Read the title again. Make sure you take note of the “S” in there. Typos are harm­less, most of the time, but a group of peo­ple fail­ing to make that lit­tle dis­tinc­tion caused a large gam­ing store to receive so much abuse, “threats and harsh words,” it had to put out a state­ment that they were not, in fact, affil­i­at­ed with an online con­sumer revolt. Recently there was a hash­tag used in an appar­ent con­gres­sion­al brief­ing called #StopWebH8 and in the light of that I think it is use­ful to go back to October and exam­ine this gap­ing crack in the media nar­ra­tive:

Announcement: GAMERSGATE.COM is NOT Gamergate!

As many of you are aware of, recent­ly there has been a fierce and infect­ed dis­cus­sion about sex­ism as well as jour­nal­is­tic ethics in the gam­ing indus­try. We’ve received threats and harsh words from around the world and want to make it clear for every­one that is not part of this con­tro­ver­sy what­so­ev­er.

Next year cel­e­brate our 10th anniver­sary and since start we have been sell­ing games for down­load. We are one of the orig­i­nal down­load plat­forms and we do our best to sup­port gamers so that they can buy and down­load games to good prices. Anytime, any­where.


Theodore Bergqvist. CEO –

 This is impor­tant because it shows three things:

  1. That there was a wave of “threats and harsh words” being direct­ed at GamerGate and there has been since at least October 2014.
  1. That peo­ple are so worked up and will­ing to blind­ly attack a tar­get, but also so ill-informed, they will go after some­thing that 10 sec­onds of research would show is a com­plete­ly wrong place to direct their rage.
  1. The media will ONLY report on harass­ment direct­ed at GamerGate when it is neg­a­tive­ly affect­ing an inno­cent third par­ty in a way that is impos­si­ble to ignore.

side 111Let’s talk about the first point, because I don’t know how a site like Polygon can report on this and not feel a wave of shame when it reports oth­er incor­rect news. This is proof, in print, that peo­ple in GamerGate are the tar­get of sig­nif­i­cant amounts of abuse, amounts of abuse a cor­po­ra­tion finds it impos­si­ble to ignore. Now if GamersGate felt the need to put out a state­ment, then imag­ine the lev­el of threats and abuse lev­eled at an indi­vid­u­al. You begin to see the pic­ture devel­op. Zoe Quinn and  the son of a bil­lion­aire inter­na­tion­al arms deal­er Alex Lifschitz attend­ed a con­gres­sion­al brief­ing this week, undoubt­ed­ly aimed at try­ing to con­vince them that GamerGate is some kind of “Cyberstalking Campaign.” How can we #StopWebH8 when from the begin­ning the vol­umes of threats issued were so high again­st peo­ple they were so des­per­ate­ly try­ing to dis­cred­it? Once again this is a smok­ing gun report­ed on by media that claims to stand firm­ly again­st GamerGate.

The sec­ond point would be amus­ing if it wasn’t so depress­ing. GamersGate has been around for the best part of a decade, it is an estab­lished and very well liked online store. For some­one to send a threat to them they must: a) Be mon­u­men­tal­ly spite­ful and anti­so­cial to send a threat at all b) Stupid as all hell as to con­fuse the two and c) Have lim­it­ed knowl­edge of gam­ing. GamersGate isn’t exact­ly Steam, but I’ve heard of it and I reck­on a good chunk of peo­ple would know the name even if they haven’t used the ser­vice. Even if this abuse had found the right tar­get… it’s still abuse. There are no “good tar­gets” for abuse (no mat­ter what MovieBob tells you) and the fact that it took such inep­ti­tude in a large vol­ume to bring this to light is mind-boggling. This brings us on to point three:

The report­ing was mud­dled and con­fused, even caus­ing some to briefly think that it was GamerGate sup­port­ers harass­ing the online store.  It seems sites like Polygon took pity on GamersGate and decid­ed to report this announce­ment despite the deep embar­rass­ment the implied admis­sion of high lev­els of abuse again pro-GamerGate peo­ple would cause. There was also a gen­er­al tone that the name con­fu­sion was some­how the fault of the hash-tag; despite there being no excuse for send­ing abuse to any­one. Again the­se were acts of idio­cy again­st not only inno­cent peo­ple, but again­st com­plete­ly unin­volved par­ties. If you read the com­ments sec­tion in the Polygon arti­cle the reac­tion is an embar­rassed shrug and “Well it seems there are a few iso­lat­ed bad apples” begrudg­ing­ly admit­ting the abuse occurred. The men­tal gym­nas­tics to say that and then gen­er­al­ize gamers as “Terrorists” due to the actions of a few iso­lat­ed trolls is a sight to behold.

This typo con­tin­ues to exist in the most hate­ful mes­sages.  Take this for instance:

gamers gate

Once again the mis­placed “S” makes it almost humor­ous until some­one fires off an e-mail to an unre­lat­ed online store. This is the lev­el of blind, glee­ful abuse we are deal­ing with and for which a pub­lic announce­ment had to be put out to try and lim­it.

So where does this leave us? Well since October we’ve have absolute proof of a large num­ber of most like­ly non-Gamer indi­vid­u­als riled up and hand­ed pitch-forks by a media sell­ing fear who have gone after a group of peo­ple they see as valid tar­gets of abuse and threats. If not for a rogue “S” we would have nev­er heard about them from a media that is at this point many months com­plic­it in the abuse of the­se peo­ple. We have peo­ple in Washington being fed lies by a pair of peo­ple who have also con­tribut­ed to an envi­ron­ment where this abuse can take place and who fer­vent­ly white-wash its very exis­tence.  If they had a hint of intel­lec­tu­al hon­est­ly they would try to say #StopWebH8 for all sides of this debate in the face of indeli­ble inci­dents like the mis­tak­en GamersGate abuse. You can’t say there isn’t abuse going on towards GamerGate, you just can’t, and there is a wealth of evi­dence out there beyond just this glar­ing inci­dent.

I think the first step in stop­ping hate online is to acknowl­edge the dam­age one-sided, false media cov­er­age can do, and to admit to our­selves that online abuse hap­pens uni­ver­sal­ly and is not a polit­i­cal or par­ti­san issue. It’s just a thought. Having some lev­el head­ed san­i­ty would have made the lives of the GamersGate staff a lot eas­ier and it would make the lives of peo­ple who sup­port GamerGate less mis­er­able as well. SweeneyEditorialEditorial,GamerGate, Read the title again. Make sure you take note of the “S” in there. Typos are harm­less, most of the time, but a group of peo­ple fail­ing to make that lit­tle dis­tinc­tion caused a large gam­ing store to receive so much abuse, “threats and harsh words,” it had to put…
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John Sweeney
John Sweeney is a ter­ri­bly British man with a back­ground in engi­neer­ing. He writes long-form edi­to­ri­al con­tent with analy­sis of gam­ing, games media and inter­net cul­ture. He also does the occa­sion­al video game ret­ro­spec­tive with a week­ly column about Magic the Gathering thrown in for good mea­sure. He also does most of our inter­views for some rea­son, we have no idea why. A staunch sup­port­er of free speech and con­sumer rights; skep­ti­cal of agen­da dri­ven media and sus­pi­cious of unac­cou­table author­i­ty but always hope­ful for change.