Post-GamerGate: I am a Gaming Journalist (Opinion)

Gaming, as a hobby, has certainly dealt with its fair share of controversy over the years, from the moral panic of the 90s, to claims of social stagnation. But the GamerGate movement and the controversy surrounding it was a new world, entirely. This wasn’t another case of simple misunderstanding levied by individuals outside of gaming, but rather a “civil war” of sorts between gamers, both within and throughout the gaming industry.

Now, whether you agree with the GamerGate platform or not, GG never seemed to find a resolution and still continues to fire up controversy across social media today — often disguising itself now as ‘#GamersUnite’. Yet, that’s not why we’re here today. No, today we are here to enjoy the thoughts from a post-GamerGate journalist, who is worrying about how many now see his profession as something of a joke in the wake of dishonest practices and all-around garbage behavior.

For clarification, I take full responsibility for the opinions and views I spout here today and should be held solely responsible for any of the derision that this article might create as a consequence of commenting on an issue that even today divides people so vehemently. But given that Gawker is currently imploding in on itself due to that recent Conde Nast CFO editorial debacle and the FTC-Machinima settlement, I felt that this should be said: online games journalism – as well as the majority of journalism in general – has become an embarrassing field to work within, at least in recent years.

Blaming your Demographic: Why People are so Angry

Before Adam Baldwin tweeted about the controversy just a year prior, online journalism had taken on the role of catering to the culture of outrage with sites like Buzzfeed and Gawker leading the metaphorical pack with eye-catching clickbait articles and inflammatory opinions created for the sake of driving the insidious ad revenue machine.

It’s a system that can ardently proclaim straight white male as life’s easiest difficulty setting, a system that discloses a sex tape with neither regards for the individual’s privacy nor the legal rulings of a judge, and it is a system that allows for the open contempt of their own audience.

This was the sort of atmosphere that a lot of gamers found themselves in on August 28, 2014. A day that was marked with multiple online gaming news organizations releasing the controversial string of “Gamers are Dead” articles that painted their core demographic as “obtuse  shitslingers, […] wailing hyper-consumers, [and] childish internet-arguers”, according to Gamasutra’s contribution to the conspiracy.

As far as connecting with your audience goes, sweeping generalizations and blatant mockery don’t so much as promote friendly discussion as it does incite dissent and mistrust among the masses. What could have been an earnest debate about the growing role of women within the industry was immediately lost amidst the ensuing storm.

Now mistrust between gamers and games journalism isn’t necessarily anything new given that this is an industry where we can have a big budget triple-A producer talk about bribing journalists in games media and get a room full of cheers, but these articles and the events preceding them would only serve to highlight this aforementioned lack of trust.

Discussion on the subject of GamerGate was banned across many of these outlets, third-party sites like Reddit and 4Chan frequently purged their forums of the topic, and the mainstream press were quick to label the entire campaign – despite any evidence to the contrary – a hate group dedicated to driving women and minorities out of gaming.

Many of the pro-GGers who spoke out against these accusations were quickly dismissed as angry white men throwing a fit because they’re being forced to share their “toys” and the many GG-sympathetic women and minorities that tweeted under #NotYourShield were readily disregarded as sockpuppets created by anonymous trolls.

They weren’t even allowed to defend themselves against these accusations of harassment and misogyny, accusations that would come to define GG in the eyes of mainstream media. They were simply told to accept the labels and generalizations the media heaped upon them.

Now whether or not you see Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos as a right-wing reactionary banking off of the disgruntled anger of marginalized gamers or a true-blue journalist giving a voice to those who have been rendered silent is strictly a matter of opinion however, I feel that he makes a pretty good point when he states in his planned remarks for SPJ Airplay that:

GamerGate, […] uniquely in the history of hashtag movements, was never given the right to defend or define itself. We [as journalists] bend over backwards to describe Occupy and Black Lives Matter in terms acceptable to those movements – to give them self-determination and agency. That was denied to GamerGate, because the subject at hand was press ethics, and journalists didn’t want to admit they had a point.” 

