When the internet exploded in August with the rise of Gamergate, some observers feared it would eventually turn into a broader phenomenon, the sort of phenomenon that can be described as “toxic” or “crisis porn.”
But with the #Gamergate movement, it appears the internet is not about to become a new “carcass” for the likes of Twitter and Reddit.
Instead, it’s creating an environment that is more toxic and unstable than the old one.
When we have a new social media era, the way to deal with that is to do something about the toxic environment.
And that’s what the #gamergate movement is trying to do.
The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin has written about how Gamergate “started as a movement against ethics in games journalism and video game culture” but now “is a movement for the destruction of journalistic integrity and a call to arms for an unprecedented purge of the internet of those who do not agree with its political agenda.”
The movement has targeted journalists who have dared to voice opinions on video games and the video game industry in particular, and those who speak out against it, and has used social media to attack them, including a series of videos that showed people in front of a gaming studio chanting at the studio employees, “You fucking reporters!”
The harassment of the targets has included death threats, rape threats, and threats to “destroy” the studio.
Toobin wrote: “The goal here is to discredit anyone who says anything critical of the industry, and to make it impossible for them to continue in journalism.”
For many, that’s an accurate assessment.
But not everyone believes that Gamergate is an organized movement, and many of the attacks and threats that are made against them are the work of individuals, rather than organized groups.
Some of the people who have made the attacks against the targets have had very clear ties to the Gamergate movement, including Brianna Wu, who has made multiple posts about her relationship with a former game developer named Adam Baldwin, and the developer Zoe Quinn.
Zoe Quinn is one of the most well-known women in gaming who has been subject to online harassment and intimidation.
And for many, it is because of the harassment and threats against her and Quinn that they are now afraid to speak out about the issues that they care about, especially about the impact video games have on the lives of people in the gaming industry.
Toobin wrote about how “Gamergate” has a history of using “a lot of tactics, and a lot of tropes, to attack anyone who stands in the way of their own agenda,” which includes “a sort of cult-like personality that they can turn to for support and validation.”
But “there’s no evidence of a larger conspiracy” between these groups, and some of those tactics “have been used by some of the biggest players in the industry in the past.”
Toobin went on to write that “it’s not the first time that the same groups have tried to discredit a journalist or target a game developer.
The Gamergate movement has long had a history in targeting other people in tech, and its targets have included game journalists, game developers, and women in the game industry.”
So what is Gamergate?
The term “GamerGate” was coined by a woman who was involved in the #MeToo movement in the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment allegations.
The movement was formed in response to a “culture war” that was going on in the video games industry, but that it seems is now getting its start in the media and political sphere, as well.
According to The Verge, the movement is “a loose network of anonymous Internet activists, who have targeted female game developers and journalists with harassment and online attacks.”
This harassment and attacks have led to “a number of prominent women who have been targeted, including Zoe Quinn, Brianna Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian, and others.”
GamerGate supporters are calling the movement a “movement of free speech” and have criticized “political correctness” as a problem that is “the cause of everything wrong with our society today,” and “the new normal of online harassment.”
And while many of these people have made statements on social media that are very clear that they support Gamergate, they are also very clear in their support of women in game journalism and for journalists who report on gaming.
What is Gamergate’s response?
Gamergate supporters are pushing back against accusations of harassment, including the claims that they have been responsible for the harassment of Brianna Williams, a former Gawker writer who has come out as a feminist in the last few days.
But while the movement has been accused of “targeting” journalists, “there is no evidence that any journalist has been targeted,” according to The Washington Post.
And “even if they had been, no journalist would have reported the harassment,” according Toobin.
So how does Gamergate react to the backlash?
Toobin writes that Gamergate supporters have