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Despite Contrary Claims: Not Everything’s About Gamergate

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Can we just put a moratorium on contextualizing tragedies around GamerGate? Not even a moratorium, can we just outright stop? Forever? Not everything’s about GamerGate, damn it!

The past few weeks have been pretty hard for the world. I don’t say this ironically either. From the constant state of war in the Middle East and multiple terror attacks all around the world, to the more local tragedies in the United States of multiple mass shootings, the news has been pretty grim. But if the gaming media and certain talking heads are to believed, the worst tragedy of all is that GamerGate is still a thing.

Depending on who you follow on Twitter or what news sources you read, you may or may not know about GamerGate. I’ll save the long summary, but suffice to say one side says GamerGate is a consumer revolt seeking more ethical journalism, while the other side says GamerGate is literally worse than ISIS. Not as bad as, but apparently worse. Sure, ISIS may commit actual murder and atrocities, destabilize entire regions, and cause thousands to leave their homelands, but at least they’re honest about it, right?

I’m trying my best to not be hyperbolic. There are plenty of talking heads on Twitter and various games journalists who don’t fall into these traps, but then again many of the most popular voices do. It’s like after every new tragedy they have to find some way to jam in the point that GamerGate supporters are the true villains in the world. A man shoots up Planned Parenthood and somehow that’s linked to GamerGate. The links were also drawn to the more recent attacks in Paris and the tragedy in San Bernardino where one witness either mistakenly or falsely claimed the shooters were wearing shirts with GG on them.

I'd take that action, but it seems like kind of morbid, no?

I’d take that action, but it seems kind of morbid, no?

This in’t exactly a new pattern, however. It’s been going on for pretty much as long as GamerGate has been around. Brianna Wu, the lead developer behind Revolution 60, tried to link a DC murder to GamerGate. The Guardian tried to tie the shooting committed by Anders Breivik to GamerGate. Multiple people attempted to tie the charlie Hebdo attacks to GamerGate. The tragic shooting in Charleston, SC was also a reason to drop the GamerGate hashtag. Honestly, the list kind of goes on.

These comparisons are, on their face, completely ridiculous. It attempts to tie real world tragedy and violence to online bullying and disagreements. It puts the context for the entire world news into a bubble and compares everything to a disagreement over the role of feminism and diversity in gaming and also the demand for more ethical games journalism. Side note, those two demands aren’t mutually incompatible. These talking heads claim this consumer movement and revolt (which, alright, I will admit has plenty of trolls and plenty of people I disagree with) is just a few steps away from turning into a local insurgency ready to actually start killing people in the name of… less feminism? Ethical journalism? I honestly don’t exactly see how gamers are supposed to be radicalized to the point of legitimate violence over GamerGate, but that seems to be the claim being made. Could the same point be made over the fact that multiple GamerGate functions have had to be cancelled or evacuated due to bomb threats?

Then again, if we dig a little deeper, are these claims really all that crazy?

Yes. Yes, they are. Not only do the comparisons act to make the Anti-GamerGate voices sound ridiculous, they belittle true tragedy and come out sounding like petulant children who aren’t getting enough attention. Shoehorning GamerGate in (or GameDropping as some call it) stomps over real issues like the Syrian refugee crisis, the gun control debate, freedom of religion, and more. Instead of just allowing issues and tragedies to actually be tragic or have their own context, discourse, and revelations about deep issues, these talking heads instead want everything to be about the true danger in the world: gamers who may or may not disagree with them on social justice issues.

Don’t get me wrong: GamerGate is far from innocent either. Aside from obvious harassment claims, we saw some bullshit immediately following the Paris attacks. Some trolls photoshopped an image of a Sikh Anti-Gamergater to look like he was taking a selfie wearing a suicide bomber’s vest, then tweeted to to news agencies claiming he was one of the terrorists. Looking closely, you can actually see the vest was photoshopped in and the Kuran he was holding definitely wasn’t there. Instead, he was holding up an iPad in the real photo. News agencies like Buzzfeed took the photo and ran with it, publishing the claims all over the web, effectively pinning an innocent man as a terrorist and murderer based off a simple tweet.

Really a shitty thing to do all around.

Really a shitty thing to do all around.

Whomever created that image and shared it to the media also belittled a real tragedy and potentially did serious damage to a man’s reputation for little more than a prank and getting a dig in against someone who disagreed with them on ethical gaming journalism. While I don’t know who created the image, the fact that they used someone who was vocally Anti-GamerGate at the very least points in a specific direction. It also goes without saying that this shows why media outlets need to do a better job of researching and confirming sources before posting wild speculation.

