On the nature of Gamergate

If you haven’t read this post, please do so first. Thanks!

Hi, how’s it going? Me? Oh, I’m great. Ok, this is going to be… interesting.

So I’ve been looking into Gamergate in the past few weeks. I’ve read a lot of articles about it, neutral, pro and con. But I haven’t limited my edification to “press” sites or blogs; I’ve gone through the hashtag on Twitter on a regular basis, I’ve browsed through Reddit and 8chan boards, I’ve read literature and documentation and watched videos that were linked from there, and more.

I honestly think I’ve done my homework, and I honestly believe I understand a reasonable amount of what makes the Gamergate movement. I’m sure many people will disagree with my characterizations, probably on both “sides” of the issue, and that’s fine. This is my assessment, and I believe it to be accurate, but you don’t have to agree.

One thing I would encourage you to do though, is to read the full article before commenting or deciding that I’m wrong or right. This is a very, very complex topic, and you can’t get the full picture by just reading the first few sentences.

Also please note that I’m not doing a “History of Gamergate” here. I’m just trying to give my understanding of what it is and how if functions today.

Ok, first things first: what is Gamergate?

Here is the easiest way I can summarize it: at its core, it is a hashtag that anyone can use to speak up, and that most are using to voice concerns that have to do with gender issues and ethics in gaming.

Who are the people who are part of Gamergate?

Members of the Gamergate movement are the people who identify themselves as members of the Gamergate movement.

That’s it. There is no official structure or organisation, and it can be anyone who uses the hashtag. Which is why it is also so difficult to understand.

How big is this movement?

Nobody knows. A few dozen thousand people maybe? Hard to say. The Gamergate hastag has seen over two million Tweets in two months, and is still active. Let’s say each Gamergater averages 10 to 20 tweets per month; we get 50 to 100K individuals. But really, this is shoddy guestimating. Again, nobody knows. What we do know is that it’s not an insignificant number of people.

What does Gamergate want?

Nothing. Everything. Ethics. Justice. For women activists to stay out of our damn video games. To express their anger and frustration. It changes depending on who you ask, which makes this so much… “fun”. What does Gamergate want? God only knows. Literally.

I’m not kidding: nobody (but God) can know for sure. This is because the movement arguably has no leader and no demands, so its exact goal is very difficult to pin down. The term participants usually use to define the nature of the movement is “a consumer revolt”, with no fixed structure. Think #OccupyWallStreet.

Where it gets interesting is that there has even been an active rejection of the idea of setting goals or formulating demands (as seen in this document, which used to be shared amongst Gamergaters, although it does seem to be less prominent now). So, again, with no goal or demand or philosophy, and the active refusal to set them, it is impossible – almost by design – to say what the movement actually stands for. Of course this makes talking about the movement’s goals tricky, for good or ill. But mostly for ill: if it’s cool, then it’s cool, end of story. But if it isn’t cool, then there’s no representation to address, no body to debate with, no clear point to refute. And participants make the best of that “flaw”.

I have, more than once, heard Gamergaters say that you shouldn’t believe what you read or hear, but rather “ask the people”, because this is a people’s movement. This was usually in response to accusations that Gamergate promotes harassment of women. As there is no leader or list of demands to point to and explain that this isn’t what Gamergate stands for, individuals who want to refute these accusations are left with no choice but to assure you that this is not what they, as an individual, stand for. And that you’d know that if you bothered to ask.

The reasoning here is that people making those accusations are making gross generalizations based on anecdotal evidence. And it is also often implied that most of Gamergaters don’t stand for and aren’t conducive to harassment either (which is, quite ironically, a generalization based on the individual’s anecdotal evidence as well).

So what you’re left with is a disparate group of several dozen thousand people that purposefully don’t set goals or objectives and have no leaders, and that advocate that you can’t understand what they want unless you essentially speak to each of them individually. Needless to say, this is an unsolvable problem.

As I said, Gamergate is a hashtag any individual can use, and nobody can say with certainty what Gamergate really, truly wants. Not even “people who identify as Gamergaters”.

So how can we know what Gamergate is about?

The only way I can think of to understand what Gamergate is about is to look into the places that seem most central to its activity. The Twitter hashtag is at its core of course; a simple search will tell you a lot (although I would recommend repeated the search multiple times to get a wider sample), and the 8chan messageboard’s Gamergate board (same remark).

If there is a better way of sampling what this movement does and stands for, I’m all ears. But for now, this is how I’m analyzing it, and I honestly believe there isn’t really a better way (short of interviewing 50.000 to 100.000 people individually).

