“GamerGate” redirects here. For the type of ant, see Gamergate
. For the online video game store, see GamersGate
Gamergate (sometimes referred to as GamerGate or as a hashtag #gamergate) is a controversy in video game culture which began in August 2014. It concerns ingrained issues of sexism and misogyny in the gaming community, as well as journalistic ethics in the online gaming press, particularly conflicts of interest between video game journalists and developers.
The controversy came to wider attention due to a sustained campaign of harassment that indie game developer Zoe Quinn was subjected to after an ex-boyfriend posted numerous allegations on his blog in August 2014, including that she had a “romantic relationship” with a Kotaku journalist, which prompted concerns that the relationship led to positive media coverage for her game. Although these concerns proved unfounded,[a] allegations about journalistic ethics continued to clash with allegations of harassment and misogyny.Other topics of debate have included perceived changes or threats to the “gamer” identity as a result of the ongoing maturation and diversification of the gaming industry.
The rising popularity of the medium, and greater emphasis on games as a potential art form, has led to a commensurate focus on social criticism within gaming media and indie works. This shift has prompted opposition from traditional “hardcore” gamers who view games purely as a form of entertainment. This opposition, however, has often been expressed in the form of personal harassment of female figures in the industry rather than constructive cultural conversations. The harassment campaign against Quinn was of such ferocity as to attract significant mainstream media attention which focused on the sexist, misogynistic and trolling elements within the gamer community. Allegations of impropriety in gaming media have prompted policy changes at several outlets, and commentators generally agree that systemic problems in the gaming media need to be discussed; however, the harassment and misogyny associated with Gamergate is seen as having poisoned the well. Furthermore, the choice to focus the campaign on a heretofore relatively obscure independent developer rather than AAA publishers has led to questions about its motivations.
As video game production developed into a burgeoning industry, games became an increasingly consumer-oriented product focused on appealing to gamers with satisfying solitary experiences. People who had grown up playing these games developed a “gamer” identity that was associated with these early experiences. As early gamers were predominantly male this is also seen as having contributed to gendered interpretations of the identity. The emergence of the industry also gave rise to numerous publications specializing in the coverage of video games and catering for the interests of gaming enthusiasts; some, such as Nintendo Power, were even owned by manufacturers themselves. Such outlets were seen by industry leaders as a means of promotion for their products rather than sources for honest critical discussion and there was recurring criticism of the close relationship between gaming journalists and the major gaming companies.
The growing popularity of games among casual consumers, due to more accessible technologies such as the Nintendo Wii and smartphones, expanded the audience for the industry to include many who did not fit the mold of the traditional hardcore gamer. As games also came to be seen more as an art form rather than a product, games centering on social issues grew in popularity, and some of these were seen by elements of the hardcore gaming community as not fitting their definition of games. The growth of the audience for video games and an increasing perception of their potential as an art form prompted gaming outlets to move towards cultural criticism of the games; more effort was devoted to promoting games that were seen as artistic or incisive and less on those that offered a traditional gaming experience. Independent video game development, that allows developers to release titles without publisher interference, has made these games more common. Some gamers expressed concerns that these games push political agendas and are critically praised on how they present social issues as opposed to the nature of the game mechanics. Other commentators have suggested that increasing cultural criticism is a natural result of the mainstreaming of video games in modern culture, that games have always had political points of view, and that there is room for both product-oriented and culture-oriented games in the industry.
The growth of the gaming audience also brought in a large number of women whose primary gaming interests did not conform to those of the male-oriented gamer identity, and who began to question some of the assumptions and tropes that were historically made by game developers. In light of the growing female audience for games, and growing female representation in the gaming industry, outlets became increasingly interested in detailing issues of gender representation in video games. One prominent critic of the representation of women in gaming is Anita Sarkeesian, whose Tropes vs. Women in Video Games project is devoted to criticism of female stereotypes in games. Her initial Kickstarter to raise funds for the series and her subsequent videos have all been met with hostile commentary and harassment from hardcore gamers. Further incidents, such as those concerning Jennifer Hepler raised concerns about sexual harassment in video gaming. Prior to August 2014, concerns about escalating harassment prompted the International Game Developers Association to provide support groups for harassed developers, and to begin discussions with the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation to help investigate online harassment of game developers.
