On GamerGate And Choosing Who You Stand With

We're definitely not on the fence.

TheSixthAxis does not support the group that has become known as GamerGate. We urge our readers and those active in our community to distance themselves from the movement and immediately disassociate themselves with any and all activity done in the name of the group. If you have genuine ethical concerns, please continue to air those publicly and politely but do it away from the toxicity of a movement that now, through the despicable actions of a few, is tainted beyond any possible pretence of the ostensibly noble goals that may have drawn you to them.

For those of you who have thus far managed to avoid it, we encourage you to research the subject further by yourselves and form your own opinion on the matters involved. For the purposes of this editorial, here’s a very brief, very incomplete synopsis of the purported scandal that has come to be known as GamerGate.

It seems to have started with some tawdry accusations pertaining to the private life and possible personal failings of a game developer named Zoe Quinn. Zoe made Depression Quest and has often been something of an informal spokeswoman for certain types of activism in and around the games industry. As far as I can tell, and I try to keep in mind that it’s not really any of my business anyway, Zoe’s private life does not influence her ability to have interesting ideas for games.

But a part of the accusations made against her included one that she had a very personal relationship with a journalist who has worked for RPS and VG247, among others, but now works for Kotaku (Nathan Grayson). Nathan had mentioned her game a few times in articles that were published on Kotaku. One of the accusations was that he praised her work in a space that is incredibly visible, and that act potentially encourages a lot of people to want to experience her work (Depression Quest is available for free, by the way) so he probably should have disclosed his personal relationship with Zoe or excused himself from coverage of her work.

In the aftermath of the accusations and subsequent attacks on Quinn, a number of prominent media outlets also ran editorials proclaiming that the notion of the “gamer” is an outmoded idea which has no place in the modern gaming industry. The idea is that people who think of themselves as “hardcore gamers” and yet often only play one type of game should not be used as the ideal that represents a huge, diverse and often unnoticed group of people who regularly play games. It was generally an exploration of an evolving idea that the metaphorical “gamer” no longer exists, in part because we are now all people who regularly play games and the definition of what a game is continues to shift, redefining itself from moment to moment as the medium evolves and matures.

Some people who would self identify as “gamers” took the idea that “the gamer is dead” literally and felt compelled to stand up for themselves. They assumed that the timing and number of these editorials was not coincidental but a part of some wider conspiracy to support Quinn, orchestrated by those behind the scenes of the video game media who wish to further an agenda – generally assumed to be one of activism for things like transgender issues, gay rights, women’s rights and any other kind of underrepresented or under-explored demographic under the grand umbrella of video game consumers.

GamerGate was, at least in part, born with the idea that the people who consume the output of video game media outlets deserved a little more transparency and a lot more attention to ethical matters. The idea of a mass conspiracy is, frankly, ludicrous. But the idea that those of us who have professional relationships with people involved in the selling of video games should disclose when those relationships become personal is just common sense.

Here at TheSixthAxis, we’ve always tried to champion the idea that questions about the ethics of covering video games should be asked regularly. We’ve always tried to be open when we have a relationship with a game maker that is more friendly than business-like and we always disclose any trips that are paid for by publishers or agreements that have been made with companies to help us cover the things we think you’re interested in.

We support the idea that, as an industry, we should ask the important questions and have the difficult discussions about the ethics of what we do. We should have those discussions openly and with as much transparency as possible because it should be important to those of us who write or talk about games that those of you who read or listen can trust what we say to be our freely held personal opinions and ideas.

But we can not stand with GamerGate. Here’s why.

Regularly, throughout the lifetime of the GamerGate issue, there have been personal attacks made on individuals that are prominent in the representation of what might be perceived as minority groups. People who claim to represent GamerGate have snooped, hacked and doxed (the act of tracing and publishing people’s personal information from a variety of publicly available sources like Facebook, as well as hacking) their way to intimidate and threaten individuals and those close to individuals. People have received threats of rape, mutilation and murder. Just last night, a game developer received a threat against herself, her husband and any kids she might have that caused them to leave their home (her address was included in the threats) and seek police involvement.

Whether or not the foundation or core founding principles of GamerGate were noble, the movement itself is now irredeemably polluted by these actions and the many similar instances of bullying, intimidation and small-minded bigotry around the fringes. It seems obvious that there has always been an element within the movement that has revelled in the illegal activity and ignoble actions but the hateful deeds of those few now threaten to eliminate the possibility of any genuine misgivings being addressed. Why would anyone want to talk to you when there’s a spiteful thug standing next to you, threatening to murder their family?

