Interview The Voices of GamerGate: An interview with Angela Night

What one gamer thinks about the positives GamerGate has brought to games journalism.

Justin Knight

Published

By Justin Knight @OptimusJut

Editor's note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and the individual that was interviewed, and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, Metaleater Media as a whole.

This second interview I conducted in regards to GamerGate was with Angela Night, a 32 year-old married mother of two from Leicester, UK, a longtime gamer and blogger. After speaking with her for a few months over Twitter, she agreed to be interviewed and share her thoughts and experiences with the GamerGate saga, which will be a year old this August.

What were your feelings about the gaming media leading up to August 28, 2014?

I felt that the gaming media could not make up its mind about what it wanted to be: an enthusiast media for gaming as a hobby, a media that serves as marketing for the gaming industry or an investigative media that uncovers wrongdoing. It seems that they were trying to be all three and that was never going to work. They had journalists uncovering corruption while covering people that they had relationships with without disclosure, journalists breaking stories about game companies that were advertising on their site and journalists defending bad industry practices while being actively derogatory about gamers. I viewed content on gaming sites but only really to supplement the stable YouTubers that I trusted to have my back as a consumer."

Angela Night

What gaming websites did you personally visit before all this began?

Since most of my conversations about gaming happen on Twitter I would come across or be sent links to various articles and sites. As a consequence I would visit any site that had posted a story that appeared to be of interest to me. This was often a problem as it required constantly sifting through the articles that came my way to establish what was opinion, what was rumour, what was clickbait and what was genuine gaming news. Mainly the articles would come from the larger gaming news sites ie: Polygon, Kotaku, IGN and The Escapist. I was also a subscriber to The Escapist YouTube channel where I would watch their gaming news videos."

What first brought GamerGate to your attention?

GamerGate first came to my attention on Twitter, where I was having many conversations with other gamers. I was aware when the hashtag was first formed, what it was and what it was about. I had seen the reaction to the original post by Eron Gjoni and watched it evolve into wider questions about what the situation meant within the wider sphere of gaming and gaming media."

Public trust in gaming media has been massively damaged and only time will tell whether they can win that trust back."

What made you choose to support it?

I chose to support the #GamerGate hashtag because I felt that there were legitimate concerns regarding the long term ethical behaviour of some gaming journalists and that those concerns were not being addressed. There are reasons why the basic tenets of journalism exist, in order to make sure that everyone is treated fairly and that the media behaves in way that is, as much as it can be while being a business trying to make a profit, in the interests of the public. Ethical good practice within journalism ensure reporting that is accurate, thorough and fair. These standards protect integrity and minimizes bias."

How did you feel about the way the gaming media and the mainstream media responded to and covered the story?

I believe the way that the media responded to GamerGate was symptomatic of a long-term problem concerning the way that gamers are treated by and represented within the media. Gaming media seems to regard their audience with an attitude that borders on contempt, regularly painting gamers as angry, entitled man-children whenever a situation arises that gamers are not happy with. When GamerGate arose, I felt that the gaming media took the opportunity to further push the idea of the 'toxic, neckbeard, perma-virgin, white, cisgender male gamer' as a form of misdirection to protect itself from scrutiny. The fact that we had game journalists that were not aware of any basic ethical standards within journalism or stated outright that they did not care was incredibly telling. The worst part was seeing them throw up particular women as meat shields to push the misogyny angle, throwing them at the crowds while they made a run for it. The wider mainstream media responded in the same way that it usually does whenever a story comes up involving gamers, doing very little research and engaging in sensationalism in order to paint gamers as 'dangerous' people that need to be feared. The people that support GamerGate are ordinary people, not any different from anyone that you are likely to meet in your day to day life. To be compared to terrorist organizations such as ISIS and the KKK for the crime of supporting ethical reform in video game journalism is a grossly unfair and disproportionate reaction."

How did you feel that, despite many women such as yourself supporting it, people like Anita Sarkeesian were still calling it a sexist/misogynistic hate movement?

