Gamergate in FaBoLand

Gamergate is in an interesting phase of its existence. There is still ample conversation happening across the internet, but a lot of the focus seems to be on the aftermath of the scandal, where Zoe Quinn is now, and how the industry has been affected. Vice has become a major voice in the fallout of the Gamergate scandal, focusing on the atrocities of online harassment and the effect it has had on its victims (and garnering some of the most popular recent posts on the topic). The media company recently published a piece on Quinn focusing on her life since the hailstorm of doxxing and death threats. 

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Vice has also kept the Gamergate narrative alive by showcasing what might seem like an unrelated story albeit through the Gamergate lens. Shortly after the Paris suicide bomber attacks, there were photos posted of Veerender Jubbal, a journalist who has been outspoken against Gamergate on Twitter, wearing a photoshopped bomb vest with the caption “One of the Paris suicide bombers’ photo’s been released. He posted the photo on Twitter shortly before the attack” (Vice). This piece fits well into the narrative that Gamergaters are at the core just a group of deeply racist, bigoted and misogynistic white males lashing out against the onslaught of diversity and inclusivity being hurled at the gaming culture as this industry becomes one of the most mainstream mediums in the world. Vice sums up this dichotomy neatly in describing Gamergate as “either a movement dedicated to harassing women and what the group calls ‘social justice warriors’ (SJWs) in the video game industry, and/or campaigning for better transparency and ethical standards within the media, depending on who you ask” (Vice).

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Whatever the intentions were at the start, Gamergate’s principle legacy on the gaming industry is shaping up to be a significant increase in awareness of online harassment. This was showcased in the latest SXSW Interactive Festival, where the event organizers felt compelled to include the Gamergate topic in the panels, noting that it would be a “glaring hole” if they didn’t (Wired).

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However, things went quickly south when organizers attempted to let “Pro-GamerGaters” onto the panel, presumably in the interest of hearing both sides of the controversy. The irony was solidified when they cancelled “a panel on overcoming harassment in games – in response to threats of harassment…[showing a] profoundly shallow understanding of the topic” (Wired).

It is interesting to note the schism between how the media covers the Gamergate topic and the comments found on most of these articles. Profound similarities in theme across numerous articles and their respective receptions would seem to illustrate that this schism represents the pro- and anti- gamergate camps, with the pro being the commenters and anti- being the press.

For example, on the Vice article documenting Zoë Quinn’s post-Gamergate life, which documents her new upcoming game and ways she has coped with the abuse, the comments section reflected a very different sentiment:

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This is an illustrative example of the two sides engaging. However, the mystery remains whether the misogyny is the root of Gamergate, or is just the tactic used by the majority of Gamergate supporters in order to expose what they call lack of journalistic integrity and elitism.

The #notyourshield hashtag is still being used, though not as actively, to represent pro-Gamergaters who claim that Social Justice Warriors are speaking on their behalf in an attempt to slander the Gamergate movement.

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Strong female voices are still being heard amidst the fallout, though they are not as front and center as they were in 2014. For instance, media analyst and public speaker Anita Sarkeesian, founder of Feminist Frequency is still releasing episodes of her Youtube series “Tropes vs Women in Video Games,” though sadly, comments have been disabled on all of the videos due to waves of Gamergate trolls. Screen Shot 2016-10-01 at 12.50.34 AM.png

Sarkeesian and other Gamergate survivors seem to be making steady progress in the fight for equality and inclusivity, as Sarkeesian was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People from her work as a gaming activist. As Lifetime’s piece points out, Sarkeesian “has seen the worst of the internet,” but has remained focus on her goal, releasing an all-new series that focuses on women activists throughout history, humorously titled “Ordinary Women,” which can be found on the Feminist Frequency youtube channel.

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