Since it coalesced in in August, supporters of the Gamergate movement have argued that they are furthering a consumer revolt designed to question ethics in video game journalism, turning a microscope on relationships between critics and the people who make games. But in reality, the movement has another purpose: harassing, threatening, and attacking women involved in the games industry. Instead of acting as a watchdog for press ethics, Gamergate has driven its supporters to call in bomb threats where feminist critics are scheduled to speak, force developers from their homes with graphic descriptions of planned sexual violence, and warn of potential massacres if prominent women in the industry are allowed to critique video games.
Mar 12, 2016
Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA) has announced a new federal bill to ramp up cybercrime enforcement training for police departments and create a national resource center that hosts a cybercrime-specific library. Clark announced the bill at a SXSW panel about how law enforcement and the tech industry can work together to bring down online trolls.Read Article >
The proposed legislation, called the Cybercrime Enforcement Training Assistance Act, would establish a $20 million annual federal grant for state and local law enforcement agencies to train police officers, prosecutors, and emergency dispatchers in identifying and prosecuting cybercrimes. The funds would also be used to aid in extradition of cybercriminals between states.
Oct 26, 2015
The Gamergate controversy is causing even more problems — this time with two panels at next year's SXSW festival. Earlier today, activist and programmer Randi Harper tweeted that the organizers of SXSW had canceled a panel called "Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games," presented by Harper, IBM Watson interaction designer Caroline Sinders, and writer Katherine Cross. The reason? It was drawing too many threats.Read Article >
SXSW Interactive director Hugh Forrest posted a statement explaining the decision soon after; it echoes an email that Harper provided The Verge.
Mar 14, 2015
This past January, when Christopher "Moot" Poole announced that he was stepping down as chief of online message board 4chan, he was vague as to what had led to his decision. But Rolling Stone's David Kushner reports that the extremely volatile "Gamergate" movement gave Poole the resolve he needed to leave the site he founded.Read Article >
In an interview, Poole says that when both Gamergate and a separate controversy surrounding a number of nude celebrity photos came to life on 4chan last September, it was "probably the most stressful month of my life." As he explains, "Week after week after week after week, there's this new controversy ... I kept getting drawn back in."
Mar 11, 2015
Gamergate and online abuse have officially made it to Congress. Yesterday, Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) published a letter to the House Appropriations Committee, asking it to call on the Justice Department to crack down on internet harassment, including the rape, murder, mass shooting, and bomb threats that have been leveled against women (and some men) in the video game community. Clark represents Boston-based game developer Brianna Wu, who has been the target of a sustained hate campaign; in an interview with Jezebel, Clark said communication with Wu led to a "disappointing" meeting with the FBI in February. "This is clearly just not one of their priorities," she said.Read Article >
Feminist blog Femsplain was taken offline earlier today by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, according to the site's founder, Amber Gordon. She tells The Verge that the site was offline for roughly three hours before service returned intermittently late Sunday afternoon on the East Coast. The timing seems far from random: today is International Women's Day.Read Article >
In a tweet, Gordon — best known online as @missambear — shared a screenshot showing the massive influx of traffic from the DDoS attack. Such attacks overwhelm the servers that host websites with a avalanche of requests.
Feb 24, 2015
One of the weirdest and most disturbing moments of Gamergate — the point where a "former future marine" named Jace Connors apparently crashed his car in an attempt to locate developer Brianna Wu — is looking like a hoax. So instead of a schizophrenic gamer threatening people online, it's actually a sociopathic comedian.Read Article >
Connors, also known as parkourdude91, has been a fixture of internet mockery since 2012, an over-the-top Internet Tough Guy who referenced having schizophrenia. Roughly a month ago, he posted a furious video initiating "Operation Wupocalypse," a nebulous character assassination (and possibly literal assassination) plan that involved sending a friend to Canada to steal data from Tumblr's servers. Most of Connors' plans, including an attempt to locate Tupac in Palestine, were self-evidently ridiculous, and there was widespread speculation he was a troll. But he had a long-running ironic fan base, which generally described him as a delusional but genuine YouTube personality.
