The Shocking Inadequacy of GamerGate Coverage: Part 2

Disclosure and introduction: Shatter will be posting this information on behalf of a guest writer.

After an article by MoviePilot writer Alisha Grauso titled The Battle for the Soul of Geek Culture went viral via the gaming news networks, reddit, and twitter – Shatter picked up on it and started to listen. Having known Alisha many years, she paid attention to anything directly dissenting from her article and found a direct YouTube appeal to Alisha was popping up all over. Shatter reached out to the user for comment and offered a platform for discussion – and as a result will be bringing you ScrumpMonkey’s three-part take on GamerGate from a dissenting opinion. We ask that everyone remember their manners and try to add only constructive voices. So, with no further ado – content begins below:

Lost? Read PART ONE


What the hell am I reading?

Alisha’s article essentially functions as a Frankenstein’s monster of all the false allegations leveled at Gamergate.  It stitches together parts of a snowballing narrative into a giant neon sign flashing, “Everybody panic! These Gamers are EVIL!”

The article was written this way for two simple reasons: clicks and laziness. Controversy and moral panic collects hits. Framing it purely as a black and white issue makes the process of writing and marketing the controversy easier. You will find no such easy-answers here, no sweeping boogeymen or sensationalist bluster. This is about a woman who wrote a bad article and perpetuated a convenient lie, except that she distilled it down into one of its most distorted forms yet.

The thing is, these are the two issues with almost EVERY article that attacks GamerGate. It’s a game of Telephone gone horribly out of control.  It’s half-heard talking points being embellished on and passed down the line until you end up framing videogame enthusiasts as woman-haters. If enough people at any point had done their due dalliance as a journalist and actually talked to someone in GamerGate this wouldn’t have happened. But no one bothered to check if what they were saying was true because it was working for them. The Games Media implicated in the corruption created this deflection to cover its own butt and the mainstream media, which has always done an awful job of covering gaming and gamers, saw a nice, juicy story they could scare the shit out of people with.

That’s what we are seeing: self-interest coupled with good iold-fashioned incompetence and profiteering. GamerGate is often accused of being a ‘conspiracy theory,’ but what’s so conspiratorial about news outlets embellishing and distorting news to gain some extra clicks? Lazy clickbait is something most internet users dislike.  Plus, the fact that journalists shouldn’t have a vested interest in what they are covering is something most people understand.

It’s not that difficult to see what GamerGate wants to fight and wants to improve, but so much dust has been kicked up, and so much feces flung through an unending string of lies, that people are left scratching their heads because all there seems to be is a scrambled, nonsensical story.

I’m going to focus in on a single section of the piece to pick apart how unfounded and hurtful a single paragraph can be:

image 2

Let’s recap some of the things the people in GamerGate have been called in the last 6 months:
And now: homophobic attempted murderers.

Brianna Wu even accused GamerGate of contributing to the death of her dog. Can you not see how we’ve clearly reached a point where the coverage of GamerGate is BEYOND absurd? Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and a few low-quality jpegs of an unrelated image board is nowhere close enough to charge hundreds of thousands of campaigning gamers of attempting to make gay people commit suicide.

To quote this very website in the excellent feature “Nerd Culture Hits Mainstream: A Cautionary Tale” (go read it after, it’s good)

“As all things nerdy increase in commonplace popularity – we have to prepare for the crossing of wires and social misunderstandings. We are allowing the mainstream media to build its own narrative of “us” that is horribly misinformed, without context, and often times without even being fact-checked.”

That article is in reference to the embarrassing misinterpretation of some users effing around on an image board. But how can we cringe at news media asking “who is the hacker known as 4chan?” and yet take their interpretation of GamerGate as gospel? Trying to pin the actions of some try hard edge-lord on /pol/ onto a consumer movement about gaming journalism is the exact same kind of failure to grasp the story or its context. You have become the embarrassing mum thinking that rap music will turn her kids into street thugs. “Yes, rappers talk about shooting the police mum. No, I’m not going to do it.” It conjures up images of “Hackers on steroids” and exploding vans on Fox News. Originally her, entire section had no links or evidence at all, just wild accusations. But what was added to support these claims is paper-thin: using some completely unrelated bigot pipe-dream and attributing it to GamerGate. This is, again, basic stuff. How can this article still be on the web?

