John Walker's Electronic House

A Thing About #GamerGate

by on Oct.12, 2014, under The Rest

I want to think through some thoughts about #GamerGate, and try to address the questions/accusations I receive the most often from those who identify as part of the movement. I also want to talk about my personal experience of it.

GamerGate (GG), since its beginnings, has unquestionably been a formless, undirected collection of people with wildly disparate aims and desires. To say, “GG thinks X” is a meaningless statement, since there are those who are participating who only want to know that the games journalism/criticism/coverage they read is not affected by corruption, all the way to those who are sending terrifying death and rape threats to women in the industry, with a wide spectrum between. While there are various attempts at grouping together specific aims or objectives, these again widely vary, from desires to see game sites publicise clear ethical guidelines, to the desire to “destroy” sites that do not adhere to particular standards/styles/beliefs. There are those who wish to see “politics left out of games coverage”, and those who wish to see writers with “SJW agendas” out of work. There are those who fear games themselves will be negatively affected by progressive criticism, and those who wish to scare female developers and writers until they are too afraid to participate in the industry.

Identify the group as one aspect of this, and other aspects will step forward in disappointment/fury/confusion in response to this understanding. It’s intangible. And I believe perhaps its greatest weakness is that it seems to have no idea that it is.

I absolutely believe that there are many who have been part of the million tweets made using this tag who are horrified by the horrendous abuse and criminal attacks that have come from within GG. I know that there are those who identify with GG who have benign aims, and are personally hurt or upset when they see people identifying GG as a misogynist cause, or a cruel, bullying agenda. I appeal to these people to consider whether GG is ever going to be a place that accurately reflects them or their desires.

Personal Experience

My personal experience of GamerGate has been predominantly horrendous. I know, from experience of trying to communicate this to the more benign participants, that I need to repeat: my personal experience of it. Not my interpretation, or my parody, or my leaping to conclusions based on things I’ve read. But how it has reached me, entered my life. I have received abundant and appalling abuse from GG, that has been at times upsetting, infuriating, and frightening. I’ve received thousands of tweets that have been insulting, offensive, outrageously inaccurate, spiteful, cruel, or disturbing. Not one or two. Thousands. I’ve had boring, tiresome insults thrown at me in droves, and specific, distressing descriptions of how people would like me to be killed. I’ve been told so many times how people would like to see my business (Rock, Paper, Shotgun) destroyed, to see me bankrupted. And I have repeatedly been informed of the ways in which I should commit suicide. This has been in response to my stating how upset I have been by the treatment of women in the industry who have received rape and death threats, making snide remarks or jokes, or indeed simply because I’m an owner of and writer for RPS. I’ve had genuinely deranged MS Paint images made that purport to discredit my integrity/honesty, I’ve had videos watched by over a million people stating bemusing lies about me. My business has been the target of carefully coordinated (and wholly unsuccessful) attempts to reduce our advertising revenue, based on an imagined article we’ve never published, and targeted by GG to be boycotted because of our having once linked to articles not liked by the movement, despite our writing a lengthy piece explaining why we disagreed with said articles. No matter how at fault one might believe me to be, GamerGate has been, toward me, horrendous.

And I’ve had the easy ride. I’ve had as nothing compared to others I know, follow on Twitter, or read about. Those others are predominantly, although not exclusively, women. I have watched horrors happening to others that put the tedious, misery-inducing bullshit sent my way look like fun.

No matter how much someone may read this and want to scream, “BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT WE’RE ABOUT”, it remains true, no matter what else is true alongside it. No matter what calm, reasoned aims or attitudes may exist within it, it’s alongside the rest of it. It’s inseparable.

(“But we’re the subject of abuse too!” comes the more recent response. “The anti-GamerGate people are just as bad.” There are two issues here. Firstly, yes, it’s really bad if individuals are being harassed, and no one should tolerate it. That desire to condemn it, to address it – grab hold of that, and have the perspicacity and integrity to apply it to the harassment coming from GG as well. To not do so, to be tolerant of the harassment of Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian, Jenn Frank, and so many others, defies all sense. Secondly, “anti-GamerGate” does not exist. There is no such movement, there is no such collective of people. It’s a construct of GG’s, an attempt to create a scarecrow. There are, undoubtedly, stupid, dangerous idiots who are responding to those within GG in awful ways. They are not an organised affiliation, with dedicated forums, coordinated attack mobs, and specifically expressed desires to “destroy”. And further, someone’s saying, “Everyone involved in GG is a dimwitted monster,” is not equivalent to thousands of people sending personalised, frightening abuse to one individual. The attempt to draw equivalence has been present in GG since it started, and it’s ludicrous.)

Identifying Goals

When I’ve tried to hear what GG’s goals are, from those who do not wish it to be identified with the abuse, misogyny and cruelty, I’ve had (and again, this is my experience) very little coherent response. There is, without question, a desire to see corruption removed from games journalism. But when examples of what sort of corruption needs to be removed, I’ve (me, personally) yet to have anything either real, or demonstrable, offered. Even now, the myth that Zoe Quinn slept with Nathan Grayson for positive coverage of her (free) game gets put forward. Coverage that never happened. For a while there was a concerted effort to identify some manner of corruption within the IGF Awards, which not only was so confused as to require time travel to have been possible, also wasn’t in any sense about games journalism. There was something about how games critics shouldn’t support developers on Patreon, because by means never explained, it means they’re “friends”. (Until GG, the recurring complaint from the dissatisfied was that games critics didn’t pay for games. It was certainly odd to see this logic reversed.) Beyond this, and despite astonishing details of corruption or dubious practices being recently revealed between PR firms and YouTube gaming channels, no example of endemic corruption has ever been offered. Enormously spurious or downright fantastic individual examples or accusations get put forward, but nothing systematic is ever stated. This misunderstanding – that in any business with enough thousands of outlets, over enough decades, there will obviously be corrupt people doing corrupt things is not demonstrable of systematic, institutionalised corruption – is at the heart of GG’s confusion.

There is also the matter of a mailing list, to which a number of games critics subscribe. I had never heard of this mailing list until the “exposure” by the genuinely unsettling Breitbart site. From talking to people who were on it, it was just a mailing list for people with a similar job, on which they shared jokes, asked questions, and posted pictures of cats. At the start of the hideous abuse of Zoe Quinn, someone on this list upset by what they were seeing suggested buying a present for the developer, to show support in a difficult time. Others on the list pointed out this would be inappropriate, and the idea was muted. It is not quite the smoking gun some have purported it to be. People in the same profession talk to each other, no matter the profession. I really cannot offer any other comment on the mailing list, as I don’t know a single other thing about it. I suspect, since nothing genuinely contentious has been revealed by those with access to the list and an interest in exposing it, that there likely isn’t anything to support the notion of a conspiracy within. It’s just some dumb mailing list for games critics.

GG wants to see “transparency in games journalism”, but I’ve yet to see anyone elucidate on what is current opaque, and what it is they wish to see made clear. They wish to see a “code of ethics” in games journalism, despite many major sites they target having such codes, publicly stated, to which they adhere. They also want to see sites “apologise to gamers”, for having existed on the same internet as some nuanced articles that questioned the usefulness of the term “gamer” and suggested it has come to negatively represent those who play games. (An argument with which I do not entirely agree.) These demands are so ethereal, so unspecific, as to be meaningless, but until they’re met GG intends to destroy all who do not obey them. Announcing you’re going to start killing hostages until your demands are met is a whole lot more confusing when you’ve yet to make any tangible demands.

The issue is, it isn’t really about corruption at all. Believe me, there are few people who care about corruption in games journalism/criticism/coverage more than games journalists/critics. Take, well, me for example. I have, over the years, called out dreadful behaviour and deeply dubious practices I see in the industry, because it’s harming everyone. I am a vociferous objector to the Games Media Awards, and regularly make loud noise about sites or magazines attempting to trick new writers into working unpaid. When we see shitty stuff, we tend to scream. (Hilariously/depressingly, when some GGers discovered that I have a history of calling out what I perceive as corrupt or problematic, rather than respond to this by considering whether their targeting of me was somewhat misplaced, it was instead somehow interpreted as “proof” of how far I’d since fallen. Despite there being no “since” to apply.) The reason everyone in the gaming universe knows about “Doritogate” is because it was so loudly condemned by others in the industry, so offended to see their business so far off the rails. It is my contention that where the core of GG says “corruption”, it’s in fact repeating it’s other main agenda – the desire to see progressive politics removed from coverage.

Taking The Politics Out Of Gaming

GamerGate would like to see the politics taken out of games coverage. This statement deserves an essay of its own, but I want to try to address it quickly here. It is a fallacious statement, whether by design or misunderstanding. One cannot remove the “politics” from anything. Let’s take an imaginary example:

There’s a new game out, called Koala Fighters XVII. It’s a game about an elite squadron of fighter pilots, who are taking on the menace of the invading koala hordes. In it, throughout, are cutscenes showing bare-breasted women being kidnapped by the evil koalas, threatened with torture and death, to be rescued by the amazing gang of pilot men. The game is, obviously, brilliantly well made, featuring some of the best koala shooting action ever seen in a game. However, when reviewing this game, gaming site Poltaku comments on how the nudity and sexual stereotypes are disappointing. Meanwhile, Sensible Gaming Reviews, leaving the politics out of games coverage, doesn’t say anything of the sort, not seeing the feature necessary to mention. GameBros4Ever, meanwhile, reviews the game and comments on how brilliantly the breasts are animated, and how great it was to feel like a powerful man in the cockpit of the plane.