Either way, this bullshit needs to stop. It’s this exact kind of idiocy that makes all of gaming look bad. We can try to claim that gaming is a mature medium for adults all we want, but so long as our loudest voices act like petulant children, that’s how the rest of us will be painted by society.

I recognize I spent most of my time here ranting against the Anti-GamerGate side, but that’s honestly because they’re vocal about having the moral high ground. They’re the ones who claim to know what real tragedy is, and honestly that doesn’t seem to be the case. GamerGate isn’t worse than ISIS. They aren’t even on par with ISIS. And maybe, just MAYBE if both sides would stop yelling at each other and actually have real conversations about what they want without harassing the other side (this is a 2-way street), then maybe things would actually get better.

Or, y’know… you can just keep insulting each other and come up with all the reasons why I support the side you don’t to try and discredit me. That works too. Jerks.

About Stephen Crane

Stephen was hooked by the NES at a very young age and never looked back. He games on a daily basis and is currently trying to climb his way up the ranked ladder on League of Legends!

Outside of the video game world he actually likes running and owns a rapidly growing collection of toed shoes. Stephen Crane is the owner of Armed Gamer.

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  • Finally someone coming right out saying what so many want to here, for these idiots to shut up. Truth is we all just wanna be left alone to enjoy our hobby and to stop being demonized just b/c of it. Also I don’t have the links on hand, but it was prove beyond a reasonable doubt, the image of the anti-GG guy was Photo shopped almost a year prior to the Paris attacks and the guy that took responsibility was a 3rd party troll causing a ruckus. Sorry I don’t have that info for you but I’m sure someone will provide a link to that info. Good read BTW.

    • Cole Pram

      Ask and ye shall receive. https://archive.is/8jqj4

      It was actually two parties that did the photoshop, one I believe was a supporter of GamerGate (sad person @turd_wartsniff). It looks to me like they were goofing off and had no ill intent other than mocking someone that was acting like an arse. The other (Blacktric @Bl4ptrep) refereed to GamerGate supporters as N***rs and said we shouldn’t be allowed to have a voice. Maybe he was a supporter at one time, I don’t know, but it was obvious that he was mad that the majority of supporters were more concerned with ethics than whatever his pet concern was.

      The photoshop itself, IMHO, wasn’t evil. thousands of images a day get phtoshopped in to parodies of ridiculousness. The issue was, at the start, a reputable news site ran the image, likely without looking at it, and took an anonymous accounts word that it was one of the Pairs bombers with no fact checking at all. That alone was a huge ethical fail on that journalists part. Then other journalists started parroting it, ethical failings on their parts. Then when someone finally pointed it out, instead of just printing retractions and admitting they were wrong, journalists circled the wagons and pointed fingers at everyone EXCEPT the journalists that fell for it. Blaming everyone that supported GamerGate for the work of a couple anonymous accounts was another huge ethical failing in my mind. GamerGate has basically become the, “look at that invisible cloud of doom that’s making us do stupid things, it’s all that invisible clouds fault!!”

      I feel bad Veerender was involved in this, however the irony was Veerender was admittedly opposed to GamerGate and used lazy unethical reporting to smear supporters. The ending result was he was smeared by lazy unethical journalists himself.

      The one reason I like seeing GamerGate dropped in articles is because it’s a litmus test for me to decide if a publication is worth my time. If they drop it in and spend paragraphs explaining how misogynistic all these thousands of anonymous people are without presenting the other side of the discussion you can be sure that publication is full of it and likely has serious issues with their own writers.

      • Thnx for helping me out main, didn’t have the resources available. Really good post.

      • Great points! You may have noticed ArmedGamer has only a few articles that mention GamerGate, and there’s a reason for that… Steve is hesitant to post any articles that seem to be clickbait. I’ve seen some of the drafts made that I thought were insightful but ultimately were not published for this reason. There’s a careful balance to be struck between maintaining good ethics and image for your publication while actually writing things that are topical and that an audience will want to read. Assholes will still come out of the woodwork to criticize no matter how good of a job you do maintaining this balance, because it’s the Internet (lulz).

