I’ve been watching the “Gamergate” brouhaha with sick fascination. We all know the Internet’s got ugly corners and suddenly the ugliness came out of the corner. I honor the courage of the women who’ve been standing up to the creeps. But I was kinda puzzled by who the creeps actually are and why they’re so upset; I know lots of heavy gamers and they’re by and large pleasant well-adjusted people. So I went looking for them.

[Disclosure: I’m not 100% unbiased: I once spent a couple years in online games. Also, I like Android car-racing games. Also, I’m an L11 Ingress agent; L12 soon!]

Where is it? · Hate on Twitter I looked at #gamergate on Twitter but it’s just a continuous ping-pong howl of rage. It certainly reinforced my lousy opinion of the GG folk; I screenshot one to dodge track-covering. But it didn’t help me understand anything.

I also tried 8chan but I just couldn’t find any signal among the noise. 8chan, I’m pretty sure it’s not me, it’s you.

Then I spent a while reading /r/KotakuInAction, which you might not want to visit if you’re not feeling thick-skinned and well-centered. But I will say there is a considerable amount of cohesive narrative happening there in among all the ragebombs. [Disclosure: I’m not hip enough to discern the intended relationship to the Kotaku blog, a Gawker thing, reasonably sane on the face of it.]

Bullying · My first impressions of the KotakuInAction page were dominated by the word “bullying”, it’s all over the place. “Good,” I thought; “they’re talking about all that bullying we’ve been hearing about.”

Um, nope. They’re being bullied, they say. They seem to think that’s the big problem: gamers being bullied by non-gamers. There are other issues (the ones we’ve been hearing about) but all the emotional momentum comes straight out of this bullying thing, the feeling that they’re getting no respect and they’re mad as hell and they’re not gonna take it any more.

So, I’ll grant that people who play a lot of videogames have a lousy image, and I’ll go further: I think the image is largely unwarranted.

But shee-it, someone not liking your fave recreation isn’t bullying. People disapproving of gender treatments on your home turf isn’t bullying. Being unconvinced that games journalism is hopelessly corrupt isn’t bullying. Get a fucking grip.

Opinions · Here are the ones that stuck out in my memory.

“The media are all corrupt” · I guess it’s easier to believe gaming coverage is crooked if you believe the whole ecosystem is. Also, it apparently removes the need to bring forward actual concrete evidence. Which I didn’t see any of.

You know what? There’s so much money in the gaming biz, and it’s so hard to make any in publishing, that I would have been unsurprised had it been a cesspit of bribery and intimidation, ripe for exposure. On the evidence, it isn’t, which is sort of heart-warming.

They hate Ms Wu and Ms Quinn and Ms Sarkesesian · The contempt is visceral and apparently infinite in depth. They are scraping the bottom of the barrel on this one, looking for something — anything — to take down their critics. Jeepers, these women were niche sub-sub-subculture bloggers until GG’s blunt-edged frontal assault made them profiles in courage. I hear and understand the mainstream feminist critique — men thinking they should be above criticism from the Second Sex — and I suppose it captures truth, but I’m still baffled by the empty fury.

“We’re winning“ · Apparently, they think so. If they just stay the course (and here a few relatively-sane voices chime in saying “ease off on the harshing, bros”) the massed ranks of the corrupt media and the loathed SJW’s will undoubtedly crumble. Doesn’t look like that from outside, boyos.

That SJW thing · (Stands for “Social Justice Warrior” and wow do they hate ’em.) Guys, I got news for you. You know who was an SJW? Abraham fucking Lincoln. Mahatma fucking Gandhi. And so on. Me, I’m just a computer programmer but SJW is something to aspire to. The complete chuckleheadedenss of this targeting beggars belief.

The Politics · Well, they’re weird. There’s clearly a left-right thing trying to happen here: I got pushback to one of my WTF tweets pointing me at GamerGate: Part I: Sex, Lies, and Gender Games in Reason, pro-GG discourse in a pretty vanilla hard-right pub.

But I gotta tell you, the actual GG rank-and-file don’t know Krugman from Erickson or Piketty from Le Pen. They’re pretty sure that the people “bullying” them are in the grip of an “ideology”, and that must be super-bad. But near as I can tell they don’t have one.