All three reviews are inherently political. Choosing to mention this specific feature of the game is a political decision, whether to condemn or celebrate. And crucially, choosing not to mention it is a political decision too. Not thinking it worth mentioning, also, is born of a political position on the matter. Indifference to something of importance to others is, of course, a political position. You cannot “leave the politics out of games coverage”. Politics are inherent. What is instead meant by this demand is, by its nature, “Leave politics I don’t adhere to out of games coverage.”

Wanting games coverage that doesn’t take issue with, for example, sexualised images of women (or men) is wanting coverage of a specific political leaning. It’s a desire for a specific political position to be taken in games coverage. Which is fine! But it’s not, in any way, leaving politics out of it.

The Myth Of Neutrality

There is an attempt to avoid this reality from GG by attempts to invoke the even deeper fallacy of “objectivity”. I’ve written at length on why objectivity is literally impossible for a human being, and further how deeply unhelpful it would be in games coverage. It’s immediately obvious that one cannot review a game objectively – one can only attempt to describe a game’s intended features while unavoidably infecting such an attempt with conscious or unconscious subjectivity. And describing a game’s intended features is the job of the publisher, and is already taken care of in descriptions of games on any gaming store. Objectivity is obviously not desired, but instead the term is used to suggest a politically “neutral” position on very specific subject areas. Attempts at neutral politics are obviously impossible, but more to the point, remains political.

And of course the pretence that it’s about neutrality is patent nonsense. By requiring neutrality on those specific subjects, such as anything regarding the representation of any group of people, it is a tacit endorsement of the opposing political position. The desire to mute criticism of the representation of women in a game is a tacit endorsement of the representation of women in the game. And again, of course, anyone is absolutely entitled to endorse that representation if it is their position. But it’s a position.

GG is, in its suggestion of wanting to leave the politics out of games coverage, arguing for the continuation of the current politics represented in the games. Arguing for the continuation of the current politics is obviously fine! People want to see their own politics reflected, because it contextualises the game within their own worldview, and is therefore more useful. Wanting games coverage that comes from this same worldview makes complete sense, and finding that the majority of coverage does not is obviously frustrating, or simply unhelpful. The rational response to this is to call for games coverage that represents you. It is not to call for the destruction of games coverage that does not. And that is precisely what is at the core of GG’s aims. The desire to destroy, to remove the advertising from, to financially cripple, gaming sites that write from within an opposing worldview is abhorrent! It’s genuine censorship (as opposed to someone closing a comments thread, say, which is in no meaningful way censorship). It’s chilling.

But GG has dressed this goal up as a desire for neutrality, for apolitical coverage, despite the utter impossibility of any such thing, and despite the obvious cover this is for wanting bias that favours their own. (Which, I stress again, would not be a bad thing to call for. And indeed it would make sense to establish such sites and create sustaining businesses with them, rather than destroy others and achieve nothing.) In doing so, it’s found a comfortable way to call for censorship of opinions with which they do not agree.

So Then

Those within GG who passionately want to see gaming coverage improved, in whatever ways, can now only be heard by distancing themselves from the hashtag. As pure as intentions may be, it is simply the case that people within GG are responsible for the death and rape threats sent to so many female writers and developers. It is simply the case that GG’s stated goals and organised behaviour is to attempt to destroy businesses (and therefore the personal livelihoods of many people (and, good grief, charity Child’s Play)) because they don’t agree with what they write. It is simply the case that whenever I’ve had someone tweet at me, and include the hashtag, I’ve then had a few hours of abuse and libellous statements sent my way. This may not be what someone wants, or what someone thinks represents them, but they must know that it is what is happening, and it is not a “few bad apples”. It’s endemic. Because I’ve written this, I will be subjected to goodness knows how much tedious crap now, and it will get me down. The reason of course being to put me, or anyone else, off trying. To silence, through fear. I’m stubborn, but it has a cost for me. Obviously many others aren’t willing to put themselves through it. Do people really want to be part of a movement that behaves this way, and has this effect on people? Let alone one that drives people from their homes, after deliberate, organised campaigns of hate?

The good thing for me is that I’m not corrupt. I am proud of my integrity. I am aware of it, and confident in it. Seeing people attempting to damage my name and reputation is deeply distressing for me, because it’s quite so unjust. It’s distressing for those who care about me, because they can’t stop it or fix it. But when the dust settles, I still know the truth, and I believe my work exemplifies this truth. I’m biased – ho BOY, I’m biased. Biased in favour of progressive attitudes, of equality, of fairness and representation. I’m also biased in favour of games being good, rather than rubbish. And my interpretation of which is which is, like every other human, rooted in my bias. I wear my bias in the open, for reasons of integrity. I’m proud of myself. I want everybody to be able to say the same.


74 Comments for this entry

  • LetsSayMyNameIsJohn

    Great post. You could have taken a much more snarky tone and RPS fans would not have blamed you – you laid it out very clearly and succintly.

  • Stijn

    It’s though. On the one hand GamerGate is as you say “intangible” and as a movement it doesn’t have clearly defined goals and morals, yet it’s unavoidable that when talking about them one has to resort to phrases such as “those in GG” and “GG is”. The “but they don’t represent the *real* GG” defense is hard to counter precisely because of that, of course, as much of a True Scotsman Fallacy as it may be.

    At what point do those waving the GamerGate flag become guilty by association, in a way? I think that line was crossed a while back, but at the same time I find it hard to articulate why.

  • Attun

    Cool, another paranoid “women are exclusively being targeted by the bullies because they’re women” post that ignores all the other allegations that most GG’ers actually identify with. Nothing new, seems like being the victim and pretending to have a moral high ground is a great shield against people who have factual evidence which is publicly available.

    This will never go away.

  • Wendy B

    Thank you for this. I grow weary of the good people I know still trying to proclaim that GG isn’t all bad. I hope articles like this will finally help them see the light and understand that they need to step far, far away from this flag.

  • Someone

    Eloquently put, and much more politely and patiently than I’d have been able to. Kudos.

  • Fjinn

    I loved the article. However, about the anti-GG part I really dislike it when people say something doesn’t exist – when they actually mean they haven’t gone and made out a logo and a name for it.

    Might as well say misogynists don’t exist because rarely anyone carries a great big misogyny banner. That’s just being deliberately obtuse.

  • Phoenixdk

    Thank you for writing this.

  • Elys

    They´ve linked you on their subreddit so brace yourself for gg comments, a big hug for what you went thru with them and thank you very much for speaking out about it.

  • Mike

    The lunacy in all of this is GamerGate is not the problem, it’s the lunatic fringe underlying it. This stuff has happened time and time again and it’s a combination of factors. The ability to be anonymous coupled with the ability to rabble rouse and organize via 4chan and reddit. 4chan and reddit have long been a cesspit of this kind of behaviour.

    The problem is, once people start labelling “gamers” in the same group as these nut jobs, you are just going to piss off the 99% percent of gamers who aren’t part of the problem.

    Of course, the lunatics don’t go off for no reason, but ohhhh boy does GG have its share of catalysts, such as:

    Feminists. Let’s be clear here, women aren’t generally being targeted here, at least not initially. There are thousands of female game devs that are completely unaffected. If there is anything that riles up the unwashed masses, it’s feminists.

    The Press. Boyo did you guys step in it, on so many levels. This story would have most likely gone unnoticed if handled even slightly better. But my god, was it handled poorly. From mass deletions, to click bait articles to overly broad condemning articles against gamers. This is the point I became aware and annoyed by all of this.

    Social Justice Warriors and Attention seeking. This is another reason why a lot of these people are targeted and what further riles up the trolls. A lot of these “industry people” well … Aren’t. They a bit players who have used prior controversy to their benefit.

    Unlikability. Call this the Phil Fish factor. It’s easy to like on someone that is unlikable.

    None of these are justifications, these nut jobs making death threats are exactly that, nut jobs, There is no sane justification for their actions.

    But so many people, on both “sides” are making this worse than it ever should have been. The gaming presses approach to talking about misogyny in gaming for example is so often to incredibly one sided and patronizing, you piss moderate people off. The game press really does wiff of corruption and has for a very long time.

    More than anything though, and the reason I bothered writing any of this…

    Every single time people lump the actions of a small lunatic core in with the greater group, you make things worse and worse. Every single article that ascribes the actions of 4chan to “gamers” or even “GamerGate” without making the distinction, they make this worse.

    So, while the 99.9% of gamers do not support the anti women, death great activity of a lunatic group, a very very very large chunk of the group is getting sick of being generalized and called misognynists.

  • Blarney

    I enjoyed reading this. I don’t think it’ll get any traction with the crazies in GG, but I figure those aren’t who you’re trying to reach anyways.

  • Throwaway gg

    Great article. Not snarky. Deeply personal. I say all of the as a gamer who has generally sympathized with GG sentiment, while being hopelessly frustrated by the more abhorrent and despicable tactics.