One such incident of harassment occurred when independent video game developer Zoe Quinn developed and released her interactive fiction title Depression Quest in early 2013, as a means to represent her own bout with depression. Some video gamer reviewers considered the game an important expression of significant personal themes not previously addressed in mainstream gaming — “‘game’ as communication, comfort and tool of understanding”, in the words of Rock, Paper, Shotgun‘s Adam Smith. However, some members of the gaming community expressed dislike towards Quinn and the title. They expressed concern that using a video game to present a “dark” theme was inappropriate, whilst others felt that the critical attention it received was disproportionate to the quality of the game, and that the game presented the solution to depression in a manner that was too simplistic. In an interview with The New Yorker, Quinn stated that she began to receive hate mail over the game upon its release, and the harassment surrounding Depression Quest, which by the time of its release had been going on for eighteen months, had created “an ambient hum of menace in her life, albeit one that she has mostly been able to ignore.”
Allegations against Quinn and subsequent harassment
Indie game developer Zoe Quinn was the target of a “virulent” harassment campaign after her ex-boyfriend made allegations against her that included her cheating on him with a journalist for Kotaku.
Shortly after the full release of Depression Quest on Steam in August 2014, Quinn’s former boyfriend Eron Gjoni wrote a blog post containing a series of allegations, among which was that Quinn had cheated on him with Kotaku journalist Nathan Grayson. This post, which The New York Times described as a “strange, rambling attack,” led to allegations from Quinn’s detractors in the gaming community that the relationship had resulted in favorable media coverage. Kotaku’s editor-in-chief Stephen Totilo affirmed the two had been involved in a relationship, but stated that Grayson had not written anything about Quinn after the relationship had commenced and that he had never reviewed her games.While Grayson had written an article about the failed GAME_JAM web reality show that Quinn participated in and Kotaku had also mentioned her game, both occurred before the relationship began. Although the accusations of favorable coverage were refuted, the incident led to broader allegations on social media that game developers and the gaming press are too often closely connected and that cultural criticism of video games has led to an increasing focus on social representation and cultural meaning in games by some video games writers. A number of commentators within and outside the games industry denounced the attack on Quinn as misogynistic and unfounded.
As a result of these allegations, Quinn and her family were subsequently subjected to what The Washington Post called a “virulent” harassment campaign including doxxing, threats of rape, hacking attempts, and at least one death threat. She began staying with friends out of fear that she would be tracked to her home. According to Quinn, “the Internet spent the last month spreading my personal information around, sending me threats, hacking anyone suspected of being friends with me, calling my dad and telling him I’m a whore, sending nude photos of me to colleagues, and basically giving me the ‘burn the witch’ treatment”. The New Yorker reported an example of the threats: “Next time she shows up at a conference we … give her a crippling injury that’s never going to fully heal … a good solid injury to the knees. I’d say a brain damage, but we don’t want to make it so she ends up too retarded to fear us.” Those who came to her defense were also targeted and labeled by their opponents with the “insulting” phrase “social justice warriors” or “SJW” for short, “a derogatory term for people in the video-game industry who use the medium to talk about political issues” as explained by the Washington Post. Among those so described was fellow video game developer Phil Fish, who had been a focus of controversy on social media in 2013. Fish was doxxed after speaking in support of Quinn, with many of his personal details and documents relating to his company Polytron exposed in a hack that led him to sell Polytron and leave the gaming industry. Quinn told The New Yorker that she feels sympathy for her attackers; “People don’t viciously attack anyone without having some deep-seeded loathing in themselves,” she said.
Feminist cultural critic Anita Sarkeesian had already been the target of harassment from some in the gamer community due to her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games project, but her newest video in the series soon ensnared her in Gamergate.
