Gamergate vs. The Institution: The Battle Continues

Gamergate supporters have gone to pains to position themselves against mainstream and old media sources and their coverage on this issue. In fact, one of the main pillars of their argument is that the media (especially the older, more established media outlets) are in total collusion with the game developing ‘elite’ as they call it. Thus, a defining characteristic of the movement is its reactionary behaviors against such institutions. They organize their response to this media ‘conspiracy’ on smaller blogs and forums such as 4Chan, 8Chan, Reddit, and game reviewing sites. One of the most popular pro-Gamergate forums is called “Kotaku In Action” found here. At the very top you can see a goal that links to the following.

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The deep-seated belief that traditional media has been corrupted by a partisan agenda is one of the key commonalities between the Gamergate and alt-right movement. In this way, those in the Gamergate movement are voracious consumers of traditional media. They also pay attention to traditional media as well. In fact one of their main stomping grounds, kotakuinaction, is a reference to the popular gaming news site kotaku https://kotaku.com/ . Gamergate as a movement that has emerged, and defines itself, as a movement about ethics in video game journalism finds itself perennially occupied with what it feels is ‘traditional’ media. Not only that they actively campaign towards traditional media outlets when they feel like due diligence has not been done. What one is forced to consider then is do these individuals constitute actual consumers of traditional media that a company would be incentivized to respond to as they represent ad revenue, etc, or are they outsiders swooping in to complain when they feel a news organization has affronted them. The answer most likely is both and that would explain the enduring presence of coverage on Gamergate by traditional news media.

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This is where deepfreeze http://www.deepfreeze.it/about.php comes in. It represents a catalog of perceived bias in articles for the community to organize around. What it shows is the clearly symbiotic relationship between gaming journalism, journalism in general and the Gamergate movement. The deepfreeze serves as a catalog of all the various journalists and news outlets both new, like rock, paper shotgun and old, like the guardian. Deepfreeze posts one page summaries of media sites like this in order to make it easier for Gamergaters to protest, harass and boycott them.

For those so adamant about the truth it is interesting that they are willing to support outright boycotts of certain organizations. If they were truly concerned about the facticity of articles in general this site would represent a review of each article on its own merits rather than a catalogue of perceived slights to justify opposition to certain individuals or news outlets, such as this article on deep freeze. 

This type of seemingly-contradictory behavior spoke loud and clear with Gamergate’s fatal interaction with Gawker. Although not a classic example of old media, but an established media site nonetheless, Gawker published a piece attacking a specific member of Gamergate, as opposed to only criticizing the movement as a whole, which has been the norm for established media. This predictably provoked Gamergaters to target the media company, and heavily influenced the online discourse. Soon after, Pro-Gamergaters were rallying on the usual sites – 4Chan, 8Chan, Reddit (specifically the Kotaku in Action thread) – and publicly posting the CEO’s email and other doxxing techniques in an attempt to take down the company.

Here’s the thing – it worked. Yes, Gawker got wrapped up in a slew of other scandals – Hulk Hogan, Peter Thiel, etc – but at the end of the day, it was the damn Gamergater trolls that apparently dealt the fatal bl0w.

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Gawker seemed resilient in the face of the other crises, but, reflecting in hindsight, one of the top editors Max Read pointed out that “Gamergate was there, in the background, turning every crisis up a notch or two and making continued existence impossible” (Breitbart). Inflaming the tempers of the video gaming community marked their death – who knew?

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One of the seminal articles that brought a wide audience to this entire scandal was the New York Times article detailing the harassment that those like Anita Sarkeesian and Brianna Wu have been going through since the onset of Gamergate (the ‘Zoe post’ by her ex-boyfriend, Eron Gjoni). Controversy and heated debate had been bubbling up on social media and the usual forums, but after the doxxing death threats got severe, the story made its way to the ‘old media.’ This article just served as oxygen to the fire of Gamergate, and started the seemingly never-ending back and forth we see between the Gamergaters (users of new media) and the traditional media elite. The position of the old media is essentially that Gamergate is just a group of undersocialized misogynistic internet trolls that take out their aggressions on anyone that speaks out against their movement, while the position of (most…some of..?) the Gamergaters using the new media is that this issue boils down to maintaining ethics and transparency in the all-important field of video-game journalism.

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An alt-right blog from the UK called Breitbart published an email list that apparently is a “secret mailing list of the gaming journalism elite,” proving the collusion between high profile gaming review sites like Wired, Ars Technica, Polygon, Eurogamer, and Destructoid and video game publishers such as Ubisoft and Activision (Breitbart). It even included some contacts from very mainstream, “old media” institutions such as Associated Press, CNBC and USA Today (Breitbart).

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This certainly provides compelling evidence that there is tangible corruption within the video game journalism industry -but what industry doesn’t have corruption? Nobody wants an industry to be corrupt, but there are level-headed ways of going about exposing said corruption, and then there is sending death and rape threats to the point of uprooting someone’s family. This is where the Gamergaters lost the support of the mainstream – in and outside of the media. Your cause could be as virtuous as Martin Luther King’s, but once you start sending death threats as a means of effecting change, your dead in the water.

 

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