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Gamergate (sometimes referred to as GamerGate or preceded by a "#" symbol to form a hashtag) is a controversy in video game culture in which long-standing issues of journalistic bias in the gamer community became high-profile on social and mainstream media, along with issues regarding journalistic ethics in the online gaming press, particularly conflicts of interest between video game journalists and developers, became mainstream topics on social media websites. The controversy began when an ex-boyfriend of indie game developer Zoe Quinn accused her of professional impropriety for personal gain and to publicize her latest game. The allegations were published in a blog post in August of 2014. Kotaku, the employer of Nathan Grayson and a target of the controversy, investigated and reached the conclusion that there was no conflict of interest. Other topics of debate have included perceived changes or threats to the "gamer" identity, as a direct result of several articles declaring the identity dead.


EventsEdit

Independent video game developer Zoe Quinn developed and released her interactive fiction title Depression Quest in 2013 as a means to represent her own bout with depression.[1] Upon its release, some people expressed dislike towards Quinn and the title. Some expressed concern that the critical attention it received was disproportionate to the quality and simplicity of the game, and presented the solution to depression in too simple of a matter. In working with Valve Corporation to put Depression Quest on the Steam content platform's Greenlight system (a means for users to vote on titles to bring onto the platform) near the end of 2013, Quinn stated that she had been harassed by a number of members of the gaming community with statements similar to "women cannot relate to anyone with depression", according to The Escapist.[2] This may have led to a surge in supportive votes on the Greenlight service.

Shortly following 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, amongst which was that Quinn had cheated on him with Kotaku journalist Nathan Grayson.[3] This led to allegations from Quinn's opponents in the gaming community that the relationship had resulted in favorable media coverage.[3][4][5][6] Kotaku's editor-in-chief Stephen Totilo affirmed the two had a relationship, but stated that Grayson had not written anything about Quinn after becoming involved with her and had never reviewed her games.[1][6] However, evidence from the original post contradicts this, as the two had a relationship during a trip to Las Vegas, and Grayson wrote an article about the trip and plugged Depression Quest. The incident led to broader allegations on social media that games developers and gaming media 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.[3] A number of commentators within and outside the games industry denounced the attack on Quinn as misogynistic and unfounded.[7][8]

Phil Fish, developer of Fez (video game) was allegedly doxxed after speaking in support of Quinn, with many of his personal details[9] and documents relating to his company Polytron exposed in a hack. He opted to sell off Polytron and leave the gaming industry.[10] The harassment expanded to include the feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian[11] who had also claimed to experience prior harassment from members of the gamer community over her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series on exploring issues of feminism and sexism in video games.[12][13] A new episode in the 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.[11][14]

Concurrent to these events, gamers used social media and sites such as 4chan and Reddit to explain and support their position, and figures like Adam Baldwin (who was the first to use the hashtag #GamerGate on Twitter) highlighted the issue to the population at large. In some cases, posts relating to the controversy were blocked or erased on some web sites, while at least one YouTube commentator had their video critical of Quinn removed by a DMCA request, leading some gamers to complain about censorship and leading to a Streisand Effect that brought more people into the debate.[7] A portion of those that support the #GamerGate movement took issue with the widespread description of the movement as misogynist; some gamers asserted that the focus on the misogamy of the situation was to "deflect criticism" of gaming journalism, according to The Washington Post.[3] A second Twitter hashtag, "#NotYourShield", was started, intending to show that women and members of other minorities in the gaming community were also seeking for changes in the ethics of the video game industry and denying that the core issues behind #GamerGate were driven by sexism.[3][15] Quinn has stated that the #GamerGate movement was "manufactured" by users of 4chan operating on an IRC channel specifically to attack her and her followers for her feminist views, while those posting under #NotYourShield were not of the claimed minority groups.[16][17] These statements have been denied by users of 4chan, and a series of full logs have been released.[18]

A self-described radical feminist group supportive of the #GamerGate movement known as The Fine Young Capitalists (TFYC) reported that their account for their charity game jam on Indiegogo had had its password cracked.[19] Prior to #GamerGate, Quinn had spoken out against TFYC's campaign concerning their rules on transgender participants and on how the participants were not being paid;[7] TFYC has explained that their rules stipulate a particular date before which participants had to have identified as women to ensure participants would not abuse the process by lying about their gender identity, and worded it such that people who had difficulties in legally transitioning could participate, and that the participants were only providing conceptual work, rather than the bulk of computer programming.[7][20] During the initial argument between the two camps, TFYC's website suffered from an unintentional DDoS attack due to increased traffic resulting from the discussion on Twitter.[7][20] The group also states that a sponsor withdrew support over the transphobia concerns, costing them Template:USD.[20][21]

After #GamerGate gained traction, TFYC noted that 4chan users had donated Template:USD to their Indiegogo project, and designed a mascot character which the group decided to use in their games; the 4chan video games board /v/ is explicitly mentioned in the message put up by the perpetrator of the password crack.[7] The character "Vivian James" (meant to sound similar to "video games") was designed to appear like a normal female gamer. Tom Mendelsohn of The Independent wrote that 4chan had created Vivian as an emblem for their campaign to demonstrate they’re not sexist, 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".[22] Erik Kain of Forbes described Vivian as an “every-girl of sorts, and maybe not what you’d expect from 4chan".[7]

Some time after the initial slew of articles, advertisers began to pull their sponsorships from sites associated with the controversy. Most notably, Intel cancelled their campaign on Gamasutra, which resulted in some backlash from the press, especially Leigh Alexander. Intel later released a statement of neutrality.

