Brianna Wu survived Gamergate. Now she’s running for Congress




I never really understood what ‘Gamergate’ was, or why it was important or what its significance was.


Ive never even heard of “Gamergate” before and I don’t know why being a victim of it should make anyone a viable candidate for office.

And as an aside, isn’t it lucky that Nixon didn’t break into the Democratic Party conference at the Hilton hotel. We would never have been able to tack “Hilton” onto the back of any popular controversy with the same gusto as “gate”. Gamerhilton just doesn’t have the same ring to it…


Or the Red Roof Inn. No nerd would want to go to gamerredroofinn.



I used to be relatively active on The Escapist, which is where it really got jump started. It also meant I saw most of its early developments playing out in real-time.

Long story short: An ex-boyfriend of game developer Zoe Quinn posted a lengthy blog that contained many accusations against her. The most notable was her having sex with an author at Kotaku. Her ex never explicitly assigned a motivation, but many quickly jumped on her doing it for favors despite a near total lack of coverage of her or her work on Kotaku at the time. Pretty early on, there were two voices. One was saying this was an ethical violation and wanted to focus on that. The considerably louder side, though, said this was proof of some mass feminist conspiracy to take over video games. I cannot possibly describe just how chaotic that first week felt. Many of us on The Escapist who weren’t that political got flustered and stopped participating in discussion for a little bit, just watching the madness unfold. During that first week or so, it was called Quinnspiracy.

Eventually, Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist blogger who was already incredibly polarizing among gamers, revealed a series of death threats she received on Twitter. The one making the threats also threatened her parents and apparently had their address. After the previous week or so of a ton of anti-feminist rage from Quinnspiracy, this seems to have been the tipping point where many game sites started fighting back with their own uncharitable articles, which were called the “Gamers Are Dead” articles. Gamasutra, Polygon, Kotaku, and I believe Game Informer were among the early ones to get on board. It was around this time that “GamerGate” got its name. While the focus never left Quinn or Sarkeesian (and later Wu), at least a little more focus got turned on the media outlets themselves. For as long as I cared to follow it, though, these voices never really rose above the screaming of the anti-feminist wing of the movement.

Ultimately, GamerGate doesn’t seem to have accomplished much. There was way too much anti-feminism and way too many conspiracy theories early on for serious discussion about ethics to take place, despite attempts by some like TotalBiscuit to move in that direction. I haven’t followed GG much since its first year or so, but the few times it has come up from supporters seems to come from those who probably weren’t around to see just how viciously anti-feminist (and let’s face it, misogynistic) a lot of it was early on, which is why those of us who did see it play out and didn’t jump on board don’t take it seriously.

At best, it was a disorganized movement that got taken over by misogynists screaming their heads off about feminist conspiracies. Oh yeah, and it also got the attention of Milo Yiannopoulos, who was a fan. That’s how I first heard of the guy.


Oh yeah, and for anyone wondering about taking a stroll through The Escapists’s forums to see what it was like during that time: Don’t bother. The site got DDoSed, likely motivated by it being a hub for GamerGate, and when it was brought back online, the forum was effectively reset to its state prior to the whole fiasco. At that point, the mods of the site forced all conversation into a single “megathread” that existed in their Religion & Politics subforum. (There might have been a time in the interim where all threads were moved to R&P until R&P users complained about the flood of GG-related threads, but I don’t remember how all that played out.)

I’m not sure if that megathread still exists though, but it got to at least 1000 pages with 20+ posts per page. The site’s “Game Industry Discussion” subforum, which you need an account to access, was later created to house all GG-related discussion. By that point, though, the movement had mostly moved on to Reddit and Twitter, but that didn’t stop the subforum from being rather active for a little bit afterwards. It also meant that those GG-ers who hid in the megathread had to face those members who hated them and threw them in the megathread to begin with. Most didn’t last long after that, either leaving or getting banned.

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