Getting to Know GaymerGate
GaymerGate, often shorted to the acronym GG, is an online movement that began in August 2014 after it came to light that a gaming journalist had engaged in sexual acts with a female game developer whom he had written about without disclosing any type of relationship. Tens of thousands of homosexual gamers took to social media to voice their discontent. The movement claimed to have been against what its members saw as an ethical transgression and fiercely criticized the standards of modern gaming publications in general. Officially, it had nothing to do with the heterosexual nature of the impropriety, but the fact that it had happened at all.
Some were critical of GG and pointed out the double standards of the movement. Developers and journalists had never been criticized for any exclusively-male orgies often held after conventions. Feminist culture critic Anita Snarkiseen called the group a bunch of “gay white nerds” who weren’t willing to let women into the industry.
Getting in with the Gaymers
In order to fully understand GaymerGate and find out what it was really about, I had to infiltrate the movement from within. After familiarizing myself with their home on Reddit in a forum called r/KocktakuInAction, I began speaking with those that personally identified as belonging to the shadowy and leaderless group. One such “GaymerGater” agreed to speak to me, but asked to only be referred to by his initials “A.S.” Repercussions for those who turn their backs on GG are often ridicule and online harrassment… bullying which can only be prevented by completely logging off from social media, something near-impossible to do in today’s connected world.
The first question that had to be asked was, “Is it really about ethics?” I could see A.S. pause over Skype, but he slowly shook his head. “No,” he said, “and I’m sick of pretending it is.” The narrative just kept unwinding from there. It was, he admitted, an organized attempt to get women out of gaming.
My link into GaymerGate patiently explained that gaming was never intended to be an activity for females. He pointed out the phallic origins of the joystick which still remains an iconic symbol for the hobby.
“This has always been a unique celebration of male-ness. When you wrap your hands around a controller and start jerking it around… it connects you. You’re right there with your brothers. It’s deep, man. Girls just don’t get that,” A.S. seemed to get a bit choked up a bit and I gave him a moment to collect himself, “It just isn’t fair for women to try to tempt the weaker straight men among us.”
He also admitted that GG would do anything it could to stop the influx of women into gaming, including criticizing their fashion sense and hairstyles on social media. Weight, however, was off-limits because “gaymers understand how tempting chocolate can be”.
Toning Down the Testosterone
Women have not taken kindly to GaymerGate or its facade of caring about “ethics in journalism”. Opponents of the movement have created their own group: Females Against GaymerGate, or faGG for short. They promise to keep shining the light on the misogyny spawned by GG. Multiple YouTube series have demonstrated how important characters such as Lara Croft are to gaming; “She’s definitely one of the most important female role models as far as characters go. For the next game though we really hope that Square Enix highlight her privileges, such as being white, thin, able-bodied, and cisgendered as well as acknowledge the inherent cultural oppression in exploring new territories.”
Girls fighting under the faGG banner have also sharply criticized gaymers for the assumption that they hold a monopoly on geeky men. They point out that some of the most desirable traits can be found among gamers, chief among them being their skilled hands from countless hours spent nimbly nudging analog sticks and timing precise keystrokes during critical moments.
Where do we go from here
GaymerGate wasn’t predicted to be a long-lived, but even today proponents keep the movement going. Likewise, faGG supporters are there at every turn to ensure women are able to get in on the joystick-slamming action in gaming.
The war rages on, but I hope that my exposé brings attention to the real motives behind GG and just how divisive it is in gaming. Bear this information in mind when deciding which side you support.