Well, I heard it’s about journalistic ethics.

Yeah… It really isn’t. I know I just said nobody can know “for sure”. I stand by that: any time you say “Gamergate is about X”, someone who identifies themselves as a Gamergater can tell you: “no it isn’t, how would you know, it’s a consumer revolt”. And they would be right; we can’t know for sure what each of the 50.000 or 100.000 people think. But there very consistently recurring themes in its main representative outlets. One of them, probably the most common in that context of asking “what it’s about”, is journalistic ethics.

So… Wait, it is about ethics then? – you might ask. Well, no, it still isn’t.

See, it is usually “about ethics” in the context of women and gender issues. Going through the hashtag and the popular Gamergate related boards, these questions are not only overwhelmingly central, there are also at the core of the whole “ethics” debate. The genesis of the movement was about a woman’s relation with a journalist. The core of the ethics debate is about the media “fairly” reporting or not reporting on pro or anti gender related issues discussions. The fuel of the movement’s anger is the change that feminists want to see in female characters in games.

Remember, nobody can say what Gamergate is or isn’t. I’m sure some people will read this and think “you are wrong, we talk about ethics all the time”. I’m sure they do. And actually, I have also seen a lot of actual talk about actual journalistic ethics. albeit in a somewhat superficial way (which usually involves taking individual points of data into conclusions about the entire industry – again an issue with generalizations, ironically). But I would submit that these “serious” discussions came as a way to legitimize, or even harness the power of, a discussion that was solely about “ethics as it relates to women”. I would even guess that this was done half consciously to clean up a debate that most participants were starting to see for the unacceptable mess that it was. But I’m veering into speculation here, let’s get back on track.

I also want to say this: while those genuine debates about ethics might represent a (small) part of the movement, that is not what I see when I try to understand its overall material and activity. What I do see are women being discussed everywhere. Maybe you don’t, but you also don’t own the movement any more then any other Gamergater does… That’s the trick: when you try and say this is a “leaderless consumer revolt”, it works both ways. And if I can’t define it as “not being about ethics”, you can’t define it as “being about ethics” either. With this core issue, all we’re left with is what we see, and this is what I see. And again, I’m not talking about “pro-feminist press slander” here. I’m talking about the hashtag and about 8chan. If this isn’t representative of what Gamergate discusses, then nothing is.

And just to bring the point home: what I almost never see are substential “discussions” about journalistic ethics. Sure, I see professional code of ethics thrown around here and there, with the empty preface of “we want journalists to be ethical, like THIS”!, and there are videos that list a few issues of corruption in journalism (which aren’t anything new and have been appropriately addressed already). These don’t hold anything of substance, other than a pretty obvious attempt at obfuscating the relationship the movement has had with the issue of women from the beginning, and the the painful platitude that “journalists should be ethical”, which nobody has ever disputed. There would be a lot of serious things to say about ethics in games journalism, but that isn’t the focus of what is being discussed in the Gamergate space, as far as I can see.

What *is*central and heavily discussed however, is, again, how journalists are unfairly treating this issue of women’s representation. Which is, of course, because they don’t have ethics.

So in my opinion, Gamergate isn’t about ethics. It could be argued that it’s about ethics-as-it-relates-to-the-issue-of-women’s-representation-in-games. Maybe. But even then, I’m sorry to say, that’s not ethics.

And besides… Ok, let’s get back to reality for second here: as important in game journalism is (and it *is* important, don’t make me say it isn’t), I don’t think these issues would warrant such incredible rage and anger. I mean, we’re not talking about political conspiracies or debates about the death penalty. And for the amount of serious “scandals” people bandy around as examples of corruption (single digits I guess), the reaction would seem disproportionate even if it was justified. Which suggests there is a deeper issue at play.

So it’s about women and feminists?

Yes it is. Most Gamergaters will tell you it isn’t. Just as they will tell you it’s about ethics. I disagree here too.

Again, I know I said you can’t really define Gamergate. But again, I think you can look at the nature of the discussions and the central topics. The question of representation of women in game is everywhere, and the question of the feminists that are arguing for a better representation of women in games is too.

Let me take the “LW” example, which I think is emblematic of the broken logic that sits at the core of this issue.