If you’re serious about the need for more honesty and ethical concern in coverage of video games, you have to be equally serious about eliminating the language of hate and the atmosphere of intimidation that turns many away from this exceptionally diverse medium that is our passion. You have to disassociate yourselves from those that would mire you in the ignominy of hate and violence and inequality. GamerGate is poison but you already have the antidote and we can all heal together.

46 Comments

  1. I’m so glad TSA decided to write up on this, and although I was a tiny bit scared when I clicked the link from the tweet, my fear was immediately relieved by that first sentence. Kudos to you for this great write up and assuring me that I do belong here.

  2. I’m lost…I’m a 38 year old avid gamer and have no idea what all of this is about and haven’t seen any news about this recently…I’ve obviously missed something and by the sounds of it I’ll prefer to keep it that way…

    • Yep. I’ve read this piece twice and still can’t make head nor tail of it. Anyone care to offer a dumbed down synopsis in less than 50 words?

      • Quinn is a feminist female game dev who has a F2P game called Depression Quest. Quinn’s ex-boyfriend posted personel info about her & their relationship all over the net, dudebros over at 4chan thought her cheating on her boyfriend and sleeping with a reviewer who allegedly reviewed her free game was unethical and somehow their business and doxxed & threatened her in all ways they could. Actor Adam Baldwin started the wonderfully creative GamerGate tag on twitter and his dudebro followers kept spewing their posion all over the place. Several more threatened/doxxed females later, GG started saying “whoa wait, we don’t condone threatening people”. Yet they still use terms like SJW (social justice warrior) which is best described here: https://twitter.com/MaraWritesStuff/status/517770209412001792

        I believe that was about 50 words. 60 tops.

      • Thanks for that! My two pence… Surely every website is gonna condemn cyber bullying? And also, ‘professional’ reviews of everything have always just been marketing bullshit. I remember the company I worked for won awards anually for ‘Which? best stockbroker’ and it was only so Which? could sell us the little logo to put on our ads.

      • Thanks for that summary, and Peter for the article. I was clueless too until now and I’m feeling shocked at the idea that such a small and private thing has exploded. I feel upset that Adam Baldwin, who I’ve only seen in a few things but really liked, is associated with this, I’d like to find out if he thinks anything about how it’s turned out. I feel even more upset that such violence is coming out of the games community, how horrible. Hopefully this thibg doesn’t get any bigger and hopefully none of the threats turn into anything more.

      • As feminist writer Kelly Rued and intersectional feminist Philip Wythe explain (https://twitter.com/Eldritchlove/status/515150210415095810/photo/1 http://theflounce.com/harassment-abuse-apologism-sanitizing-abuse-social-justice-spheres/) Zoe is a domestic abuser who sexually assaulted someone then got together with her friends to bully that person, shut down a charity whose sole goal is to fully fund female game developers, and lied to start a vicious raid against a community for people suffering from depression.

        The feminists over at TFYC have given an extensive interview about the harassment, doxxing, and threats they’ve dealt with: http://apgnation.com/archives/2014/09/09/6977/truth-gaming-interview-fine-young-capitalists

        The gaming media, instead of reporting on any of this or protests of their own corruption honestly, chose to defend themselves by colluding to write an enormous number of vicious slur-filled articles decrying all criticism as nothing more than misogyny and attacked all gamers as “obtuse shit-slingers” “pissbabies” “misogynerds”.

        The growing backlash to all of this is #gamergate.

  3. At one point I think every third tweet on my timeline was about this…other than that I’ve been actively trying to ignore the whole issue.

  4. I noticed a few articles about the Zoe Quinn controversy around the web but i honestly haven’t paid it much attention. I think it’s appalling that someone would be so intimidated that they would no longer feel safe in their own home and I hope the authorities are successful in tracing the hateful individuals who were involved and make an example of them when they do find them.

  5. Well done for publishing such a clear stance against what sounds like inexcusable cyber bullying. No matter what the intentions, intimidation as unforgivable virtually as it is in real life. It also strips you of any intended virtue, as you have stated above.

    It is reassuring to see more exposure in the mainstream media about cyber bullying lately, and more prosecutions happening. A death threat should be taken as such, regardless of the medium used.

  6. I am largely a solitary gamer/person and don’t really do social media in anyway so I don’t know much about this issue but it is very good to see TSA establishing themselves on the side of decency. I have been a member now for about a year and have come to consider TSA as an island of sense and stability in the ocean of insanity that is the internet. Please, never change TSA.