The harassment expanded to include renewed threats against Sarkeesian after a new episode in her series (“Women as Background, Pt. 2″) was released shortly after Gjoni’s blog entry. She reported that she had received death threats that compelled her to temporarily leave her home. Shortly thereafter at the XOXO Festival in Portland, Oregon, she said, in regard to the accusations that high-profile women were making up the threats against them, that “One of the most radical things you can do is to actually believe women when they talk about their experiences,” and that “The perpetrators do not see themselves as perpetrators at all… They see themselves as noble warriors.”
The online harassment of Quinn and the death threats against Sarkeesian prompted an open letter to the gaming community by independent game developer Andreas Zecher, who called upon the community to take a public stand against the attacks. The letter attracted the signatures of more than two thousand professionals within the gaming industry. The large and varied response to the letter was considered by many in the industry to be a sign that the people involved in the harassment attacks were not representative and comprised a “vocal minority” of the overall industry population.
Non-gaming media attention has focused on the highly personal nature of the allegations about Quinn and the subsequent campaign of harassment, linking the issue with historical perceptions of the gaming community as sexist and reactionary. According to Sarah Kaplan of The Washington Post, “sexism in gaming is a long-documented, much-debated but seemingly intractable problem,” and became the crux of the #GamerGate controversy. In an article for The Guardian, Jenn Frank described the tactics used in the harassment campaign, and of the climate of fear it generated through its attacks on women and their allies. Frank concluded that this alienating abusive environment would harm not only women, but the industry as a whole. Frank was also targeted for harassment and announced she was leaving games journalism. Some of the harassment alleged that Frank had concealed her Patreon support of Quinn; however, Frank had included a disclosure in her op-ed that had been removed by editors at The Guardian. Writing in The Week, Ryan Cooper called the harassment campaign “an online form of terrorism” intended to reverse a trend in gaming culture toward increasing acceptance of women, and stated that social media platforms need to tighten their policies and protections against threats and abuse. Speaking on Iowa Public Radio, academic Cindy Tekobbe said the harassment campaign was intended to “drive women out of public spaces” and intimidate them into silence. The feminist journalist and author Laurie Penny characterized the reasons for the ferocity of the reaction against the shift in gaming culture thus: “The problem is that women are creating culture, changing culture, redefining culture, and those cunts, those poisonous cunts, those disgusting, uppity cunts must be stopped.”
There was active discussion of these events on 4chan and Reddit, and figures like Adam Baldwin (who was the first to use the hashtag#GamerGate in context of the controversy on Twitter) highlighted the issue to the population at large. On some websites, posts relating to the controversy were blocked or deleted, and at least one YouTube commentator had a video critical of Quinn removed following aDMCA request. Such incidents led some gamers to complain about censorship, which columnist Erik Kain said led to a Streisand effect that brought more attention to Gjoni’s accusations.
A portion of those that supported the #GamerGate movement took issue with the widespread description of the movement as misogynistic, asserting that the focus on misogyny served mainly to “deflect criticism” of gaming journalism, according to The Washington Post. A second Twitter hashtag, “#NotYourShield”, began to be used with the intention of showing that women and other minorities in the gaming community were also seeking changes in the ethical guidelines of the video game industry and press, whilst denying that the core issues behind #GamerGate were driven by sexism. William Usher on Cinemablend argued that the accusations of misogyny use women as a “shield to be silently used in order for gaming media — and those that gaming media represents — to push an agenda”.
According to Ars Technica and The Daily Dot, chat and discussion logs suggest that the #NotYourShield hashtag was manufactured on 4chan and that many of those posting under #NotYourShield were sockpuppet accounts. These statements have been denied by some users of 4chan. Of the #NotYourShield campaign, Quinn said “The only people targeted were women or people who stood up for women. #notyourshield was solely designed to, ironically, be a shield for this campaign once people started calling it misogynistic.”
