Nobody Likes You. Everybody Hates You.
A study carried out by a program manager at Microsoft found that only 3 percent of people who know about GamerGate support it. It’s bad news for a movement that often claims to represent gamers and game developers.
The survey estimated GamerGate’s popularity by examining its coverage in major web-based publications, including Wikipedia, gaming websites and news services like the BBC and the New York Times. (The study largely overlooked social media, due to the infeasibility of accurately measuring sentiment on such platforms.) A survey of 1,183 sources from 90 different publications found the following:
Breitbart, the Escapist, and three random writers are all of the pro-GG voices that were high-profile enough to be included. Together they make about 3 percent of the publications cataloged for this study. Practically every other publication depicted GamerGate as being inseparable from online harassment and misogyny.
That’s it. The only notable publications supporting GamerGate are a gaming website whose global ranking has plummeted over the past year and an infamous right-wing reactionary propaganda site known for pulling ugly, slanderous stunts like falsely accusing an anti-racism activist of lying about his ethnic ancestry.
Celebrities Don’t Like GamerGate
GamerGate hasn’t garnered much in the way of celebrity endorsements, either. It managed to attract actor Adam Baldwin and… that’s about it, really. By the way, here is how another, more culturally-relevant celebrity responded to Baldwin’s involvement in GamerGate:
@AdamBaldwin please stop supporting this stupid cause.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) October 15, 2014
Stephen Colbert took an anti-GamerGate stance as well, inviting one of the movement’s major targets onto his show to discuss online harassment. Listen carefully to the clip below: when Colbert utters the phrase “ethics in video game journalism”, his studio audience laughs. That is how normal people react to GamerGate.
John Oliver also spoke to some of GamerGate’s biggest targets in a segment about online harassment against women.
Game Developers Don’t Like GamerGate
Game developers have been pretty quiet on the issue, with many refusing to publicly take sides — perhaps out of fear of lost revenue. Still, Tim Schafer — a man whose decades-long career in game development has included the brilliant Grim Fandango, the cult favorite Psychonauts and the beloved Monkey Island series — has openly ridiculed GamerGate, going so far as to include puppet shows in his mockery of the bizarre little hate movement.
Criticism of GamerGate onstage at the 2015 Game Developers Conference drew a standing ovation.
The Sci-Fi Community Doesn’t Like GamerGate, Either
Recently, a GamerGate-affiliated group calling itself the Sad Puppies launched a campaign in the realm of science fiction, attempting to stuff the ballots at the Hugo Awards in order to keep SJW writers (mainly women and people of color, which I’m sure is purely a coincidence) off the nominees list. The endeavor ultimately failed.
In nearly a third of the categories, every nominee was a wretched Puppy-endorsed hack. Hugo voters, in response, overwhelmingly voted to give out “No Award” in each of those categories. The science fiction community elected to hurl a third of its awards into the sea rather than give them to someone endorsed by GamerGate.
Even 4chan Doesn’t Like GamerGate
GamerGate was even too toxic for Christopher “Moot” Poole, creator of 4chan, who was so repulsed by the mob that he abandoned his infamous message board — but not before exiling GamerGate from his forums. Yes, that’s right: not even 4chan likes GamerGate.
When your movement is too gross for 4chan, it’s time to re-evaluate your life choices.
What is GamerGate?
GamerGate is an internet-based movement that claims to be about protecting ethics in gaming journalism, but in reality the entire thing started when Eron Gjoni got dumped and decided to slander his ex-girlfriend on a blog. The boy’s bitter vendetta probably wouldn’t have gone anywhere if not for the fact that his ex-girlfriend happened to be an indie game developer who had already attracted quite a bit of internet ire, evidently for producing a well-received video game that featured neither breasts nor explosions.
Gjoni’s vendetta against his ex attracted hordes of angry males, including members of a pre-existing hate campaign against a feminist media critic who produced YouTube videos about sexism in video games. This boundless anger quickly grew, attracting more and more rageaholic reactionaries, like a Katamari ball made of emotional disturbance.
Eventually, the movement swelled into a crusade against the influence of “Social Justice Warriors (SJWs)” on geekdom. What is a Social Justice Warrior (SJW)? It’s an expression that once reffered to an irritating, politically-naïve, hyper-sensitive ultra-leftie, but these day’s it’s generally used as an insult hurled at anyone slightly more progressive than the average Klansman. If you argue that women’s suffrage is a good thing and that black people are human beings, someone on the internet will call you a SJW.
GamerGate has become infamous for the harassment it has brought upon its targets (who by sheer coincidence I’m sure are mainly women). Its targets have been inundated with threats of rape and murder. Some have had their personal information posted online (a process referred to as “doxing”). Some have had armed men sent to their door: it’s a dangerous harassment tactic known as “swatting”, in which a harasser sends the police to an enemy’s home under false pretenses.
One year later, GamerGate has mostly run out of steam, though it still excretes a steady stream of hate onto its designated targets.
What is Wrong with These People?
A lot, obviously. But for a more in-depth analysis, check out this great series of YouTube videos by Innuendo Studios.
GamerGate is currently focusing its rage on a prospective South by Southwest panel that promises to discuss preventing online harassment.
What Have We Learned from All This?
We’ve learned that, though society has made tremendous social progress over the past few decades, there are still a lot of hateful, bigoted people out there. But we’ve also learned that the majority of the human population is sensible enough to believe that threatening to murder someone for criticizing a video game’s jiggle physics is unreasonable. That’s good.
I have personally learned a very good rule of thumb when trying to decide which side of a controversy to take: when in doubt, pick the side with fewer Neo-Nazis.