“Gamer-Gate” or “The Hate Uruboros”
Ethics movement fails to surpass petty roots
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For those who don’t know or don’t particularly care about games, the gaming side of the internet has been in a continual state of warfare over the relationship drama of a couple in their twenties, or, at least that’s where it started. Now, the phenomenon known as “Gamergate” has even been getting national news, with articles on Huffington Post, The New York Times, and even press on The Colbert Report. The tag #Gamergate trends in the millions on twitter, “Avengers” director Joss Whedon is involved and for some reason so is Adam Baldwin. When searching online, there is more documentation by amateur sleuths on what happened than most historical events, yet nobody seems to agree on what happened.
At the very beginning, there was a couple: Eron Gjoni and Zoe Quinn. They fell in love, Quinn cheated on him, then they both had a terrible time trying to put things back together. At the time, Quinn was making a game called “Depression Quest,” which was hyped as a gaming exploration of depression as an illness and how it affects a person. It is a choose-your-own-adventure, based around the life of someone living with depression. She got press, and it helped fund the development of the game, which is now complete and playable here for free (http://www.depressionquest.com/)
The couple’s attempts at getting back together were painful and ultimately hopeless, and they broke up, with Gjoni documenting much of it on his blog. It was bad timing for Quinn, who had been dealing with some bad press from a worse exchange with a start-up called The Fine Young Capitalists. They claimed (http://apgnation.com/archives/2014/09/09/6977/truth-gaming-interview-fine-young-capitalists) that a lot of ugly behavior had come from Quinn, and Quinn was doing her best to make their lives harder as well. Quinn claims that she is innocent on her twitter, which is increasingly about the hate campaigns against her. As a result, both sides receive an outpour of support, anger, and threats in unequal measure. This would be a recurring theme.
Quinn is aggressive at this time documenting cases of harassment and abuse from people that pick up the story, and does her best to shut them down. Some see her as an embattled martyr for feminists on the internet, and the story again gets bigger.
Gjoni posted chat logs with Quinn, allegedly as a way to prevent the abusive behavior he believed she was exhibiting in her dealings with The Fine Young Capitalists and other organizations, and to stop her from portraying herself as a victim. Whatever the truth was, the logs were out, and they trended. Gjoni, Quinn, and several people involved in the affairs receive threats, anger, rage, and support in increasing measures. One of the people she had an affair with worked for Kotaku.com, and some saw this as a conflict of interest and the reporter became a target for the destructive hate (http://kotaku.com/in-recent-days-ive-been-asked-several-times-about-a-pos-1624707346)
Some people on various corners of the internet began to comment (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5CXOafuTXM), and Quinn, characteristically, did her best to silence all mentions of the incidents and deny wrongdoing. The worst thing you can do on the internet is try to hide something, so it got bigger and bigger. Quinn runs a twitter dedicated to the whole thing, called “TheQuinnspiracy” in which she monitors discussions by her critics. The discussions are increasingly militaristic.
This has all happened in the span of time since August, where mentions of Quinn and the “Quinnspiracy” first show up on the web. Since then, both sides continued to shout and claim over and over again about who did what and whom did whom, and web sleuths everywhere created elaborate databases of evidence and coming to different conclusions, some painting Quinn as the ringleader of a vast empire of influence stemming from her loins, to others declaring her a perfect victim. Whatever the truth is, both sides continue to receive increasing amounts of hate and anger.
Around this time, Joss Whedon tweets a message of support to Anita Sarkeesian, a journalist that runs the video series Feminist Frequency, and had previously been harassed online. Actor Adam Baldwin, apparently prompted by the press received by Whedon’s tweet, makes a tweet himself linking to videos made by some to document the whole story and the insanity. The tag #Gamergate is born.
The story goes on and on since it’s start in August. Gjoni’s tell-all can still be found at zoepost.wordpress.com, at which he now asks people to start harassing Quinn far too late. Quinn herself now has more exposure and success than before, even though the price was probably far too high. Despite the claims that the whole movement was about ethics in video game journalism, that will not be the legacy of #Gamergate. People defending Quinn and other people affecting just threaten, mock, and harass just as harshly in some cases, and everybody involved have been left worse for wear. The internet is a very strange place, where the relationship troubles of a unheard-of game developer can result in such titanic hate that it makes national press (http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/224400/Gamers_dont_have_to_be_your_audience_Gamers_are_over.php) (http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2014/s4127293.htm) , a perpetual hate-machine that consumed the national dialogue about video games to this day.