I could go on 8chan right now and type anything I wanted anonymously. That’s the point.  Blaming anything written ever on any __Chan for GamerGate is frankly pretty silly. It’s like blaming Twitter’s CEO for any harassment that takes place there. And harassment does take place in GamerGate, but to both sides, and at the hands of outside trolls. There are entire websites dedicated to trying to highlight the harassment GamerGate supporters have suffered, yet it’s washed from any coverage, with victims of abuse also branded as terrorists along with their harassers. GamerGate supporters have been sent knives and syringes in the past.  A woman cosplaying as GG mascot Vivian James was harassed and verbally abused at Magfest, despite being even staff. The harassment narrative just leads in circles, solving nothing. The answer to “Why are you secretly banging a developer you are covering?” is not “Why do you hate women and gay people?” If you are talking about harassment you are not talking about GamerGate, you are talking about harassment that happens to almost anyone with a high-profile online regardless of gender. Just ask Boogie2988 or TotalBiscuit about the threats they receive.

There is also the gross misrepresentation of Operation Firefly. Yes there is an awareness raising campaign on Tumblr, but nowhere on God’s green earth is there any evidence that said Tumblr has been used to encourage “organized attacks targeted at Tumblr users in the hopes that the person will snap and kill him- or herself.”  That is so many lies packed into such a small place. Do some research, at the very least.  This is embarrassing and twisted. If this baseless claim was made without a shred of evidence against a named person or organization, the lawsuits would fly so fast it would make your head spin.

So yes. Operation Firefly exists. We want to use Tumblr to talk about conflicts of interest in games journalism. Now, back up your heinous accusation with actual evidence, or remove it. Because it’s an accusation leveled at both myself and many other gamers, and none of us have any clue as to what you’re talking about.



Here is the addition to that section that made me legitimately angry:

Here we see a tweet obviously framed as an attempt to flood suicide hotline. @_icze4r was the person who set up something called the “GamerGate Harassment patrol” to locate and combat harassment targeting people within and against the GamerGate hash-tag on twitter. They, and other GamerGate activists spend time and effort tracking down a Brazilian clickbait hack who was setting up multiple accounts sending threats to Anita Sarkeesian for attention. Even Jason Schrier of Kotaku acknowledged this effort,  going so far as to write an article on Celebrino, describing our “Mutual Enemy” (although it has the same condescending and finger-waving attitude towards GamerGate we come to expect from Kotaku and Gawker media.)

The tweet was made in the context of a suicide attempt by a moderator of Kotaku in Action. It was meant to help people during a real scare when that person had been hospitalized after an attempt to take their own life. It was a message of support. I felt so passionately I was compelled to make a video appeal the Grauso herself. Throughout this whole affair I’ve never felt so personally hurt before, I didn’t realize quite how much I had come to care for many in this community, and GamerGate has become a community now, or how having a dark moment turned into an extra gut-punch  for those who had been involved.

The link to this tweet was rightfully removed after an outpouring of unbridled disgust by GamerGate supporters. Here’s the tipping point: when asked to produce evidence of a serious accusation, the solution was to double-down and accuse more people. The rest of the ‘evidence’ in that section is just as untrue and slanted as posting that tweet was. And if the entire article is based on framing a tweet by the founder of an anti-harassment campaign as a deliberate call to jam phone lines and try to force people to commit suicide, then how can you trust anything else used as ‘evidence’ in the article? Any level of basic research would have weeded this out.

I could go through each and every supposed point of evidence in the piece, and explain how it’s all  dishonest, slanted and intellectually bankrupt.  Take this as a lesson in “how not to conduct an article.”  There are numerous GamerGate articles out there like this with equally galling falsehoods, but none quite as personally offensive to me as this. If you’re still wondering why GamerGate exists, it’s because there still seems to be ridiculous slander being posted and passed off as news.  We might think that if mistakes were admitted, hit-pieces were corrected, and a basic ethics policy was adopted, that GamerGate  w0uld go away overnight. Slate’s David Auerback even wrote a handy guide, though it fell on willfully deaf ears.


Click through for PART THREE


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About the author


Alexis is the lead fabricator and designer for Shattered Stitch Cosplay, based out of Tennessee. She has been in the cosplay community over 10 years and is a familiar face at cons large and small all across the Southeast US.

Alexis is a consummate nerd with her genres of expertise and interest being concentrated in Marvel comics and World of Warcraft. Also on her interest list is Top Cow, Aspen, DarkHorse, and DC, as well as most all videogames with her personal concentration being PC gaming (Master Race).

Her costumes span everything from comics and fantasy books to live action, including: Final Fantasy, Game of Thrones, Hunger Games, Studio Ghibli, and Conan.

If you'd like to nerd cred check, step right up and give it a swing. You'll receive your consolation prize as you exit stage left.

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