Gamergate was a misogynistic harassment campaign in 2014–15 that targeted women in gaming in general, and three specific women in particular: feminist media commentator Anita Sarkeesian, and video game developers Zoë Quinn and Brianna Wu. The campaign’s catchcry was that they only wanted “ethics in video game journalism”, and made up countless stories alleging unethical collusion between female game developers and male gaming journalists, generally involving the former having sex with the latter in exchange for favourable reviews of their games. The women accused were subject to intense harassment and abuse on social media, including death threats and doxxing which forced them to be afraid in real life. The harassment was largely coordinated through websites such as 4chan, 8chan and Reddit.
Gamergate has also been described as representing a “culture war” between the misogynistic elements of geek culture and the progressives. “Gamergaters” were more broadly angry about some supposed “feminisation” of video games, which they felt ought to have been the preserve of privileged right-wing men like them. They were angry that more and more games were being released that didn’t fit that generic mould of “violent shooting game with lots of sexist stereotypes”, with more recognition that video game players were more diverse than the “gamer” stereotype of the sexist young loner man, and that greater efforts were being made to diversify the games industry.
The event exposed the complete inadequacy of Twitter’s moderation systems to handle high volumes of abuse and harassment; harassers could keep making new accounts much faster than they could get blocked, let alone banned, for their behaviour.
Gamergate has been regarded as an event that radicalised numerous young men into the alt-right. Shortly after it, in 2016, we see the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency and a general escalation of far right activity in numerous countries around the world.