Good news? · It’s not entirely absent. Erwin van der Koegh wrote So I read 1500 Twitter mentions that Anita Sarkeesian and Brianna Wu got (20 hours’ worth) and yeah, there’s loads of ignorant meanness, but apparently the actual rape/murder threats have died down to zero. Maybe Twitter getting its shit together?

Part of me suspects there’s an upside to GamerGate: It dragged a part of the Internet that we always knew was there out into the open where it’s really hard to ignore. It’s damaged some people’s lives, but you know what? That was happening all the time, anyhow. The difference is, now we can’t not see it.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: nick (Oct 20 2014, at 03:44)


Your disclosure should read: "I'm not 100% unbiased: I have knee-jerk disdain for anyone with right of center political views in any arena, because racism! sexism! xenophobia! social justice!"

You are correct that this is a left-right issue. I think you are also correct that most of the people involved don't see that.

You do. So your side has already been chosen, now you just need to cherry pick supporting data.



From: Sean McMillan (Oct 20 2014, at 12:57)

The "Bullying" link is almost certainly related to one of the Gawker media writers tweeting "Bring back bullying". As Gawker owns Kotaku, one of GamerGate's primary targets, this was basically an easy spot for GamerGate to say "our opponents are horrible people."


From: Scott (Oct 20 2014, at 13:45)

I can't decide if Nick's comment is a bit of self-referential satire that was maybe too subtle for me, or just what it looks like: an ignorant comment by a guy who is obviously part of the problem.

Seriously, if the only thing you see in this post is some sort of personal attack on your political affiliation, you need to read it again, slowly, and actually think about what it is you're reading this time.

Yeah, I know, probably not gonna happen. I doubt I'm the only person whose primary exposure to this issue is through Tim's writing. Perhaps I'm also not the only one who finds myself wondering how much fire there actually is behind what looks, from my obviously limited viewpoint, like a lot of smoke.

That the first comment to this post is what it is tells me that there is indeed some fire there, and it's burning pretty hot.


From: dbt (Oct 20 2014, at 15:19)

Scott, if it's satire there are far too many satirists arguing the GG position.


From: len (Oct 20 2014, at 17:41)

On the last day of the Internet, the Vinge AI having processed petabytes of blogs, tweets, back channel mail lists and facebook posts, screen scraped every meme and every comment in every line of code all posted by the very smartest, hippest, zero day players and web programmers then summarized all in a series of triples that compiled into a single wish most fervently shared by all who had created it: and launched the Big Data Apocalypse. Their zombie avatars killed all of them.

Chimps rule the planet. Except... Monica Lewinsky whom they made queen.

You are only as smart as your deepest desire is made manifest. - The Krell


From: nick (Oct 20 2014, at 20:39)


You may address me directly. It is very rude to speak of someone in the third person in their (albeit virtual) presence.

Alas, my post is not satire but in fact a lighthearted, but still heartfelt dissenting viewpoint.

In fact I did read the post several times, slowly, actually thinking about what it is I was reading each time.

I'd have responded bit by bit, but that type of response is even more obnoxious. See e.g. this comment. :)

It's not that the only thing I see in this post is some sort of personal attack on my political affiliation. Actually I do not see any sort of attack on me or anyone else in the original post. Notice that I did not accuse Tim of attacking anyone. I merely accused him of having an anti-right wing bias. That bias is easily demonstrable and totally relevant.

1) See Tim's post last month "Gender Things"(https://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/201x/2014/09/01/Gender-Things):

"... it’s like what they say about that Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal par­ty: “Republicans aren’t nec­es­sar­i­ly racist, but racists sure do seem to be Republican.”

That's like what you says? That's like what YOU (left-biased media and folk) say. It certainly is not my experience that racists seem to be republican or the converse. I see much more racism among left-wing individuals and groups than right. Here is a relevant exploration of the topic posted today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VBAEJlR4pk

This irony is especially sweet as Tim is addressing an issue about unfair biases and treatment of individuals/groups.