Feb 12, 2015
The Gamergate controversy is, to some extent, a fight over whether all art is political. Supporters hate longtime target Anita Sarkeesian, for example, for finding sexist messages in things that are "just for fun." So it’s fitting that a lowbrow, sensationalist show like Law and Order: SVU inspired weeks of ideological debate by announcing an episode about gendered harassment in the gaming world. Nobody ever thought it would be good — SVU exists in a genre that’s famously awful at depicting technology. But in its own cartoonish way, it was going to help set the political narrative.Read Article >
If Nightline’s Gamergate segment was a broad non-fictional attempt at explaining internet harassment to the non-gaming masses, then last night's episode, "Intimidation Game," is an even broader fictional one. The fictional Raina Punjabi is the creator of "nonviolent" game Amazonian Warriors and a chimera of Gamergate targets: a non-traditional female developer who fights misogynist accusations of promiscuity and wears Anita Sarkeesian’s trademark hoop earrings. Internet trolls go from making fake 911 calls and sending death threats to groping a "gamer girl" who works for Punjabi, then successfully carrying out an elaborate kidnapping and torture plot against the developer herself.
Jan 30, 2015Read Article >
The rapper, actor, and Body Count vocalist, who plays Odafin "Fin" Tutuola in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, is set to delve into the world of internet harassment in an episode of the show set to air on February 11th. The episode, titled "Intimidation Game," will see the SVU's detectives get involved in a case after a female employee is assaulted at a gaming convention. Ice-T and friends will help Raina Punjabi, a video game developer facing a barrage of online insults, intimidation, and threats from "the male-dominated gaming community" as she gears up to release her first game. The parallels with Gamergate — a movement that's been tied to bomb threats, attempts to reveal private information, and direct death threats against women in games — are clear.
Gamergate is breaking Wikipedia. Since August, Wikipedia's article about the controversy has been divisive on a scale normally reserved for unjust wars and global warming. Gamergate supporters have been "boycotting" the site for months because of perceived bias, and co-founder Jimmy Wales has had limited luck in communicating with them. But over the past week, it's been getting heat from the other side of the aisle. The Guardian and others reported that five editors opposed to Gamergate had been banned from editing any page on "gender or sexuality, broadly construed." The site's Arbitration Committee decision meant that "not only do the GamerGaters get to rewrite their own page (and Zoe Quinn's, Brianna Wu's, Anita Sarkeesian's, etc.); feminists are to be purged en bloc from the encyclopedia," wrote influential hypertext figure and former Wikipedia editor Mark Bernstein.Read Article >
The committee's proposed final decision was already online, but today, Wikipedia posted a statement and explanation. "Several press stories have mistakenly claimed that Wikipedia has targeted and banned feminist or female editors. This is inaccurate," wrote author Philippe Beaudette.
Back in 2012, feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian posted a massive wall of furious, dismissive, or actively threatening YouTube comments that people had left on her proposal for a video series about female characters in games. At the time, this harassment wasn't exactly unprecedented, but it seemed bizarre and singular — how could a fairly mild video about narrative tropes draw such pure hatred? Three years later, it's become practically routine, and Sarkeesian has posted a week's worth of equally angry and depressingly similar Twitter messages.Read Article >
Obviously, this is a biased statement. A more objective reporter would concede that the entire campaign against Anita Sarkeesian could be an elaborate charade, a brilliant gambit involving hundreds of paid-off vloggers, thousands of fake Twitter accounts, and collaboration at the very top levels of the FBI and various state police forces. She could even be faking the wave of people who descend on our writers every time they mention Anita Sarkeesian! But maybe, hidden behind the exhortations to "kill yourself," the explicit rape threats, and the occasional smug assertion that the whole thing is a false flag campaign, there are actual human beings.
Jan 4, 2015
After starting in mid-August and continuing full-force through October, the Gamergate controversy started slowing down late last year. Under the radar, though, there's still a seething war over the ethics of news companies (primarily, at this point, Gawker and our own Vox Media), the policies of crowdfunding sites like Patreon, the depiction of women in games, and any number of more confusing issues. Unfortunately, an online fight had nasty offline consequences this weekend, when angry internet denizens "swatted" the former residence of an anti-Gamergate figure.Read Article >
Grace Lynn, who goes by the handle @pixelgoth on Twitter, was at one point a supporter of Gamergate's crusade. But after defecting, she became a highly visible target of derision and anger. Then, yesterday, she tweeted that a poster on the 8chan message board was trying to get police sent to her house with a fake hostage threat. Lynn linked to a (very NSFW) thread in which a user offered to swat and post personal information about a person of the board's choosing, and she said that they had found an old address from her domain name registration. She followed up soon after, saying she had contacted Portland police and confirmed the call.
