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In August 2014, men seeking to purge the video game industry of women began organizing a coordinated harassment and abuse campaign under the pretext of "ethics in video game journalism", using 4chan for proxy recruitment and the #gamergate hashtag on Twitter for coordination. Apparently, the defamation of Zoe Quinn, as well as continued and escalating harassment of Anita Sarkeesian, launched the campaign. Many other women and genderqueer people who make independent games, or simply critique games, suffered consequences as well.
In September, Zoe Quinn revealed that she had been lurking in and logging the IRC channels that 4chan users were using to coordinate the harassment of her. She tweeted a series of excerpts from those IRC logs, which show that the supposed controversy over "ethics" was manufactured by a small group of people with an axe to grind against "social justice warriors" (or "SJWs"), who opportunistically exploited her aggrieved ex-boyfriend's attack on her. Quinn stated that she would be sharing the logs with law enforcement and the media.
#notyourshield hashtag and phony Twitter accounts
Gamergate harassers also started a hashtag, #notyourshield, and created fake accounts with fictional personae who were women and/or people of color who were supposedly allies with Gamergate's agenda of purging women from video games. In reality, the operators of the fake accounts were (and are) Gamergate harassers attempting to legitimize themselves. This attempt at legitimization was unsuccessful, as the IRC logs that Quinn released documented that Gamergate harassers deliberately manufactured the #notyourshield campaign (an example of astroturfing). This fraud followed a similar pattern to previous astroturfing campaigns organized by 4chan, such as #EndFathersDay (also see the #YourSlipIsShowing hashtag).
The first known mention of #NotYourShield appears in an archived copy of a thread on 4chan's /v/ board from September 2, 2014:
Anonymous Tue 02 Sep 2014 20:59:14 No.261347271 Something like >#NotYourShield And demand the SJWs stop using you as a shield to deflect genuine criticism
Anonymous Tue 02 Sep 2014 21:31:01 No.261349447 #GamerGate + #NotYourShield is an excellent combination. Use it for talking about how you're for GamerGate but nobody will admit you're not white, cis and straight. SPREAD IT
Gamergate harassers, upset with game journalist Leigh Alexander's critique of them, pressured Intel to drop their advertising in Gamasutra, the publication for which Alexander is employed as the news director. Intel capitulated, indicating their support for Gamergate's campaign against women in video games both by dropping their advertising, and via their @IntelGaming twitter account. Intel later issued a press release in the form of an archetypical non-apology. Particularly risible is the snippet:
…we recognize that our action inadvertently created a perception that we are somehow taking sides in an increasingly bitter debate in the gaming community. That was not our intent, and that is not the case.
In other words, they assert that it is misguided to assume they are taking sides in this "bitter debate" simply because they carried out the action requested by one of those sides.
In November 2014, The Telegraph reported that Intel reinstated its advertising with Gamasutra. In his January 2015 keynote speech at CES, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said that issues with advertising caused Intel to re-evaluate what they could do not just for women in gaming, but also for the larger issue of diversity in tech. He announced that Intel would spend $300 million to improve diversity in tech and gaming. Since Intel never explicitly acknowledged that they supported a hate campaign or apologized for doing so, this looks like an attempt to deflect criticism by buying silence.
#GamerGate So you found out your media is corrupt. It is. Now go all the way to the top https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/522087808316755968 http://pando.com/2014/10/12/wikileaks-meets-surveillance-valley-an-interview-with-julian-assange/
In using GamerGate as an example of "corrupt" media, WikiLeaks tacitly endorsed harassers' defamatory claims against Zoe Quinn (and by extension, the claim that any women involved in the game industry owed all their success to relationships with powerful people, while no men do).
Mozilla published a pro-GamerGate article on their Open Standard blog, reinforcing the misconception that GamerGate constitutes a legitimate side in a debate. They also were dilatory in removing GamerGate coordination content from etherpad.mozilla.org, a public unauthenticated pastebin that Mozilla hosts, citing concerns about backlash from "social justice warriors".
Gamergate had been using a git repository ("GamerGateOP") hosted on GitHub to coordinate their actions. Pursuant to their ToS, GitHub took down the repository on 3 Oct 2014, which immediately kicked off a flurry of harassment targeting the GitHub employee who the Gamergaters believed was responsible. The repository was reposted on GitLab, which followed suit and removed it on 6 Oct 2014.
- Zachary Jason for Boston Magazine, "Game of Fear": chronicles the history of Gamergate with a focus on how it enabled a stalker to leverage thousands of Internet harassers to assist in harming his victim.
- Tim Colwill, editor-in-chief of games.on.net, announces "Readers who feel threatened by equality no longer welcome"
- Leigh Alexander enumerated many genuine ethical concerns in video games, concluding that the sex lives of women in the game industry are not among them.
- Rich McCormick for The Verge, "Intel buckles to anti-feminist campaign by pulling ads from gaming site"
- Jetta Rae DoubleCakes for Ravishly, "GamerGate's Economy Of Harassment And Violence"