2) See Tim's post from 5/13 "IO Rearview"(https://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/201x/2013/05/18/IO-Rearview):

Relevant bit: "Those that are American include more or less no Republicans, because one thing that’s not cool among us is the celebration of ignorance."

Being a Republican means celebrating ignorance? This is total tripe. I don't even need to dispute it. It is first grade name calling. That most of Tim's readers agree with the sentiment suggest that they share the bias, not that he's unbiased.

The idea that Republicans are ignorant is silly.

This is all relevant to the point. The very first Opinion Tim cites:

"“The me­dia are all corrupt” · I guess it’s eas­i­er to be­lieve gam­ing cov­er­age is crooked if you be­lieve the whole ecosys­tem is.""

I've already demonstrated that Tim is biased and much of this readerbase is biased. Then, I don't expect you to understand that the world's media are generally Left-wing biased. To me, it is elementary. It is not possible to go through life without being exposed to Leftism and its merits. Public schools, Universities, state-run European media, most major American media all have strong Left-wing biases and collectively work to indoctrinate the population in Leftism. On the flipside, it is totally possible to go through life never exposed to Right-wing(can we just say American?) values and their merits. If you weren't raised with them, it's possible you are not even familiar with them. That you can so easily knee-jerk associate human beings with malice based on their ideology speaks volumes more about you and your influences than the targets of your attacks.

"Al­so, it ap­par­ent­ly re­moves the need to bring for­ward ac­tu­al con­crete ev­i­dence. Which I didn’t see any of."

Well, you didn't look for it. Here's some. Reader beware, a _right-wing_ outlet:



Breitbart London has more good coverage too. And the writer is gay and #notyoursheild.

A bit about "Social Justice Warrior" as an insult and about "Abraham F'ing Lincoln" and "Mahatma F'ing Ghandi".

First: Really? Mahatma Fucking Ghandi? Is the rhetorical value of your expletives worth disrespecting such great men? I can understand Lincoln. He was a republican. But Ghandi? Have some respect.

Second: The people being attacked as SJWs are not modern-day Lincolns and Ghandis. We're talking about people lamenting a "70% wage gap"(false) "1 in 5 college women raped" (false) among other SJW talking points. In a world where nations execute homosexuals, female rape victims, blasphemers. Genital mutilation of generations of girls. Banning of education for females.


You are not warriors for social justice. You are warriors for Leftism.

At a glance, you appear indifferent to justice.


From: nick (Oct 21 2014, at 22:30)

@clarkhat gives a much better commentary than mine. read his: http://www.popehat.com/2014/10/21/gamer-gate-three-stages-to-obit/


From: len (Oct 22 2014, at 17:13)

Gamergate illuminates what web activism often comes down to: Spy Vs Spy. The same strategies played by all sides for as Nick notes, power, not fairness, superiority not equality. As from the very inception of the web, they are played in the cause of social justice. So Microsoft hires Danah Boyd and sets her loose on openness and the party goes on despite the fact that in technology, change that does not improve form, fit or function is fashion, and usually for profit. This is how we got the WWW and traded away privacy, security and local culture. And so it goes.

Then the message that makes me ask a different question: is this an example of feminist activism or child abuse?



From: John Cowan (Oct 22 2014, at 17:31)

"Public schools, Universities, state-run European media, most major American media all have strong Left-wing biases and collectively work to indoctrinate the population in Leftism."

American universities I grant you. The rest is simply not true. *I've* got what you would call a strong left-wing bias, and I know what one looks like, and The New York Times is just not it.

"Right-wing (can we just say American?) values"

No, we can't, if you mean "right-wing values" = "American values". I'm an American, unlike Tim, and I'm neither right-wing nor un-American.

"Have some respect."

That use of the word "fucking" is for emphasis, not for insult. But you knew that. What you don't seem to know is how to spell "Gandhi".

"The idea that Republicans are ignorant is silly."

John Stuart Mill once said that the Conservative Party (in 19th-century Britain) was "by the law of their existence the stupidest party." On being asked in Parliament, many years later, to explain this, he said: "I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally Conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it." He went on to say that this fact had been a source of great strength to the party on many occasions.

