Gaming

Why #GamerGate Failed: A Look Back at 2014's Most Ridiculous Movement

Update: The original version of this story used a screenshot of Lewis Denby and Ashton Raze's Richard and Alice instead of Zoe Quinn's Depression Quest. Thanks to commenter LionUCS for pointing out the error.

When media critic and creator of Feminist Frequency Anita Sarkeesian appeared on The Colbert Report near Halloween it seemed to come out of nowhere. Sarkeesian herself only announced it hours before it was to air, and Twitter and Reddit lit up as detractors to her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series discussed what she might say from the forum regarding the GamerGate phenomenon that had recently gained national news.

In all honesty neither Sarkeesian nor Colbert said anything particularly new or noteworthy for either of them. Colbert danced the line between playing his characters and reaching for understanding as always, and Sarkeesian brought a travel-sized version of her regular talking points. What it did do was drag the essence of the gory GamerGate mess into the spotlight for five whole minutes and revealed to the mainstream how utterly toxic and ridiculous it truly was.

It was a mortal wound for the movement and signaled its slow demise. A look at the hashtag's usage on Twitter shows a rallying spike around the discussion on Colbert, but then a slow, steady decline that continues as we head into 2015. America got a good look at GamerGate and pretty clearly it didn't think very much of it.

So why did it fail?

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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner