What is #GamerGate?
April 14, 2015
#GamerGate is a consumer revolt concerned with ethics in journalism. (The # is in front of GamerGate as #GamerGate is a hashtag people post to on Twitter.) As you might imagine, journalists do not enjoy being accused of corruption, and instead have claimed #GamerGate is a controversy involving the harassment of women.
Having no leader, #GamerGate does not have a singular definition. There are many in #GamerGate who will say this article is 100% wrong and that I clearly do not understand #GamerGate at all!
There is no corporate office, 501(c)(3) paperwork, corporate charter, or registered agent for service of process. #GamerGate is instead a grassroots movement and is as democratic as you can imagine, which is no surprise as most people associated with #GamerGate are left-leaning.
Ultimately #GamerGate is a fight against corruption in journalism and has its origin in a dramatic break-up between an e-celeb (that's defined, below) and her boyfriend.
This break-up spread across the Internet Streisand Effect style after major websites like Reddit and 4Chan banned all discussion of it and after a court order was obtained barring a rape victim from discussing the abuse he suffered at the hands of a manipulative woman.
To understand #GamerGate, begin at the beginning. An e-celeb who was "famous for being famous" cheated on and raped her boyfriend and then sought a court order to cover it up.
Zoe Quinn is an e-celeb. E-celebs are the Internet's version of reality TV stars, that is, e-celebs want to be famous for any reason at all, and that includes famous for being famous.
Ms. Quinn spent years crafting a public persona, networking online, meeting with journalists, and otherwise trying to raise her public profile.
In seeking out fame, Ms. Quinn would often write odd and inflammatory articles.
Ms. Quinn wrote about her bizarre views of rape and sexual assault. For example she claimed having sex with your partner after you've had unprotected sex with another person is rape. Cheating, in other words, was rape.
Unbeknownst to the general public she was lecturing about morality, Ms. Quinn enjoyed having unprotected sex behind the back of her boyfriend.
Calling cheating rape is a bit weird, to put it mildly, but as Quinn called cheating rape it's fair to hold her to her words. Zoe Quinn is a rapist.
It was thus to her ex-boyfriend's ire when he found out Ms. Quinn had slept with several games journalists in order to get coverage for a video game she had "developed." (There's a program that lets you "develop" video games sort of how we used to "build" websites in GeoCities.)
After cheating on her boyfriend (Eron Gjoni) with five guys, Ms. Quinn learned a harsh lesson in fame. Once you've interjected yourself into the spot light, people will look at everything.
That's a lesson in fame for all to learn. You do not have the power to decide what others choose to see once you've begged for their attention. Often people will notice aspects of your life you'd wish they hadn't seen.
Such is the price of fame.
Eron Gjoni exposes Quinn/is "dramatic."
Mr. Gjoni took to the Internet to talk about how Quinn not only cheated on him, but how she potentially spread STDs. Indeed, that was his right.
It is my patriarchal views of rigid gender construction that has me calling a young man who was cheated on and emotionally abused a "drama queen." I'd never write about a woman cheating on me in such detail.
Perhap Mr. Gjoni he should have kept this relationship stuff to himself, but he had every right to share Quinn's betrayal to the broader world.
Indeed, if Mr. Gjoni were a person calling others rapists for cheating, the Internet would have rightfully criticized him after being exposed as a hypocrite.
Mr. Gjoni had every right under the law and under the code of moral conduct to reveal Ms. Quinn's betrayal of him.
Ms. Gjoni posted Facebook chats, emails, and other chat logs substantiating his claims.
Zoe Quinn, by her own words and own definition, raped Eron Gjoni.
The Internet goes crazy.
Gamers had long suspected "games journalists" played favorites with game developers and e-celebs. Now they had proof. A wannabe game developer was actually sleeping with games journalists, favorable articles were being written, and no one was disclosing these personal relationships.
They thus went to Reddit, 4Chan, and other websites to talk about how Ms. Quinn slept with several games journalists, allegedly for favorable coverage.
Moreover, there was a bit of, "Gotcha!" involved.
Ms. Quinn is a famous social justice warrior who claimed cheating was rape. There was now proof that Ms. Quinn was a hypocrite.
The Internet loves exposing hypocrites, whether those hypocrites are fundamentalist Christians getting massages from gay men or whether it's SJWs being caught in the act of rape.
The Internet gets "censored."
Reddit, 4Chan, and other sites deleted and prohibited any commentary about Ms. Quinn's affair with a games journalist. This was unprecedented. Never had a topic been so off-limits.
Moreover, the Internet thrives on drama involving the sexual lives of e-celebs. Gawker, Reddit, and other sites would publish leaked nudes of celebs and those sites allowed all sorts of vile remarks. Indeed, Gawker published the Hulk Hogan sex tape, which it had obtained illegally!
