ok i think it goes something like this
a jilted ex posted a bunch of chat logs and a kinda spiteful-sounding story about how a female game developer, zoe quinn, had cheated on him with a few people in the game industry
reaction 1 was “omg what a dirty slut” because, y’know, gamers. but that turned out to not be popular rhetoric. this is the only place jontron is relevant: he retweeted a comic someone drew that starred zoe graphically in the middle of a gangbang. (probably because he was also in the comic, presented as the voice of reason. but wow.)
a couple of the accused people were writers for internet video game websites, so reaction 2 was a rallying cry for more ethics in game journalism. which on its own would be okay except
(a) the worst dirty laundry by far in game journalism imnsho is how review scores are kept artificially inflated effectively by extortion — if you give a game a bad review, the publisher can just not give you early access to its games any more. which is possibly why only 3% of games have a metascore under 33, versus 9% of movies. but that’s a problem with the publishers, really, and not something journalists can directly control.
(b) none of the journalists zoe had a relationship with gave her game a good review, as was a common refrain. as far as i can find, only one of them wrote about her game at all, and it was months before they were supposed to have hooked up. even the jilted ex confirmed this.
so reaction 2 was kind of complete hogwash as well.
reaction 3 was to devolve rapidly into conspiracy theories and general mudslinging like: zoe was in cahoots with a reddit mod (evidence being that he tweeted at her asking to DM), explaining why tons of posts were deleted from /r/gaming (which the mods claim was to remove personal information); that zoe had actively doxxed and destroyed a gaming charity (based on a reddit comment from someone involved with the charity) (but the charity now explicitly says zoe was not involved); or that zoe had faked being hacked and doxxed (????) because the posted phone number was from a place she’d never lived (my phone number is from pennsylvania where i’ve never lived, welcome to cell phones).
meanwhile, with spectacular timing, anita sarkeesian released another “women vs tropes in video games” video, which i guess showcases a bunch of examples of women as decoration or sex objects in video games, and everyone exploded anew.
faced with all this, basically everyone with a voice shook their heads and tut-tutted at gamers for being big whiny woman-hating baby manchildren. and then there came some murmurings that it might be time to hang up the “gamer” label altogether, because it’s become toxic and insular, and who never plays any games whatsoever?
which brings us, i think, to #gamergate. i’m not actually sure, because its origins and goals and contributors are all incomprehensible. i’ve been told two completely different things:
1. that #gamergate is about journalistic ethics, i.e. doubling down on reaction 2. i was talking to someone last night and asked for an example of “misconduct” he was tired of; he linked me to an article by leigh alexander, one of the people suggesting “gamer” is obsolete. apparently the problem is that she’s a journalist but also runs a consulting firm for game developers, but has never disclosed this “potential conflict of interest” in her articles. i think that’s fucking ludicrous, because if she’s not writing about her clients, there’s not even potential for conflict of interest, right? also, surprise, she’s a woman.
2. that #gamergate is about we’re not gonna take this disrespect of gamers any more. some feathers got ruffled by the fact that the people with an audience in the gaming community are making fun of the people who think they are the gaming community. (this is one of those awkward problems where, well, whose responsibility is it to ostracize toxic members of a group? if anyone’s?) my response to those people is that maybe they should try playing a game online with strangers for two minutes. i tried getting back into tf2 recently and very clearly recall joining a server just in time to hear an exchange of rape jokes. riot has had to pour untold manhours and UI tricks into tricking its players into not being complete assholes. and xbox live is basically infamous. navigating a minefield full of this kind of sludge is not really what i consider a good relaxing time, which is why i basically never play worldwide multiplayer anything. (but thank god for mario kart.) anyway given the long-running reputation self-labeled “gamers” have for being xenophobic and generally hostile to anyone who’s not a straight dude who loves FPSes, being taken aback when journalists point this out is kind of bewildering to me.
the one thing they do seem to agree on is that this isn’t about hating women, except a few thing it is about fighting “SJWs” or something, i don’t know.
a curious observation: most of the people replying to #gamergate tweets (and believe me, if you use the hashtag, you will get replies) are using accounts with a handful of follows/followers, three digits of tweets, and basically nothing except #gamergate replies and retweets. so it’s a bunch of people who don’t even use twitter trying to do twitter activism over a thing they can’t decide the meaning of.
oh and naturally several of the accounts i looked at were also retweeting misogynistic garbage. because gamers.
anyway stay tuned for further developments as the core gamer demographic burrows itself ever deeper up its own collective asshole