LW stands for “Literally Who”; a way to designate the main advocates of the question of women’s representation in games, who are also the most visible women in the whole debate. The argument is that these women are unfairly targeting the Gamergate movement, trying to get more attention than they deserve, and placing blame where there is none. So the response of the movement has been to obfuscate their names, and replace them with “LW”. Of course there is more than one of these women, and so there is more than one LW. We have LW1, LW2 and LW3. There are being referred to all the time. But it’s also very confusing, so they are also explained again from time to time: “LW1=Z, LW2=A, LW3=B” (those stand for Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian and Brianna Wu, which anyone who follows the movement knows).

If it looks silly, it’s because it is. And as I was saying, this is emblematic: it seems people in the movement actually believe that using an established code name for someone is somehow equivalent to not talking about them, or denying them the attention they “seek”. I haven’t seen many people arguing that “if the movement isn’t about them, then we really shouldn’t be discussing them at all”.

Some might say they are being discussed because they keep dragging in Gamergate in their discussions, when really Gamergate has nothing to do with them (it’s really about ethics, remember?). But if the movement can’t be defined and some people use its main conduit to harass them, isn’t the movement effectively about that, partially at least? And besides, you can’t say this isn’t about women, and then be discussing women all over the Gamergate affiliated outlets, and then be surprised when people don’t believe you. And looking at the material the movement produces, this is exactly what we see: women’s representation in games, and those that want to discuss that issue, are still central.

With the argument that if the “LWs” get their way, games will be negatively impacted (artificially changed).

So Gamergate is about the fear of a negative impact on games?

Yes. I think most Gamergaters would agree to this. Until they remember they’re actually all about ethics.

The issue is thus: “Some people say there is an issue with women’s representation in games, but there really isn’t, and the changes they are demanding would change (“destroy”) the games we love.”

If this is true, I sort of can understand the frustration. Only I don’t believe it’s true. I believe there is an obvious issue with women’s representation in games, and it’s a worthwhile topic to discuss. Again, we get back to women’s representation in gaming. We always do.

The only thing I’ll add here is to address a recent argument I’ve read from Gamergaters: when people claim that games won’t really be negatively impacted by more female representation, they answer that “this isn’t really the core concern, but rather that the worry is really the impact on the artistic or design intent of the developer”, giving examples like an the alteration of female clothing in a game.

This sort of implies that they don’t really have a problem with having more female characters better represented as a principle, but that there is a fear it would pervert the artistic integrity of the those games.

Well, I’m sorry but you can’t have it both ways: if the “artistic integrity” is what is causing the issue, then you can’t keep protecting it because “it is the artistic intent”. I would even argue most of those aren’t “artistic integrity” but rather an unintended consequence of a specific culture, which is very very different.

If there is an issue with women’s representation in games, then there is an issue with women’s representation in games, and we have to address it. Including by changing the way female characters are… represented in games. It comes with the package. It IS the package. So let’s decide whether or not there is an issue, why don’t we? We can have that discussion.

Except we can’t, because this isn’t what the movement is about. Indeed, we should not forget: it’s about journalistic ethics.

What about the harassment thing? Are Gamergaters responsible for this?

I know some people won’t agree with my answer here, but I’d say they aren’t strictly responsible. Not directly.

In recent weeks there has been an incredible increase of condemnation of abuse and harassment to women on Gamergate outlets. Every other post includes a “we don’t like them, but we strongly condemn any harassment”. I don’t believe those are fake or completely insincere.

I’m sure that the overwhelming majority of individual Gamergaters want nothing to do with people who threaten to rape and issue death threats. Here again, they will say, not without reason, that the hashtag is available to anyone, and that they are not responsible for what a few extremists will do with it.

Things are that simple though. The Gamergate movement isn’t advocating violence, but it is aggressive towards women. It is full of negativity and single-mindedness. I believe that this isn’t a healthy debate, but an echo chamber that fosters anger and even hate. Some might say “welcome to the Internet, duh!”. I don’t think that’s quite right though. The Internet doesn’t create movements like that, it “only” allows them to express (and amplify) something that is already there. So what’s already there? Gamergaters will say: “Ethics! We’ve been telling you this for weeks!”. But that’s not what I’ve seen. What I’ve seen is privilege, and the inability to understand that it has to go away, because it is unfair. To women.

I think this is where the line of communication will break down for good: Gamergaters simply won’t accept this has merits. And that’s ok, I’m fine with people disagreeing with me, obviously.

So at a deeper, probably unconscious level, I think this is a disproportionate reaction to the fear of losing something as central to your identity as your “place in the world”. And yes there are women who are Gamergaters, but in truth we are touching on the issue of the place of women in society as a whole, and that is a much bigger and far reaching issue than that of video games.

