“Facts count. Conspiracy theories, usually the refuge of the bitter or dis-empowered, range from factually challenged to wildly hallucinogenic. Conspiracy theories are not harmless entertainment, or a laudable facet of the freedom of speech. Conspiracy theories do both overt and tacit harm. Dangerous when they deal with public health issues, at a minimum, almost all are insults to the integrity of thousands of hard-working and honest people. In the extreme, conspiracy theories slander entire races, nations, or cultures.“
Quote from K. Lee Lerner’s Social Issues Primary Sources Collection
In years of internet mud-slinging (because using the word “debate“ would be insulting to everyone’s intelligence) that I have taken part in, I now believe that out of all the cults that think cognitive dissonance is a positive trait, the opponents of the hashtag GamerGate (Anti GamerGate) are now at the top of the league.
Having had the displeasure of being had at by 9/11 Truthers, Creationists, Flat Earthers, Geocentrists, Homeopathy pushers, Anti Vaxers and others, I have been well versed in how much level of ignorance people are prepared to instill in themselves in order to protect their world view from being challenged. Like the others Anti GamerGate and by extension radical Third Wave Feminists and Social (Media) Justice Warrior types will not be swayed by evidence or proof that their assertions are without merit.
As Chuck Klosterman wrote in “I wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains“,
“And this, of course, is the central problem with conspiracy theorists√¢‚Ç¨≈†√¢‚Ç¨‚√¢‚Ç¨≈†once you inflexibly accept that something is a conspiracy, any contrary evidence has the paradoxical effect of making your case stronger. Every contradiction deepens the conspiracy.“
What sets Anti GamerGate apart from the rest however is that other proponents of conspiracy theories will at least make the effort to provide what they consider evidence to prove their hypothesis. Of course what they offer is usually terrible and does not stand up to any form of scrutiny, but at least they try and make the effort. Anti GamerGaters however have the unique standing of demanding to be taken seriously and with respect by not offering any evidence at all to prove their assertions. Their mantra of “Listen and Believe“ is more than a catchy saying on a presentation screen.
Some will try and offer what they call evidence by linking a “peer reviewed study“ (Usually not reviewed outside of the circles of the discredited subjects) or an online article from The Guardian (Which is usually just commentary with near infinite click loops to other commentary, not actual objective news) but is presented in a way that is no different than using the argument “The Bible exists, therefore it’s true!“.
That is a rare occurrence for Anti GamerGate though. Normally it is blasphemous to question Anti GamerGate to give evidence for their claims. In fact just even allowing anyone sympathetic to GamerGate’s concerns about journalism in the industry to discuss it at conventions has the opposition cry “Heresy!“
It won’t come as a surprise to me that some of Anti Gamergate will immediately see this and shout “LOL! Irony!“ and claim that #GamerGate itself is just a paranoid conspiracy theorist group. Granted you can find a handful that take the Frankfurt School Boogeyman far too seriously, but let’s take a moment to point out some basic truths.
Fact: Nathan Grayson did give positive coverage to Zoe Quinn’s Depression Quest game without disclosing that he funded the game to the point that he is named in the credits. Anti GamerGate like to use the word “review“ as a way to try and discredit GamerGate since there isn’t one but it is the Anti side that uses the word deceptively, while a handful on the GamerGate side occasionally uses the word mistakenly. Nathen and Zoe’s later affair is only relevant in that the revelation from Eron Gjoni’s Zoe Post was the led to ethical problems being found.
Fact: Collusion between journalists of different publications did take place via the GameJournoPros e-mail list and discussed matters such as blacklisting former Destructoid writer Allister Pinsof in 2013 and how to limit the discussions consumers were trying to have about the industry’s press following the Grayson revelations in August 2014.
Fact: GamerGate wasn’t a sudden flash reaction because of one woman. Concerns with gaming press practices were raised over the years, from the Mass Effect 3 ending debacle, the Jeff Gerstmann/Kane and Lynch incident, and as I covered in a retrospective, it was a point of discussion in Amiga Power 20 years ago. GamerGate was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back following the press’s unwillingness to discuss the concerns of consumers by scrubbing threads and banning users, forcing those concerned about the lack of standards in the gaming media to use a Twitter hashtag as their only forum for a while.
Fact: No arrests let alone charges have been made against anyone using the GamerGate hashtag or being a vocal supporter. For all the scare stories that GameGate is nothing but harassment and a hate group likened to ISIS, there has been no indication of any arrest made due to harassing messages made to anyone that bares the words GamerGate in the message. The only time the FBI has actively done anything publicly known is telling local Washington D.C. police to treat the bomb threat against GamerGate supporters at their meetup in May 2015 was credible and should be treated seriously.
