Gamergate: The Ugly Side of an Industry Built on Fun

It’s 2014. Twitter is rising among the ranks of the most used social media platforms. Out of the millions of hashtags created, one began to catch fire some years back. It stood for sexism. It stood for oppression. It was called Gamergate.

Social and cultural issues are abundant in the world of technology. From behind the safety of a keyboard, anyone can attack or defend almost any issue you can think of. This type of behavior is precisely what happened when Gamergate began to spread its message of hate on the Internet.

This was three years ago. Today, you live in a post-Gamergate world. And you may not feel as if anything has changed. However, if you want to understand the state of the gaming world in 2017, it’s essential to comprehend what Gamergate was and the effect it had in the immediate aftermath of its inception.

To Understand the Future, Consider the Past.

Per a fairly familiar storyline throughout history, the whole controversy was originally sparked by one angry man. The man in question is Eron Gjoni, the ex-boyfriend of female game developer Zoe Quinn. When things became heated between the two, he couldn’t let the relationship go. So, what did he do? He began to attack Quinn’s character; the fall out of which resulted in the abuse of a slew of other women online as well.

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Zoe Quinn. Source.

Using a rumored and unethical relationship between Quinn and a journalist as fuel for the Gamergate fire, Gjoni published a series of blog posts that took numerous shots at Quinn, including allegations that she had cheated on him with five other men. These posts caught fire with like-minded individuals, and soon enough, Gamergate snowballed in popularity.

Quinn was the target of a barrage of harassment from the followers of the trending movement. She was threatened with everything from rape to straight-up murder. The misogynistic campaign soon spread to take aim at other women involved in the video game industry. Feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian and game developer Brianna Wu were a couple of the movement’s other main targets.

The controversy shone a spotlight on how male-centric the video game industry is. But, from tragedy, hope can emerge. Three years later, the gaming industry looks a bit better, and women are playing a stronger role.

The State of the Industry Today.

Post-Gamergate, the video game industry has taken drastic steps for the better. As the controversy died down, many voices began lending their support to the fight against the misogynistic undertones of the gaming community.

However, before the support could come from within, the industry took a public relations hit. When the Gamergate controversy reached the eyes and ears of people outside the gaming community, it didn’t shine the best light on gaming as a whole.

People who had been decrying video games in general now had more fodder for their stance. They held up Gamergate as an example of why gaming, in general, is a toxic practice embraced by an equally toxic community. However, the way developers and other people in the industry stepped up made the detractors eat their words.

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In one of the most public examples of the Gamergate backlash, tech industry giant Intel pledged $300 million for the Diversity in Technology program. The program focuses on helping women break into the tech industry by providing training for things such as coding and IT support.

Gamergate also forced some major publishers to improve their practices. Peter Moore, former CEO of Electronic Arts’ EA Sports division, said the controversy made him reconsider some of his long-held ideas about the gaming industry and community. Opening people’s eyes to the sexual discrimination and lack of diversity inherent in gaming has been one very positive outcome of the campaign of hate.

As a response to the Gamergate controversy, innovators also created companies to reduce online bullying. For example, Quinn developed the Crash Override Network, a group of experts who counsel victims of online harassment. Not only does the Crash Override Network provide counseling and advice, they also provide links to legal authorities who can intervene on behalf of victims.

It’s a beautiful situation when positivity arises from a negative controversy. However, another significant change has come from the video games themselves.

The Push of the Future. 

In the three years since Gamergate, a major movement has emerged to give females a more central role in all aspects of the video game industry. One of the most critically acclaimed games of 2017 was Horizon: Zero Dawn. Starring a female protagonist who comes from a matriarchal society, the game proves strong central characters don’t have to be males.

Horizon: Zero Dawn is just one example of a blockbuster video game whose storyline is driven by powerful women. Another popular new game with women in a central role is the PS4’s Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. Besides being an astounding game in and of itself, the storyline upends the traditionally male-driven Uncharted franchise by putting women in the lead roles. This video game has had an incredible reception, and the best thing is that the characters don’t feel forced.