    I am a 41 year guy who grew up playing games and still does. I happily wear the moniker of gamer and the nerdiness that had not always been so supported by the wider culture. I am also married, have two children, and am the VP and general counsel for a small, ver profitable company.

    You have likely convinced me that I can no longer support the GG movement, even if just abstractly anymore.

    That said, I would love a reasoned (as your article largely was) response to the following:

    1) My empathy began with the 12 articles. They certainly felt like a coordinated attack that felt personal. Maybe they weren’t meant for me (I certainly didn’t fit the bro, geek, childish descriptions being offered), yet they felt like they were trying to describe me and demean me in a personal and unapologetic way for being a gamer. Was this attack a massive overreach by the journalists involved?

    2) saying ZQ didn’t sleep with Grayson for coverage, doesn’t answer “was ZQ given positive press because of too cozy relationships within the industry?” The gamejournolist makes it worrisome that it needn’t be the individual involved (Grayson) for the end result of to be unfair, unwarranted positive press in general. As much as I love indie games and hearing about games that would pass below my radar, I have felt duped on more than one occasion by games that were mentioned, given positive press and then turned out to be spectacularly bad. DQ fits this mold.

    3) A consumer boycott seems like a pretty reasonable way to achieve even a nebulous goal. Even if that goal is to remove disagreed with politics, the method had been employed by the left to try to hurt Rush Limbuagh, and employed frequently by the right when attempting to send messages to anything that criticizes religion (see The successful boycott of The a Golden Compass movie). Companies are typically loath to wade into culture wars. I have had to advise our board numerous times to be careful how vocal we are about any given issue.

    Again, thanks for the well written and thoughtful article.

  • Jamie Thomas Durbin

    Stijn, It’s very difficult to talk about a group, even one as disorganised (mostly) and with such disparate aims (mostly) as multiple groups when they use one label. And this is actually the second biggest problem with GamerGate, and a big part of a lot of people’s discussion of why GamerGate just isn’t working.

  • Kite

    I’m sorry, but is this supposed to be an informative article about GG or an op-ed? Because if you’re seriously writing an informative article, in which you state ‘striving for objectivity in reporting is bad’, then you are going against everything that is taught to you in english 101 about informative writing. If it is an op-ed, then some of what you said is true but most of it is conjecture that is probably colored by the people you know and the connections you have. This is why people are going to fresh startup tech and games news sites for coverage about this, because they don’t have employees steeped in this looking out for their own self interest.

  • DMG


    “At what point do those waving the GamerGate flag become guilty by association, in a way?”

    I think John Walker found a very good way to approach this above, where he doesn’t talk about assigning guilt, but about the practicality of these people getting their concerns heard and understood for themselves, without the baggage carried by the hashtag.

    Without accusing them of guilt, it’s still counterproductive for them to wave that flag, because it forces others to interpret what they’re saying in the context of the broader movement (and in 140 chars you need to do a lot of interpretation) – so when they say things like “ethics,” a reader has to at least wonder if they mean “censorship of views that oppose mine,” because that’s the direction of the broader conversation with which they’ve chosen to align themselves.

  • Wulfram

    Yes, censoring people because you don’t like their views is bad.

    Are you going to be boycotting PAX?

  • The New Number Two

    “I’ve written at length on why objectivity is literally impossible for a human being, and further how deeply unhelpful it would be in games coverage”

    And this is exactly why you always have been, are, and will remain a hobbyist author rather than an actual journalist. If you were to refer to yourself as such I think we would see far less of a brouhaha regarding your work, whether relating to SJW topics or your standard, vanilla games work.

    “Journalists” are not people that blog about their emotional experiences with videogames. End of story.

  • PasserBy

    This whole thing has gotten quite out of hand.

    GamerGater’s on the one side; so uncoordinated in their effort it’s impossible to know what the “average” goal of the group is. Some only want clear disclosure when money and/or relationship is involved (brand deals for example). Others want careers to end if anything even remotely shady may go on. Yet others just want to troll and harass as much as possible for their own enjoyment, much like football hooligans who don’t really care about the sport and just want to fight and/or tear stuff up.

    On the other side are some games media sites fueling the flames with “gamers are dead” articles; demonizing and alienating the very demographic they rely on to consume the material they produce.

    Yeah, nuking this whole mess from orbit and start over from all sides sounds like it would be a good idea to me. Too bad it’s a lot easier said than done. I’d love it if we all could go back to being nice to each other again.

  • Pawkeshup

    I actually did a video stating that the GG tag needs to die. But ethics are still an issue. When you have articles praising Plants vs. Zombies recent game for having micro transactions to speed progress when the game was designed in such a way to make paying the preferred path, one must question why such items are being published.

    The industry has had a long history of controversy, and more it is going on behind closed doors. The recent Shadow of Mordor is one such example. If not for TB, we might not have known the deal existed. Add to that coverage of friend’s projects with either a small note at the end or no disclosure of relationship, and integrity is in question.

  • Silence

    I watched Gamergate since the “Gamers are dead” articles. I haven’t taken any stance. I engaged very little.

    I think many people have their own platform. F.e. there is one GG on The Escapist, one on 4/8chan, one on twitter.
    From what I saw (mostly the escapist) I can say this: You shouldn’t call it “progressives” vs “conservatives”. At least on the escapist most GGers are progressives. People took the spokesperson they got, and it was a conservative.

    The definition of objectivity is completely different on both sides. Someone said “I want to know if the product has what advertisers say it has. That is objective. Either it has it or not.” There is no universal objectivity in this.

    I am also confused by the goals of Gamergate. One I think is trying to get Leigh Alexander to apologize (or her lose her job, and I can see reasons why, it is not that hard to find). Another is changing the misrepresantation as anti-progressives. Then there is the suspicion of collusion. Don’t know what you can make of this, but many say “Make an ethical guideline and we are done”. Then there is the whole “Anti-SJW” angle. Most don’t like political radicals. They perceive a portion of the games media as this. Not progressives, but radicals who want to censor things.
    I don’t think I got everything.

    The problem for moderate GGers (I need to state again, I am NOT this, I am not a part of the “movement”) that they think if they start a new hashtag they will again be accused of misogyny and similar things, just like it went before. So they rather stay and try to change the perception of people.

    Also, I think there is the 3rd party of trolls involved. Most of the harassment (not the insults, I believe insults fly everywhere) and doxxing stems from them. For example the doxxing of Brianna Wu. Gamergate was guilty by association, even though they did nothing to promote it. Also, some of GG are now trying to find (or found?) the person who harassed Anita Sarkeesian.

    One of the main problems I perceive is the “talking down” on (some) gamers that happened before the whole thing. Sites try to get into the whole “games are art” thing, but many are not interested. It was promoted on the sites which were for reviews, previews and the like. Not for talking art (or academics). So now the perception of the writers changes from “these are our consumers” to “this is a dumb, soulless mass” (I am exaggerating of course). It doesn’t help that many are exactly NOT that, even though they are not interested in the “games are art” thing.

    So, where does this leave me? I feel there is a huge misperception of the other side (on both sides). I fear the radicalization. I think it is time to talk. Hell, it probably is too late. But maybe you can still try.
    See Erik Kains discussion with John Bain (TotalBiscuit), Greg Tito and Janelle Bonanno. I felt this was the biggest step forward in 2 months. Engage in discussions as professionals. Only with professionals, if you want.

    And stop trying to troll people. I will not call names here, but there are quite a few “professional” individuals who resorted to trolling in the worst possible manner.

    I say it again. I am not on either side. I did only watch.

  • John Walker

    Kite – Er, it’s a blog post.

    Attun – Might want to take another stab at the ol’ reading bit.

    Wulfram – We have chosen not to attend PAX in the past because we didn’t feel comfortable supporting the event. We have reported on the information revealed there. Despite this, I’m not entirely sure how you equate not attending a games convention with censorship!

    The New Number Two – You appear to have a very selective definition of the word “journalist”, which fails to take into account all manner of forms of widely recognised and legitimate journalism, from opinion pieces to gonzo, criticism to reportage. Which is quite a peculiar thing to have done, for someone who is so fervent about the use of the word. I only ever call myself a “games journalist” as short-hand, because it’s a common term. I consider myself a writer and a critic, because my job is to right about toys. I approach this with the highest standards of integrity, and hold myself to account whenever I fall short.

    Passerby – You have things slightly out of order. GG came into being after a few sites ran varying articles and responses to the usefulness of the word “gamer”.

  • Talking pudu

    I would like that you publish the accounts or show us the tweets of the persons that have harassed you and wished you death or ill, so they are publicly denounced for their actions

  • NelC

    Stijn, I wouldn’t say “guilty” by association, but perhaps “under suspicion”. I’ll grant naivity to a certain extent to anyone who’s just heard that Gamergate is about journalistic integrity and hasn’t looked into it further.

    But when someone outright ignores or waves away the whole issue of harassment of women in the industry, my suspicions are aroused. If they go on about “SJWs” and liberal agendas and the like, then my suspicions are aroused. If they can’t point to a single progressive thing that Gamergate has achieved, then my suspicions are aroused.

    The point at which they are guilty of anything is when they go for outright harassment themselves, I’d say.