"1 in 5 college women raped"

In my experience, by no means limited to college women, the correct figure is 1 out of 1. Every woman I have ever discussed the question with, not excluding my closest female relatives, turns out to have been forcibly raped at least once in her lifetime. To be sure, anecdotes are not data, but that's suggestive.


From: len (Oct 22 2014, at 22:55)

Looks like this may turn into an epic thread. Good.

It seems that Gamergate will be seized on as a cause to promote the need for feminism at a time when feminism in the West is at an all time weak point. This may or may not be justified as the gamer community can't be said to be representative of the world at large. There is wide variation across the globe. If a woman lives in Pakistan, for example or India or Saudi, feminism may be the difference between life and death. In Southern California or London England, much less so. I think it important to have some perspective of locale or this topic devolves into Spy vs Spy, Men Bad Women Good, your side sucks but we don't, etc. And it is too important to let that happen. Memes so shrill as to be offensive even to supporters will surely weaken the discourse (see the video of young girls made to curse like sailors).

The statistics rolled out are in dispute. For example there is a study published by the US Senate that disputes the claim of a 23 per cent salary gap. A more useful question is not what does equal pay mean but how does one quantify equal work. It isn't as easy as citing job classifications but that may be all that can be done.

There are disputes based on FBI incident reporting that the rape count is as high as claimed. However, anyone famiiar with NIBRS and UCR knows it is not the right source for those numbers but I don't know what is. The claims are wildly varying and there is too much personal anecdote taking. If we have learned one thing from media-driven cause du jour events lately it is wait until there are hard forensics before burning down the village. As Monica Lewinsky has been opining as Patient Zero, the web is marvelous tool for shattering and ruining lives. We need a cold sober professional assessment of rape statistics. Even one is too many but as gas on a fire, this one needs real numbers.

Gamergate finally elicited a response from the Queen Geek, Felicia Day. I'm a fan of her writing. When she wants to be funny, she is. This piece is sad because as someone who has profited by being the role model of online female gamers, this piece has the feel of a first class passenger rowing away from the Titanic realizing that the gaiety has ended and though she survives, the deck on which she danced carefree is forever gone.


Feminism is not a minority cause as was the case with gay marriage or treatment of racial minorities. Women ARE the majority. They have the power of the vote and can make that work for them. Or they can be made to work for others who adopt feminism as a mantle of social justice but who only seek power for its own sake and have no intention of changing much past the election. We do well to be wary because we have and conintue to be fooled again.

And this cause is important. If those statistics are valid, we have a lot of change to make but we cannot make it based on false assertions, premises and statistics. And we can't do it without each other. It simply won't work.


From: Hugh Fisher (Oct 23 2014, at 15:54)

So let me see if I've got the most recent comment right ... it's OK to send pornographic images and death threats to female game developers, their families, and anyone offering to let them speak; because people who aren't game developers, game journalists, or even identify as game players have published inaccurate rape statistics.


From: Charles (Oct 24 2014, at 14:14)

To further understand the root of the issue it's worth noting that KotakuInAction is named after TumblrInAction:


This is the meeting place for people who like to mock what they refer to as SJWs (who apparently like to use Tumblr for their blogging) and as far as I can tell that's the core of the gamergate movement.

Games and gaming are mostly tangential, and it's just another round in a long ongoing battle. Those who have a distaste for what they call SJWs have had years to organise themselves and meet like-minded fellows sometimes under the banner of "Men's Rights" which sets itself up in opposition to feminism.

Gamers in this setup are kind of like the Christian's who get whipped into a frenzy by talk of a "War on Christmas" and so on as they then feel under attack and so become a powerful political force that can be directed by those skilful and immoral enough.


From: len (Oct 29 2014, at 08:30)

@hugh: "it's OK to send pornographic images and death threats to female game developers, their families, and anyone offering to let them speak; because people who aren't game developers, game journalists, or even identify as game players have published inaccurate rape statistics."

Not at all but your over the top response is a problem: in the hyperbolic conversation, facts quit mattering. Facts are hard to come by and when asking for them, getting a red faced response isn't a help. Gamergate is of only mild interest. But it is an excellent example of web activism gone sour on all sides.



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