  7. What about this?
    http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-London/2014/09/17/Exposed-the-secret-mailing-list-of-the-gaming-journalism-elite

    A google mailing group where prominent gaming journalists discuss what to give coverage to, which stories to smother and their overall attitude to various matters.

    #GamerGate started because people were tired of gaming journalists shamelessly accepting gifts and favours for positive coverage on games, the Zoe Quinn thing was just the flashpoint. For instance Microsoft ‘donated’ $750,000 (not a typo!) to polygon (http://www.n-europe.com/forum/showthread.php?t=35836). The GamerGate movement is made up of people of all races, genders & sexual orientation but the mainstream gaming press would have you believe its just a group of salty misogynistic white males, who hate women in the industry.

    I’d be banned for this comment on Polygon, Kotaku, IGN, etc etc

    • heh, you won’t be banned for sensible discussion here ;)

      Firstly, I’d avoid using Breitbart for anything, they’re awful and the guy that wrote that “expose” has exhibited some very questionable personal opinions and had some really nasty personal exchanges with people.

      That said, yes, a group of people in the same profession do often talk about the things their industry is involved in at any given time. That’s normal and perfectly reasonable (although the presence of people who had since moved to PR and such is troubling, but I don’t think there’s any suggestion that they tried to influence the current journalists). I think that google group has been blown out of proportion by people searching for a conspiracy that really simply doesn’t exist but I also think there were some questionable comments made in it and I think it’s absolutely correct to question them as long as it’s done in a reasonable way.

      Microsoft sponsored a lot of the early Polygon content as part of, I believe, a large scale ad deal. I’m not sure that was ever hidden?

      • The Microsoft sponsorship quite clearly manifest itself in the “presented by Internet Explorer” screen at the end of each Polygon documentary video. There was a clear and overt line between that documentary’s creation and Microsoft.

    • Then why exactly is Zoe Quinn the flashpoint and why wasn’t it Microsoft? I mean her game is free and no such allegation against her has been proven.

      Also, why does GamerGate still call people SJWs?

      Thanks but no thanks, GamerGate is a hate campaign and it has nothing but hate to spread.

      • Gamergate is not a hate campaign. It is a consumer revolt due to journalist ethics and on a bigger scale partly due to cultural marxism. The reason it started with Zoe Quinn, was when the leak came out on her sleeping around to get ahead and her idealogical hypocrisy some people were upset. It was only a few that really were talking about it at first. Then there was mass collusion to censor all discussion of the issue which blew it up some. For example, a post by totalbiscuit in 4chan had 30,000 replies to it, all deleted.
        After the censorship came all the “gamers are dead” articles on the exact same day. As a gamer all my life, that angered me greatly. On top of the cultural marxism of feminism being pushed into videogames the past few years rather than letting simple supply and demand determine videogames, I personally have an outrage against these journalist. To clarify, I do not care if people make feminist oriented videogames, just add it to the huge collage of what videogames are. I just do not like critics trying to change all videogames to meet their politically correct idea of what videogames should be.
        I am pro-gamergate and against the pushing of agendas on to others. The constant narrative of gamergaters being harassers, misogynists, and a hate group is fueling the fire. Anyone that digs below the surface of this harassment narrative pushed by the media will see the truth.
        P.S. every gamergaters reasons are different, but this is my point of view.

      • I’m pretty sure you have your good reasons, but saying “Gamergate is not a hate campaign. It is a consumer revolt due to journalist ethics and on a bigger scale partly due to cultural marxism” when it’s known for harassing women to the point where they have to leave their homes at this point is ridiculous. Sorry.

      • @Salvodaze & Niko

        1. GamerGate is not an organisation, its just a banner for people to rally around. The actions of one person can’t be attributed to it, and not only that, GamerGate advocates actively denounced people that were bullying and making threats.

        2. Just as much hate has been coming from the mass of people that rallied around the gaming press and their associates in defence, but they’re not publicised at all. One ‘SJW’ even said the GamerGate movement is worse than ISIS!

        3. Both sides have many people ‘False Flagging’, pretending to be a supporter of one side then deliberately making ridiculous comments to make that side look bad.

      • Calling people “SJW” is akin to calling a coward “hero” sarcastically. The entire point is that they have no interest in social justice and simply use the language and rhetoric to give them a cover for bigotry and abusive behavior.