  • vucubcaquix

    Positively Churchillian. Good on you.

  • Chief Presiding Judge

    Victims of GamerGate:

    1 – Zoe Quinn

    2 – Anita Sarkeesian

    3 – Leigh Alexander

    4 – Liana Kerzner

    5 – Jenni Goodchild

    6 – Devi Ever

    Victims of GamerGate that have nothing to do with “ethics” or “journalism”:

    1 – Zoe Quinn

    2 – Anita Sarkeesian

    3 – Leigh Alexander

    4 – Liana Kerzner

    5 – Jenni Goodchild

    6 – Devi Ever

    “b-b-b-buh what about notyourshield!”

    The disgusting malicious part about it is that #notyourshield was fabricated by them.


    There are no actual “sides”. The movement was never legitimate. The reality is that it’s just an attempt to strong arm anything about women or diversity out of video games by forcing them out and an attempt to cleanse ideology they don’t agree with by substituting it with ultra right-wing anti-feminist anti-minority nonsense. This is why Milo “I don’t understand gamers and I think they’re retarded” Yiannopoulos continues to support this “gamer movement” as a spokesperson and why Gaters support him back. Because Gaters know this isn’t actually about gaming and give fuck-all about that.

    The core user base is aware of all of this and organizes on IRC channels and 8chan. Their Reddit sub is where they run their “PR” face.

  • MailOrderClone

    My understanding of GamerGate from the beginning was that it was seeking greater transparency in games journalism. To me, that seemed like a simple solution would be the best one. A disclaimer as a part of every article where a close relationship exists between the journalist and it’s subject, or the site and it’s subject, as to get out in front of any cries of impropriety. If this particular game is sponsoring ad space on your site, as another example. There have been instances in the past where games sites have posted opinion pieces in support of a given game while ringed with a site skin attempting to sell that very same game. It’s something that makes both the journalist and the site itself look untrustworthy, and that tends to pile up when you have the internet, where people are guaranteed to keep records of that and pass it around on a fairly regular basis.

    I’m not seeking a wholesale changing of the guard or a political shift, and certainly am not looking to put persons or publications out of business. That position has always seemed to be on the more extreme end of GamerGate, right up next to outright harassment, and is not something I could support. It would only make games journalism worse-off in the long run.

    Likewise, I feel that journalists should be allowed to fund kickstarters or patreons if they see fit to do so, and see publicly stating “I have funded this person/project” in related articles as enough. Moreover, I would suggest that stating that you have funded a game would add some greater context to an article intended to critique the state of a game, or caution against pitfalls that similar games have made in the past.

    In addition to the disclaimers listed above, I do want to suggest one other thing. As I’ve participated in discussions with various active members of the GamerGate gelatinous cube, it has become clear that a majority are distrusting of the relationships that journalists and developers have. I would suggest that shedding light on these relationships, openly discussing the way that the two sides do business and educating the readership on the behind the scenes aspects of games journalism, would also help to alleviate some of that distrust.

    Doing all of this probably won’t please everyone in the GamerGate tag. Some of them genuinely won’t be pleased until they have a games media that walks in lockstep with their own political and ideological beliefs. But showing a good-faith attempt at being as open and transparent with your readership as possible should be more than enough to placate the bulk of GamerGate, and to return us to regular games media consumption.

  • DexX

    Nice job, Mike, giving us a perfect textbook example of victim blaming. “If those feminists weren’t so damned feministy they wouldn’t be targeted!”

    John, this is a magnificent article. Thankyou so much for having the courage to put yourself in the line of fire so that such a well-reasoned article could be published.

  • Ross

    I have seen doxxing on our side and death threats I have seen doxxing and death threats on your side. What I have NOT despite you saying it as a fact was any kind of proof or evidence of gamergaters doxxing or making rape or death threats to anyone on your side.

    But let’s get real. Your side says that gamers are misogynistic jerks and white males despite (#notyourshield) gamers being diverse and all inclusive.

    IF there was a rape threat or doxxing or death threats who stands to benefit from this? Who doesn’t?

    Someone supporting Gamergate? No. In no way does that benefit them. It simply makes them look bad.

    Someone that does not support gamergate? Yes, they could well frame them.

    A random troll? Absolutely. Attack someone in one camp and see the other camp attack each other.

    The victim? That is possible and there is something to gain here but the risk and hassle in getting caught and exposed pretty much seems improbable but not impossible.

    OK…who benefits the least?

    Thing is I have seen Social Justice Warriors and how they push themselves into spaces and start controlling the narrative. It makes not an ounce of difference what colour gender or nationality they are.

    Try talking about Atheism in any capacity without having to tow the Atheism Plus/Free thought Blogs/Skepchic brand of Atheism or be prepared to be rounded on.

    In Atheism circles you can not JUST disbelieve in God, You must be a Feminist and you must care about the same things as the Atheism Plus crowd. If you are a white male you must check your privilege and defer to the narrative.

    If you tell them to get stuffed and tell them to stop making demands off you or insulting you for mansplaining or not checking your privilege or whatever then you are harassing,

    Passive aggressive, oppression narratives are so persuasive to people who see these cretins as true victims who just wanted to open up the minds of closed minded misogynists but we see where that goes.

    I do not want THIS gaming space to be one where the gamers are told what they can enjoy and in which way and useless award winning “games” like Depression Quest that most gamers would not play if you paid them are given the accolades of journalists like yourself who have not the slightest interest in gamers and are not beholden to their good opinion.

    So spin this all you like I am not likely to sway your bias but you tell a pretty poor narrative there.

  • noxteryn

    To imply that personalised harassment towards pro-GG people “doesn’t count” just because there is no such thing as an anti-GG “movement” is what’s actually ludicrous. Also, claiming that generalisations and stereotyping of a group also “don’t count” is doubly ludicrous. Unless, of course, you think it’s okay to call feminists “man-hating bitches” in order to discredit and dismiss them. “Oh, but not all feminists hate men” you’ll say, just like pro-GG people claim “that’s not what GG is about” while you strawman them.

    Also, the whole thing about true objectivity not existing is just pseudo-philosophical babble. When people talk about objectivity, they aren’t referring to it in a metaphysical sense, and you know it. They just don’t want you accepting bribes of any form. Same goes with being apolitical. The only people who claim “but everything is political” is exactly the people who want to inject their agenda into everything and cram it down our throats. Keep your political agendas out of art. Politicisation of art is the absolute worst thing that can happen to it.

    Interpretation and analysis of art is just that. Your personal biased opinion. So, just because you think something is offensive doesn’t make it so, and it doesn’t mean that it should be forced to change just because you don’t like it. The market is large enough for you to find things you do like.

  • ahac

    There was an interesting thing I read today:
    Intellectual bullying and the postmodern discourse of GamerGate
    and for me that perfectly shows what the media is doing.

    I never had a problem with articles bringing attention to treatment of women in gaming… in fact, I thought it was needed and it was one of the reasons I liked those gaming websites.

    But then they tell me I’m a bad person simply because I’m male, white and a gamer.

    The Verge even started a discussion with its readers and most didn’t think gamergate was anti-feminist or hating women. And yet only 2 days later they post this:
    again pushing the idea that it’s just that. Gawker had something similar today.

    You say:
    >Secondly, “anti-GamerGate” does not exist.
    but what would you call people who write stuff like this? Feminist? Progressive? Fair?
    Yea… let’s just stick with “anti-gamergate”.

    >They are not an organised affiliation, with dedicated forums, coordinated attack mobs, and specifically expressed desires to “destroy”.
    You think so? I’d be very surprised if they didn’t have some kind of online communities. Maybe you just don’t know about it because you are not close enough to their cause (just like you didn’t know about the mailing list)…

    I’ll also keep calling myself a gamer.

    I ski. I’ve been skiing since I was 2 years old. I’m no pro, I never competed but I ride just fine. I enjoy skiing and I spend a lot of time each winter doing that.
    That’s why I call myself a skier.
    If the media started insulting skiers because maybe some assholes said skiing should only be a rich white people sport, then I’d be upset.
    And I’m upset when I see gamers insulted for something most of them don’t even agree with. For me gamergate is a fight against that.

  • J Belmont

    You repeatedly try to push the characterization of #Gamergate as anti-woman, and anti-progressive.

    Look at this tweet:

    This is a racist troll from the GNAA paying people to make #gamergate look bad. We’ve caught this same person doing this a RIDICULOUS number of times for the last month.

    That should be headline news. Instead you allow him and others to continue doing this without a peep and automatically blame #gamergate for everything bad that ever happens anywhere ever.

    #gamergate raised over $70,000 for radical feminists to fund female game developers and is *overwhelmingly* left-wing in its politics. Where’s the reporting on that?

    And on that note the problem isn’t “progressive” politics, the problem as intersectional feminist Philip Wythe (they/their pronouns) put it is that people like you are using the mantle of “progressive politics” as a shield while being nothing of the sort:

    There is absolutely nothing progressive about a group of people counting among their number racists, neonazis, domestic abusers, and and who publicly encourage doxxings… even committing some themselves.

    There is absolutely nothing progressive about a group of people who have doxxed over a dozen people, mostly women and minorities, going so far as to cost a black man his job in a racially targeted hate campaign.