The Fine Young Capitalists
A self-described radical feminist group known as The Fine Young Capitalists began receiving financial backing for their charity game jam from supporters of the #gamergate movement, particularly those from 4chan, after it was discovered that the group had a prior dispute with Zoe Quinn concerning their planned competition’s rules. The backers raised over US$17,000 for the campaign, a point after which they were allowed to produce an original character to be featured in the winning video game proposal, resulting in the creation of the character “Vivian James” (meant to sound like “video games”).
In Forbes, Erik Kain described the character as an “every-girl of sorts, and maybe not what you’d expect from 4chan”. Tom Mendelsohn of The Independent wrote that 4chan had created Vivian as an emblem for their campaign to demonstrate their lack of sexism, and described the character as “a sardonic dream woman who games in slouchy hoodies, has long, lascivious tresses of red hair and doesn’t ever want to hurt them”. Allegra Ringo of Vice criticized the character as anti-feminist, alleging that Vivian James was created out of spite, and described it as “masquerading as a feminist icon for the express purpose of spiting feminists”.
On August 24, 2014, The Fine Young Capitalists reported that their Indiegogo account had been compromised by an unknown party (later confirmed by Indiegogo staff), and had been replaced by a message claiming Indiegogo staff had shut down the campaign and specifically called out 4chan’s video games board /v/ as being “abhorrent” for their participation in the harassment against Zoe Quinn.
End of gamer identity
Later, beginning on August 28, 2014, a number of writers published opinion columns which argued for the “end of the gamer identity”, citing the growing diversity of gaming and the mainstreaming of the medium, while those associated with GamerGate were stated to be a reactionary force against these changes. Some of these articles and essays were, as described by the New York Times, “critical of gamer culture and rampant sexism in it”.
One such piece that has received attention was a column by Leigh Alexander for Gamasutra titled “‘Gamers’ don’t have to be your audience. ‘Gamers’ are over” which criticized what she believes is the shallow nature of white- and male-dominated gamer culture and which was described by The Verge as “an acknowledgement of video gaming’s depth and breadth in 2014.”
As a result of articles and essays like Gamasutra’s piece, there were concerns that the divide between gaming journalists and the gaming community was deepening, with games writers seen as attacking their own audience. David Auerbach of Slate argued that gaming culture is changing, with the ordinary video-game journalist being phased out in favor of video game enthusiasts and amateur Let’s Play commentators who use YouTube and Twitch.
Operation Disrespectful Nod
Some of the gamer community took offense with specific articles written on this topic, with some members of the gamer community calling theses articles “offensive” and “racist”. The gamer community organized an email campaign “Operation Disrespectful Nod” which implored other concerned gamers to contact the advertisers that were promoted on the sites that published these articles, and ask them to pull their advertising.
In October 2014 Intel pulled its advertising from Gamasutra, citing feedback from its consumers on controversial pieces published on that site; media such as The Verge and The New York Times believe it was in response to this campaign specifically on the aforementioned Gamasutra article by Alexander. Eric Johnson of Re/code and Nick Wingfield ofThe New York Times said that it was a “victory” of protesters against Gamasutra. Rich McCormick of The Verge disagreed with Intel’s decision to cave to what he called “co-ordinated strikes” to silence voices calling for diversity in gaming, writing, “By giving in to its demands and pulling its advertising from Gamasutra, Intel has legitimized a movement that has shown itself to be anti-feminist, violently protectionist, and totally unwilling to share what it sees as its divine right to video games.”