Yet some reason all discussion of Quinn was "censored." Some thought there was a conspiracy behind the scenes. Were games journalists working behind the scenes to cover-up their unethical behavior?
Indeed, that was revealed to be true, once a mailing list of journalists surfaced.
At GamesJournoPro, an online email discussion board, journalists would actively conspire to control the #GamerGate narrative.
This made what should have been a brief affair into an all-out war. Telling people they can't talk about something makes them want to talk about it more.
Ms. Quinn actually censors the Internet.
While Reddit, 4Chan, and any other privately-owned company may "censor" discussion, we do not put censorship in quotes when the government does it, because there is something known as the First Amendment.
Ms. Quinn obtained a restraining order that violated the First Amendment. The restraining order was prior restraint on speech. Under the restraining order, Mr. Gjoni was not allowed to talk about Zoe Quinn at all. He was completely barred from sharing the emotional abuse and rape he suffered.
Moreover, Ms. Quinn committed perjury to obtain the unconstitutional restraining order.
How I got involved in #GamerGate.
What is a 37-year-old lawyer who doesn't even play video games doing in #GamerGate?
As old school readers of Crime & Federalism know, I am pro-free speech and believe abuse and rape accusations (such as the Rolling Stone rape hoax) against men are too easily believed.
I was sued for defamation after exposing misconduct by a lawyer and was once threatened by a federal prosecutor for exposing prosecutorial misconduct. I have often paid for court records out of my own pocket to act as a watch dog of free speech abuses.
When I found out an unconstitutional restraining order had been issued against Zoe Quinn's ex-boyfriend, I ordered the court records.
The restraining order was indeed unconstitutional. For you First Amendment wonks, it was a textbook Kimberlin v. Walker issue and I discussed it here.
#GamerGate is a battle of narratives.
As we all know, criticizing a woman for any reason (even when she's a rapist by her own definition) equals misogyny.
Hence the media has run with stories claiming that #GamerGate is about the harassment of women.
Claiming #GamerGate is a misogynistic campaign is an odd one.
Approximately 150,000 people are pro-#GamerGate. If #GamerGate really were about the harassment of women, why aren't there more crimes being committed?
Consider FBI statistics or other crime data. If you lived in a city of 150,000 people, you'd expect some rapes, murders, thefts, and other smaller crimes.
Why aren't people in #GamerGate being escorted out in hand cuffs?
Could it be #GamerGate is largely comprised of left-leaning people who are a bit nerdy and pose no threat to anyone?
What does pro-#GamerGate and anti-#GamerGate mean?
#GamerGate is a scandal, much like Watergate was a scandal. Some would say it thus makes no sense to call someone pro-#GamerGate. After all, everyone opposes corruption and cover-ups.
While that makes sense in theory, in reality the terms pro- and anti- are being used. Generally speaking a pro-#GamerGate person believes journalism, especially games journalism, is unethical and needs reformed.
Those who ascribe to anti-#GamerGate views believe journalism is just fine and that gamers are just overgrown white man children who hate women.
#NotYourShield proves #GamerGate is not a bunch of angry white men.
Frustrated with having privileged white people purport to speak out for them, many women, minorities, and trans* persons began posting under the #GamerGate-related hashtag #NotYourShield.
The media has ignored the existence of #NotYourShield, proving journalism is more about narratives than in telling the truth.
After all, if #GamerGate is a harassment campaign, it has many women and minority members. Those women and minorities should be called out!
Rather than address women and minority members of #GamerGate, the media has ignored them.
Acting as if women and minorities do not even exist and failing to debate them is racism and misogyny on a level far greater than anything #GamerGate is accused of.
Is anyone in #GamerGate actually harassing women?
#GamerGate has been ongoing for around 7 months. Given that nearly 150,000 people have posted to the hashtag, it'd be something else to claim no one "from" #GamerGate has harassed women.
There's a problem with the question, however. How do you know if someone is "from #GamerGate." Again, any idiot can post to a hashtag. Who the heck is even "from #GamerGate"?
Yet none of the so-called central figures have harassed any women.
Who are the central figures of #GamerGate?
If #GamerGate is about harassment of women, have the "leaders" of #GamerGate harassed any women?
Incidentally, calling someone a "leader" or "central figure" of #GamerGate is inaccurate, as #GamerGate is a hashtag, not a 501(c)(3) with a registered agent of service of process.
Most pro-#GamerGate people remain anonymous, as they fear losing their jobs. Anti-#GamerGate is fond of calling employers, making false accusations against pro-#GamerGate members. Indeed, a "journalist" named Ben Kuchera even tried getting a young man fired from his part-time job at a sporting goods store.
Lacking people who write online under their real names, anti-#GamerGate has identified some "central figures," "poster boys," and "leaders."