Nov 7, 2014
Blizzard president and CEO Mike Morhaime is the latest major figure to call for an end to the vitriol that has infused the world of gaming since August. At the BlizzCon 2014 opening ceremony, Morhaime condemned harassment that has taken place against the backdrop of Gamergate, a long-running "consumer revolt" against progressive politics and close relationships within the games industry.Read Article >
"Over the past couple of months, there's been a small group of people who have been doing really awful things. They have been making some people's lives miserable, and they are tarnishing our reputation as gamers. It's not right," said Morhaime. "Let's carry the good vibes from this weekend out into the world all year round. There is another person on the other end of the chatscreen. They're our friends, our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters. Let's take a stand to reject hate and harassment. And let's redouble our efforts to be kind and respectful to one another. And let's remind the world what the gaming community is really all about."
Nov 5, 2014
Mozilla is the latest major group to stumble into Gamergate, and it's just realized that this was a terrible idea. As The Daily Dot reported earlier today, The Open Standard — the foundation's recently launched online magazine — has spent the past few days inexplicably mediating the "consumer revolt" against social progressivism and alleged ethics breaches in video games. After publishing a critical article by education writer Audrey Watters, Open Standard found itself in the crosshairs of Gamergate supporters who believed they had been unfairly profiled, including Eron Gjoni, who instigated the movement with an angry essay about game developer Zoe Quinn. As a followup, it posted a rebuttal sympathetic to Gamergate (from a writer who clarifies she is "neutral" on the issue) and published a series of defensive tweets about its decision, saying it was calling for "more voices" and "more action." Even the Firefox Twitter feed got in on the debate, defending Gamergate as an "important issue [that] should be looked at by all sides."Read Article >
Today, Mozilla decided that getting in the middle of an internet firestorm without a good idea of the context had been, perhaps, unwise. The Open Standard published a vague apology on its site, saying that it had "fueled a conversation that will not have a positive outcome" but "does not support shouting down people that we don't agree with," which in this case is apparently Gamergate supporters. Firefox's Twitter feed issued a similar statement, saying that "Gamergate as a topic does not make sense" for The Open Standard or Firefox to discuss.
Oct 30, 2014
As an activist movement with the ability to inspire positive change, Gamergate is dead. Its constituents and its hashtag will remain — and I suspect will be, for sometime, as fierce, aggressive, and vocal — but these remainders represent a hate group and its banner, associated with bigotry and cruelty.Read Article >
Gamergate died ironically from what it most wanted: mainstream exposure.
Oct 30, 2014
Anita Sarkeesian, the creator of feminist video game critique Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, appeared tonight on The Colbert Report to discuss the Gamergate movement. Ostensibly a "consumer revolt" focused on ethics in video game journalism, Gamergate has been criticized for focusing much of its attention on harassing and threatening prominent women in the gaming industry, with Sarkeesian herself the focus of much of the vitriol.Read Article >
Targeted by bomb threats, driven from her home by warnings of coming violence, and forced to cancel a recent speech at a university for fear that a gunman would massacre students, Sarkeesian tonight spoke out about the movement disrupting the lives of a number of women in the games industry. She rejected the claim that Gamergate is focused on ethics in video game journalism, and said that served to terrorize women for simply being involved in gaming.
Oct 28, 2014
Adobe, one of a handful of companies to respond to a sustained boycott campaign by "consumer revolt" Gamergate, has explicitly distanced itself from the movement, acknowledging that its attempt at a straightforward anti-bullying message had "backfired." In a blog post, the company said that it had acted hastily in stepping into an incredibly contentious two-month fight that's spread from the gaming community to the mainstream press, by asking Gawker to remove its logo from the site in response to Gamergate protests. It also rejected Gamergate's more unsavory elements, condemning harassment of women "by individuals associated with" the movement.Read Article >
Oct 21, 2014
There was a ghost at IndieCade, the annual gathering of independent game developers in Los Angeles. You couldn't see Gamergate, a ghoulish presence that has haunted the video game community for the past two months, but you could sense it. Its specter inhabited talks on diversity and community management. It trailed conversations, bled into nervous jokes, and wormed into interactions between developers and the press. It stood behind smiling figures as they discussed solidarity and ways to endure in these complicated times.Read Article >
But despite the recent maelstrom of controversies and vitriolic exchanges, few at IndieCade spoke of Gamergate with hate. Grief, perhaps. A dulled anger with its edges worn down by constant exposure, maybe. But not hate. If anything, it was primarily with a baffled exhaustion.