        I think on Steve’s points in this article though… it’s not just GamerGate that’s thrown around. Immediately after the San Bernardino attacks I went to Twitter to try and follow the events as they progressed and was met with American political rhetoric on gun laws, Islamophobia, and the coming presidential election. People now gravitate around any sort of “noise” to push their platforms. This is social media at its worst. Seriously, go to any social and search a trending hashtag, a ton of unrelated BS clickbait meme junk will come up in there. It’s the job of a good journalist writing news articles to filter the noise and report this in as unbiased way and the job of a journalist writing an opinion piece (like the above) to state their bias clearly and back it with research. Anything else is at best lazy, at worst unethical.

        • Emanuel Hoogeveen

          I agree with pretty much everything you said above, but I wanted to add that there was actually another reaction to the San Bernardino attacks, before it was known that the attackers were Muslim: https://imgur.com/a/ctcfc (offered without comment)

          • Oh, my mental filter kicked in. It’s like adblock, I just disregard messages when melanin content gets thrown into the mix. It’s become so commonplace in social that it’s like lottery spam in my email.

        • Cole Pram

          Yep, I’m starting to realize my age. When I was a kid the best we had was a BBS you had to call over a telephone line with a 8BAUD modem. The news came printed in black and white on a piece of paper or on the local evening report, and we liked it that way -_-

          Young’ns today and their “social bull hucky” don’t know what news is. The size of Justin Bever’s butt and/or how Kim Kardasian trims her bangs doesn’t matter.

          Social media is a double edged sword, we’re more connected than ever to people. The flip side is it allows gossip and rumors to spread so fast no one really has the facts. The news seems compelled to keep up with it though and that’s the issue.

          The news, media professions in general, **MUST** be accurate. When somethings printed on a large site people generally accept as creditable, that site has the ability to destroy lives and incite lynch mobs before there’s any real facts about a situation available.

          • Yeah, you’re a bit older than us. I’m still somewhat active on a few newsgroups on Usenet with the other neckbeards. That’s about the oldest medium I use.

            A few years back social media was different, well especially for Twitter. I don’t use Facebook as I’m averse to the walled garden model of having to join a site to read content. There was a time when Twitter was mostly used by people to talk about shit they were currently doing, or rant about life stuff, or share insightful stuff. It was different.

            Now that big media and corps have moved in and understand it a bit more, people began to ditch their real identities and the old kinds of content disappeared for fear saying something would sink their career. Celebrities and brands now find it as a place they could interact with people immediately and this is where much of the traffic goes now. I can tell you, ping a large corp on social and it’s likely you’ll get a near instant response compared to waiting on the phone for a half hour or more.

            If you want a much better explanation of some of what’s going on there check out this fantastic article (long read): http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/11/conversation-smoosh-twitter-decay/412867/

            I do think independent publishers are rewarded by having access to signal platforms like Twitter, Facebook, even Reddit. Bad content should in theory get buried as the entire community now acts as a form of moderation (even on Disqus here you can downvote posts into hiding or mark it as offensive). Writers don’t have to submit their content to large gatekeepers anymore to get recognition (ie. newspapers). Small publishers like ArmedGamer are really at the mercy of readers and the new gatekeepers policies (facebook algorithm changes to extort more advertising money, reddit shadowban policy on self-submissions).

            The problem here is that *anyone* can latch onto a social signal and there’s really not an effective way to filter large scale noise without it being considered censorship. Twitter tried to push some better controls but it’s really a band-aid. Facebook wants photo verification for personal accountability once you start to get serious reach. Big media is latching on and trying to lead first to stay relevant since they see the threat of small publishers with quality content. They can pay the new gatekeepers with their established readership and money.

            The old medium, TV, isn’t going away very soon, it’s just in its death throes to keep people engaged through whatever will provoke a response. It’s the “Trump” tactic in action, if you can’t outsmart just bait the populace and bulldoze the competition.

  • WEL

    rumor has it that gamergate did 911 and the holocaust.

    • Swagraven

      And also killed the dinosaurs.

  • Cole Pram

    By the way Stephen Crane, great article.

    We’ve been saying this for over a year though. The issue is people supporting GamerGate had a problem with the media and called them on it. Then for what seemed like no reason journalists deflected with, “DON’T LISTEN TO THEM! THEY’RE MISOGYNISTS!”, which was where “anti-GamerGate” grew from. Their whole argument is born from, “don’t listen to those guys because they’re bad”, and journalists are giving THEM the platform to spew their hate from.

    There’s no conversation to be had between “pro-GamerGate” and “anti-GamerGate” because anti-GamerGate whole existence is predicated on making pro-GamerGate out to be “worse than ISIS” and intentionally derailing any positive conversation.