    There is absolutely nothing progressive about leading a *lynch mob* against a community of people so severely depressed that the suicide crisis hotline is on literally every single page of their website.

    If you, your organization, and your peers truly cared about women you would have printed over 30 articles by now condemning *yourselves* for the over a dozen doxxings of #gamergate supporters.

    Instead literally no one has even mentioned it. Brianna Wu gets multiple articles and 7700 retweets within hours, but when literally every single prominent female supporter of #gamergate gets THE SAME THREATS nobody gives a damn. Let alone giving a damn for the fact they receive such an unending torrent of abuse from anti-#gamergate tweeters that being called “house ni***” isn’t even spiking the meter anymore.

    As to your remaining points:

    1. We have been incredibly clear about exactly what kind of “transparency” and “ethics” we want to see. The SPJ is not the necronomicon, it is not some ancient lost text of esoteric lore forgotten to all who walk the earth.

    2. Yes your organization and others have “ethics policies”. And look at how that’s worked out. They’re obviously not worth the paper they’re not printed on.

    3. You seriously don’t get that calling people “obtuse shitslingers” “pissbabies” “manchildren” and smearing all gamers as hate filled right wing unattractive white male virgins isn’t acceptable or ethical? You seriously don’t get how astoundingly offensive that is, let alone hypocritical to your own allegedly progressive politics?

    4.Censorship is deleting over 25,000 comments and threads and literally hounding people out of every single website. Censorship is shadowbanning thousands and not even letting them know they’re banned. Censorship is doxxing over a dozen people (again mostly women and minorities) for disagreeing with you and encouraging others to do the same.

    Censorship is NOT asking businesses not to pay you money to publish hate speech. You have the right to say whatever you want, you don’t have a right to other people’s money while doing it.

    5. Seriously. If you or any of your peers truly gave a damn about women why didn’t ANY of the more than a dozen doxxings against #gamergate supporters get publicity like Anita, Zoe, and Brianna got?

    Where’s the articles calling for Leigh’s head for publicly encouraging doxxing?

    Where’s the articles calling for Arthur Chu’s head for publicly condoning doxxing?

    Where’s the articles condemning the torrential and often racist abuse thrown at #gamergate supporters?

  • The Even Newer Number Two

    @John Walker

    I wasn’t trying to impugn your right to be critical, or to do any of the things that you do (the name is an ironic one, in case you were wondering).

    The problem, in my view, is fundamentally tonal rather than content related. Forgive me for saying this because I know that this blog is your patch, and it is not my intention to enter it with the express intention of pissing into it, but sometimes I think you approach your particular ouevre with too much zeal, and too little consideration for opposing viewpoints, where they have come from, and what they are trying to say. You are, socially if not economically, the embodiment of a modern Gladstonian: always on some crusade or other.

    The thing to remember is that the world falls into three basic groups: people on board with your crusade (a small group), people against your crusade (another small group, in which I belong, though for unusual reasons), and people who care neither way, who represent the great majority. For these people, inertia keeps the status quo attractive, as it the status quo that has shaped their lives to date.

    If you want to change the status quo, and I absolutely accept that passionate people have a right to do so, then you have to engage with this fact. Moral imperatives that seem abundantly obvious to you may seem completely abhorrent to others, and vice versa. Other cultures, other aspects of your own culture, and so forth. I accept that you feel violated by certain anti-SJW campaigners, and I am very sorry about that. As a games hobbyist (or journalist, whatever), you shouldn’t have to deal with it, but frankly I’ve dealt with the same from ‘your people’, if that’s not the wrong phrase.

    The point I am slowly labouring towards is that if you were to approach your political desires more in the spirit of debate and less in the spirit of driving out the filthy saracen, you might engender more affection from neutrals. Thank you.

  • Conde

    It’s funny like the pro GamerGate comments here are totally reasonable, right? I’d say more but “Throwaway gg” already stated anything I had to say.

  • Wulfram

    I equate the boycott of PAX to censorship because I find it indistinguishable from the actions that you call censorship.

    In both cases it’s punishment of an organisation for the views expressed by a connected individual. In both cases if it was widely followed it would lead to the destruction of that organisation.

  • SirPsycho

    Wulfram –

    “I equate the boycott of PAX to censorship because I find it indistinguishable from the actions that you call censorship.

    In both cases it’s punishment of an organisation for the views expressed by a connected individual. In both cases if it was widely followed it would lead to the destruction of that organisation.”

    There’s a marked difference. A boycott is saying “I’m not attending this and here’s why” whereas mass emailing Intel to get ads removed from gamasutra is an attempt to shut down that publication. What’s wrong with simply boycotting the sites you don’t like rather than trying to destroy them in an attempt to enforce a particular political position?

    I’m not a fan of IGN or Gamespot so I don’t go on their websites, I’m not organising email campaigns to try and convince advertisers to pull their adverts from the aforementioned sites to destroy them. There’s a difference there.

  • moog

    Stijn – You are the kind of person that blames all Muslims for being terrorists. You cannot blame a group for a few fringe idiots.

    Think before you comment..

  • Jambe

    Phew, that was quite overripe with verbiage (this coming from me, Rambler Extraordinaire). I liked it, though. Your passion is evident.

    To condense:

    * GGers aren’t all fonts of hate but the tag/movement is irreparably tainted by and represents it
    * you’ve had lots of shit but others (mostly women) have had more and worse shit
    * even non-hateful GGers don’t articulate sensible goals
    * the goals they do articulate (such as neutral or apolitical journalism) are impossible
    * you ain’t backin’ down

    That all seems accurate, and as to the last point: good on you, John.

    I liked the second para under “The Myth of Neutrality” most. I like it especially because it strikes to the conservative, reactionary mentality which pumps the blood of GG fervor. My take on it:

    Nothing is apolitical. To demand neutrality with respect to e.g. the representation of women in games is to demand the impossible. Either one cares about such representation (pro or con) or one does not, but nobody’s neutral on the topic. Even people who haven’t heard of GG influence the cultural soup in which games and games-media exist.

    This obsession with objectivity is acutely naive. Negative and positive positions on any given topic are clearly not objective or neutral, nor is the “do something else with your time” position (to channel Nick Mailer). All of these stances entail—indeed, require—values, mores, preferences, etc.

    In so many words: fuck Plato. Let us be more Epicurean!

    off-topic tangent:

    Elevation of a specific (usually intra-clique or intra-worldview) concern to a privileged, unquestioned position is also common among the uncritically religious. I’ve been told explicitly by dozens if not hundreds of people that its being THE book obviates the pesky need to reason about specific aspects of morality (i.e. those the book directly addresses).

    For instance, theft isn’t bad because property rights and social cohesiveness are intrinsically valuable and theft is corruptive of them. No, theft is bad because the book says it is. If you only read it you would know, and your life would be easier.

    If such people weren’t so uniquely entertaining I wouldn’t engage with apologists and believers at all, I’d just study mythology and that would be its own reward. It’s remarkable that human minds can become so unreflective and cocooned, though. It’s like marveling at beached whale carcass covered in shark bites; it reeks terribly, but you can’t not investigate it.

    It’s not lost on me that I may have similar blind spots in my own worldview, though, and that’s another reason why I like engaging uncritical people. Every so often you get so engrossed in exploring a stranger’s line of hasty generalizations propped up with bad ideas and unexamined self-interest that you take a moment to extract yourself and are suddenly aware of how lost you had been. Then you gasp and think “oh god, I probably have zany views like this too” and you get the shivery frisson that good horror ought to deliver.

    So worth it.

  • Sergio

    I don’t subscribe to the whole GG movement, and have only used the hashtag once to mock them. I don’t think the gaming press is as corrupt as many of them suggest, but perhaps that’s because I’ve long realized that there is very little gaming journalism going on.

    I have had issues about some things published by the gaming press, and you hit on it when you ascribe “progressive” to some of that writing. I think it’s valid to subjectively critique something and say you find something problematic. It is unprofessional to call a developer, publisher, or company as a whole either sexist or transphobic without verifiable proof, which has been done in several cases.

    That is not progressive, but it is allowed to happen, and no one dares challenge it. The gaming press circles the wagons and hides behind the idea that it was an editorial, as if it is sacrosanct and should not be critiqued itself. The same people who get upset at the Escapist for giving a platform to some of the GG folks are willing to accept these types of writing on Polygon, Kotaku, and other sites.

    I don’t think the gaming press is corrupt like GG says, but I don’t think it is without some major issues as the gaming press might think. It might not be as shitty, but it still stinks the same.

  • Anon

    I’m generally on your side, John.

    I agree that these people need to push for games coverage that reflects their politics instead of lashing out at what’s there. However, I can understand why they’re lashing out, because it is not that there is just a bunch of new “progressive feminist” sites covering games, but also that many of the sites that used to usually cover games from the “moderate GG-supporter” point of view morphed into covering games from a progressive feminist point of view. Compare The Escapist of 5 years ago to The Escapist of today, for instance.

  • Hunky Jimpjorps

    This is an excellent essay. The discussion of objectivity was especially good; I agree that achieving some standard of perfect objectivity is both impossible and dishonest, because of how utterly subjective the field of gaming itself is.