Gamergate looks to me like a political front, outraged that immigrants are coming to take our jobs. They are loud, active, determined and angry. The galvanize and rally the troupes, because this is an important issue, and these immigrants are threatening our way of life and, quite frankly, they suck. They repeat this among themselves, to each other, to anyone that wants to listen, and even to those who aren’t interested. And then some moron skinhead goes and stabs an immigrant. Is it the political front’s fault? Well, not directly. But they’re not “not responsible” either.

Is Gamergate responsible for the revolting amounts to psychological battery aimed at the women who dare to try and stand for themselves? Maybe not. Not directly. But they’re not “not responsible”. The Gamergate movement does, in my opinion, foster an environment that is toxic to women. And I also think Gamergaters are aware of it, at least on some level, and this is why they are focusing so heavily on saying the movement is about ethics, when the material it produces seems inextricably linked to the question of women.

Please make no mistake: I’m not saying Gamergaters are racist, or as bad as racists. I’m not even saying they’re really misogynistic. I don’t think they should be censored either. Serious threats and crimes should be investigated and prosecuted; I think everyone will agree there. But I think Gamergaters will dislike my hypothesis even more than claims of racism: I think they’re the victims of a society and culture that doesn’t recognize the heavy inequalities women face ever day. At work, at home, in movies, in advertising, and yes, in video games. And when someone says we have to change that world, they react… strongly.

Brand me a feminist, I’ll wear that badge proudly. Because we don’t just have a problem with women’s representation in games, we have a problem with women’s place in our world. And we need to fix it. And we will! It won’t happen today, and it won’t happen next year, and I don’t believe will happen violently. I believe it will happen because we’ll teach our daughters that they don’t have to be the princess in the castle, but they can be Thor if they want to. It will happen because we’ll show our them, and our sons, that girls don’t have to study literature, but that they can be a kick-ass physicist if they want. It will happen because we will let our coworkers know that objectifying our female colleagues at the water cooler isn’t “cool”, just like calling someone “gay” isn’t cool.

And yes, it will happen because we will slowly be correcting a representation balance that has been completely out of whack in the video games industry, and because one day, hopefully soon, the games women will play will finally make them feel as great as men have for the past 30 years. To be honest, I think that change is already happening, and I don’t think there is a lot anyone can do to change it.

But these aren’t things you can fault someone for. Not really. People are just living in the world the way it is, and sometimes even realizing that there is an issue is difficult when that’s what you’ve known your whole life. It just feels natural, because it is. Once the question is raised however, once the issue is exposed, then we have a choice. And I believe that the way we handle these question is what defines our character as people.

Isn’t there more to say about this?

Yes there is. There would be a lot. I could talk about Adam Baldwin, about the “gamer identity” issue, about the gamejournopro mailing list, about comparison to “video games making people violent”, about SJWs, about the horrendous, unacceptable and relentless harassment women in this industry and female gamers are facing, for speaking up and making their voices heard as they should, or simply for joining voice chat in an online FPS… There would be a lot to say about that, and about so much more. But this is already very long, and I think the key questions have been addressed.

The one thing I would like to add is this: Gamergate is giving gamers a bad name, and it makes me sad that my pride is being muddled by all this anger and intolerance. But I believe it won’t last. Because this is exactly the opposite of what we are. We are the group where some kid you’ve never heard of can win a world tournament through sheer skill. We are the group where people play with friends from countries they’ve never even heard of every night to take on the greatest challenges. We are the group that discovers this random person we thought had nothing in common with us actually loves gaming, and we end up talking about that and everything else for hours on end.
Ultimately, we are understanding and inclusive. We love video games and we are brought together in that passion. It is our generation’s form of entertainment, and it is an incredible one at that. It’s also becoming an new and real form of art, with all that it implies – including the difficult but necessary discussions. And our community will be stronger than any angry debate, as we, all of us, one by one, choose to spread love instead of rejection. We are gamers, we are not Gamergate.

As I conclude this article, I would like to thank everyone for reading it, pro something, against something, or neutral everything. I would also like to reiterate that these are my honest opinions, and my heartfelt attempt at understanding what Gamergate is and how it functions. And I thank everyone who will chose to comment to do so in a civil manner.

Thank you, and game on.

October 30th, 2014
  • Teo

    Brilliant, succinct, and as far as I can tell, an unwaveringly fair and accurate assessment. I’m more hopeful that true equality is closer than you think, but GameGate has shown that there’s still a long way to go. Maybe, just maybe, some expanded awareness will be achieved by at least some in our society, and accelerate the process.

    Thank you for taking the time to write this, Patrick. Most definitely worth the effort.

