"Gamergate" has been touched on a lot in other threads so it's probably worth getting one up to focus on it specifically.
What is Gamergate?
How long do you have?
Depending on who you ask Gamergate is a followup to earlier issues (such as the horribly named Doritogate
and Lauren Wainwright controversy) with (the lack of) journalistic integrity and ethics in the video game media and/or a reassertion of the "video gamer" identity/sub-culture against pressure that it no longer existed and/or a reaction to what is seen as an attempt to force politics into gaming (and a further reaction to people believing they were being co-opted or used in a campaign they didn't believe in; see #NotYourShield) and/or a whole bunch of other stuff and/or basically a harassment campaign from misogynistic men who hate women.
In truth it's probably a bit of all of them... and depending on who you ask larger elements of each.
To give a very basic, very canned history:
Female indy game developer's ex-boyfriend puts up a blog about how she cheated on him and was in a relationship with a journalist at the video game website that gave her some coverage (although not during their relationship).
Basically the debate immediately split. On one hand some people focused on the integrity implications that came with this. As above the integrity (or lack thereof) of video games journalism has been a topic for a long, long time and while the direct accusations in this example were groundless it caused an upsurge of interest and comment, especially when there appeared to be a mass censorship attempt by much of the video games media. There have been lots of discussions about seemingly inappropriate relationships, the revealing of an "insider" mailing list where games journalists communicated with each other and seemed to have breached some barriers that shouldn't really be breached by journalists (as well as a possible illegal blacklisting) and a whole lot more.
On the other hand, especially in the wake of Anita Sarkeesian and the controversy she's caused (and threats she's been subjected to) and things like Dickwolves, some use it as an excuse to go on a harassment campaign against females involved in gaming in general and, more specifically, the much maligned S(ocial)J(ustice)W(arriors). There's been misogynistic insults, threats, death threats, doxxing... basically the full run of what happens when a Twitter-storm turns into a Twitter-Day-After-Tomorrow. And it hasn't been pretty... from either side.
Those two branches have remained pretty strong trends... but they've also branched off themselves.
One addition was more mainstream media getting involved, largely with a "gamers are dead, long living gaming" style approach where a lot of articles in a short place of time all delved into the issue of what constituted a "gamer", what constituted "someone who plays video games" and whether "gamer" as a subculture existed any more. This led to a fightback by those who still considered themselves gamers and in turn to mainstream journalists getting drawn into the wider Gamergate battle. Arguably the biggest story out of this is a targeted campaign to get advertisers to drop Gawker after one of their journalists made a number of "jokes" about bullying nerds during bullying awareness month and there was no real apology.
The other addition was the previously mentioned #NotYourShield. As a reaction to the misogynistic harassment being thrown at women in the game industry some people tried to paint "gamers" as being a misogynistic, racist, transphobic etc etc toxic whole... and in turn a number of gamers who fell into those minorities came back by saying that they were proud gamers and that someone shouldn't try to use them to make their point... in essence, don't use me as your shield to make an argument. So right there we have a debate about (to use over dramatic language) the "soul of video gaming".
Have you followed that?
Well, I'm struggling to and I'm writing this stuff. And only really touching the surface.
So, where do I stand?
In an awkward position.
On the journalistic integrity point? Heavily pro gamergate. Journalistic ethics have always been pretty dire in video games and this just reinforces the point. Too many "journalists" end up rewriting press releases as articles, too many accept too many freebies and junkets without feeling the need to declare them, the games PR and games reporting industries are far too close (not helped by a stint as a video games writer seemingly being one of the first steps in a career path to games PR) and as this series of events have revealed too many journalists and writers are too close to each other without disclosing it.
On the "gamers vs the world" point... still pretty pro gamergate. People who play video games have long been denigrated by more mainstream media, written off as "geeks" and "nerds" and generally made fun of. As difficult as it is to define I think there is a distinct "gamer" culture and I don't think it does anyone any good to either write it off as dead or pigeonhole it too much; the sort of people who play competitive MOBA's are a different group to those who pour hours into FPS's are a different group to those who play fairly hardcore wargames who in turn are different to those who delve into serious RPG's. I think it's only fair to "gamers" to reassert their existence and the fact that they're a subculture in and of themselves despite wider acceptance; lots of people drive cars but there are still car enthusiasts for example.
On the harassment? It's a disgrace. I'm not sure how much is directly related to video games and how much is more related to the way any woman who sticks her head above the parapet is basically immediately attacked online, but there has been a distinctly nasty misogynistic streak to much of the abuse. Frankly both "sides" have got their hands dirty; the likes of Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian and Brianna Wu have got the headlines when it comes to threats but one could likewise look at the treatment of Milo Yiannopoulos or this actually quite uplifting tale
of someone who was doxxed and received death threats but was able to track the perpetrator down and have a conversation about what she had done. Suffice to say there's been a lot of shit thrown, a lot of insults and a lot of terrible behavior that paints no-one in a good light.
It's too late now but the best thing would have been if early on the term gamergate had been split... there are legitimate concerns about journalistic ethics just as there are legitimate concerns about the horrific way people are being treated. But the journalistic concerns get brushed under the carpet because they're lumped in with the misogynistic harassers and the abuse gets written off as people trying to distract attention for the ethics concerns. Then we could perhaps have another term for the "gamer vs non-gamer" debate and hell, lets throw in another one for the whole "NotYourShield" stuff and whether people can be said to speak for others.
As it is we have a mess. A big ol' mess.
Anyone else want to jump in?