What Do #GamerGate Proponents Want?

GamerGateAfter talking to a number of #GamerGate supporters, it appears to me that there are three general issues that motivate them beyond their claims that “it’s about ethics in game journalism.”

Their primary concern is maintaining a very specific cultural identity. A “true gamer”, as they see it, plays only hardcore games and plays in a very aggressive manner. Because they dismiss those who play casual games (including social games, which tend to attract more female players, as well as mobile games) and use very aggressive language (including profanity, racial/sexual slurs and even threats) when talking online, their behavior is frequently described as being harassment in general and misogynistic in particular. However, GamerGaters do not see themselves as being harassers and misogynists, and therefore see such charges as attempts to deflect attention from their actual concerns.

Related to their primary concern is a secondary concern of opposing being told how to behave or what types of games to play, as they see it as threats to their cultural identity. Therefore, they are hostile to game reviewers who endorse games that have gameplay or themes different from the “real games” that “true gamers” like to play. (This particular concern has attracted many politically conservative players, who generally oppose “biased” journalists and reviewers promoting progressive positions, to the GamerGate movement). Furthermore, GamerGate proponents go positively ballistic when game journalists criticize their behavior as being harassing or hateful, or suggest that the “Gamer” identity is disappearing as the people who now play games regularly are becoming more numerous and diverse. They see journalists who describe their behavior as mysognist or criticize games that are not welcoming to female players as promoting a “feminist agenda.” GamerGate proponents want game journalists to cease any editorializing that they believe dismisses or insults “Gamers” as an entire group, as well as stop making recommendations for making games more inclusive.

A tertiary concern related to the other two concerns is what GamerGate supporters describe as “journalistic ethics.” This includes journalists privately discussing with each other how to deal with the GamerGate movement (GG supporters see this as “collusion”), as well as journalists and reviewers who promote games made by a developer with whom they have a personal or financial relationship (particularly if those games are different from the “real games” that “true gamers” prefer to play).

Although GamerGate supporters say that “journalistic ethics” is what their movement is about, my belief is that their primary concern is preserving their cultural identity. While most of the opposition to GamerGate believes that their prime motivation is to drive women out of games, I think that it is more of a consequence of their tactics rather than an actual goal driving most of them.



About David Mullich

I am a video game producer who has worked at Activision, Disney, Cyberdreams, EduWare, The 3DO Company and the Spin Master toy company. I am currently a game design and production consultant, a game design instructor at ArtCenter College of Design, and co-creator of the Boy Scouts of America Game Design Merit Badge. At the 2014 Gamification World Congress in Barcelona, I was rated the 14th ranking "Gamification Guru" in social media.

Posted on October 6, 2014, in Games and Society and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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