Few, if any, moments in the video game world have been met with the astounding outcry that GamerGate has. The hashtag, created by actor Adam Baldwin, has been met with love, support and adoration, as well as vehement contempt and derisive commentary.
What started as a simple outcry to the questionable relationship between games journalists and developers has evolved at a rapid pace, the speed of which can only be described as internet wildfire. An appeal for transparency has grown, landing GamerGate at the center of a cultural war that will likely shape the face of the video game world for years to come.
Much has been written about the events that have created and shaped the GamerGate movement, and much has been written condemning supporters as well. It has become apparent that this is a war of attrition, as both sides have been quick to show that they refuse to give up.
It is hard to write about and completely encapsulate the GamerGate situation, as it is a beast formed through social media and online forums, which has led to both sides of the argument to not only growing with each passing day, but also distancing themselves from one another. As the battle lines are drawn and online discussions heats up, more and more attention is being drawn to GamerGate.
From its origins regarding the relationship between industry writers and developers, to the supposed death of the ‘gamer’ and even to the role of woman, minority groups and everyone in between, GamerGate discussion has touched on virtually every topic imaginable. This, however, is what makes it so hard to define and discuss the movement to the outside viewer. At its core, GamerGate wants transparency, but the leaderless movement (and opposition by the same token) has become multifaceted and splintered, creating an environment in which whoever shouts the loudest is the one that gets the most attention.
For those who simply want the video game industry to change for the better, this is a big issue.
Ugly events have recently shook the video game industry, coming to a head with the horrific threats levied towards female game developer Brianna Wu. On Friday evening, Wu announced on Twitter that her personal information had been spread through the anonymous image board, 8Chan’s, GamerGate hub. Shortly thereafter, death threats came rolling in, causing Wu to contact the local police and flee her home. In the madness that ensued, 8Chan’s GamerGate supporters were pointed out as culprits, fanning the fires of hate, despite the group’s quick actions to report and attempt to quell the account responsible for the threats.
In the simplest of terms, making such terrible threats to another human is simply unacceptable. No one deserves to fear for their life simply for being a woman, or a game developer, or for expressing an opinion that others do not agree with. At the same time, however, no one deserves to have an unfair and unsubstantiated finger pointed at them. In what can best be described as guilt by association, the GamerGate movement has been lambasted for the cruel actions of an individual who has shown no connection to the group outside of information being initially posted on an anonymous website.
The shame of the matter is that civility has been thrown by the wayside. Many members of 8Chan’s GamerGate board have been remarkably vocal, supporting efforts to catch and prosecute the person who made the threats to Wu, but have found themselves still targeted as a quick scapegoat to the situation as a whole. Much like the culture wars before it, GamerGate has grown from an attempt to make the industry a better place into one in which personal attacks have become par for the course.
Where to go from here seems to be the next question in the GamerGate world.
No matter what side of the argument you stand on with GamerGate, the most important thing to remember is that both parties are dedicated to their cause. All of the issues and drama that have rose to attention in recent weeks have all stemmed from a simple cry for journalistic integrity. It doesn’t take a genius to see that there is nothing inherently wrong with this, debate and discourse are signs of an educated world. By taking a step back from the brutality of social media arguments, perhaps civility can take hold and the discussion can be seen on a level playing ground once more.
It is only after both sides can agree to treat each other with respect that any real change – on one side or the other – can truly begin to take form.
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