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Aloy in Horizon Zero Dawn. Source.

A third fantastic game that proudly boasts a female lead is Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Not only does this psychological horror game contain a female lead, but it also delicately deals with issues such as mental health.

These three examples are just the tip of the iceberg. With a wealth of female-led games and concepts planned in the future, it’s safe to say the video game industry has emerged from the blatant misogyny of the Gamergate controversy stronger and more committed to diversity than ever before.

The Aftermath of Gamergate. 

The movement that started in 2014 ended up doing the opposite of its intended goal. Instead of holding back women in the industry, Gamergate only strengthened everyone’s resolve to improve diversity in the gaming community. And by sparking conversation both in the gaming community and the feminist community, Gamergate victims were able to turn the movement on its own head and create positive change. Corporations, businesses and the video games themselves reflect all the hard work that has gone into the long-overdue push toward equality in the gaming industry.

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  1. Brad Davis says

    Ah yes, more lies about “Gamergate is a hate group”. All we wanted was ethics in game journalism, but as usual the so called progressives tried to vilify and bully us, telling us if we don’t goosestep in line with their way of thinking, then we are sexist monsters.

    But looks like the tide is turning… seems the loudest, most vocal opponents to GG were the REAL sexists and monsters, as ACTUAL EVIDENCE proves, unlike the anecdotal fiction Kate spews without proof.

    So continue to spread the lies and misinformation about GG. Only makes it more laughable when those who liable and slander it are proven wrong again and again and again.

  2. Robert Anderson says

    I’d be interested to see what source you have for citing Gjoni harrassed a “slew of other females in the gaming industry”. I don’t believe he even harrassed Quinn for exposing her bullshit, however, I’m interested in these other women that have apparently never been reported about until today.

  3. ジニー says

    This is insane! Gjoni didn’t attack her! He released a journal rant about her being abusive to him and cheating on him with other people! He had screenshots of her ADMITTING she did this!

    GamerGate started because some of the people she was sleeping with happened to be game journalists, and made every effort to make sure that no one could talk about it. People were getting banned left and right. It grew because she wouldn’t leave it alone. The Streisand effect.

    SHE went after him by taking everything she did to him and spinning it that it was him that did it to her DESPITE THE SCREENSHOTS OF HER ADMITTING TO ALL OF IT. She slandered his name and got a gag order on him where he couldn’t even defend himself online from lie after lie just like this one.

    After everything coming out, all the evidence, how can you possibly write an article about this pathological liar that stole from people and abused the ones she claimed she was helping (re: CON and the free book editing she got the victims to do)??

    From one woman to another, wake up.

  4. Irvin Morales says

    It’s hilarious how the media says GamerGate was a harassment campaign yet the majority of GamerGate’s most outspoken critics ended up being pedophiles, sexual harassers, and all-around bad people.

    Also, Sarkeesian and Wu literally forced themselves into the controversy. It had nothing to do with them until they mocked GamerGate and began spreading the lies the media was spewing. While I do believe that Quinn, Wu, and Sarkeesian were harassed to a certain extent, they’ve done nothing to stop the harassment and everything to enhance it.

    Even the FBI got involved and stated that there was no issue. A study was also done and only 0.66% of Twitter accounts associated with GamerGate were harassers. The majority of the harassment came from those associated with the Anti-GamerGate community.

  5. meh321 says

    “He began to attack Quinn’s character”. You mean he called her sexist, racist, white supremacist, and a nazi? Oh, wait. Never mind.

  6. StolenEyes says

    I’m reminded of a review of Ms Quinn’s book over on, in which the reviewer found so much lies, revisionism and misdirection in just its first three paragraphs that they couldn’t continue any further.

    The above article is no better.

  7. Alberto Cruzado says

    Oh. MY. GOD. Three popular games with woman protagonists? What a victory. That never was done before.

    The lies about gamergate.

  8. Disqusisgarbage says

    this is the type of garbage media that’s killing game journalism. gl finding a new job next year.

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