    A purely objective review would just be a recitation of performance specs and plot summaries and control schemes. That’s not games journalism’s role, that’s for instruction manuals and Wikipedia. When I read games reviews, I specifically want to know the reviewers’ opinions: I want to know what emotionally resonated with them, what they found frustrating, what paid off in the end and what didn’t, what “blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em” moments they chanced across, how the aesthetics of the game influenced their attitude towards playing it. Sometimes I’ll go back and look at reviews for a game I’ve played and see how their opinions lined up (or didn’t) with mine, because I’m genuinely curious if I had the same emotional takeaway from the game as a whole or from certain setpieces, and sometimes the most interesting reactions I’ve had are from the reviews that fundamentally disagree with my interpretation or response to a game.

    Demanding the removal of subjective analysis from games journalism would neuter its impact and usefulness. What good would it be to have essentially the same technical report rephrased across dozens of reviews?

  • Michael

    Well said. Hopefully some people read this, and take something useful away from it.

    No matter how much hatemail gets sent your way, know that there are a lot of us who appreciate your work, and support your right to write what you do. That can be hard to see, sometimes, when the vocal minority is so loud as it is, but it is and remains a minority.

  • Dave

    “GG wants to see “transparency in games journalism”, but I’ve yet to see anyone elucidate on what is current opaque, and what it is they wish to see made clear.”

    From what I understand from the rational people, it’s a reaction to native advertising. From the obviously astroturfed Metacritic reviews to the front page preview coverage that’s bought and paid for without disclosure to the overly positive hype pieces put out for triple-A games that are, again, bought and paid for. The problem is that most people are completely oblivious to how coverage works and are being shocked that sites are getting quid pro quo for providing previews and reviews of certain games.

    Basically, what people want is more disclosure: if sites are getting paid by the developer or a marketing firm explicitly for the content they’re putting up, people want to know about it.

    On a personal note (and I’m sympathetic to that aim but don’t align myself with any particular movement), I’d also express my frustration that game scores are so universally high. It takes a ton of horribleness to get a AAA game down to 70 in most reviewers’ eyes, which seems to me like a broken metric. It’s like that old comic where everything on Amazon that’s 5 stars is good, 4-2 is horrible, and 1 is so bad it’s good. With game companies looking to Metacritic more and more, it’d be nice to level out the scores so they make sense.

    I think it’s unfortunate that the Quinn/Sarkeesian backlash and talk about transparency happened at the same time and eventually conflated into a single amorphous mass, because it gave the industry an out to (like a lot of what you’re doing in this post to be perfectly frank) ignore them as a bunch of misogynistic twats that are veiling their threats in seemingly legitimate but patently false cries for transparency.

  • JediMB

    The New Number Two: You seem to be confused about the nature of entertainment journalism. It’s not like traditional news reporting. Entertainment is inherently about feelings, since its purpose is primarily to make the partaking party think and feel things, and thoughts and feelings are abstract and subjective.

  • NM

    “my job is to right about toys”.

    Oy vey. Call yourself a journalist!

  • INH5

    Speaking as someone who isn’t part of either side and just wants to see this thing come to a peaceful end, I’d like to respond to a few things:

    1). You claim that an “anti-GamerGate movement” doesn’t exist. It is true that they don’t have a hashtag or a banner (though they do have a subreddit), but there are a sizable number of people who are every bit as dedicated to fighting GG as other people are to supporting it, and they’ve formed their own cliques and Twitter gangs. Just the other day, Polygon editor John Oliver got mobbed by them on Twitter for basically saying “a pox on both your houses.” Saying that these people don’t count because they don’t have a flag is disingenuous.

    2). Evidence is starting to come out that the worst attacks are from third-party trolls who are attacking both sides. Cathy Young has Tweeted that she heard from a “person at a media company” that this was the case. A few weeks ago, a GGer going by the name of GGfeminist received a death threat almost identical to the one Brianna got, and she’s only one of several GGers who have been doxxed and threatened in the last month.

    Here’s Cathy’s Tweet on the subject:

    I’m not trying to play oppression olympics here (and again, I don’t identify with either side). I just want to establish that people on all sides of this have suffered.

    3) The “official” media response to GG has been, in many places, awful. I’m not talking about this blog post, which is very reasonable. I’m talking about the authors of the most vocal pieces against GG over the past 2 months, which have frequently tried to simply dismiss GGers and their concerns by labeling them as bigots. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of problems with GG both individually and as a movement, but it’s ridiculous to suggest, as many in the media have, that their stated concerns are simply a smokescreen for an attempt to harass women out of the gaming industry. Thousands of people, including many women, have spent countless hours on this over the past few months. They did not do it all out of pure malice.

    This even goes back as far as the original Zoe Quinn story. It is certainly true that Quinn was targeted for horrendous and unwarranted harassment, but the information in the Zoe Post also raised legitimate questions about both the behavior of Quinn herself and concerns about the “cozyness” of the games media and their subjects (some of which turned out to be unfounded). But instead of condemning the former while holding a civil discussion of the latter, the response from several outlets was to try to shut down the discussion by accusing all of Zoe’s critics of being misogynists. And things only got worse from there, with the infamous “gamers are dead” articles being the biggest misstep by far. Whatever you personally think of the content of those articles, the fact is that a lot of people did have a very visceral negative reaction to them, and that alone should be enough to suggest that mistakes were made there.

    Name calling isn’t a productive way to hold a discussion. It just alienates the target and encourages a bunker mentality. I want to emphasize again that I’m not accusing you of any of these behaviors, and I think this blog post is a tremendous improvement over the usual level of discourse on both sides.

    I think this article from Erik Kain does a good of expressing a lot of the concerns that GGers and those sympathetic to them have with regards to the gaming media:

    I hope that civil discussions like this are a step on the way to getting out of this mess.

  • AnotherGamer

    A thoughtful, moderated piece which lasted mere minutes before a #GG defender who clearly hadn’t read it swooped in and tried to claim that it was lies, all lies.
    It is becoming increasingly obvious that to affiliate with the GamerGate hashtag, you must be capable of believing a number of self-contradictory propositions:

    1.) Zoe Quinn & Anita Sarkeesian are not an important focus of the movement…except their supposed actions are the only ones ever forwarded as examples of “corruption.”
    2.) Anita Sarkeesian admitting she’s not much of a gamer proves her incompetence…Milo Yiannopoullis admitting the same is evidence of his objectivity.
    3.) Removing alternative voices from the debate is wrong…unless we’re pressuring advertisers to boycott publishers we don’t like.
    4.) White, male gamers are an oppressed minority…that should continue to drive game design because they’re the core market.
    5.). Everyone is a gamer. Except people who play the now largest market segment of games, casual and mobile. They don’t count.
    6.) Politics are irrelevant to games…and that’s why it’s so important that we make sure certain political perspectives are silenced.


  • Jon Helfrich

    Thank you for writing this, even though you’re likely to risk backlash again. All voices need to be unafraid to speak.

  • cambiata

    There’s also a disconnect, which I think you touched on but maybe needs to be explored, with people who (claim) they only want to know how good the gameplay is, and nothing else about the game matters.That “gameplay: is it good or bad? Why is it good or bad?” should be the only thing that game reviews should discuss.

    To the GGers who want this: if reviews were actually done that way, they’d be almost completely useless to me. And though you deny it right now, I think they’d be useless to you, also.

    Think about the uproar that came around when ME3 came out: Gamers (lots of them! Me included!) were angry at games journalists, because journalists only appeared to cover the first 90% of the game, and didn’t discuss or criticize the utterly awful ending. But ME3 had amazing gameplay! Gameplay so good that I still play the multiplayer. The only point of criticism for the game would be about how awfully written the story climax is. That’s it! In your perfect world view where no one talks about stories, that game would be give A+ reviews all around and our anger at the ending wouldn’t have matter in this “perfectly objective” world view.

    But this presents us with a problem: If you in fact do want story coverage as well as gameplay coverage, you have to understand that some of the people covering the story will not like it, even if you do. They will have negative criticisms of the story, and maybe will give the game a bad review based on it. And if you really liked the game and the story, that might make you mad. But that disagreement doesn’t mean you’re naturally more objective. Because it’s essentially art criticism, there’s no such *thing* as an objective opinion.

    Anyway no one will probably read that, but I wanted to say it somewhere.

  • INH5

    Oops, I meant Owen Good, not John Oliver.

  • Robert

    Gosh is that still going? I heard about this, but didn’t follow it closely as I don’t play games much and mainly follow your blog for Rum Doings related things.
    From what I heard about it, I think your remarks on it being related to politics are very accurate. Gamergate seems very much a reactionary movement to the increasing adoption of left-wing/progressive ideals of equality and more intellectual games by the journalists.
    If so, I wonder if they’ll get their equivalent of Fox News/ the Daily Mail, or just grudgingly accept the new normal once they run out of protesting energy.

  • A Bubba

    If you were so proud of your integrity you would mention the threats and doxxing against GG from the anti-gg side. This argument is only happening this way because the journalists tried to shift the focus from themselves being corrupt to the gamers being corrupt and the nieve SJW crowd jumped on the bandwagon.

  • Karen

    The biggest issue I have with all this gamergate crap is that no one has any perspective on /reality/. People in the “real world” do not know what GG is, nor is it relevant. Just imagine trying to explain it to anyone. Try to explain it to your 50+ waitress at iHOP. Just picture it.