According to the anti-#GamerGate, side, the central figures of #GamerGate are:
- Christina Hoff Sommers, a feminist who has written books about feminism.
- Milo Yiannopoulos, a British journalist for Brietbart.
- Adam Baldwin, an actor.
- Mike Cernovich (that's me), a lawyer, author, and podcaster.
Adding me to that list is amusing, as I don't even post to the #GamerGate hashtag often.
Since I'm a controversial person at times, the anti-#GamerGate side feels its helpful to list me as some sort of leader. This allows them to use guilt-by-association tactics, a favorite of social justice warriors.
While I am not a leader of #GamerGate, I'm as much of a "bad person" as you'll find in #GamerGate.
Could you even imagine a kind, thoughtful, intelligent scholar like Ms. Sommers harassing women?
How could a high-profile celebrity like Adam Baldwin get away with harassing women? TMZ would be all over him.
Milo is a professional journalist. If he were harassing women then a war pack would be declared against him.
While I post controversial articles and even Tweets at times, so what?
Have I harassed any women or broken any laws or even made veiled threats against a person's safety or well-being? No.
I'm a licensed attorney in California, for crying out loud. While I certainly speak my mind, I stay well within the confines of the law.
The truth is no one from #GamerGate is harassing women.
Anti-#GamerGate claims I have harassed women.
The claim has been made I harass women.
After Zoe Quinn doxed me to her 30,000 Twitter followers, I hired a private investigator to conduct a risk assessment. I was concerned with being Swatted, as Quinn belonged to a forum on Something Awful called Hell Dump.
Hell Dump was a forum devoted to harassing, doxing, and Swatting people. Quinn was a proud member, and I was concerned for my safety after she posted pictures of my home as well as my home address to her 30,000 followers and fellow Hell Dump members.
Yes, I hired a PI to look into Quinn and I will do it again if people post my personal information online.
Again, I'm as "bad" as it gets as far as #GamerGate goes. If the anti-#GamerGate side can't point to how I've harassed women, you can see they have no evidence #GamerGate is a harassment campaign against women.
Sensing fame and realizing fame equals money, others have attached themselves to #GamerGate and some figures have created hoaxes, much like the Rolling Stone rape hoax.
For example, e-celeb Brianna Wu has been caught posting threats against herself on 8Chan, a 4Chan successor.
Zoe Quinn had previously been caught posting threats against herself on 4Chan. A former Hell Dump member (Hell Dump was a doxing and Swatting board at Something Awful), Ms. Quinn knows how to fake threats and harassment.
Randi Harper, an admitted drug user who has also been in jail, falsely claimed I made rape threats against her.
After posting these "threats," the e-celebs link to their Patreon accounts. (Patreon allows users to donate money to people who do nothing other than post on Twitter all day.)
There is a lot of money in harassment hoaxes, with Wu at one point earning $13,000 a month for doing...nothing.
How can you know #GamerGate isn't harassing women?
Harassment these days means disagreement. For example, the police were called on me because I posted publicly-available court records showing Zoe Quinn committed perjury in obtaining an unconstitutional restraining order.
Yet it's hard to say no one "from #GamerGate" harasses people, as it's a hashtag. Any idiot or troll could say, "I hate all women and want to kill them! #GamerGate."
Here's an experiment: Go to Twitter. Post a threat against women in the #GamerGate hashtag. Watch how quickly you'll be swarmed by pro-#GamerGate forces.
You'll see quickly that #GamerGate opposes actual threats against women. There is even an actual #GamerGate anti-harassment patrol led by a courageous woman named Margaret Gel.
What is #GamerGate?
#GamerGate is a fight against unethical journalism.
As there are no central figures or leaders of #GamerGate, anyone can say what they think #GamerGate is about.
To me, #GamerGate means exposing corruption in journalism and ending censorship. Just today #GamerGate exposed a journalist who admitted to lying about people.
Others disagree, seeing dollar signs. They will continue to claim #GamerGate is a harassment campaign.
As there's a lot of money in pretending to be a victim these days, do not expect #GamerGate to cool down anytime soon.
#GamerGate is here to stay.
GamerGate will be around for years. There's too much money to be made in claiming to be a victim. The Rolling Stone rape hoax, which elevated many to stardom and fame, proves it's worth pretending to be a victim.
Chances are you won't get caught. When you get caught, no big deal. (The author of the Rolling Stone rape hoax never lost her job. Moreover, none of the hundreds of journalists who linked to and promoted the Rolling Stone rape hoax article faced any repercussion.)
There is a lot of money accusing men of being misogynists and there are a lot of corrupt journalists.
Whatever your opinion of #GamerGate, one fact is clear: #GamerGate isn't going anywhere, and #GamerGate is watching.