This, above anything else, represents something of a serious breach of trust between the gaming community and the journalists that cater to them. Not only were many supporters of the GG movement labeled as misogynistic bigots by many of these outlets but they were vehemently defamed whenever they had the gall to speak out against the narrative these journalists were trying to push.

Journalistic Standards: Why Lashing Out Against your Audience is a Bad Idea

I suppose that we, as journalists, have only ourselves to blame for this current atmosphere of hyper-awareness on the part of the consumer given that we — again as journalists, mind you — are supposed to be holding ourselves to higher professional standards than the average internet blogger.

Through the process of writing this piece, I was hesitant.

Hesitant that whatever research I had done in the few months prior to this wasn’t enough to give the full side of the story. Hesitant that my own personal biases might present a narrative that I hadn’t wholly intended on. Hesitant of a backlash against my opinion on a still controversial topic.

I want to be right. It’s natural human instinct to want to be right, to know that my opinions exist on sound reasoning. But none of us can truly claim to always exist in the limelight of rightness. We can be wrong sometimes. I can be wrong sometimes. All of us can be wrong sometimes. The true test of character comes to admitting your faults and promising to do better in the future.

Naive musings aside, over these past few months several journalists catering to the wider gaming audience made many mistakes and, rather than owning up to them, they decided to dig in their heels and strike back against their audience. A tactic that they paid dearly for, both in professional standing and cold hard ad revenue cash.

If anything GamerGate has proven that consumers are the real power-holders in this industry. Yes, games journalists may serve as gatekeepers to the wider public on matters and issues that the average gamer just doesn’t have time to focus on but at the end of the day those very same gamers and geeks that peruse said site are the ones that indirectly pay for that journalist’s paycheck.

I suppose you could say that the relationship between games journalists and the gamers they cater to is one that is mutualistic by nature. We, as journalists, attempt to keep our readers informed with the occasional editorial to drum up a healthy discussion on a controversial topic and the audience is mainly responsible for keeping the site alive with the ad revenue they generate.

It is a relationship based heavily on trust — trust that the journalists will present their information in an unbiased light, trust that they will keep the interests of their viewership in mind, trust that they won’t throw their readers to the wolves for the sake of some short-lived financial gain — without that trust then these sites cannot survive.

Some Apologies Need to be Made, Some Debates Need to be had

Discussion is good. However, as far as platforms for well-reasoned debate go, Twitter isn’t exactly the best medium to discuss the important issues prevailing the games industry given that the 140 character limit prevents well-rounded responses, tools like the GGAutoBlocker are handily used to silence any dissenting voices, and the virtual impossibility of preventing third-party miscreants from co-opting the movement for their own nefarious gains.

To take the words of a famous Escapist video games reviewer: “We live in an age where mass communications has counterintuitively turned all attempts at verbal debate into a basketball game where the teams are on different courts and stand around the basket scoring meaningless points and throwing sh*t over the dividing wall.”

Which is why debates like SPJ Airplay — debates where these two competing sides present their points and evidence to the other in order to come to a reasoned consensus – are good. However, it was made public before the SPJ Airplay debate that many of GamerGate’s critics would not be in attendance because, according to an SPJ Airplay update, they have no intention of supporting “a “hate movement” that has only a passing interest in journalism ethics”.



To say that it ended there, to say that GamerGate had their time to present their point of view to the Society of Professional Journalists, would have been enough. However,  it would be remiss of me not to touch upon the several bomb threats called into the convention both before and during the debate.

Given that no one has come forward to claim responsibility for these threats and many of them were submitted anonymously through the internet, there is no definitive evidence that these threats came from Pro-GG, Anti-GG, or indeed third-party trolls looking to ruffle some metaphorical feathers. However, such antics only serve to entrench both sides of the debate further and further behind the iron curtains and block-bots that separate them.