  • Ranakel

    Well then, first and foremost, as I plan to be civil in this comment: you’re welcome.

    Then. Well I never personally used the gamergate hashtag. Merely lurk around a bit, but do have some sympathy for the movement, which is where I’d say my bias leans towards.

    And as I write this, I’m of course tempted to write about how I am against harassment, how I consider this or that question to be critically important, and how I’ve been wounded by (cherry-picked) comments on the anti-gamergate side on a personal basis. But as you put it, intelligently as ever, the hashtag is free for grabs by anyone, and I am no more representative of this movement than anybody else, which makes my personal experiences ultimately irrelevant. But my analysis, potentially interesting. At least that’s the hope, and if it isn’t, oh well, just a few wasted pixels more on the internet.

    So. I think a lot of the vocal gamergaters use the hashtag mainly to represent a feeling that something’s wrong, uneasy, in specific outlets they access regularly. They feel somewhat opressed by the idea that being agressive, vaguely insulting online, in an intent of manly camaraderie and competitiveness, is something wrong to some degrees. They feel so because they read it, in news sites. And deny their point, their credibility, and search their every fault to try to preserve the “manly zone” they feel online gaming environnment can be. Perhaps two of the reasons I’m so critical of the gamergate movement in spite of my sympathies is that one, I’m not agressive at all online, and two, I don’t read many gaming press outlets at all (leaning more towards the podcasts, youtube kinda thing, with a pretty neutral jeuxvideo.fr as an occasional news support)

    That part is why -I feel- the gaming ethics discussion, and the general feminist issues tend to be linked, and diverted towards one another according to whatever’s more convinient at the time. But ultimately, it’s just a stepping stone towards, as you mentionned, the overall fear of things like a different women’s representation in video games, and gaming communities. This unease at the idea that nothing will ever be the same again.

    Of course, some seem to miss that the winds of change can’t easily be stopped, and that the most fundamental changes that happened to that whole “gamer identity” thing well, already happened. Some don’t seem to remember, but originally, being a geek and a nerd is an insult, not a badge of honor. It involves the notion of being an outcast. Somebody singlemindedly interested in something weird nobody in their right mind would love so much, like the video games of old. But, somehow, as time moved on, video games, geekyness, became cool. And “being a gamer” was a thing. Honestly, the first time a friend called me a gamer I was like “What? No, I’m not in that category.” But it wasn’t a rejection of the gamer identity because this identity is comprised of terrible people. Just that I was dumbfounded “liking video games” was an identity one would wear proudly, that being a geek or a nerd was something you could wear on a t-shirt. In a way, I still am dumbfounded by that.

    However. And ineluctable as these “winds of change” are. As shifted this identity became already. I feel that well, the resistance is a part of it that should exist, as a counterpoint, so that changes and destruction aren’t one and the same. The reason for that fear I feel was demonstrated by the famous “gamers are dead” article. Sites that, in an immense display of hubris (coordinated or not, that’s ultimately irrelevant to this point) felt like they could publicize the obituary of an identity, with the idea that bearers of that identity would accept their divine word.

    See, there’s this idea that gamergate is something that can be “solved”. That can be “stopped”; But I don’t think it will other than by stopping by itself. Because it’s such a fluid movement. And because it’s a reflexion of a lot of people’s fear. Not only that changes in what liking video games can entail will happen, but that they may happen in a way detrimential to the hobby, irreversibly so. Things like abusive censorship, formal of social, like colluding independants picking ideas instead of the players themselves, are real dangers of this evolution. Bunching these up with a primal fear of more positive changes, like indeed a better representation of women in video games, is one of the most fundamental problems of gamergate I feel. And, probably because in the end I am but a man, I am not ready to risk even something as positive as a better female representation coming at the cost of creative stifling.

    So, to conclude. I’d say that gamergate existing and exploding, in itself, is a good thing. That the harassment it fosters is a bad thing by people that has a misunderstanding on the issues at hand. A lack of distance towards the core of the problem. And that the discussion it generates, on both sides, is a great opportunity, to guide the changes that will happen, in a good direction. It’s regretful it has to happen through conflict rather than collaboration, but I hope nuanced, educated point of views, like the one you put in this article, are what will really help drive this hobby towards a bright and shining future.

    Probably forgot some points I wanted to talk about, but I already wrote a bit too much I feel. Oh well :’)

  • Vincent DuDouze

    Are #GamerGaters harassers ?
    Actually no one used the #GamerGate hastag against Anita, Brianna or Zoe.