Oct 20, 2014
It's far from an organized protest movement, but Gamergate — which ostensibly opposes unethical journalism and "social justice warriors" in video games — has managed to launch an undeniably political internet culture war. Its most outspoken celebrity supporters are associated with conservative politics, from Firefly and Full Metal Jacket star Adam Baldwin to Christina Hoff Sommers, a resident scholar at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute. But they're both dwarfed by a somewhat more surprising group: WikiLeaks, which has spent the past week exhorting Gamergate to look at media corruption that goes "all the way to the top."Read Article >
WikiLeaks' involvement in Gamergate dates back to mid-September, when founder Julian Assange participated in a Q&A session on Reddit to promote his latest book. Amidst questions about surveillance, terrorism, and Google's corporate power, one site user asked for his opinion on the removal of Gamergate-related comments on Reddit. "It's pathetic," Assange responded. "But censorship by companies controlling privatized political space is now almost a norm." Then, a connection was forged. The user, it turned out, had been "shadowbanned" by administrators, hiding their posts from other users. Reddit's admins soon said this had nothing to do with the question. In fact, moderators had approved it in spite of the ban (though the user said he had been banned for upvoting something Gamergate-related, which Reddit could not confirm with us.) But the meme didn't die: an anti-corruption movement had been silenced for speaking to a controversial figure with a known disdain for the press.
Oct 16, 2014
In August, Eron Gjoni published a 9,000 word screed on his personal Wordpress, detailing the private relationship he shared with game designer Zoe Quinn. The post catalyzed a movement that would become known as Gamergate, an ongoing internet protest that claims to be about journalistic ethics, but is fixated on suppressing progressive voices, particularly those of minorities and women. The group strategizes on the internet, but members have made threats in the real world, including doxxing Quinn and other designers and requesting advertisers pull campaigns from publications that publish coverage the group does not agree with. This week, critic Anita Sarkessian was forced to cancel a lecture at a Utah University after receiving threats of a "massacre" of her and other feminists.Read Article >
Buzzfeed News spoke with Gjoni about the movement he inspired. The profile is enigmatic. The 24-year-old man seems to be both disgusted by and proud of the Gamergate movement. Ironically, Gjoni claims "I don't like, have a passion for games or anything."
Oct 16, 2014
The New York Times today published a front-page article on the increasingly hostile threats that female video game critics are facing, underscoring the growing backlash against the so-called Gamergate movement. The report, published Thursday, comes one day after the leading video game trade group spoke out against the controversy, whose supporters claim they are rallying against perceived corruption in gaming journalism but who have become inextricably linked with misogyny and harassment.Read Article >
Oct 15, 2014Read Article >
Incidentally, Utah's gun laws may have helped spark today's vocal backlash against Gamergate. Sarkeesian has faced threats before and endured them, but she canceled her USU appearance because Utah's laws permit people to carry concealed firearms on school grounds and police were therefore unwilling to perform firearm searches or restrict them at her venue.
Oct 11, 2014
Game developer Brianna Wu and her husband called the police and left their home last night after receiving a credible death threat on Twitter. The threats appear to be the latest in the "Gamergate movement," which has led to several attacks on those criticizing the treatment of women in video games.Read Article >
Wu isn't the first person in the gaming community to be attacked seemingly for being a woman and expressing her opinion publicly. Gamergate supporters previously drove feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian from her home after a series of similar threats. Another game developer, Zoe Quinn, has faced a barrage of harassment from people who identify with the same group. These supporters, supposedly rallying under the banner of ethics in video game journalism, also led a coordinated campaign against industry site Gamasutra for a "controversial" article published by editor-at-large Leigh Alexander.
Oct 8, 2014
If you’re a person who cares about video games and also happens to care about other people, you should denounce "Gamergate." You might have heard that it’s a movement about ethics in video game journalism, but in practice it’s a months-long campaign of harassment against women and progressive voices that’s just the latest in a long history of online abuse amplified by reactionary right-wing media trolls.Read Article >
Gamergate is distinguished, like so many other things ending in -gate (or more recently, -ghazi), by its aggressive and desperate tone. Its supporters have largely attempted to scare anyone, but especially women, who have asked the same critical questions about the video game industry that are routinely posed in other communities. Critics of video games and Gamergate itself have been branded as liars, sluts, and co-conspirators.
Oct 7, 2014Read Article >
Last month, we attended XOXO Festival in Portland, where cultural critic Anita Sarkeesian addressed the harassment she has faced in the wake of her series of videos about women's depiction in video games. Today, XOXO posted the video of her talk in its entirety. Sarkeesian ends her talk with a message about the best way to support women online: "One of the most radical things you can do is to actually believe women when they talk about their experiences."