Philip Lewis, a member of the 1960s counterculture, whose online name Len Firewood comes from a cartoon character, tells us about GamerGate. Philip/Len is a retired IT consultant, since 1996 has been a below the radar libertarian online activist for various just causes.
Q. “What is GamerGate?”
“There had been a lot of dissatisfaction about the gaming media within the gaming industry. They called it the ‘Three ‘C’s’: Confusion, Corruption and Cronyism….In August 2014, an Indie game developer, Zoe Quinn, became the subject of a blog post by her ex-boyfriend, and she attracted a lot of attention to herself, with a game, that I wouldn't even describe as being third rate. It was a text adventure thing with a title: ‘Depression Quest’ believe it or not. She had been alleging harassment, which was later disproven, but from this she gained a lot of press attention. Then the blog post came out, which caused a lot more attention… it turned out the Zoe had been exploiting her sexual partners to get her game promoted… That revealed a lot of corruption within the gaming press, and was a forerunner for GamerGate which started in 4chan, which is a Reddit forum. Within this format they amplified and explored stories within the gaming media, and the other tactic which was very effective, was to email advertisers which were advertising within corrupt publications and say: ‘Why are you buying advertising in publications run by people who have disdain for your products?’ Instead of the gaming media being wise and having a grain of humility, and saying, fair enough, we need to clean our act up, they doubled down and went on the attack against gaming, and the gaming culture generally. They represented it as being almost entirely male, and misogynistic, one said that gamers were: ‘basement dwelling trolls….It all got very serious when Intel actually pulled out of, losing Kontaku (of the major game producers) millions of dollars in revenue. …We know that the mainstream media itself isn’t above corruption, and isn't exactly above shaping narratives according to its own and other people’s interests rather than the consumers’ or the man or women in the street.”
“The gaming media did get help from the wider mainstream media, because as this got more publicity, it spilled out into the mass media quite a lot, particularly in America….From my perspective it was a real threat, because what they saw is a group of consumers actually defying the goliath of mainstream, and saying; ‘no we do not accept your narrative,’ and we have discovered that we have a right to reply. The internet has provided a right of reply and we are going to damn well use it.”
The significance of GamerGate
“This is significant because it is not just limited to gaming, it demonstrates something which I found extremely exciting and interesting, and that was: because it was a leaderless campaign, it was a hashtag, strategies were developed within the Reddit forum, but then they were offered to the general public. Whether or not people adopted it was up to them. Its incredible popularity was based on a consensus of going along with what was developed… I found it fascinating that there was an emergent side to it, of incredible altruism which came from nowhere….It brought all sorts of different groups together. For example, there were hard core men's’ rights activists supporting GamerGate, and hard core radical feminists… that so many different groups could come together to fight for one cause was a very exciting phenomenon.”
Is this about the power of the press?
“Yes, the gaming press were trying to ‘other’ the gamers, and the main stream media joined in by not critically examining the allegations made against gamers….But the gaming industry was changed by GamerGate, for the better…”
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