Fact: While it cannot be questioned that prominent names that are opposed to GamerGate have received disgraceful and outright threatening messages, what has never been proven is that GamerGate is responsible for the majority of it let alone any of it. My first Special Comment here on NovoGamer was a challenge to Anti GamerGate to finally show the numbers needed to prove their assertions true. Considering all that has been written over a year of GamerGate existing, it should have been easy for them and I would right now be unemployed. I have not received data close to 200 accounts which would meet Chris von Csefalvay 0.2%. I have not even had data passed to me come to a double digit figure!
However whether it is hubris that prevents them from admitting they got the whole story of GamerGate wrong or they are ideologically driven to smear the movement because their faith demands it, GamerGate’s opposition will come up with some pathetic reasoning to highlight the “dangerous threat“ that is the hate group that never was.
Take Arthur Chu’s article on the Daily Beast claiming that GamerGate was responsible for the Veerender Jubbal photo-shopped image that made the rounds on social media following the 13th November Paris attacks. Cathy Young’s excellent piece counters the false narrative by highlighting the evidence internet diggers found after the weekend showing that the image was originally created in August and that both the creator of the image and the one spamming it were third party trolls.
Days after this was common knowledge however, Rich Stanton of Vice brazenly came out with a piece that doubled down on the notion that the shopped image was perpetrated by Gamergate as a whole because of one person that was clearly a GamerGate supporter based on the conspiracy theorist favorite trick of quote mining, while conveniently ignoring the evidence that other quotes would make the one spamming the image appear to be an Anti GamerGate supporter which would only confirm that it was likely third party trolls responsible for the whole situation.
Arthur Chu would then follow up with an article claiming that the recently successful Netfix show Jessica Jones was written specifically with GamerGate in mind and to highlight the terrible threat they are. The suggestion is made absurd given that as we have established no one has offered any credible evidence that GamerGate is as evil as they say, but in this specific case it is also rendered laughable given that the Marvel character that the show is based off was originally created back in 2001, 14 years before GamerGate began. This level of cretinous thinking gave rise to the GamerGate in jokes of supporters owning TARDISes.
There is irony here that can’t be overlooked. For all the articles from The Daily Beast, mostly from Arthur Chu, that claim that GamerGate has been responsible for doxxing innocent people without any shred of evidence, the site was recently condemned for putting out the personal information of someone that was falsely attributed to the recent San Bernardino shootings. As for Rich Stanton, unlike GamerGate, he has been found to use social media to issue threats of physical violence. Although I am sure he will probably take the cowardly defense of saying he was only joking around.
Huffington Post Canada recently posted a clear click-bait op ed “Women will save the gaming industry. Hear that GamerGate?“ Again no substance offered to back up the assertions that GamerGate is a women hating group other than simply “Because we say it is!“ A choice quote from Natalie Zina Walschots in the piece,
"The average Gater is a pretty sad and lonely human being who sees themselves as marginalized. They perceive something they love being maligned.“
This is an ideal example of the humorous projection that is exhibited by the Anti GamerGate crowd. This is where the claim that they have put on a big screen about whoever they are opposing is actually coming from their own flawed character. When you look into those on the Anti Gamergate side, with a few exceptions, they are mostly white, upper middle class if not so wealthy they enter the upper class level, living in selective areas of San Francisco, Seattle, Uptown New York, or Metropolitan London. The gap between their level of privilege and the oppression they claim to be stifled under is so wide you could build a bridge over the Grand Canyon with their intellectual dishonesty and still have enough road left to reach past the Arizona border.
Those complaining about the gaming industry’s and culture's “diversity problem“ should take a moment to finally do some self-reflection. Take a look at who you will find at a “Progressive“ gaming conference and compare to the crowd at a fighting game tournament held anywhere in world. Much like Winston Churchill warned of those that claimed to be Anti-Fascist turning out to be actually Fascist, those that claim to be Anti Exclusionary appear to be quite Exclusionary.
If you want a further example, take a look at a recent exchange on Twitter where Rhianna Pratchett who co-wrote the successful reboot of Tomb Raider and is a veteran of the games industry for over 10 years now, who has previously stated that those complaining about diversity are making mountains out of mole hills. So naturally a moronic Anti GamerGate male Social Media Justice Warrior who has no ties to the industry knows more than what Rhianna Pratchett does. The fact that he refers to her as an “Uncle Tom“ does not leave much room to wide interpretation.