There were people that clearly took the opportunity to use the GamerGate situation as a platform to gain more exposure. When someone sends out tweets that are hateful or derogatory about a group of people, one can hardly be surprised when those within that group react negatively. It hardly seems fair to say that a group is harassing you when you are baiting them on a daily basis. With that said threats of death/rape/violence are never acceptable. Troll organizations such as the GNAA very quickly saw opportunities for mischief within the GamerGate situation and there has been questionable behaviour on both sides. I don't believe that the people that support the #GamerGate hashtag do so because they are sexist or misogynist. There are a great many women that support GamerGate and it certainly seems bitterly ironic that those that within gaming that make a big song and dance about supporting women are so willing to ignore, harass or denounce women that support GamerGate, even dismissing them and labelling them as sockpuppets. It seems that because so many of the game journalists concerned are part of the same game journalist/critic/developer clique GamerGate has become part of the larger examination of the inclusion of feminist and social justice ideology that has recently become part of the wider sphere of gaming."

GamerGate does not hate women, nor is it anti-feminist (there are many feminists that support GamerGate myself included). However there are some women whose behaviour is disagreed with by some of those that support GamerGate, to disagree with a woman in itself is not misogyny unless it is directly linked to her gender. Because some of the people whose behaviour GamerGate supporters have questioned happen to be female, and because those that ask politely and have moderate viewpoints are thrown right in with the trolls and the extremists, the media has been able to spin this narrative of a group of angry men, anti-feminists and MRAs that are utterly bent on destroying all the helpless women that ever thought about video games. I have always tried to speak from a moderate position of logic and fairness yet I am lumped right in with third-party trolls that are sending death threats to provoke a reaction. Often it has felt that it is not the views of women that matter to those within game journalism but rather a select group of women that have a members pass for the club. This is especially ironic as it is these people that are trying to paint gaming as a 'boys only club' that only women that behave a certain way can get into."

Were you ever threatened or doxed for supporting its cause?

I have been relatively lucky in that I've managed to fly mostly under the radar in terms of problems in supporting GamerGate. Though I do use my real name on Twitter, I do not make my place of employment or any other details of my life public. I have had some interesting encounters with those that are anti-GamerGate. I was told to go away by Ian Miles Cheong when replying to a thread of him and Johnathan McIntosh criticizing feminist scholar Christina Hoff Sommers and I was called an idiot and told that women who support GamerGate are 'stupid and ill informed' by Graham Linehan. I won't deny that I have worried about potential repercussions for supporting GamerGate. There have been others who have been doxed, threatened, had their employers contacted and even lost their jobs. This seems to be to be a huge overreaction, is getting someone fired or doxing them really a justifiable reaction to someone posting on a hashtag about video games? I don't believe so."

As you had a previous experience with Ian Miles Cheong, what did you make of his apology?

It's certainly interesting. Since I don't know Ian Miles Cheong and have only interacted with him online I can't really say what his intentions are, only what I would guess them them to be from my interpretation of his actions. His swing back towards gamers from being so vehemently anti-gamer has been quite dramatic. However for the moment at least he appears to be genuine in his contrition and he has taken some very positive steps, both in uninstalling the GamerGate autoblocker and updating the Gameranx ethics policy. I've never held any animosity towards him, even after our interaction, and I hope that he has rediscovered his love of video games. I also hope that it is this rediscovery that has fueled this desire to reconnect with gamers as his audience. However with that said I am somewhat cynical in nature and I can't help but think that a drop in views for Gameranx might also have a little something to do with it. For the most part, being a stranger, I wish Ian Miles Cheong well and I have accepted his apology. With that being said, I have forgiven his behaviour... but I haven't forgotten it."

Anita Sarkeesian

GamerGate does not hate women, nor is it anti-feminist."

Ian Miles Cheong

What would you say were GamerGate's finest moment or moments?