    I literally never heard the term “SJW” until GG happened, and I had no clue that there was a tumblr community. It thought it was just another blogging platform with a lot of gifs.

  • Cyberia

    So lets consider your treatment of Koalafighter 17: You described three different websites writing three different viewpoints of that game including the fighting and bare breasts. And herein lies the problem.

    – 14 sites decrying “gamers” in the same tone within hours of each other

    – 7 days of total radio silence with no dissent.

    – 6 sites criticizing Cristina Hoff Meyers YouTube video, all in the same tone within hours of each other.

    – 7 more days of total radio silence with no dissent.

    – 6 sites criticizing the GameJournosList, all in the same tone within hours of each other.

    – A MONTH of radio silence with not one voice of dissent.

    – 6 sites criticizing Intel, all in the same tone within hours of each other.

    THAT is the pattern of “corruption” in games journalism. It’s NOT that they voiced a particular hardcore feminist viewpoint, it’s that they ALL voiced that viewpoint. The ENTIRE games journalist industry has been taken over by the same idealogues.

    They made a point of calling gamers out as hyper-masculinized man-babies and missed the point that those “man-babies” should be represented too because they represent a sizable, if not majority demographic. For Pete’s sake!

    Remember when the riots/protests were happening in Ferguson, MO? Remember how Fox News kept focusing on the rioters and NOT listening to the protesters? Remember how the left-press reacted to Fox’s coverage? Same thing here. Every time we point out the uniformity of the gaming press, they bring up the harassment to deflect the conversation. EVERY TIME.


    The harassment is AWFUL. We denounce it. We turned in the latest harassment to the FBI ourselves. What do you what us to do about it? Reach through our Iphones and take away some random person’s Iphone? I wouldn’t want that power even if it existed, and if it did exist, I’m sure the SJW side would have used it already.

    It isn’t representative of us. The fact that the very people we are protesting IS THE PRESS denotes a HUGE asymmetry of power, and the press CONSTANTLY abuses that power to push their narrative.


    The very people screaming for DIVERSITY have NONE AT ALL! And they overtly and publicly use their power to hide that fact with cries of “misogyny!”

    We “get it” that misogyny is a big deal to them. But then why did Leigh Alexander (et al) convey that viewpoint in the MOST sensational, tabloidy click-bait way possible??? They basically shot themselves in the foot at the get-go.

    Have you SEEN Leigh’s Twitter feeds of the past month??? She’s HYPER-TOXIC. She’s NOT HELPING. She OPENLY threatens female developers careers and the few journalist that dare disagree with her.


    Again, it’s NOT that they have a Feminist viewpoint. They have that right, and it even has a place in the discussion. The problem is the LACK of any other viewpoint.

    Name one of those sites that has EVER offered serious criticism of Anita Sarkeesian’s work?

    Fucking crickets (chirp, chirp, chirp)


  • weirdnoise

    A very thoughtful post! Thanks for it.

    Objectivity is impossible for humans; I tend to mistrust people who claim it, since they are typically fooling themselves. Thus I take time to read critics’ reviews to see what they notice and ignore, what they like and dislike, and mold my expectations with that in mind. No one — even the avowedly apolitical — can actually set their politics aside. So I appreciate when opinion is presented up-front, along with the bias that help make up that opinion. At the end of the day, a simple numeric score is the least objective review of all!

  • CwbinTn

    You did not get ” thousands” of harassing tweets.
    is this the tactic you people are employing now?
    You are flailing and slinging shit because #GamerGate is not bowing to you anymore. The consumers have had enough of your illicit activities and paid promotional mini vacations where you get paid for positive reviews.

    I know what goes on behind the scenes and us gamers are tired of it. You are pulling this article our of thin air.

  • Indrid Cold

    You do realize GamerGate DONATED to Child’s Play, right? Look up “GamerGate Charity Drive.”

    As for your harassment. Well, bad. Of course it’s awful.

    But you need to understand that, if anything, the harassment AGAINST GamerGate has been much, much, worse. Banking account information for a transgendered teenager was revealed, another transgendered male was forced out of the closet and had that info spread in his college, several, I mean, SEVERAL female youtubers and bloggers have had their facebooks compromised, threats put on the phone, addresses leaked, etc.

    This is gross. This is gross that the primary defense of journalism has been to create this damn firestorm in the first place.

    Here’s the thing: If the apologies had come first. If people were MATURE about this whole damn thing. Say “Yes this is favoritism, yes we don’t publish rebuttals to our articles, yes we are very selective about what we air and what we don’t.”

    This would have been over in a month.

    Instead? 48 hours of hate. Several hundred lives completely ruined. The second person to use NotYourShield, a black journalist, had his job taken out because apparently NYS is ‘hate speech.’

    You have absolute zero idea what the damage has been like on the other side of the fence. You cannot even fathom how awful this shit’s been. How easy it could have stopped if journalists had just owned up to their shit and addressed it.

    A few days ago there was the Shadows over Mordor Scandal. People jumped on it IMMEDIATELY. Every single youtube personality hit the roundtables, talked, talked, talked. The smaller youtubers talked about why they took the money. They humanized themselves and said ‘yes we made a mistake, but shit’s tough and we’re sorry.”

    I have seen NONE of that from journalists. You shouldn’t expect your audience to be the ‘bigger man,’ that’s YOUR responsibility to be mature, to diffuse, you could post an article tomorrow and have all of RPS in the clear.

    All it has to be is “We’re sorry.” We’re sorry for EVERYTHING. Don’t beat around the bush. Don’t say “We’re sorry women had to be harassed.” Don’t do the Kotaku backhand of posting a halfhearted apology then having Gawker publish an attack article, then trying the same damn thing 3 days later.

    None of that. I’d say man up, but let’s keep it gender neutral – be a bloody adult.

  • BlogPerson

    “it is not that there is just a bunch of new “progressive feminist” sites covering games, but also that many of the sites that used to usually cover games from the “moderate GG-supporter” point of view morphed into covering games from a progressive feminist point of view. ”

    Thing is, for years feminist gamers were told that if we wanted to read game media from that perspective, we should create it ourselves. And so people did. And then we were told that if a progressive point of view ever got a large enough market share, then the market would change to address us more. And then that happened.

    So, like, I say this with the sincere desire that you do so and successfully but: if you don’t like the offering of game media sites, why don’t you make one yourself?

  • Indrid Cold

    For the record, I once had my game featured on your site. I was so happy. I still am. I have tremendous respect for RPS, but that respect is dropping quickly.

    I would like to think that every dev who gets their stuff covered is worth it, and every dev who doesn’t is either unlucky or doesn’t have what it takes. That’s not the image I have here anymore. I know, as a person with no friends in the industry, you guys featured because I actually had something to show.

    Everyone else? I don’t know. I really just don’t.

    In the end, you’re either a journalist or a blogger. If you acknowledge you are a blog, you are not set to these high standards. You are not expected to be fair. You are expected to have friends, do favoritism.

    Objectivity is impossible. But this isn’t just objectivity, this is so far out of left field to even think this could possibly be supported by the ‘objectivity is impossible’ argument is just ridiculous. This is like shooting a cat thirty times over with the defense of ‘well you can’t always avoid killing a cat.’

    If you want to be a blogger. Say so. They’ll let you go. You’ll be a blogger, just a blogger. If you want to be journalists, put yourself together and be something respectable again.

  • Steven

    Yet still no mention about any of the doxxing attempts thrown at GG.

    Let me lay it out for you. GG is rather spent and well used to the labels thrown at them. They know that splitting the name tag will only destroy the momentum gained. They also know they can do nothing about the trolls themselves.

    Have you ever seen what 8 chan does at a possible doxxing attempt? They go ape shit and get the mods to delete it. They do not stand for harassment or condone it.

    Guess who has actually taken the time to track down the person threatening anita sark? GG.

    But they will still continued to be labeled and degraded.

    GG is a hydra. No matter how many heads are cut off you will only fuel its power. It knows it doesn’t need a leader. It knows it’s strongest as a consumer movement.

    The emails will continue. You can not kill a hydra.

  • Dylan Holmes

    Thanks for this, John. I know it can’t have been easy to write.

  • GameChanger

    For anyone that wants to try and organize this mess of a movement, I am trying to step up a thing that will strip itself away from the #gamergate tag and hopefully be more organized and with clearer goals. Essentially we should be able to do more then just get better transparency/journalists with actual degrees on the sites/less click bait.

    It’s still a work and progress and a temporary place while I try and find something that’s not 8-chan but also not an invasion forum board.

  • an actual progressive, not a brogressive

    “Compare The Escapist of 5 years ago to The Escapist of today, for instance.”

    As Captain Janeway said in one of her only good lines, “Children have to grow up.”

    Sometimes people through their life experiences develop tolerance, understanding, and empathy for others not like themselves.

    This isn’t “corruption” unless you’re a frightened, reactionary fool.

    Are you a fool? Some of the concern trolls on this thread may be dupes of GG, which started not over some MSM stories about women outnumbering men playing games but when a narcissistic, controlling, nasty screed by a jilted ex-lover was posted all over the internet and the author of said screed rallied a flying-monkey army in just the right fetid internet swamp. Time to admit you were duped and this whole movement was never about you. It was about an insecure attention-seeker’s quest for revenge.