    If there’s going to be any productive discussion it’s going to have to start with journalists admitting there’s a serious problem with journalism. Not JUST gaming journalism, although I’m happy to start there in an effort to figure out how to solve the larger issue.

    • One thing to honestly note though is that they have resorted to this game dropping tactic to generate clicks, hell they even attacked suing an article about Mars. Truth is they need #GamerGate to stay afloat, but we don’t need them and this game dropping trick is starting to fail.

  • Gary

    It’d be great to have a conversation, even debates with “anti-GamerGate”.. but the folks from GamerGate have been denied the ability to do that. Why? Because you don’t get to debate people who refuse to have a conversation. These are the same people who hide behind blockbots and blacklists. You also can’t have a debate / conversation with ideologues who don’t even see you as human beings. The sheer amount of times that “anti-GamerGate” have called GamerGate supporters things like “subhuman”, “human garbage”, etc is surprisingly astounding.

    The fact is though, GamerGate supporters want to have a conversation, a debate. That’s why SPJ Airplay happened. That’s why the #SavePoint thing is happening. To critique the critics of the gaming medium on open platforms. But those SAME critics call the criticism of them and their ideologies “hate speech” and harassment. They don’t want a debate, they want to proselytize and propagandize. There is plenty of valid criticism to be leveled on “cultural critics” and their analysis of the gaming medium, but until aGG and those critics are willing to listen to it, it’ll never happen. They just stick their fingers in their ears and say “Nyah nyah nyah, you’re all sexist / racist / homophobes because you disagree with me”

  • underthepale

    The way I understand it, GG, as a whole, has wanted to discuss the issues with both, the media and with the “anti” side. The response, in general, has been for both, the media and the “anti” side to no-platform GG as a whole.

    SPJ Airplay was supposed to be the moment things would be settled, or at the very least, laid bare, and instead, multiple bomb threats are called on it, resulting in it getting shut down. This was, of course, after its organizer had to settle for mostly supporters and neutrals, as opposed to antis and supporters, because no anti would agree to show up. And believe me, he tried. Anita Sarkesian refused to comment. Arthur Chu blocked him. Brianna Wu’s head spun around on her neck. Some other joker demanded an absurd appearance fee. The list goes on. He tried, but they weren’t interested in a conversation. Nobody on the “anti” side is. They just want to keep talking about how awful GG is, in the hopes they will simply go away, or be shamed out of existence.

    And yes. GG is pretty angry and aggressive these days. Because they’re tired. All they wanted was to play games, and have a media that would support them. What they got instead was a media that hates them on ideological grounds, and one that will not stop addressing with contempt people whose only real crime, it seems, is wanting some accountability in their representatives. No, GG aren’t saints. But it is their opponents who asked for a war, and GG delivered.

    A sad fact of life is, you most often reap what you sow.

  • Maniate

    I am totally better than ISIS at Battlefield 2 and Dustforce.

  • SixdoublefiveThreetwoone

    #Gamergate is by and for gamers. It has been deliberately ‘leaderless’ to provide for deniability when one of the members behaves poorly. Modeled after the Guy Fawkes hacker group, GG is a tamer version of the aforementioned internet vandals. When left unattended, angry children cause problems that spill out of their respective playgrounds. Soon they will discover it is people that are social and not media. Adults and behaved young people have better to do than participate in acrimonious exchanges with strangers on the internet. Because the dim will always rationalize belligerence and rudeness, the wise simply won’t be around for it. #PoliteFlight †

  • DariusQ

    I honestly don’t think GG will ever stop simply because the SJWs won’t let it. Every time things calm down some left leaning propagandist puts another spin on things thus reaffirming their moral righteousness and a need for more Patreon donations. Make no mistake, there are people making money off this idiocy and they have no intention of just giving that up.

  • Lars Anderson

    Gamergate caused my grandpa’s crops to fail and got my sister pregnant. True story.

  • Wyrdless

    The Gammergate crowd made an excellent point about journalistic ethics by trolling buzzfeed, which is of course an extremely trashy publication which also posted lots of dumb articles about gammergate.

    The more they can slip fake news into buzzfeed the more they show that journalism has some serious issues

  • shadus

    Great Article. Personally I think our society’s major problem is that we treat our politics and ideologies like they are part of a college football rivalry instead of having an open honest discourse.

  • Bret Percy

    Great article. One thing, and I COULD be wrong on this, I thought it was proven that the guy who edited that picture wasn’t gamergate? Am I wrong, can anyone whose still checking the comments on this article tell me? I’m actually asking here.