I would say that GamerGate's finest moments were all the ones that allowed it to achieve its goal of better game journalism. Every time a site updated its ethics or posted disclosure where they wouldn't have done before is a fine moment for GamerGate because it means that ultimately GamerGate has succeeded in what it set out to do. Other great moments include the uncovering of the GameJournoPros email group, which gave legitimacy to many of the ethical concerns that GamerGate had. I would also say the funding of The Fine Young Capitalists, in fact all the work that GamerGate has done for a great many charities. I also believe the importance of the #NotYourShield hashtag cannot be understated, in one fowl swoop this tag immediately eliminated the stereotype of gamers as being all white men and offered a platform for women and minority gamers who didn't feel that their voice was being heard."

I am aware you attended one of the first GamerGate meet ups. What was it like?

I attended the second of the London GamerGate meet ups and it was a truly fantastic experience. At first it was a little strange to be suddenly in a room full of people that I had only spoken to online but it didn't take long for any awkwardness to vanish. It was wonderful to see so many people from many different backgrounds coming together to make real life connections and celebrate a shared love of video games. Drinks were consumed, games were played and conversation flowed. The world can often be unkind to gamers and gaming as a hobby can often attract those that find real life social interactions slightly difficult. Gaming as a community can be sporadic, at times together and at other times at each other's throats. In my personal experience gamers love a good debate and can get pretty passionate in defense of their opinions and favourite games/brands. This made it difficult for gamers to seem united about anything. If you had asked me a year ago whether something as small as a Twitter hashtag could have gamers from all over the world working in co-operation for common interests and even travelling great distances to meet each other in person I'd have probably laughed in your face. It seems to me that the rejection and contempt displayed towards us by the media that was supposed to represent our best interests has forced us to look more to each other for succour and friendship. As gamers, we may be dead, but at least we're dead together."

We Are Gamers

GamerGate's finest moments were all the ones that allowed it to achieve its goal of better game journalism."

What are your thoughts on the views that GamerGate achieved its goals and now appears to be a self-appointed industry watchdog?

GamerGate has been going for a long time now; ten months plus of Internet time is akin to a millennium. This is entirely the fault of the gaming media. They could have ended it at any time with thorough investigation and examination of their ethical conduct and even a small display of contrite behaviour rather than outright attacking their audience. Too much time has passed now for GamerGate to just pack up the hashtag and go home and it is clear that the gaming media is in need of regular scrutiny. A void was there and GamerGate has stepped in to fill that void, ensuring that gaming journalism outlets do not immediately begin to regress back into their old ways. With that, though, comes a feeling of wistful regret. It should never have had to be this way. The gaming media should first and foremost exist to protect the interests of gamers as its consumers. Gamers should not be having to police their own media to ensure it behaves properly. It's like having to sit in the kitchen in a restaurant and watch the chef prepare your food to ensure that they don't spit in it. Public trust in gaming media has been massively damaged and only time will tell whether they can win that trust back. In the meantime GamerGate is there, keeping a watchful eye. We have supported this endeavour for a long time now and many of us -- also having the common interest of gaming -- have formed relationships with each other that go far beyond people posting on the same hashtag. Friendships have been made, meet-ups are occurring, and people are eager to establish connections with those they have met through GamerGate within their real lives. GamerGate in itself has become something of a community. It is clear, for the moment at least, that GamerGate is here to stay."

Do you have any regrets about supporting it?

No. I have met some wonderful and fantastic people through the #GamerGate hashtag. GamerGate inspired me to begin blogging about issues in gaming and feminism for myself, discovering a love for writing that I never even knew was there. I have become a creator through GamerGate. I have built an audience through GamerGate. I have made friends through GamerGate. I have seen the #GamerGate hashtag bring a hugely diverse group of gamers of all ages and backgrounds together in pursuit of a common goal in a way that I never thought was even possible. If GamerGate does cease to exist it is likely that it is something that I will remember being a part of for the rest of my life. Yes, to some, ethics in video game journalism is a silly thing to strive for, and not worthy of so much attention, but I have seen it do great things, make careers, inspire creativity and build community. I am proud to say that I have supported GamerGate."

Images courtesy of Angela Night and Feminist Frequency. GamerGate images copyright 2014 Metaleater Media. E3 2015 image copyright 2015 Metaleater Media.