September 5, 2019

CATHY YOUNG: (Almost) Everything You Know About GamerGate is Wrong — Harassment campaign? Misogynist hate mob? Alt-right test run? It’s much more complicated:

If not Trump, what is GamerGate’s legacy? It did change the cultural landscape, for better and worse. It was the first rebellion against the politicization of popular culture by the “social justice left.” (It’s probably not an accident that this pushback came from gamers, who are used to being defensive about their chosen medium being blamed for social ills.) It did not exactly reverse this trend, even in video game culture: witness recent attacks on the upcoming game Cyberpunk 2077 as “transphobic” because of an in-game poster featuring a supposedly fetishistic image of a possibly transgender model as well as a later-deleted “did you just assume their gender?” joke on the game maker’s Twitter account.

If anything, GamerGate probably made the progressive culture guardians more zealous and intolerant of dissent. But it also encouraged resistance to ideological diktat, and ultimately promoted debate. Lapine, who says she regrets being too “edgy” and “obnoxious” in her GamerGate days — for instance, mocking Quinn with gratuitous nastiness in some of her videos— still believes GamerGate played a positive role: “The internet was overrun by preachy, authoritarian feminist-types,” she wrote in an email. “And they absolutely needed to be called out (and still do!).”

Today, the dead horse of GamerGate is beaten mainly by its foes — usually as a way to discredit criticism of the social justice left. But there are important lessons from the GamerGate experience that are still relevant today, and that have nothing to do with video games.

You may need a scorecard to keep track of the players, but well worth a read to make sense of one of the Internet’s more convoluted battles.

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