Several game developers also expressed opposition, sending open letters to Intel about the legitimacy of their actions, warning the company and the public about the potential “chilling effect” that the Gamergate supporters could evoke on other media sites in reporting on certain facets of the industry by similar actions as they did with Intel. Intel shortly offered an apology, stating that “we recognize that our action inadvertently created a perception that we are somehow taking sides”, and that “while we respect the right of individuals to have their personal beliefs and values, Intel does not support any organization or movement that discriminates against women. We apologize and we are deeply sorry if we offended anyone.” Several journalists described the apology as insufficient, as Intel didn’t reinstate the ad campaign. Writing for Engadget, Timothy Seppala said “These words ring a bit hollow though, given that Intel won’t be continuing its ad-buy with Gamasutra, either.” Kwame Opam of The Verge wrote that “given how much of the movement is devoted to harassing female gamers,” Intel’s statement rang “a little hollow”, although it could be assumed to be “snowed by the issue’s complexity”, as GamerGate’s scope has “ballooned” into the “murky realm of corruption in the industry”. Forbes’ Erik Kain, while stating Gamasutra shouldn’t be punished for opinions of its writers, described Intel’s decision as “a consumer movement, not an anti-women movement.”
According to Ryan Cooper of The Week, “Intel is trying to have it both ways, appeasing the misogynist mob out of one side of its mouth while asserting high-status anti-sexist and pro-diversity values out of the other. But when it comes to corporations, you can immediately discern their real priorities by what they do with their money. And in this case, as a result of cowardice and political incompetence, Intel has placed itself on the side of the misogynists.”
Role of misogyny and antifeminism
A number of commentators have argued that the #GamerGate movement had the potential to raise important issues in gaming journalism, but that the wave of misogynistic harassment and abuse associated with the hashtag had poisoned the well, making it impossible to separate honest criticism from sexist trolling.
Attacks on women
Quinn said the campaign had “roped well-meaning people who cared about ethics and transparency into a pre-existing hate mob.” In Paste magazine, Garrett Martin suggested that any concerns about ethics in journalism were merely a cover for attacking women, even if some sincerely believed otherwise. Amanda Marcotte in an article for The Daily Beast described the controversy as arising from the comments of a “vindictive ex-boyfriend”, stated it was “pure misogyny to use online harassment troops” against Quinn, and that the ethics violation discussion is merely a “desperate attempt to justify” their harassment. Marcotte noted that the allegation of Quinn having sex for a favorable review of her game was wrong, and accused the video game world of being, “thick with misogynists who are aching to swarm on any random woman held up for them to hate, no matter what the pretext.” She also made comparisons to the initial outrage against Sarkeesian’s video series, harassment sent to a woman who made a negative review of a Teen Titans cover and to a community manager for the Mighty No. 9 video game because she drew a feminine Mega Man, and virtual “rapes” committed against women’s player avatars in Grand Theft Auto V and DayZ.
Writing in The New Yorker, Simon Parkin said, “In Quinn’s case, the fact that she was the subject of the attacks rather than the friend who wrote about her game reveals the true nature of much of the criticism: a pretense to make further harassment of women in the industry permissible.” T.C. Sottek, a news editor of The Verge, wrote an editorial urging people to stop supporting Gamergate, detailing various issues he perceived in the movement, including using the search for ethics as a justification for the harassment campaign, little credibility in their claims, convincing apolitical gamers that a problem existed, and its embrace of anti-feminist conservative journalists and commentators. He described the movement as a “boggling witch hunt that continues to raise more questions than it answers because it didn’t have any useful questions to ask in the first place”, noting that its origin was attacks on Zoe Quinn concerning her personal life.
The role of journalists
Liana Kerzner, writing for MetalEater.com, criticized some gaming journalists for making “unprofessional, anti-intellectual, and dehumanizing” generalizations about those who supported #GamerGate, and that it had been unfair to paint all of its supporters as motivated by ill will rather than legitimate concern for the state of games journalism. She also urged the gaming community to challenge and reject the “small subgroups of gamers” whose actions had stigmatized the community stating that the problems of bigotry in the community were real. In a subsequent piece on MetalEater.com, Kerzner remarked that the various issues that were plaguing the Gamergate debates were pressured by external forces. She stated that after she had an argument with Milo Yiannopoulos of Breitbart where she was critical of his coverage of the controversy, she was harassed by Gamergate supporters on Twitter and anonymous message boards. Kerzner remarked that Yiannopoulos was one of many external voices to the debate who she felt was using #gamergate as a proxy for their authorities on subjects and asked why gamers were so angry and concerned about the opinions of Leigh Alexander, Anita Sarkeesian, Milo Yiannopoulos, other writers, and even herself. While stating gamers were just “opposed to change for the sake of change”, she added that external forces with other agendas were changing the discussion and keeping moderate voices silent. Ryan Cooper of The Week criticized Yiannopoulos’ involvement in the movement, alleging Yiannopoulos “had little but sneering contempt for gamers” beforehand.