    Anyway these 3 women earn a tone of money while they pose as victims of online harassment.

    I don’t deny they receive harassment : all celebrities receive harassment even from their own fans, not only the haters. But this harassment is not exceptional.

    Why is there so many lies against #GamerGate ?

    This is the conjunction of several effects :

    – Feminists need Straw Men to fight

    – Video-Game journalists don’t want their unethical behavior to be exposed

    – other journalists are between corporatism, not-wanting to face their own unethical behavior, and stories about feminist damsels in distress sell more clicks

    Is it about feminism and gender issues ?

    Not really… Being against one kind of feminism is not anti-feminism. Feminism is composed of many forms of feminisms which are contradictory. So being feminism of one form is being anti-feminism of another-form.

    Actually, it is about SJW (Social Justice Warrior) which is related to Tumblrism (because their main site is Tumblr). SJW is the pejorative term to designate someone who fights racism, sexism, ableism, and anything-ism altogether.

    Those fights are of course good.

    But the SJW do it in an extremist way.

    And we all know extremism is bad in either ways !
    Extremist feminists are just misandrist in disguise.
    Extremist LGBT-activists are just hetero-haters in disguise

    So when someone says “reverse-sexism” or “reverse-racism” don’t exist, be suspicious !

    So yes, I plead guilty : #GamerGate is against extremist delusional people with mental condition, without job which use tweeter and tumblr all day long, and strangely, some journalists look like they are just doing the same, just like they were paid to do it. (Wait…)

    SJW are using dog-pilling, harassment and doxxing on social media to impose their ideas. Yes, all they claim #GamerGate do, they do it themselves too. This is named “projection”.

    A few examples:

    – you cites Adam Baldwin : he decided to close his tweeter account after the release of Avengers 2. He is deeply feminist. He did not admit it, we all know he closed his account because of feminists who were not happy about Black Widow.

    – Anne Rice (woman author of “Interview with a Vampire”) is facing the same kind of problem right now : https://archive.is/2FgtR

    – SJW complains a game taking place in medieval Poland has only white people (Witcher 3)

    – and so on

    #GamerGate is fully against this mentality which says “because I am offended (and magically more entitled than anyone because I’m a woman/feminist/gay/fat/not-white/overkin/autist/…), I want your movie/book/game to be changed.”

    Whatever an author does, someone will be offended.

    So #GamerGate is fully against identity politics. That what #NotYourShield is all about ! Gamers are diverse, so we really don’t need feminists and SJW to come and divide us in identities, for their own profits.

    Read more : concepts you should understand before saying anything against #GamerGate :

    Straw Man Fallacy is a sophism which lies about the opponent’s ideas and makes them very bad in order to prevent the audience to want to hear them.


    For exemple, Feminists always says MRA a misogynist while they never said anything against women. So nobody never looks what they really stand for. They can use what says a non-MRA and label him MRA or quotes another feminist article which has no source. Without surprise, they use the same tactics against #GamerGate.

    What is Progressive Stack ? a very controversial SJW invention during occupy wallstreet which were more a reverse-racism/feminism/everything-ism, than fair.


  • Ok, let’s go past the many individual things I would answer to your comment (and there are *many*) and go straight to the core of the issue:

    If we really boil your argument down to its core, your issue with this whole thing, what everything else relates to, is the fact that some people want to change the way video games are because of an imagined or manufactured issue of female representation.
    Some are conspiring in unethical ways to put forward this false idea (journalists), and some are profiting from the lie (feminists), but the core of the issue is whether or not this issue of female representation is real or not.
    Can we agree to that? I really think we can, because this is exactly what you seem to be saying in your comment.

    Well, first of all, I find it odd that you jumped on my on Twitter saying that this movement was about journalists’ ethics, when (as I’m describing in my article), all you seem to be following up on is women and female representation, or ethics-as-it-relates-to-female-representation, which, as I said, is not “Ethics”.

    And second, if you disagree that there’s an issue of female representation in games, then the problem becomes very simple: I think there is, you think there isn’t. That’s it.
    We don’t need a giant battle of The Internets… We simply disagree, you think I’m wrong, and given your tone and eagerness I also think there is no amount of reasoning that will convince you or prove to you that you’re not wrong.
    I do believe that ultimately, in a few years, we will see a much better representation of females in games, and most people won’t think it’s a big deal. You’ll be playing Horizon Zero Dawn and many other games that have badass women as heroes, and you’ll be liking it (hopefully the game is good!), and it won’t be a problem. But I don’t think you’ll agree to this, or that my attempts at simplifying the debate will be successful, unfortunately.