Because actually it’s all about being supportive and inclusive of women in the industry!
The final bit of cognitive wackery displayed by an opponent of GamerGate I will highlight is another recent article by Alyssa Rosenberg at the Washington Post titled “Donald Trump is the Gamergate of Republican politics“
We are already at Stretch Armstrong levels of stretching here linking Donald Trump with a discussion about the ethical failings of gaming journalists. Keep in mind that the default auto speak of Anti #GamerGate is to say that GamerGaters are right wing. Not entirely surprising given that Anti #GamerGate for the most part are so far off to the (authoritarian or regressive) left that anyone else not with them comes across as right wing. Survey after survey that has been done however shows that the overwhelming majority of GamerGate are left libertarian.
It should not be dismissed that there are right wing libertarians within the movement and a number of them are pulling for Trump in the Republican race. Given his recent comments about wanting to suppress Internet Speech however, that small support that is there will be in danger of disappearing given GamerGate strongly promoting free speech and unrestricted internet. Most in GamerGate of course will be pulling for the Democrats with Bernie Sanders seeing significant support and some bemoaning the fact that Elizabeth Warren is not running in place of Hillary Clinton.
This thought is a very American-centric discussion and one of the aspects of GamerGate that its opponents continue to be ignorant about is the international support the movement has given that gaming is the biggest international entertainment industry at this time. So quite frankly suggesting that all of GamerGate is pulling for Trump is ludicrous not just because both entities do not align up on the political spectrum but also that a lot of Gamergate have no horse in the race, therefore don’t care much in the race because the race is in an entirely different nation.
While I can’t claim to speak for every British or European citizen I would take an educated guess that Trump will be getting little support first due to us Brits still not forgiving Trump for almost destroying a part of Scottish countryside to make a Golf Course, and secondly that whoever wins the US Presidency is meaningless. The message from us to them will be the same. Stop snooping in allied countries business!
Back to Alyssa Rosenberg’s article though. Again the names of noted Anti GamerGate personalities are name dropped as victims without any evidence provided that the majority of GamerGate was responsible. The kicker though comes with the “evidence“ presented of why GamerGate and Donald Trump are linked. She shows a Tweet of Trump giving a message of support to an account identified as a GamerGater supporter. That’s all. One Tweet, one account. Just one.
I’ll remind you of the numbers involved in GamerGate. Chris von Csefalvay’s analysis came up with 100,000 to 150,000 accounts supporting GamerGate and by the time the hashtag got to it’s first birthday it got to around 7.5 million Tweets posted. Alyssa gave one tweet to one account as evidence. Purveyors of religion at least make the effort to cite more than one passage from their alleged holy texts when trying to make an argument.
In closing I will say that it is entirely possible that those who have wrote denouncing GamerGate may not actually believe what they write but they do so only because of the belief it garners attention and clicks. However as I have suggested before, given that GamerGate supporters are big users of Ad Blockers and Internet Archives, the reality is that click bait articles will receive diminishing returns.
For those of the faithful that truly believe the existence of the GamerGate Devil spawn however, their pathetic arm flailing from ether being found with their hand in the cookie jar or simply crying at their increasing irrelevancy as alternative news sites and streaming media outlets increase in popularity simply highlights their hilarious ridiculous public spewings which of course leaves them open to nothing but abject mockery, which I’m sure they will continue and try to call it “targeted harassment“.
This is purely anecdotal, but having shown what GamerGate is about to various contacts from my near 20 years in the education sector who have been curious about the story, their reaction has been that they do not care too much about GamerGate’s grievances since it pertains to video games. However they have ether found the antics of Anti GamerGate to be a source of side splitting amusement and some suggesting that they would use some of their preposterous moments in Critical Thinking classes to show students what not to do as they progress further into their education, to some being concerned that for all Anti Gamergate’s incredulous ranting they are being taken seriously by some sections of the gaming industry and beyond.
It may still take a few years but like all tin foil hat wearers such as the 9/11 Truthers and the Anti Vaxers and all other groups who are based on weak foundations, Anti GamerGate types will fade into obscurity due to being unable to stand against the scrutiny of the Internet because for all the dark mess that is out there, it still does not diminish the bright ideal that the Internet is where religion and bad ideas go to die.
If you will indulge me for one more quote since we are in the midst of a new McCarthy era on steroids, from Edward R. Murrow,
“The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue.“
Good Night and Good Luck.