This is one of the lynchpins of Anti-gamergate supporter’s narrative.
The argument goes something like this:
Gamergate was started because a misogynist abuser called Eron wrote a nasty manifesto about his girlfriend, Zoe Quinn, and everyone in Gamergate harassed her and made death threats and she was forced to flee her home and so gamergate are all misogynists who for some strange reason think the tag is not about harassing women out of gaming but about ethics. They are all misogynist neckbearded basement dwelling teenage cis hetero white privileged males living in their mother’s basement.
Regardless of how wacky this looks, it is paraphrasing countless renditions of it. Its a great line of bullshit.
Firstly, I need to explain three separate groups with some overlapping between them.
Gamers These people have for decades been the butt of jokes and bullied for their love of their hobby. People do not understand gamers or their culture and have been outraged over the violence in video games or the nudity or how much time gamers spend playing the or the messages received…basically non-gamers can’t fuck off and let gamers just enjoy their hobby without trying to interfere.
Study after study is shown that there is no correlation between violence and video games and so forth but worriers just worry.
Gaming is becoming more mainstream and gaming is seen as a less nerdy thing to do. It now represents close to $100 billion industry.
Gaming Journalist These guys have been involved in reviewing and commentating on gaming. In the past gaming journalists were gamers themselves and very connected to the gaming community and the developers. Nowdays? Not so much. Nowdays they don’t really give a damn about the gamers and treat the gamers as the great unwashed. These people are rarely gamers themselves and more often are undergraduates who are not good enough to write for other more respectable industries. Writing now for the industry they do not care for, and for the consumption of an audience that they do not like, the only things that they could enjoy about the job is sticking it to the gamers in writing clickbait and getting graft from the developers.
The gamers may hate them but then they don’t like the gamers, so who cares? They knew gamers did not appreciate the clickbait or their collusion or whatever, but again who cares, what were they going to do?
They were looking for something to give them direction and if it pissed off gamers, all the better.
Social Justice Warriors “Progressives” These guys had dug their hooks into Atheism a few years before, Sci-Fi Before that and Comic books before that. They were looking for a new target. What was the modus operandi? Barge into a new space. Tell them what they wanted. Demand the current culture change to their values and ideological discourse. Accuse anyone criticising them as being racist, misogynist, homophobic and then bully and harass them until they changed their tune. All whilst seeking to gain more support and access to the industry to control and censor dissent.
It had worked for Atheism and Sci-fi and comic books.
Feminist Frequency started attacking the gamers. She was a canary in the coal mine.
She found a friend in the Gaming Press.
Social Justice Warriors wanted in on a 100 Billion dollar industry and found great allies who were happy to go against the competing consumer base. All they needed was an “incident”. Like “Elevatorgate” in Atheism spaces, it had to be something everyone could spin and rally behind. They would use this to launch in and suppress the gamers and co-opt the industry that is ripe for the picking.
What incident though…
Zoe Quinn (an alias like Locke Valentine is to her) was a developer that had a bad reputation with many in the gaming industry and had relentlessly harassed Wizardchan and The Fine Young Capitalists. When her boyfriend posted a commentary that she had been abusive and had cheated on him with five guys, this gave rise to an IRC chat channel called Burgerandfries. Some people in the gaming community frequented it to gossip and talk crap about this. It was a comeuppance of a sort for a nasty piece of work that did not give a shit about the harassment she caused of others.
During this time, Adam Baldwin gave a name to some concerns about possible conflict of interest and collusion (given that one of the people cheating on Eron with was a gaming journalist, Nathan Grayson) and the hashtag #gamergate was formed.
Before being allowed to discuss these concerns, many outlets started to ban and remove comments around all of this. Then The Gaming Journalists released “Gamers are Dead” Articles all on the same day. The Gamers thought that this may point to a widespread collusion in the gaming press. Milo Yiannopolous and William Usher exposed the Game Journos Pros mailing list with countless journalists from countless organisations. MANY colluding and forcing agendas.
This vindicated Gamers opinions and Gamergate started to swell.
Journalists went into overdrive reporting that Zoe was getting death threats. Soon Zoe reported that she was forced to flee from her home (it was true that she left her home – to go on a long European vacation, that she had advised everyone that she was going on months before – but it sounded like a great narrative). The death threats were apparently organised and made by Gamergate. Though no proof was ever shown to indicate that this was true.
The press smeared Gamergate thoroughly as an all cis white hetero conservative male teenage neckbeards living in their Mum’s basements. Gamergate responded with #Notyourshield showing a range of diversity within the movement outside of this stereotypes that exposed this as nonsense. These people were threatened and accused as being sockpuppets.
More accusations of threats BY Gamergate and more interviews, more people like Randi and Brianna getting on the victimised oppression train. Gamergate digs their heels in.
NOW…Firstly this is NOT the case that things happened in a vacuum. The narrative is dishonest. Secondly even were it the case (which it isn’t) that it started that way, who gives a shit? Honestly, even were it the case, it still would not matter. What would the argument be? “Eleven months ago some individuals in an IRC chat called Burgerandfries were mean to Zoe. Now a heap of people are rallied behind a Twitter hashtag called Gamergate, talking about ethics” AND??? They arent the same people. I was never part of burgerandfries and never even saw the channel nor were most of the 10000 supporters. What is the argument?
See no matter which way they go, there is no situation that this narrative is meaningful or honest