The GamerGate playbook

I, for one, have absolutely no idea what she’s talking about. GamerGate? What is this playbook of which you speak so highly?

The Anti-CNN Harassment Campaign Is Using the GamerGate Playbook

This time the target isn’t video game reviewers. It’s families of reporters. And many of the same characters from the first time are back for Round 2.


For Twitter users, the #CNNBlackmail flap has been hard to miss. Angry Trump supporters, furious that the network “forced” the originator of the Trump-wrestling-CNN GIF to apologize even though it didn’t, fixated on a single line in the story posted to CNN’s KFILE: “CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should [his remorsefulness] change.” Cue the angry mobs that targeted not just the reporter of the story with death threats, but his wife and parents.

But for me, this all looked depressingly familiar. A mostly far-right swarm of Twitter users caterwauling about free speech, memes, and ethics in journalism? We’ve been here before.
Many of the same tactics and major players that made names for themselves in GamerGate—from Mike Cernovich to Weev—are being used to push a wide-scale harassment campaign against CNN.

In August of 2014 Eron Gjoni, the ex-boyfriend of Zoë Quinn, a game developer, posted a lengthy screed in which he falsely accused her of illicitly securing favorable reviews for her game. This touched off a tidal wave of abuse directed at her. At first, it all seemed like so many of the seasonal storms of harassment that women in tech are subjected to. Critic Anita Sarkeesian, veteran game developer Jennifer Hepler, and tech evangelist Adria Richards all had their turns as the monster-of-the-week for reactionary internet trolls heaping rape/death threats and slander upon them.

But the abuse around Quinn rapidly metastasized into something larger that attacked several people at once, and brought old targets like Sarkeesian back to the fore (she was eventually forced to flee her own home after detailed, specific threats were made). Using the fig-leaf provided by the false accusation about reviews, the attackers conjured a scandal about gaming journalism to justify their fixation on the female game developers and feminist critics they so hated. They called it #GamerGate.

This movement lasted for months, and constituted a new form of both online harassment and right-wing activism. Though GamerGate putatively drew its adherents from across the political spectrum, they would constellate around hatred of “political correctness” and feminism, and ally themselves with conservative and extreme-right voices.

Terrible stuff indeed. I, for one, denounce this mob intimidation being directed at hard-working journalists who are guilty of nothing more than reporting the news to the American public. I mean, what sort of monster concocts dreadfully dank memes like the one below? (clears throat, adjusts bow tie) Truly reprehensible!