        Let me ask you which is more likely to be a hate campaign:

        The group that raised $70,000 for feminists to fund female game developers and engages in peaceful boycotting despite upwards of 20 doxxings, death threats, bank accounts hacked, income frozen, and even a black developer (and others) targeted for racially motivated doxxings that cost them their jobs?

        Or the group that’s from the very beginning attacked victims of sexual harassment and emotional abuse, published upwards of a dozen articles filled with bigoted slurs, openly advocates and participates in doxxing attacks, openly engages in racism and calls for racial violence, sanitizes domestic abuse, works with the GNAA, and can’t even tolerate people not wanting to get involved?

        Personally I’m going to side with intersectional feminists: http://theflounce.com/harassment-abuse-apologism-sanitizing-abuse-social-justice-spheres/

  8. Not really sure how I feel about this. I mean the gamergate movement began from decent morals, and at its heart it’s still a movement to bring about positivity change in the industry. Some nobs are using it the wrong way, but the movement has decent values, just some cocks ruining it for everyone.
    It’s akin to saying “don’t become Muslim because some extremists blow shit up”.

    • I don’t think it began with decent intentions, I think it has always been tied to the attacks on Zoe Quinn, the vast majority of which are simply private matters that are none of our business. I think they grew out of that based on the few genuine ethical questions involved and that then attracted a great deal of sensible, reasonably individuals who also wanted those genuine questions answered but there’s always been a questionable side to GG, from the very first day.
      The perception of what GG is has now become inextricably linked with those few (and it’d be interesting to see how few they were, really) hateful idiots who are “ruining it for everyone”. So it’s more like the less-informed people who may have joined the KKK because they wanted some good honest praising of Jesus. It doesn’t matter, once the horrors take over the loudest voice, that’s how you’re always going to be seen to the world outside your group. It becomes toxic to be associated with those horrors and that harms your cause, however genuine that may be.

      • I will admit Zoe Quinn was at the beginning of the blow up, but the discontent has been building for years. Now none of it is really about her anymore and the only side bringing her up still is the media trying to use her as a shield to their immoral acts.

        I thought about this stance that Zoe Quinns private life is none of our business before and thought about the medias hypocrisy on the issue. What about Monica Lewinski and Bill Clinton? When it comes to relationships that was basically the same thing. Bill used Monica and then Monica came out about it. Zoe used Eron and then Eron came out about it. Not only that but Eron was emotionally abused by Zoe and it is documented. Zoe was lying and manipulative until the end towards him. Do you think that someone that is emotionally abused should keep it all private and not report it? http://thezoepost.wordpress.com/

        Or how about closer to games media Brad Wardell? http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/video-games/gamergate-interviews/12397-Brad-Wardell-GamerGate-Interview The same gaming media that says it is wrong to get into the personally life of individuals got in the middle of Brad Wardell and the false lawsuit filed against him and was initially on the side of the false accuser.

        But anyway, the main thing that most focused on was Zoe sleeping to get ahead in the business. And when censorship of discussion of the issue hit the forums and the “gamers are dead/misogynist” articles came out that is what pissed people off. People get mad when their freedom of speech are being deprived and then they are labeled as “evil” people. Go figure, who would have ever guessed that (sarcasm). If media came out and said, “yeah what Zoe did was wrong we are looking into it” then gamergate would never have happened.

  9. Wow, powerful article. Ive avoided most of the coverage on this but the i agree on the article as it does sound like this ‘movement ‘ has been hijacked by dickheads. The comments in the graphic in the middle of the article are absolutely insane, i would suggest the people writing/sending them have some serious mental health issues. I hope they get prosecuted. Thanks for the article, very well written

  10. I think you got the wrong end of the stick & this story is one sided hence I came back.

    It not just gamergate side it’s the antigamergate side is too to blame don’t say it its just 1 side, a person said who & what a SJW mean what are they & who are there & linked to censorship into our games.

    Let start of SJW these are social justice warriors that don’t like questionable content not just in games but books, films etc.

    They want the games change in they image they are posion people who says gamers are dead.

    • So who are these SJWs men jornallist from kotaku, rock paper shotgun even Zoe Quinn is one them & Anita & Leigh from gamsultra they end up censoring people from deleting posts from threads, bannding them from neogaf that talks about it with a Nast message saying you not welcome & a pedo.

      Same jornallist called us sexist misognist, racist you don’t cover that part of the story. That why games have to be censored because of questionable content in the story articals from these websites a money, sex with someone played a part in it too.

      & censored everyone that scream foul & all jornallist band together you alright with that.

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