenly finding themselves "attacked" by the media that covers what they do all day: Videogame journalism. It's in this context that it makes sense just how thirsty gamergate was for a story vaguely exposing some hypocrisy in the actions of a side-column-famous female videogame developer. It was never about her getting unfair coverage, it was about finally having proof that woman are evil and not even videogames are safe. The reason it grew so loud was probably the excitement of people belonging to that group noticing that they're not alone and that they can get away with a lot of bullshit if they're audacious enough. And bullshit it was!

      I believe the original incident has always been the real core of gamergate but if we want to pretend that anything else happened within the "movement for ethics in games journalism", it's a bunch of "internet investigation" and conspiracy theories. They tried to identify unnamed individuals in the manifesto, proudly published their real names only to admit that they made a mistake, later (at which point the hate mob had already targeted that person). They had some weird thing where they accused judges at the IGF awards of being too close (remember: indie games that actually win awards are the enemy because "serious" social issues stuff could slip in), which, of course, turned out to be bullshit.

      Gamergate really changed my perception of gamers from being "aggressive" in the sense of you fighting with your brother over who gets the controller to "aggressive" in the a political sense. I also believe this might not just be a matter of discovering an ugly side of gamers but part of a larger political movement (namely, the alt-right), changing internet communities for the worse by politicizing bickering. It's really sad, I apologize for the wall of text but this is something that haunts me, as I generally love the medium of videogames, love talking about them but often feel completely alienated by some of the edgier (and still very tone-setting) parts of videogame culture.

      6 votes
    2. moocow1452
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Gamergate was never really about Games Journalism outside of it being "Dad" for them to rebel against. Gamers didn't want to share gaming culture and all their secret handshakes with all these new...

      Gamergate was never really about Games Journalism outside of it being "Dad" for them to rebel against. Gamers didn't want to share gaming culture and all their secret handshakes with all these new people who weren't already Gamer white guys and said that the games they claimed to love didn't really represent them that well, so when "Dad" said to knock if off and be nice, Gamergate was like, "no u, Dad" and now we're here.

      EDIT: Read Deimos' Deadspin article in the comments, it has a particularly succinct bit in the end.

      All culture wars strike these same chords, because all culture wars are at bottom about the same thing: the desperate efforts of the privileged, in an ever-pluralizing America, to cling by their nails to the perquisites of what they'd thought was once their exclusive domain.

      13 votes
  3. [3]
    hamstergeddon
    Link
    Just look at the Ooblets controversy to see that nothing's really changed. Epic exclusivity is a controversial issue already, but the response to it was straight out of the Gamergate playbook. I'm...

    Just look at the Ooblets controversy to see that nothing's really changed. Epic exclusivity is a controversial issue already, but the response to it was straight out of the Gamergate playbook.

    I'm just left hating gaming "culture" right now. Gaming was such a big part of my childhood on into adulthood and while I still love gaming, I want nothing to do with any online community involving it. Aside from really niche ones, they're all just filled with the same obnoxious, entitled brats who think they're owed everything and will go to ridiculous lengths to get revenge on devs who don't give them what they want.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      feigneddork
      Link Parent
      I've almost near given up on gaming thanks to the toxic community as well as the state of video games nowadays. It just feels like an abusive relationship where the community is tag-teaming with...

      I've almost near given up on gaming thanks to the toxic community as well as the state of video games nowadays.

      It just feels like an abusive relationship where the community is tag-teaming with the publishers and their terrible exploitation of workers and customers to get what they want.

      I play the odd game here and there, but after getting into Netflix I've found a thing that I enjoy that doesn't abuse my time nor my wallet. But for all I know it might be an age/getting tired of videogames in general thing, so I'm unsure in general, except for the fact that I'm not really enjoying the videogame scene right now.

      3 votes
      1. Akir
        Link Parent
        Video games can still be great, you just have to avoid any and all forms of 'social gaming'. Online multiplayer and F2P games are always going to be filled with jerks, period, and the big players...

        Video games can still be great, you just have to avoid any and all forms of 'social gaming'. Online multiplayer and F2P games are always going to be filled with jerks, period, and the big players are all heavily invested in them. Nintendo is the only one that seems to have the social issues with online games fixed, and that's largely because they don't really allow communication with the people you were playing with unless they are on your friends list. If you avoid social gaming, then you don't even need to take any extra efforts to avoid the toxic gamers.

        3 votes
  4. [4]
    jgb
    Link
    Unlike some other battles in the internet culture war, I really struggle to understand the viewpoint of the gamergaters. I would be interested to see an article that presents a rational and...

    Unlike some other battles in the internet culture war, I really struggle to understand the viewpoint of the gamergaters. I would be interested to see an article that presents a rational and thoughtful steelman analysis of the gamergater's narrative.

    3 votes
    1. ubergeek
      Link Parent
      That would require a rational and thoughtful stance, to begin with. It boils down to "I don't want games designed by women, with women in mind."

      I would be interested to see an article that presents a rational and thoughtful steelman analysis of the gamergater's narrative.

      That would require a rational and thoughtful stance, to begin with. It boils down to "I don't want games designed by women, with women in mind."

      6 votes
    2. spit-evil-olive-tips
      Link Parent
      I've found that a Rosetta Stone for understanding these sorts of reactionary culture-war issues is the idea of a zero sum game. If you start with that assumption, then it's obvious why a male...

      I've found that a Rosetta Stone for understanding these sorts of reactionary culture-war issues is the idea of a zero sum game.

      If you start with that assumption, then it's obvious why a male gamer might want fewer female perspectives in games - a bigger slice for women necessarily means a smaller slice for men.

      5 votes
    3. moocow1452
      Link Parent
      If you were five, and could form convincing logical thought, how would you argue that your parents should spend more time with you to the exclusion and detriment of your adopted sister? The Ethics...

      If you were five, and could form convincing logical thought, how would you argue that your parents should spend more time with you to the exclusion and detriment of your adopted sister? The Ethics in Game Journalism thing is a motte to the bailey of what @ubergeek mentioned below, so you could argue game journalists are effectively a propaganda arm of the publishers. (Of which there is no argument here.) It's just that "they do not have are best interests in mind" turns into "they lied to us, with women!" turns into "eff them, and their women, they are both worse than dirt" which leads to bad places.

      4 votes