#GamerGate: A Matter of Ethics and Trust

By Gabriel Lopez

Student Contributor

For those that do not frequent the social network site Twitter, you may not be aware of the current situation regarding videogame enthusiasts. For the past few weeks, gamers of all kinds have joined together against large online gaming websites for what they perceive to be their end in a movement known as Gamer Gate (GG).

Both sides of the debate are fighting for different causes and have different interpretations as to the reason behind it with those against GG believing that gamers are simply angry at the way that the industry is moving towards what they believe to be a more inclusive audience and the pro-GG side believing that the videogame journalists have lost touch with their target audience and are failing to do their jobs as writers.

The movement began with an online blog post accusing one particular developer of exchanging favors for positive reviews and media coverage. The blog post led to two videos by YouTube blogger InternetAristocrat, both of which were later tweeted by TV actor Adam Baldwin (Full Metal Jacket, Firefly) with the tag “#GamerGate” on August 28. From there, the hashtag was born and the movement grew. From a few individuals to a diverse crowd, the movement gained public attention, both good and bad, from sites like Forbes, Breitbart.com, Kotaku, Polygon, CinemaBlend, Escapist, Gamasutra, and Vice and received a small section on NPR that featured actress Jennifer Hale.

Since the birth of the movement, videogame journalism sites such as Kotaku and Polygon have lost a large amount of viewership alongside losing sponsorship from BestBuy and Scottrade while the website Escapist has taken in a large amount of readers since it revised its policy for writers and issued an apology to the gaming community. The loss of sponsorship and viewership comes primarily from journalists from Polygon and Kotaku sending out insults to their readers calling them misogynistic and other things. News editor at Gamasutra, Leigh Alexander, publicly stated her hatred towards those that support GG, going so far as to say that she could eliminate anyone’s hopes of entering the industry. Ex-readers sent out angry emails at the sites’ sponsorship with successful results on their part.

A question posed by Adam Baldwin is how will sites uphold their, some believe, eventual revised policies? A primary goal of the movement is for game journalists to be less biased and have as few conflicts of interests as possible or stating any possible relationships with game developers that may damage credibility, but how? It was uncovered by several of the pro-GG crowd that the journalists would financially support many of the developers they covered, and it is assumed they had some form of relationship through Patreon, which allows one to give a monthly donation to any person they wish and has a feature that hides who they support financially. With that, some wonder how the sites will be able to have their writers reveal such info, which would result in conflicts of interests on the part of the writers, and how said sites plan to uphold their updated policies.

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