According to Erik Kain, writing at Forbes.com, the #GamerGate movement is driven by a backlash against social criticism of video games “because many readers don’t want to be told what’s good or bad about a game’s social politics, they just want to hear about the game itself”. He also explains that many people are upset “that the video game space has been so heavily politicized with a left-leaning, feminist-driven slant.” However, Kain warned gamers to be “distrustful of … rightwing non-gamers suddenly swooping into the scene with inflammatory anti-feminist headlines”. Writing in Overland, Brendan Keogh described the rise of social criticism in video gaming as part of the maturation of the art form and a natural consequence of video games becoming accepted as a force in mainstream culture. “Essentially, video game critics today are fighting the same discursive battles other ‘low’ art forms fought half a century ago,” he wrote. “There is so much experimentation and energy and hope and disruption – and it is all very exciting.” Kyle Moody, professor of communications media at Fitchburg State University, said the increasing cultural criticism of video games has helped the industry to reach a “higher artistic discussion,” and that those opposed to discussions of class, sexuality, and race instead want their games to remain “toys”. Alyssa Rosenberg of the Washington Post considers GamerGate to be part of a larger culture war that has been occurring for the last decade, spurred by the ease of interaction between creators and consumers, and which begs the question of “whether culture is changing fast enough, and whether change means chucking out old ideas, storytelling tropes and character types”.
In an interview with NPR’s Marketplace, voice actress Jennifer Hale called on the gaming community to improve the self-policing of its “small” and “vicious” fringe, and said there are still race and gender barriers within the industry. “Let’s remove gender from casting everywhere we can and play around with it. Let’s do the same with race. Let’s go on and create the next level. We can’t do that right now.” She also noted that friends had advised her not to do the interview. Writing for Vox, Todd VanDerWerff wrote that the movement’s “actually interesting concerns” were being “warped and drowned out by an army of trolls spewing bile, often at women.” Sarah Kaplan of The Washington Post noted that sexism became “the crux” of the #GamerGate controversy.
Presence of misogyny and inclusiveness
Author and scholar Christina Hoff Sommers disagreed with the criticism leveled at gamers, in a video she released through the American Enterprise Institute. She stated that “[g]amers are dealing with a new army of critics [who] ignore the fact that gaming has become inclusive … All the data we have suggests that millennial males—these are people born and raised in ‘Video Game Nation’—are far less prone to these prejudices than previous generations … If you love games, they don’t really care about your age, your race, your ethnicity, your gender, your sexual preference; they just want to game. My suggestion to their critics: stand down.” William Audureau, however, noted in Le Monde that “the question is not whether video games ‘make’ gamers sexist, but whether they express and maintain a negative portrayal of women, already present and unconsciously accepted.”
Writing in the Pacific Standard, Noah Berlatsky argued that the misogynistic harassment targeting Quinn and Sarkeesian should be viewed not as an issue specific to the gaming community, but as evidence that misogyny is pervasive in American culture. “Gamers need to address misogyny in gaming, but that is not because gamers are particularly broken or awful. It’s because misogyny is a problem everywhere, and everyone needs to confront it in their own communities. Gamers aren’t different than anyone else in that regard. It lets the rest of us off the hook too easily to pretend that they are,” Berlatsky wrote.
