The “good name” of GamerGate

I’ve never been part of a hate movement.

This is not a point of pride. I think “never been part of a hate movement” is basic decency, and fortunately it is the case for the vast majority of humanity. Yet when I look at Twitter tonight, I see person after person going on the record to defend the “good name” of GamerGate.

So… let’s talk about that good name.

Because GamerGate is leaderless and collectivist, GamerGate’s tactics are – by definition – the tactics used in its name. It’s not only the tweeting and the email campaigns, but also the threats and the doxxing. The harassment.

Brianna Wu, the founder of Giant Spacekat, had to leave home tonight after someone sent a series of truly horrific death threats across Twitter (which included her home address and the assertion that they would be carried out tonight). The police are taking this situation seriously and keeping an eye on her.

Death threats from the Internet aren’t a force of nature. They happened because some specific human being wanted to punish her and make her afraid. It could be because she speaks out against GamerGate. It could be because a fan of her podcast Isometric put together an image macro generator to make fun of GamerGaters. It could just be because she’s a prominent female game dev speaking up on behalf of women gamers and female game devs.

Brianna is incredibly strong and determined – unsurprising, since she’s the founder of a studio and a frequent speaker on women in tech. But how strong does she have to be? How long will people sit in silence, or say “there are two sides to the situation?”

Of course there are two sides to the situation. (As Fred Zeleny pointed out, there are probably more like five.) And I’ve read Ralph Koster’s AMA (which gives key insight into the average GamerGater’s perspective). But one of those sides is sending death and rape threats to women in game dev, and that is flatly unacceptable.

To be clear: I don’t think every person calling themselves part of GamerGate is evil. I think a lot of you probably do care about games journalism, and while I think you’re misguided, that doesn’t mean you’re all monsters.

But as long as you use the term “I’m part of GamerGate” to mean “I want better ethics in video game journalism”, then you are choosing to stand under the same umbrella as the people who use the term “I’m part of GamerGate” to mean “I will harass female game devs into quitting the industry”.

And the harassers’ claim to the name is stronger than yours, because they started GamerGate.

This is not a she-said-he-said kind of situation. Regardless of what the movement may or may not have become, this is where GamerGate started – with an organized harassment campaign against Zoe Quinn and her supporters. This link will take you to an article dissecting the IRC chat log taken from a 4chan room where GamerGate began as a movement. This link will take you to the full IRC chat log.

You might care about ethical journalism… but it’s pretty clear the people in that chat log didn’t.

If you truly care about ethical journalism in video games, then now is the time to act. Don’t give harassers a shield of respectability to hide behind. State your clear, unequivocal rejection of harassment tactics and then start a new movement.

If you don’t step away… then you are part of a hate movement.

There’s still time to change your mind.

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