    So, in this rare occurrence, I’ll use a phrase that I absolutely think is overused and I am loathed to use myself: I think we have to agree to disagree… 🙁

  • Hey, sorry it took me so long to answer this, but reading it again I felt you were making good points in such a civil manner I had to respond.

    First the idea that the “gamers are dead” articles were an attack on gamers is, IMHO, the biggest fallacy of this whole thing. They were articles created by gamers, writing for gamer media, for gamer audiences. They weren’t advocating for their self implosion… The point was never that the gamer identity should be murdered and die, but simple that we, as a society, had reached a point where video games were so well accepted and were such a part of our culture that defining yourself as a “gamer” didn’t really make sense anymore, just as a movie fan won’t define themselves as a “movie-er”, or a music lover won’t say they’re a “music listener”. Now the point might have merits and flaws, and certainly it’s worth discussing (especially since the gamer identity is likely stronger than these other two; I for example do define myself as a gamer, at least partly), but I the explosive reaction to it does reek of tinfoilhatty conspirationism. “Nobody is coming to take away your consoles, settle down and stop stocking up on canned foods” kind of thing.

    Second, when you say this:
    > They feel somewhat opressed by the idea that being agressive, vaguely insulting online, in an intent of manly camaraderie and competitiveness, is something wrong to some degrees.

    I think there’s an issue here too: some people are trying to justify bad behavior by saying they it’s harmless (because they consider it to be harmless) and because that’s the way things have “always” been in that environment.
    I don’t consider either of these justifications valid. The issue of a toxic environment is real, even if some people don’t think it is. One example would be the habit we, as a society, got into of calling something lame “gay”. Only a few years ago it was very much accepted that you didn’t really mean “this thing is bad and I think that homosexuality is bad so I’m calling it homosexual to mean it’s bad”; everyone understood you really “meant nothing by it”. Still, it was offensive to a large group of people, large enough that when we stopped and thought about it, over time, we phased it out (it’s not completely disappeared, but it certainly is frowned upon and not “cool” anymore in most circles).
    Now I agree it’s not the same thing, but the toxic environment is similar: it might be cool for some people, but we have to consider the population as a whole when we decide what’s acceptable and what’s not. And yes, the inclusion of more people in our club of gamers means that we probably can’t do some of the things we were doing before, because it’s offensive to them, or simply because we realize it’s offensive, period. Which we might simply not have realized before, because that’s just the way it was…

    And yes, there are instances where political correctness goes overboard, and we get into situation that seem or simply are ridiculous, and it feels like you can’t say anything anymore.
    But first of all, I don’t think it’s for one group to decide where that line is (especially if that group isn’t the one being offended), but rather for society as a whole.
    And second of all, I don’t think we’re very often getting into that extreme scenario, or at least as often as some might fear. An issue gets raised, we look at it together (sometimes through… animated… debate), and decide which is worth implementing and which isn’t. And sometimes things get rejected; I remember a discussion around the term “PC master race”, which was supposedly offensive because it evoked Nazi philosophy. I didn’t agree and thought that was pushing it (I mean, no one has an issue with the term grammar nazi), and I don’t think it became a “real” thing.

    So yeah, sometimes us behaving a certain way for a while isn’t justification for keeping behaving that way going forward, and if there’s a real group of people in our environment being actually offended (and more importantly hurt) about something, then we should probably take that into consideration.

    I hate to bring it to that point again, but there was a time when calling someone gay was fine. There was a time when calling someone a nigger was fine. The question is, is our media’s attitude towards women as bad as that? Not as bad? Worse? We can have that discussion, but I don’t think we can say “it’s fine because we’ve been doing it for a while and we, who are not affected by it, decide that it’s not a big deal”.

    Finally, I’d say that while this is a valid conversation, I have to say that I have not heard this debate brought up all that much in the gamergate circles. Or at least not that way. You’re probably expressing where some of that frustration comes from, but I don’t think it’s at the heart of the debate that was happening…

    Still a good conversation and intellectual exercise though, so thanks for commenting here, it wasn’t wasted pixels. 🙂

  • Vincent DuDouze

    Leigh Alexander was chief-editor of Gamasutra. She is the perfect example how crazy and disrespectful journalists went towards everybody, and especially towards gamers.


    You can watch the full video. She shamelessly explains she pushes her friends, she is biased, so she pushes her politic point of view. When the publisher of her book decide to publish somebody, she dislikes, “someone” puts her book freely on P2P. “Oups”

    So much for the free speech which did allow her to publish her own book in the first place !

