TalkBack Challenge #1: How GamerGate Affected Me #NBI2015

I should preface this post by saying that the inspiration for this first Talkback Challenge came from Kelly’s post over on Link Saves Zelda. Not only is Kelly a fantastic writer, but she covers the most important points of GamerGate and how it affected the gaming community. I encourage you to read her post, as some of what I’m going to say is going to be a rehash of the story of the movement, and she goes into more depth that I am going to.

So, GamerGate.

It started in August of 2014 when Zoe Quinn (a female developer) was accused of dating and giving sexual favors to a Kotaku journalist in exchange for a high review score of her newly released game, Depression Quest. That’s where the moniker of “it’s about ethics in games journalism” came from. Whether or not that was the real reason for the movement, whether there’s actually people out there who believe that, the hashtag was hijacked by anyone with a hateful agenda, and has persisted for 8 or so months. Soon, some prominent female content developers were being threatened with death, rape, had their personal information leaked (doxxed) and the whole concept of “swatting” took off right around the same time. It was becoming a bleak landscape for gamers. People were afraid to speak their minds. Many no longer wanted to be associated with the word gamer.

Anita Sarkeesian was also attacked, being a feminist who calls for equality in games. Others took similar harassment, particularly if they were female, a minority, or a supporter or equality/feminism (social justice warriors and white knights). It was only a few short months before GamerGate really took off that I was also one of those people who weren’t all that interested in equality, didn’t care about social issues, and wanted politics and the like left out of my gaming spaces. GamerGate changed that.

Being apathetic about politics, social issues, equality, feminism, etc, doesn’t help anyone, myself included. I have come to understand that as a white male, I’m the default. I come from a privileged background, because the world revolves around me and my viewpoints. Equality threatens that default status, and the perception of things being taken away from me is a scary thought. However, equality and all of the solutions that would make the world a better place don’t necessarily take away from me, they only give others what I was born with. Coming to this conclusion took some thought and effort on my part, and watching GamerGate unfold made me realize that I didn’t want to be part of that problem, I’d rather be a part of the solution. This doesn’t mean attacking GamerGaters, this means taking attention away from them and letting them fizzle out and die.

I don’t think there is anything that could really take the gamer out of me. It’s been three decades. Gaming is for life. But associating with the hateful discourse that happened over the past few months is horrible, and being apathetic about it tends to be worse than being a part of the problem. These reasons are part of why I started the Couch Podtatoes podcast, to bring a more positive voice to gaming and highlight some of the underlying social issues surrounding the culture.

I used to be someone who used the word “fag” and used “gay” in a pejorative sense. Other racial slurs. Degraded women. Made commentary that could hurt people’s feelings without a care. These days I want the LGBT community to have equal rights. I want women to be just as valued and paid well for their time. I want everyone to just get along, and I want to play video games with members of any and all communities. I’ve curbed my language, I’ve changed my attitude, and being a part of the community that has sprung up around the NBI has done more to broaden my horizons than any group I’ve been a part of prior to it.

So how did GamerGate affect me? It encouraged me to be a better person, and to seek out like-minded individuals. Thanks to you all, I have grown so much in the past year. I know it’s only a matter of time before GamerGate disappears and is just something we reference as a “dark time in gaming culture,” but that doesn’t mean I’ll forget the lessons it taught me.

In the words of the late George Carlin, in his role on Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure:


#NBI2015 #talkbackchallenge #newbiebloggeriniative

9 thoughts on “TalkBack Challenge #1: How GamerGate Affected Me #NBI2015

  1. GG has been a tough one to want to post about; but I found I came to basically the same conclusions as you. There was a time not-as-long-as-I-would-like ago where I probably would have been in the GG camp shouting about free-speech as a cover for other issues. My turning point was similar to yours though, realizing that elevating others doesn’t mean bringing myself down.

    Over the past couple of years I have tried to erase slurs from my vocabulary (such as your examples but also ones pertaining to things like weight or intelligence) and personally I feel better for it. I find it weird that people cling so hard to the ability to use them; is it SO important that you can freely use a few words that you don’t mind excluding large numbers of people?! Course they would say to “get thicker skin” despite never having had terms applied to them…but I digress.

    Awesome post 😀 It’s great to see people wanting to construct safer, more inclusive communities.


    • I would have probably also been in the GG camp had the events happened when I was a teen or early adult. Thankfully I’m many years removed from that, so I make better decisions now. I’ve used the thick skin argument plenty of times, because I tend to have it, but at the same time I realize any of these excuses don’t help anyone.

      Being excellent to each other felt like the best way to put it, and if you look at the lore of B&T, the future Carlin was living it was a utopia, based off of those 5 little words. What a concept.


  2. *teary eyed* Our little Izzy is all grown up now!!!

    But really, who says Gamergate hasn’t lead to wonderful outcomes like this? 😀

    I wish others who believe in equality but remain blind and naive to what GG stands for would be as thoughtful. Kelly named the different “groups” that seem to make up what’s supposed to be GG, but some of them are trying to separate that movement from the hate, harassment and other wrong-doing. Gamergate was born in that fire. But there remain people who knowingly continue to support it hiding under the guise of “ethics in game journalism”. It’s like a KKK member saying they joined the club only to celebrate white culture. What they say can never make sense.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this. I hope we continue to see members of the community truly come together and get behind equality in meaningful ways. We’ve got a really great thing going in the gaming community but it can all disappear because of the silence of “good” people doing nothing in the face of hatred.


    • This is why I posed this Talkback Challenge, as I hoped others might come forward to express how GG might have changed their outlook in positive ways. So far it appears I’m the first to post about it, but there’s still time.

      That KKK example is prime. Neo-Nazis and other supremist groups would have worked just as well. Hiding behind a supposed “good” when clearly your group is a bunch of assholes isn’t going to do anything to enhance your name or reputation.

      I think GG and hate groups are always going to be a problem, but I think enough of us have had enough as it were, and will not stand for it.


  3. Great post here! It’s good to know that out of something bad, good changes can come.

    I’m with you on several points. I’m not apathetic about GG – I don’t dwell on it, but I do keep an ear out when I hear about situations happening. I’m also not someone who enjoys news and politics and the like. But, I am a female gamer and blogger, so GG does directly reflect on me.

    That being said, I’ve never been directly discriminated against or felt threatened because I’m a woman gamer. But I also don’t use my blogging platform to draw attention to my gender or my social/political thoughts. I have them. They’re my own. I’ll discuss them if folks want to talk about them, but I don’t feel it’s appropriate content for the kind of blog I want to write.

    Like you noted about yourself, my way of approaching this is to not empower it by not throwing more fuel into the fire. I’m not ignoring it or being ignorant of it. I simply choose to write about positive things, rather than to dwell on negative. There’s plenty of places out there where people sling hate and abuse. I’d rather build up something supportive and create an environment that follows my beliefs of equality… rather than add more drama by ranting about what I believe.


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