GamerGate has spattered over the media landscape like a bucket of dog vomit tossed onto a wedding party. I’m one of the first generation of gamers, having been fired for playing Colossal Cave on a National Film Board of Canada server in 1978 and I think GamerGate has nothing to do with ethics in journalism, except in the minds of those who can’t spell either ‘ethics’ or “journalism”.
Gamer culture was analysed by the insightful Richard Bartle in a 1996 study that identified four categories of gamers; Achievers, Explorers, Socializers, and Killers.
Killers: interfere with the functioning of the game world or the play experience of other players
Achievers: accumulate status tokens by beating the rules-based challenges of the game world
Explorers: discover the systems governing the operation of the game world
Socializers: form relationships with other players by telling stories within the game world
It’s the Killers (also called Griefers) that are the problem here. GamerGate has all the earmarks of Griefer behaviour – it resembles a real world exercise in ‘Training’ – an online game disruption tactic where hostile entities are aroused and led back in a train to descend on an unsuspecting party. In this case a core of assholes has focussed a tsunami of misogynistic fury upon a small group of female writers and game developers.
The depth of misogyny in gamer culture has been well analysed in “Griefing: Policing Masculinity in Online Games” by Staci Tucker (http://www.academia.edu/2462576/Griefing_Policing_Masculinity_in_Online_Games) and is painfully obvious in the millions of tweets, blog posts and statements made over the last few months. I can only hope that the pushback against this torrent of hate will result in some real change both in gamer culture and the larger world.