Monthly Archives: September 2014

What’s GamerGate?

In a word? Misogyny.

In a few words? Proof we still fucking need feminism. 

In the twenty-first fucking century.


Who is Zoe Quinn? There is absolutely no reason you or I ought to have any idea. She’s a super-small-time indie game developer and if you’ve heard her name before the beginning of this paragraph, you probably have a legion of misogynist trolls to thank.

So, thanks, Trolls. </sarcasm>

Zoe Quinn developed an award-winning game called Depression Quest (you can go here to get it for free, Fair warning: the page contains web audio, so you might want to mute your browser) which I normally would not know or care about. She then broke up with her boyfriend (which I still *really* don’t care about) who then summoned the legion of trolls on 4chan to get his revenge.

The trolls, in turn, have spent weeks now on a truly epic campaign of harassment, including the usual rape and death threats, and they’ve launched the hashtag #GamerGate because apparently we’re not tired enough of people using the suffix -gate to make things seem scandal-y as if that made any kind of actual sense.

They want to pretend it’s about ethics in gaming journalism, but there’s no “there” there. There’s no evidence of any corruption around Zoe or her game, and Zoe is such a small fish in such a small pond that I don’t see why we should care if there was.

They also want to pretend they speak for gamers. They don’t speak for me, and I suspect they’re nothing more than a tiny minority of gamers, the ones who are actually gamers I mean.

The saddest thing is that they’ve succeeded. They terrorized Zoe Quinn. They made me pay attention to them, and they’ve managed to tar the name “gamer” across much of the Internet. has been managing an epic pushback against this bullshit:

Which is pretty good for a site about dick jokes.

What’s a gamer?

I don’t have a deep expertise in a lot of fields, but one thing I’m more qualified to comment on than most is gaming. I have been a gamer most of my life.  “Gamer” is one of my most foundational identities, and gamers are a community I keep in touch with.

There seems to be a lot of confusion in media sources about what a gamer is. The impulse seems to be to try to define it as “a person who plays (video) games” and then express bafflement when community members don’t want to include people who play Solitaire on their lunch break.

The problem is that that isn’t and hasn’t ever been the definition of a gamer. Humans have been playing games since there have been humans, but gamers are a fairly recent phenomenon. People who play sports aren’t gamers. Gamblers aren’t gamers (despite regulatory bodies for gambling often being called “gaming commissions.”) Playing monopoly doesn’t make you a gamer.

The best approach, as with almost any identity group, is to start with self-identification. A gamer is someone who self-identifies as a gamer. You can stop there, that’s a complete definition.

But what would lead someone to identify themselves as a gamer? What does gaming mean to gamers?

There could be as many different answers as there are gamers. But if you look closely you’ll find some common themes. I call myself a gamer because I play tabletop roleplaying and strategy games and sophisticated PC games (shooters, strategy games, RPGs, MMOs, just to name a few genres.) I don’t call myself a gamer because I play chess or because I play Tetris on my phone. Magic: The Gathering players call themselves gamers. Poker players do not.

More important than what you play is how important gaming is to you. Do you see it as an important part of who you are as a person? Then you’re in.

As with being a “geek,” a genuine enthusiasm for the hobby is the only requirement.

And that’s really all there is to it.

Import Complete!

So, I finally got around to importing my Xanga Archive, so you can see all the Posts From Before in all their mediocre glory.

I almost didn’t. There’s some embarassing treasures in that archive, and a lot of personal stuff, but I figured: What the hell?