    And for the pro-GG, anti-progressive, oh wait we’re the real progressives like Rand Paul amirite ranters, yes I called you frightened reactionaries. If you weren’t frightened you wouldn’t be taking a flamethrower to a few ants. Somebody, somewhere doesn’t respect your authoriteh and it’s like your whole world has crumbled.

    Children have to grow up.

  • TolP

    I liked the fact that the tone wasn’t outrage or snarkiness, not because these responses are invalid, but because they’ve been thoroughly done to death by now Cracked did it, Vice did it and did it and how. That can be funny and topical but ultimately it’s preaching to the choir and blowing raspberries at the unbelievers.

    It underscores a really simple fact, GamerGate is built on contradictory goals. If you are against political correctness and people that you believe champion it and passionately in favor of free speech you believe in a contradiction. You can’t have a free press that can only operate in narrow confines that omits uncomfortable ideologies. You can have one, or the other but not both. If you continue to shout two things that simply don’t make sense in the same sentence you just look incoherent.

    I’d urge GamerGaters to stop and think, which of these two goals is most important to you-stopping people from saying stuff or having a free and fearless gaming press? Work out what is actually important to you and deliver a coherent message or you’ll leave it to your critics, like me, to define for themselves who you are and what you stand for!

  • Iain

    Great article, thanks for writing it. I tend to think that anyone using the acronym SJW is basically wrong no matter what they say, as the premise of it as a label for people you disagree with is horrid.

  • Mao

    Best of wishes, comrade, on your Cultural Revolution!

    I have fondest memories 1966.

    Treat most harshly #GamerGate revanchists!

  • Ricardo Lima

    Im gamergate and im sorry you got so harrased over this john I really am. But I do belive this has been festering for a while and wont go away. Even if the hashtag ended tomorrow It wont quite go away. Most of us are standing against the imposition of certain viewpoint upon us thats why we welcome basicaly anyone and dont judge. I understand the problems of that first hand. I know why Adam Baldwin and Milos joined in they have an political agenda, correct? Does anyone involved, for an against can really say they dont have one?

    Why any woman and minority be among us if we were the woman haters harassers so many call us? And even a few feminists. They must hate themselfs ? I doubt it.
    One of the rallying points is Anitas political activism. Let Clarify Im not saying harassing anyone is fine especially any woman. But the second I say I have a problem with her views and the way she semms to want impose them I turn into the defender of woman harassers, of threaths of anykind and im afraid that after this is a image that will be greater than ever.
    Im againts any steoriotiotypes, sexism and racism And harassement of anykind. And Harrassament on the internet should be fougth and the victims specially the woman who are the prefered target need to be protected. But thats not an issue that can really be fougth by gg or those who opposed it.

    Ask Gamergate to stop woman harassament is like asking anyone else to do it. Its beyond Gamergates power to do so because we cant control the internet and everyone in it.

    Woman harrassament is a big problem and have to be fougth tooth and nail but its biger than it.

  • Stijn

    NelC, DMG, Jamie: Thanks for the replies! Good thoughts, those are good perspectives on the issue.

  • Random Reader

    I think ethics in games journalism is important. I’m disappointed that, for years now, after I read a glowing game review I often wonder if the game publisher somehow influenced that review, either through advertising revenue or privileged access or other means. It’s the same problem with reviews for any product or service, whether free or paid: I imagine who stands to benefit from the review, and check my skepticism sense whether they were involved.

    However, the issue of corruption is absolutely trivialized by the threats, abuse, and harassment currently being directed at specific people in the games industry (and at specific people outside the games industry speaking publicly against games media). Lives are being ruined. That’s on a completely different scale than “journalist” shills and sellout press/publishers. I cannot understand how an honest person would continue to harp on about games media in the context of corruption when something so horrible is going on.

    It’s like John’s parable about politics in journalism: when I read a comment here that spends any words saying “Corruption is the problem”, I see it as a tacit endorsement of the harassment currently going on. Which means there are a lot of scum in this comments section who deserve to, I dunno, be late for a bus or something.

  • SirPsycho

    Ricardo_Lima said –

    “Most of us are standing against the imposition of certain viewpoint upon us ”

    Which viewpoint is being imposed upon your crowd? If you’re referring to articles mentioning the protrayal of women or minorities in games then I hope you understand that that is not imposing anything, it’s discussing.\

    “I know why Adam Baldwin and Milos joined in they have an political agenda, correct? Does anyone involved, for an against can really say they dont have one?”

    You’re correct that everyone has a political agenda however MY and AB only joined GG due to their agenda – not an interest in games or gaming but simply to try adn reach a larger crowd with their agenda and Milo’s buggering off now anyway.

    “Why any woman and minority be among us if we were the woman haters harassers so many call us? And even a few feminists. They must hate themselfs ? I doubt it.”

    Not all of GG are attacking women, in fact it’s likely that only an extremely vocal minority of shit-stirrers are, who rarely see any pushback from the majority of moderate GGers. But to claim “Women are with us so we can’t be anti-women” is a pathetic argument. There were women involved in the anti-sufferagette movement, there are women who advocate for Sharia Law. Both are examples of women supporting and advocating for something that is anti-woman. Women are not your shield protecting the movement from any and all criticism.

    “One of the rallying points is Anitas political activism. Let Clarify Im not saying harassing anyone is fine especially any woman. But the second I say I have a problem with her views and the way she semms to want impose them ”

    I highly doubt you’ve watched any of her videos as she clearly states that playing and enjoying these games is perfectly fine, she’s simply looking at how they potray women. Do you have anything from her stating how she wants to impose anything? Note I want something she said, not an interpretation of what she said or an inference but something from her.

    “Im againts any steoriotiotypes, sexism and racism And harassement of anykind. And Harrassament on the internet should be fougth and the victims specially the woman who are the prefered target need to be protected. But thats not an issue that can really be fougth by gg or those who opposed it. ”

    We’re in total agreement on most of that, I decry the abuse no matter where it comes from however to claim GG can do nothing about it is inaccurate. The moderates could pushback against the misogynists sullying the GG name, they could vocally decry the abuse. Instead, in my experience, there’s more denial that the attacks happened, false flag BS, than actually decrying them.

    “Ask Gamergate to stop woman harassament is like asking anyone else to do it. ”

    No-one’s asking you to do so but you guys can at least pushback against the abuse coming from some in the GG group.

  • TheMayv

    Please provide the facts that would substantiate your claim that persons involved with #GamerGate were also involved with sending “terrifying death and rape threats to women in the industry”.

  • Lilin

    I would point out, again and again, that there have been a lot of articles pointing out the big gaming companies and the big gaming sites have a corrupt relationship. Gammergate does not attack them.

    Why? First, they don’t actually want to criticize journalism. They want to criticize games by women, games by lesbians, and anyone who even looks at gender in gaming. That’s why the people driven out of their houses by death threats haven’t been journalists, they have been developers, youtubers, and graduate students. Isn’t it funny that no one who actually is a game journalist has been the subject of that kind of abuse?

    Secondly, they want to get away with it. Companies that make a lot of money might be able to do a little something when people threaten them. Gamergate doesn’t want that. It wants to pick on small targets who can’t defend themselves.

    Gamergate is not a scandal about ethics in journalism.

    Gamergate is a scandal about how a toxic subculture in gaming essentially entertains itself by criminally threatening anyone who they don’t like – especially when that person is a woman.

  • Nikolas Davidoff

    Such a brilliant article that remained surprisingly straight-faced, despite the ample room for snark. I particularly love your comments on how being “non-political” actually is engaging in a political slant.

    As Landon Ricketts from Red Dead Redemption said; “Even those who sit on the fence make a choice, in their own way.”

  • Dan L.


    Try doing a search for “everything” rather than “replies”. Not every abusive tweet at @botherer was a reply to that account.

    A quick search for “suicide @botherer” shows that at least a few folks have indeed tweeted to @botherer that he should commit suicide.

    Walker has, in fact, responded to this allegation on reddit:

    Overall, I think the research “proving” that Walker is lying about the number and nature of tweets he’s received is…umm…flawed. Seriously flawed.

    In addition, it may behoove those of you who really believe in #GamerGate to engage critics in good faith rather than accusing every critic of lying, etc. Unless, of course, what you’re engaged in is really a campaign of discrediting, stalking, harassing, etc.

  • Matt Dovey

    My goodness, a lot of nonsense has popped up in these comments, and I only read a handful before I started losing the will to live.

    I’m only commenting to offer one small voice in defiance of all the nastiness and say that you don’t half do some lovely writing, and come across as thoroughly lovely in all the right ways. People speak up when they disagree with something, but too often agreement is marked only by a sage nod at my monitor before moving onto the next tab.

    So here’s me correcting that, for once. You’re a mighty fine journalist, Mr. Walker – not a hobby writer, not an SJW* – and although I enjoy a lot of journalistic work, mostly on RPS, you’re about the only one whom I actually admire.

    *and really, seriously – people don’t want social justice? You’re trying to use _social justice_ in a denigrating manner? What are you, 18th Century landowners?