As we’ve said during the outset of this controversy, gaming is becoming more of a cultural mainstay. As more and more people fall under the banner of gamer these questions of women’s representation are going to be cropping up more often. However, this does not invalidate the concerns many GGers had with ethical issues — issues like censorship, collusion, and corruption — that they say are permeating the games journalism industry.

We need to break this metaphorical wall dividing the two teams and have a good and honest discussion about this industry that means a lot of things to a lot of people throughout the world. A true and honest discussion free from the trolls and insults that tend to pervade online social media like a fog of noxious gas.

Only then could we possibly have a chance of clearing the misunderstandings that exist between GG and GG, and reach something that could almost nearly resemble a consensus.

Conclusions: The Take-Away from this Whole Thing

Beneath all the political-tier mudslinging and exposes, GamerGate continues to persist despite the many accusations of misogyny and bouts of internet drama that are lobbied against them. Whether it be for the sake of better, more ethical journalism covering their hobbies or simply a movement dedicated to driving the perceived threat of women out of the gaming industry, GGers of all races and creeds have come together to prove that gamers, indeed, are not dead.

If anything, this past year has been a sterling example of a lesson that all journalists of every calibre should respect: Don’t bash your consumer. You have all the right to post whatever inflammatory click-bait piece you’d like so long as you allow your audience to call you out on it rather than just moderating all dissent out of the discussion.

As journalists, we have to admit that there are times we make mistakes. We have to realize that we hold positions of authority, the words that we put to pen have the possibility of changing minds across the globe, for better or for worse. We have a responsibility to our readership to challenge them and not hide behind a wall of stringent moderation at the first sign of disagreement.

Given the gravity of the GamerGate controversy and the divisive nature of this hashtag movement, I feel that I must reiterate my earlier statement: the views and opinions expressed here are solely mine alone and in no way reflect the viewpoint of Another Castle itself. I am in no way claiming that I have the definitive answer on this subject nor am I attempting to invalidate the claims levied by either side of the argument.

I am but a humble games journalist rambling on and on about how those few bad apples within my profession have effectively broken that all important trust between us and our audience.

Can’t we all have fun, free from the identity politics and the dank memes? I want to believe that our mutual passion for video games — a passion that has driven this industry to become the multi-billion dollar entertainment behemoth that it is today despite the protests and controversy surrounding it during its youth — can allow us just a moment to entertain the notion that the other side might have a point . Then again, maybe I’m too much of an idealistic ninny to believe that our stringent individuality could be overcome by something as simple as a shared interest.

Whatever the case, feel free to leave your thoughts down below. Whether it be to berate me for some perceived slight or to offer up some counterpoints to this piece, I only ask that you keep it courteous and respectful. Above all, I want to sincerely thank all of you readers out there who sat through this long tirade of an editorial.


Cover image via



#GamerGate and How the Industry is in Need of Change — Another Castle


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5 Comments on “Post-GamerGate: I am a Gaming Journalist (Opinion)”

  1. Niwjere
    10/01/2015 at 11:38 AM #

    This isn’t “post-GamerGate”. You said yourself it’s not over yet. No one gets off Mr. Bones’s wild ride. Other than that, well-written.

  2. Anon
    10/01/2015 at 2:05 PM #

    Free from dank memes?
    Why would you ever want such a world?

  3. 11/02/2015 at 8:12 PM #

    I like the cut of your jib.

  4. NeoN G
    11/02/2015 at 8:26 PM #

    Very well written. I thank you for not throwing GamerGate under the bus. I only hope that we can have a middle ground for discussions.

  5. Nope
    11/06/2015 at 5:12 PM #

    Nope. gg always was, and still is just an excuse for online jerks to try to push marginalised voices out of the gaming community. Their target isn’t journalism or even journalists, it’s people who aren’t straight white men or don’t conform to the attitude that that is who games are for.

    Get out of here with this weak attempt at revisionism and spin doctoring.

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