Legitimacy of Gamergate’s concerns
Writing in Time, Leigh Alexander, editor-at-large of Gamasutra, described the campaign as “deeply sincere” but based on “bizarre conspiracy theories,” stating that there is nothing unethical or improper about journalists being friends and acquaintances of those they cover. “Surely these campaigners understand that no meaningful reporting on anything takes place without the trust—and often friendship—of people on the inside,” she said. Quinn herself agreed that a discussion on journalism ethics was needed and suggested that all those instead use the “#GameEthics” hashtag to discuss the matter without the baggage of misogyny and harassment that have attached to #GamerGate.
Vox writer Todd VanDerWerff highlighted an essay written by game developer David Hill which explained that he believed #GamerGate made good points, but targeted the wrong people. Hill stated that gaming journalists hated both the nepotism and how the industry, particularly AAA publishers, treated video game journalism simply as marketing. He wrote, “We want to approach these works of art as works of art, and not just as the next success or flop. But that can’t happen on any large scale, because of that corruption, because of the commercialism of it all.” He further added that the #GamerGate movement should not have focused on independent developers like Quinn, particularly attacking her sex life, and Fish to try to enact a change in games journalism, describing them as “frankly powerless in the games industry”, but rather that it should have targeted advertising by AAA companies.
Video games journalist Ryan Smith characterised journalism as “a weird insider culture”. Combined with the generally pugnacious attitude of online arguments, he stated, this results in journalists conflating “the noise of angry commenters … with their larger audience”. He contended, furthermore, that the video games press in particular “exist in an incredibly airtight bubble” which is “rarely pierced by professional criticism. There are no ombudsmen or real media critics … that you see in sports and politics and even other entertainment journalism fields.” He went on to describe a profession in which dissent or differing opinion is met with hostility. This environment, he concluded, was the result of “networking and the comfort of soft consensus trump[ing] honest conversation and healthy debate.”
Alex Goldman from On the Media wrote that he recognized legitimate complaints in #GamerGate concerning the relationship between the video game industry and journalists, and that there is diversity within the gamer community, but noted that the movement’s decision to focus on female indie developers and its involvement in harassment had caused it to lose mainstream credibility. “If you see yourself as a bloc of people who call themselves “gamers,” to outsiders you are only as good as your worst representatives, and the past month have shown those representatives to be racist, homophobic, misogynist, and threatening,” Goldman said. “If you want to be seen as a monolith, publicly shame the bad actors in your cohort. If you want to be seen as individuals, well, stop calling yourself gamers. Come up with some other means of self-identification. Because as of right now, the worst people standing behind the mantle of gamer have spoiled it for all of you.”
Political consultant Allum Bokhari stated that Gamergate was the reaction of non-political gamers to an increasingly politicized pastime that had been overtaken by “moral crusaders”. He wrote, “For years, politicized games journalists have harbored a simmering mix of contempt and fear of the current gaming audience”, and that this attitude had led to misunderstandings of the goings-on by the press. He stated that the gamers involved in Gamergate are not exclusionary but merely opposed to ideology and cultural hegemony, and that journalists’ own biases explained the lack of pro-Gamergate coverage. He concluded that “[h]olding up the extremes … is a great way to avoid dialogue. It’s politics—not … in the sense of liberals versus conservatives, but in the more fundamental sense of ‘my side’ versus ‘your side.'”
Ryan Cooper of The Week highlighted an analysis written by writer Jon Stone, citing: “While various patterns of behavior coalesce around the hashtag, #gamergate’s protean nature resists attempts toward summary and narrative. It readjusts and reinvents itself in response to attempts to disarm and disperse its noxiousness, subsuming disaffected voices in an act of continual regeneration, cycling through targets, pretexts, manifestoes and moralisms…”
Several gaming press sites changed their disclosure and conflict of interest policies as a result of the controversy. Polygon now requires its writers to disclose contributions viaPatreon, while Kotaku wholly prohibits its staff from supporting any game developers through the website. Defy Media adopted a new and stricter journalistic and ethical standards policies for all of their subsidiaries, such as The Escapist and GameFront, and Destructoid updated their ethics policies after Gearbox Software developer Anthony Burch pointed out his personal connections with the Destructoid staff over Twitter.