    She is also the writer of the first of the coordinated articles “Gamers are dead”. What could turn wrong from this point ? What were they thinking when they did that ? For me, this is really the starting point of the #GamerGate.

    You are right on one point : I should have made it clear why #GamerGate and identity issues intersect.

    I have no problem to celebrate actual women developers from the video-game industry :


    A big lie of Anita, Zoe and Brianna is omitting those women.

    Telling there is no game with female heroines is also a lie. Do we really need to address it ? https://standing8.files.wordpress.com/2007/10/capcom.jpg

    Most of the time I really don’t care what the character is? I can even play square, tetris patterns, animals, or pixelated arc of circles pursued by ghosts.

    The issue with Anita Sarkeesian is “Why those gaming journalists present her as a valid feminist critic, when her points are so easily refutable ?”

    The list of her fallacies is so long.

    – cherry picking : for example from the 50 hours of Hit Man she takes the only two streapers in the game

    – lie : she tells GTA and Hit Man incite to kill women , when the player can kill both men and women : equality ! The true is there’s no kid in GTA and Hit man. Anyway civilian causalities are punished in Hit Man.

    – out of context footage : so many

    – omitting or ignorance : she uses Metal Gear Solid as an example of man able to escape a prison, omitting that in the exact same game a woman also escapes from prison.

    – she did not play any of her footage : she “stole” everything from Youtube

    – and so on…

    She tells the “damsel in distress” is “harmful” to women despite all the complexity of some scenario. Anyway is it really harmful to women to tell “men should protect women” ? (Sometime this is “you (male or female) should protect your friends (male or female)” ?) Anita says this is infantilization “because physical differences are a social construct” : do I really need to debunk a so obvious lie ?

    At the end, with all the contradictory statements, just how can a game developer make a man and a woman interact to each other without falling in one of Anita’s tropes.

    He just can’t. This is pure madness.

    She wants gender neutral games ? Do you really think the video-game industry is so dumb they don’t want a gender-neutral game which could sell more ? Really ? I think many games can be classify as “prospective” : they are risky and may sell less. So, if they could find a gender neutral game, they would have done it. The theory of “self professed failure” of game with women is just as silly as conspiracy theories may be.

    The discussions between “casual games” vs “hardcore games” already existed : we don’t need Anita to add some gender on top of those talks. Games which are directed to men are more competitive and more hardcore, and the purpose of game publisher is not to change it but to use what each genders prefer it to sell more games.

    If you dig the true to the bottom, Anita does not want to transform games, she wants to ban all male games.

    In her video about women as background decoration she complaints that women are here for the sole male gaze… (she really means “male pleasure”, I guess) What is wrong with the male gaze ? Is there a problem when men are nude for the “sole female gaze” ? Flash news : a piece of art exists for the sole gaze of the spectators.

    Being depicted as beautiful is only degrading in the silly mind of feminists. A game full of ugly people won’t be interesting and just won’t sell.

    Twice in her video, she shows women willing to have free consensual sex with the hero : what exactly was problematic in those two examples ? Did she run out of examples of “paid rape” ? Or is she trying to insert in our mind that free consensual heterosexual relations are problematic ? (If you want a look at the crazy misandrist world, search google for “PIV rape”.)

    From the references on Anita’s web site, she is using a radical feminism author.

    Radical and reformist agree on the problem. Reformists want to transform. Radical wants a revolution.

    “Transform games” ? No they don’t want to transform them. Misandrist wants to ban any male pleasure.

    When thousands of gamers tell Anita “You are a liar”, I don’t name this “harassment of trolls”. But she does. Again death threats are bad, but she show mainly disagreement statements in her conferences.

    A day after I wrote here, a fair article was at least published : http://gamepolitics.com/2015/08/12/challenge-accepted-interviewing-internet-hashtag

    So here is a clear definition of #GamerGate :

    “GamerGate is a movement dedicated to fighting for ethics in (gaming) journalism and against censorship and the politicization of (gaming) media and games. It arose after several corruption scandals in the gaming media, attacks on the gamer identity and attempts by the gaming media and ‘cultural critics’ to force a political ideology down the throats of gamers.”

    You say gamers don’t want to transform their games ? No gamers just say, they don’t want creativity of developers to be limited to only the political views some “entitled” person. This is the opposite of what you’re thinking.

    I define myself as left-wing and I think progressiveness is about more tolerance and more social liberty. Ban and censorship which is asked by feminists is the opposite of tolerance.