#GamerGate is a consumer revolt triggered by the overt politicization, ethical misconduct, and unprecedented amounts of censorship targeted at gamers and video games as a whole that is presently being perpetrated by many entities within the industry.
For a more detailed account of the origins and history of GamerGate, please read the Timeline article.
The events leading up to the creation of #GamerGate began on August 16, 2014, with the publication of "thezoepost" by Eron Gjoni, a programmer and ex-boyfriend of indie game developer Zoe Quinn. In it, he claims that Quinn emotionally manipulated him and cheated on him with 5 other individuals over the course of their relationship. Three of these individuals were listed by name - among them are Joshua Boggs, Quinn's employer, and Nathan Grayson, a gaming journalist associated with RockPaperShotgun and Kotaku.
On August 17, YouTuber MundaneMatt published a video in which he discussed thezoepost. The video was taken down by Quinn using a DMCA copyright claim, as the video contained a publicly-available screenshot from her game Depression Quest. Soon afterwards, InternetAristocrat published his own video about thezoepost, titled "The Five Guys Saga".
On August 19, YouTube video game reviewer TotalBiscuit made a post on Twitlonger criticizing the use of DMCA takedown requests to censor critical works, which was interpreted by many to be a veiled reference to MundaneMatt's video. The post was submitted to the subreddit /r/gaming on the same day. Over 25,000 comments on the /r/gaming post were later deleted by the moderators of the subreddit, and various users were shadowbanned (a ban that makes a user's posts invisible without informing them they are banned) for upvoting posts discussing the scandal.
As the scale and impact of the scandal increased, gaming journalists were placed under increased scrutiny by their readers. It was eventually discovered that several prominent gaming journalists had been donating money to Quinn's Patreon account, among them Polygon editor Ben Kuchera who had been donating to her Patreon account for several weeks before he wrote an article about Depression Quest. It was also discovered that Kotaku writer Patricia Hernandez was in a romantic relationship with indie game developer Anna Anthropy, and had written several articles which were favorable towards her and her games.
On August 21, The Fine Young Capitalists posted an interview in which they described how Zoe Quinn shut down their website, citing issues with their policies involving transwomen. On the same day, many users of 4chan's /pol/ (Politically Incorrect) and /v/ (Video Games) boards decided to help fund TFYC through their IndieGoGo page. Over the next few days, 4chan users raised more than $23,000 for TFYC. On the same day, InternetAristocrat released his second video about the controversy, titled "Quinnspiracy Theory: In-N-Out Edition". Two days later, on August 24, TFYC's IndieGoGo page was hacked and changed to appear as if the campaign had shut down. TFYC later restored their page and announced that no money was lost as a result of the hack.
On August 26, Kotaku editor Stephen Totilo announced that journalists affiliated with Kotaku would no longer be allowed to contribute to the Patreon accounts of video game developers. On the same day, Polygon made a similar announcement, stating that their writers are permitted to donate to the Patreon accounts of developers, but must disclose these contributions when relevant. Critics quickly pointed out that this policy fails to follow the standards set by the Society for Professional Journalists, which explicitly states that journalists must "remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility".
On August 27, actor Adam Baldwin tweeted the first two videos of the Quinnspiracy Theory series, coining the hashtag #GamerGate in the process. Some critics of #GamerGate insist that it was a coordinated effort by 4chan and the #burgersandfries IRC channel but these claims are baseless or factually incorrect. The name "GamerGate" is used by the public to describe the scandal at large, the consumer revolt that formed as a result, and (inaccurately) the gamers behind the revolt.
On August 28, the coordinated Gamers are Dead campaign begun, with several gaming journalism outlets, including (but not limited to) Kotaku, Gamasutra, RockPaperShotgun, and Destructoid, posting ten different articles all decrying "gamers", "gamer" culture, and the "gamer" lifestyle to be "dead" within the same 24 hour period.
After the 28th, the #GamerGate hashtag would become the de facto way of communicating the desire for better ethics and representation in gaming journalism. Several campaigns, referred to as "Operations" within the #GamerGate community, would become more common and well-organized. The largest and most successful of these, Operation Disrespectful Nod, has resulted in many different companies pulling their ads from sites such as Gamasutra and Kotaku, including companies like Intel, Mercedes-Benz, Adobe, and Dyson. The operation also revealed that multiple companies listed as "advertisers" with Gawker were either not currently advertising with them, were going to pull out due to Operation Disrespectful Nod, or had never advertised with them at all.
Other operations are currently in effect, such as Operation Baby Seal, Operation UV, and the Rebuild Initiative. Operation UV has already succeeded in changing FTC rules regarding affiliate advertising and has prompted Gawker to place disclaimers on articles containing affiliate links.
The GamerGate revolt has also been the focus of heavy criticism from influential feminists within the gaming industry, as multiple reports of third party trolling and other forms of abusive behavior, mostly directed towards prominent women in the video game industry, are common. As a result, GamerGate is commonly referred to as a "misogynistic hate campaign" by its detractors, although statistics suggest that this view of GamerGate is inaccurate.
The Three C's of #GamerGate
The core of the GamerGate revolt can be summarized by these three tenets:
Five minute intro to #GamerGate
- A People's History of #GamerGate, 2 November 2014
- See David Pakman
- See TotalBiscuit
- #GamerGate Part 1: The Path We've Taken - (NOTE: This is merely a mirror not IA himself)
- See TotalBiscuit
- See TotalBiscuit
- The ABCs of Gamergate, George, 2 November 2014
- The ABCs of Game Journalism, George, 19 February 2014
- The Gamergate Culture War: Big Picture Edition, Plexico Gingrich, 23 November 2014
- Opinion: Opening the gates of #Gamergate, Kyle Arsenault, 27 November 2014
- NEVER Stop Supporting #GamerGate, Blake Foxx 8 October 2014 8:02 PM
- The Zoe Post
- Quinnspiracy Theory: The Five Guys Saga (Mirror)
- @TotalBiscuit What the hell just happened?
- r/gaming 25k deleted comments
- Zoe Quinn's Patreon
- Zoe Quinn's Questionable Patreon Donors
- Patricia Hernandez's Journalistic Integrity
- TFYC Interview
- Zoe Quinn and the Fine Young Capitalists
- The Birth of Vivian
- The Fine Young Capitalists Funded With 4chan’s Aid
- Quinnspiracy Theory: In-N-Out Edition (Mirror)
- Indiegogo Campaign Hacked This Weekend, But Wasn’t Part Of A Widespread Attack
- Statement from Stephen Totilo regarding ethics
- Polygon statement regarding ethics
- Polygon vs SPJ regarding ethics
- @AdamBaldwin First use of #GamerGate for the consumer revolt
- A Narrative of #GamerGate and Examination of Claims of Collusion with 4chan
- Important Update: The FTC Heard Our Complaints