Today is The Anniversary of The GamerGate hashtag. Why are you here?

Image credit to: /u/ Flaques

Today is the one-year anniversary of the GamerGate hashtag. Why are you here?

You’re probably anticipating some kind of celebratory gesture. Like maybe this article is going to revel in all of #GamerGate’s accomplishments. I mean, the movement did divest millions of dollars in potential ad revenue from a vertical media company. It got satirized in a Law & Order: SVU episode. Its supporters called out countless online publications for their breaches in journalistic conduct. It’s given birth to an Internet mascot and several derivative hashtags, raised dozens of gaming journalists (professional and citizen) to fame, and contributed thousands of dollars to cure butthurt, help sea lions, and prevent bullying, among others.

#GamerGate as a consumer revolt has done a lot in the past year. The commotion it’s caused has turned heads from indie and AAA circles, dividing the pubescent industry and fanning the flames in adjacent STEM sectors. The prominence of this leaderless Internet movement has also been exploited by unconfirmed third-party provocateurs and damned by mainstream media — as a result the hashtag has endured accusations of Internet harassment, doxing, vandalism, and sending death threats.

It’s built Internet careers and ruined Internet careers with an ever-revolving cast of pundits and personalities on both sides of the fence. At the ground level, agitators semi-regularly engage in skirmishes over social media, flaming and blocking and then unblocking to flame some more. Real and sock-puppet accounts are shunned as new supporters replace the splintered. But some actually have sustained conversations about ethics in games journalism. They rejoice the gamer identity, and bond over the anticipation of new releases. Others tweet and retweet archived links and screenshots of past transgressions, subverted memes, and articles of support.

Yet there’s one thing that stands out from the talking heads, the drawn-out Twitter arguments, and the dull shops: e-mail campaigns like Operation: Disrespectful Nod. That’s really the only thing that makes #GamerGate worthy of note — like its spiritual predecessors Project Chanology and the international Occupy movements, #GamerGate’s groupthink has galvanized thousands of strangers to real-time activism. And now with the Rebuild Initiative, #GamerGate is crossing domains and building substantive relationships between the gaming community and the games industry. Now, with the string of meet-ups across several cities, #GamerGate is indicating that supporters are ambulant, and not just the clichéd obese beard-and-fedora’d white male confined to his parents’ basement, or the equally overplayed caricature of the pimple-ridden teenage boy. And why should it matter if they are? But let’s be frank: you’re not perfect, #GamerGate. No amount of denial or doxing is going to change that. Despite amassing over 50,000 subscribers on the watchdog base-of-operations KotakuInAction, gaining attention from the Society of Professional Journalism, and persuading several gaming news sites to update or install ethics policies, the #GamerGate hashtag is still susceptible to outsider persuasion and goading. Your radical elements are louder than your moderates, and half the time your supporters are embroiled in cat fights with each other; that is, if they’re not trying to police the SEO-rich opinion articles of writers who include quips about #GamerGate to up their page views — lest we forget, outrage sells.  

At times your supporters are more concerned about Social Justice Warriors and their echo chambers, Youtube personalities’ opinions, and some blocklist for people you’ll never care to talk to. At times your supporters would rather rant about the liberal media’s conspiracy to blanket the world in political correctness and supplant fun commercial games with potentially un-fun indie ones. At times I wonder if you’re even paying attention to the goal you set for yourself: ending corruption in the games journalism industry. Well, that corruption reaches farther than a handful of developers and journalists, just as bigotry and xenophobia reach farther than the gaming community. But you don’t need me to tell you that.

#GamerGate is the political zeitgeist of the gaming community, and today is its anniversary. Where will you go from here?

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Ryan Mo
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Ryan Mo refers to himself in the third-person perspective because he is uncomfortable with directly writing to readers. His writing voice takes after that of John Barth, one of his influences while studying English Literature in college (but he’ll also settle for Christopher Walken). Growing up, he took an interest in Magic: The Gathering for its card artwork and names, the latter of which expanded his vocabulary and contributed to nearly every horrible deck he’s ever made. Ryan has never played a Zelda game, and the only Pokemon installment he’s touched is Sapphire Version. He’s not sorry for that. He believes Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has the best OST of all time, and hopes for Baldur’s Gate III to be completed and released. If he could have any pet Ryan would choose an Ultralisk, but recently settled for a Mackerel tabby who he affectionately named Milktea.Ryan is simultaneously amused and perplexed by the micro-aggressive tendencies of the Tumblr community, and is constantly warned to never go on Reddit. When he is not dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, he might be writing about music, making (little) headway through his queue of books, or stripping Tyria to craft that piece of Ascended Gear on Guild Wars 2. He is Honey Boy’s #1 fan and always insists on adding more lens flare.

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