This week is a weird anniversary for me. It was a year ago that I found myself specifically targeted by GamerGate. I’d been through several minor waves of harassment by them before because of critical coverage of the movement since it started, but being a straight white guy and a pretty minor figure all around, it wasn’t that bad. But then, Breitbart tech editor and alt-right media darling Milo Yiannopoulos decided to try and destroy the life of one of their most effective documenters of harassment; I got mixed up in it, and the next thing I know, I have to bring Harris County Sheriff’s Office out to my house to try and prevent a possible SWATing. If you need the details, they’re here. I’m not really here to talk about GamerGate, though. As a cultural phenomenon, it’s largely over, though the mainstreaming of harassment, doxing, and other online terrorism that is its legacy is ongoing for the foreseeable future. I want to talk about gaming as I knew it before GamerGate and gaming as I know it now.
Before 2012 my viewpoint on games was uncomplicated. I was a media critic but fairly unversed in looking at the world through any other lens beyond the one I was born with. My thoughts on bad behavior in the game space amounted to “don’t play shooters on multiplayer because teenage boys will call you names.” Basically, I gamed as I lived inside Twisted Destiny’s “Let’s Play.”