Template:Quote

HarassmentEdit

Zoe QuinnEdit

Much of the controversy surrounding GamerGate stems from claims that supporters harass women in the gaming industry through targeted campaigns of harassment. Zoe Quinn alleges that "the Internet spent the last month spreading [her] personal information around, sending [her] threats, hacking anyone suspected of being friends with [her], calling [her] dad and telling him [she's] a whore, sending nude photos of [her] to colleagues, and basically giving [her] the 'burn the witch' treatment". Many major gaming news outlets supported Quinn, and have backed her claims.

Source for Quinn quote: http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/2014/09/20/gaming-summer-rage/VNMeHYTc5ZKoBixYHzi1JL/story.html

Anita SarkeesianEdit

Anita Sarkeesian became involved in GamerGate after releasing another in her series "Tropes vs. Women in Video Games", a crowdfunded video collection that "explores common and recurring stereotypes of female characters in video games". Anita became prominent after claiming to receive threats during her Kickstarter campaign. Subsequently, she received nearly $160,000 in funding for her project. Afterwards, she began commenting on the GamerGate hashtag on twitter, and claimed that harassment has been worse since GamerGate began. She reportedly left her home and filed a report with the FBI in September following a threat.

Sarkeesian has received criticism in the past for unverified claims of harassment, critique against her arguments and definitions of "misogyny" used in her videos, and accusations that she's a mouthpiece for her producer, Jonathan McIntosh. Critics of Sarkeesian point to her prior work as a Teleseminar salesman.

Anita's Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/566429325/tropes-vs-women-in-video-games

Steven WilliamsEdit

Steven Williams, a popular YouTube personality with the username "Boogie2988", released several videos calling for moderate discussion of the GamerGate issue and urged everyone on both sides to have compassion for each other. He alleges to have received threats against himself and his wife, along with his personal information being posted.

Boogie's Tweet: https://twitter.com/Boogie2988/status/522156760623484928

Brianna WuEdit

Brianna Wu rose to prominence on twitter. After creating an image macro mocking supporters of GamerGate, many supporters used her template to create their own version, mocking those who oppose GamerGate and Wu herself. She called this an "attack". Later that day, Wu posted screenshots of a twitter account named "Death to Brianna". Though the account never references the GamerGate hashtag, Wu claims it is related. Wu has also claimed to have fled her home following the threats.

Wu would later appear on MSNBC for an interview in which she alleges that GamerGate is an anti-feminist hate movement.

https://twitter.com/Spacekatgal/status/520417515688960000 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/11/game-developer-death-threats_n_5970966.html Reid Report GamerGate segment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlnY17pgYwg

AnalysisEdit

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.[15][3][1][23][24] 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.[3] 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. After a conflict of interest was discovered, Frank left games journalism.

Gamers responded that the allegations of misogyny in the games industry were a false narrative constructed by the gaming press. A series of articles decrying gamers as "misogynists" and declaring the gamer identity "dead" were released within a short period of time. The authors of these articles were tied to previous Google Groups discussion forums, including one called "GameJournalPros", and another titled "Game Words Incorporated", discuss the creation of a united front and the retirement of the term "gamer" from common usage.

Game Words Incorporated Source: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/game-words-incorporated/VxYXZhDqv8I GameJournalPros Dump: http://gamergate.giz.moe/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/gamejournopros_possible_connections.txt GameJournalPros Breitbart Article: http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-London/2014/09/17/Exposed-the-secret-mailing-list-of-the-gaming-journalism-elite


The issue of journalism ethics has been highlighted as a concern of the controversy. Vox Media 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 wrote that gaming journalists hated the nepotism and how the industry, particluarly AAA publishers, treats video game journalism as marketing rather than critics. Hill 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 and Fish to try to enact a change in games journalism, describing them as "frankly powerless in the games industry", but rather the movement should have targeted advertising by AAA companies.[25] An earlier movement had previously targeted video game publisher but failed to gain traction.


Gamers have also become distrustful of gaming journalism due to their ties with game publishers and actions taken, with two prior incidents weighing heavily. In 2007, Jeff Gerstmann was fired from his position at GameSpot after he gave a poor review for Eidos Interactive's Kane & Lynch: Dead Men; Eidos were heavily advertising the game in question on the site and threatened to pull sponsorship.[26] In 2012, Geoff Keighley's game reviews filmed in front of promotional posters for Halo 4 and accompanied by Doritos and Mountain Dew was dubbed "Doritosgate",[27] and led to EurogamerTemplate:'s Robert Florence to remark on the issues regarding such promotions in the industry.[28] Kotaku's Totilo wrote in 2012 that the game journalism industry had become indistinguishable from public relations, with writers and reporters inundated with promotional material to receive positive coverage.[28] Some of those supporting the #GamerGate principles argue that as journalism has shifted to covering independent video games, "indie game developers and the online gaming press have gotten too cozy", according to Vox's VanDerWerff.[23] Quinn 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.[15]

Supporters of #GamerGate have also expressed concern over the use of video games to present cultural criticism and moving them away from an entertainment form. In recent years, video games have come to be accepted as works of art by mainstream media, and numerous games are designed by their creators to create an emotional response in the player.[29] These types of games have become more common through independent video game development that allows developers to release titles without publisher interference, who would otherwise not likely publish these titles. However, GamerGate supporters believe that titles such as Depression Quest or Gone Home are not really games, according to What Culture!Template:'s Jordan Ephraim.[23] Ephraim expresses concern that these titles, in taking up popular culture points such as depression in Depression Quest or LGBT issues with Gone Home, are critically praised on how they present these cultural points and less on the nature of the game mechanics.[23] Some supporters believe that these games are designed to push political agendas; the Los Angeles Times quotes two GamerGate supporters stating "Can we please just keep the agendas out of video games? Entertainment is meant to be the furthest possible thing from politics", and "It'd be nice if the gaming industry/gaming journalism would just...focus on games over politics."[30] Attributing the controversy to a gulf between some traditional video game fans and the increasingly-diverse nature of the industry, Leigh Alexander said that the maturing and ever-more-mainstream nature of video games opens the genre to longstanding cultural critiques and new perspectives. She also said that there was room for both "games as product" and "games as culture" in the industry.[31]

Relating to this, several journalists have noted that the changing market of video games and their place in the culture is challenging the perceived identity of the average video game player, leading several to suggest #GamerGate may be the "death of the 'gamer'".[23][5] Until about 2013, young adult males dominated the video game consumer market. In reports published by the Entertainment Software Association based on retail sales, the proportion of female games was about 45% in 2013,[32] and 48% in 2014.[33] These studies have also highlighted the trend of older, female gamers over younger males due to the popularity of the casual game and mobile game markets.[33] These have lead changes to publishers to reconsider the target demographic for titles and accommodate the broader gender and age differences, and changing the meaning of what a "gamer" is.[23] Vox's VanderWerff notes in light of #GamerGate, that "Many involved [...] don't want the term 'gamer' to go away, but they also want it to be as inclusive as possible. But the term already is exclusionary, because it's so heavily associated with the stereotype."[23]

ResponsesEdit

According to Erik Kain, writing at Forbes.com, the #GamerGate movement is driven by an anti-feminist backlash against the increasing diversity of voices involved in cultural criticism of video games. "What it boils down to is many people feeling upset that the video game space has been so heavily politicized with a left-leaning, feminist-driven slant," he said.[7]

Writing in Time, Leigh Alexander 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.[31] Alexander has received criticism for being a freelance writer for several outlets, including Polygon, targeted by the controversy, and for her occasional employment within the industry she reports on.

David Auerbach of Slate argued it was a case of a fair number of gamers hating the journalists who cover video games, and the journalists hating the video gamers.[5] Auerbach asserts gaming culture is changing but it is the ordinary video-game journalist that is being phased out in favor of video game enthusiasts and amateur Let's Play commentators who use YouTube and Twitch.[5]

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 subsequently attracted the signatures about two thousand independent developers and journalists within the gaming industry.[30][24] A similar petition, calling to "stop the hate", and requesting that "indie developers, AAA developers, and other folks to stop branding gamers as neckbearded, misogynistic, hatefueled, ignorant, homophobic, idiots". The petition has received over 9,000 signature from gamers and game developers.

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 true concern for the state of games journalism. "As a member of the video game media, I am sorry for that. It was wrong, and you guys didn't deserve it." She also urged the gaming community to challenge and reject the "small subgroups of gamers" whose actions have stigmatized the community.[34]

Gaming press sites such as Polygon and Kotaku changed their disclosure and conflict of interest policies, including the prohibiting of writers from supporting any game developers through Patreon,[7] while The Escapist and Destructoid reviewed their ethics policy[35] Some gamers remain skeptical that these terms will be enforced.

ReferencesEdit

Template:Portal Template:Notelist {{reflist|2|refs= [1] [36] [2] [18] [26] [3] [37] [8] [7] [9] [17] [23] [14] [31] [30] [24] [16] [10] [11] [4] [38] [15] [39] [6] [40] [5] [12] [13] [35] [19] [20] [21] [27] [41] [25] [28] [34] [42] [43] [44]


[45]


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