Note: This piece is born from a frustration with being told by a lot of people today that I’m not a gay male. I’m just some fake being used by 4chan. If it seems harsh, I apologize and hope you’ll stick with me through it. I also made edits to the original copy on 9/7 and 9/8 to clarify, add sources, and include more information.
This is not to be used as a statement that one side is harassed over another. It serves as evidence that this happens online to any group, not just a certain group. It is not intended to dismiss any alleged harassment experienced by any other person. It is intended to universalize the problem across all demographics to show that this is a problem for ALL) – CaineJW
There have been many “worthy” retellings of the #GamerGate tag from multiple press avenues all telling us who we are, what we feel, and what we believe. Please find one. Search the article for the word “misogyny.” Did you find it?
Then you are not reading a worthy retelling of the history of the #GamerGate tag. You are reading someone’s opinion as they believe the events are misogynistic in nature. This post will seek to provide a factual retelling of the events of the formation of #GamerGate from someone who has spent time within the group as well as a refutation of some assertions that both tags were/are 4chan ploys.
#GamerGate as an issue, not a tag, started originally as a post on WordPress from a former boyfriend of independent developer Zoe Quinn, as you can read, in full, here.
These posts began on August 16, 2014. The first comment to the post was posted at 8:07 AM Unknown Time Zone. There are some facts in this post:
The ex-boyfriend, Eron Gjoni, wrote about events that transpired, in private, between him and the developer Zoe Quinn.
In the events, Eron retells a story of conflict, love, and pain.
In the events, Eron names multiple men that Zoe confirmed she had sex with. The three that were named are Kotaku’s writer Nathan Grayson, her boss Joshua Boggs, and developer and friend Robin Arnott.
The original point of dissemination for the blog, originally written by “antinegationism” on Tumblr, is SomethingAwful and Penny Arcade. Both threads were deleted. This means that 4chan was not the original point of dissemination.
4chan posted the events on /v/ at 3:25 PM Pacific on 8/16/2014 almost 6 hours after the events. with the first post asking, “Why are you supporting SJWs and Kotaku again, despite them being horrible human beings?” The initial reaction appears mixed including some crude language of sexual actions, some dismissals of the event being true, and others noting that the event was “not gaming related.”
The second post asks, “Can anyone find any articles Grayson may have written about her or the game that show a blatant conflict of interest?” This one was at 4:27 PM Pacific, an hour after the initial post. In this post, many people insult Nathan Grayson, doubt the authenticity of the story, and saught information to prove Grayson had a conflict of interest.
Many posts popped up on 4chan throughout the day with all of them carrying many of the same themes.
Some posters calling Eron Gjoni a number of names.
Some posters insulting other posters.
Some posters questioning the veracity of the events as reported.
This serves as the second point of refutation in that 4chan did not rally around a singular, misogynist message. The users posted a whole range of messages.
Many were deleted very quickly under 4chan’s rules against doxing, “The posting or requesting of personal information (“dox”) or calls to invasion (“raids”) is prohibited.”
The same day, YouTuber MundaneMatt published a retelling of the events on his YouTube channel seen here:
Examination into the data of the video shows that it was fully published early in the morning on 8/17/14. It is likely that Matt was working on the video sometime during the afternoon and evening with the upload finishing as the day turned.
Soon after the publishing of this video, a DMCA request was sent by Zoe Quinn to YouTube to remove the video:
Matt has removed the identifying information from the DMCA request. The video was reuploaded removing the offending image of Depression Ques, Zoe’s game.
MundaneMatt was the first person to report in video the events after the posting in his video as far as I can find. Following this video shortly thereafter, the InternetAristocrat (IA) posted his video as seen here on August 17, 2014:
Around this time as well, a chat room, #burgersandfries, was created to discuss what IA called “The Quinnspiracy” after Zoe Quinn’s Twitter handle. The chat name came from the reference made by her ex that he cannot look at her without thinking of “Five Guys Burgers and Fries.” Further information on the origins can be found in his post above. The first known logs of the channel currently are from 8/18/2014.
Some participants discussed how to proceed. Some wondered why Quinn’s self-published adult photography did not become a weapon, but one chatter noted ”Posting the nudes wouldn’t be productive.” Others wondered how to get the press involved. Another stated plainly, “this is about the industry being corrupt.” The range of options discussed include concerning Quinn herself, releasing information to family members of those who had relationships with Quinn, alerting the press, and discussing video games journalism corruption all on 8/18/2014 with one user noting, “Endgame is destroying Kotaku, Boggs, and Quinn” — a website, a man, and a woman.
This serves as the third point of refutation that 4chan formed around the desire to destroy Zoe Quinn. They did not.
Another user notes, “this is about kotaku being biased towards SJWs which isn’t anything new.” Another notes, “We just didn’t create the bigger anti sjw backlash we hoped for”. (https://archive.today/Ler4O)
In every option that can be discerned on the first day of this, the channel seems to focus on those around Quinn. Anita Sarkeesian does not figure into any plans discussed on 8/18. The plan appears to always be destroying Kotaku, destroying Josh Boggs, and destroying Zoe Quinn. This plan to destroy the three continues day after day from 8/18 until around 8/21 with the Phil Fish and Zoe Quinn alleged hacking events. Again, only called alleged because no case has come of it.
Multiple websites also had threads created concerning the events including:
And others. During all of this, posts were being deleted, restored, edited, un-edited, and all sorts of general events. The reasons for these included the officially-stated reasons of policies against doxing to informal accusations of favoritism to Quinn and a desire to censor.
During this time, internet examinations and accusations included the destruction of the Fine Young Capitalists, willful destruction of game contests, and the rigging of other contests. These are all accusations with some evidence in terms of Twitter pictures, but let’s just stick to the events we can show without accusations.
The events of the above resulted in a spirited, if not raging, conversation across the internet for approximately a week around the 20th. These included statements by Quinn, Kotaku, and private statements made by Nathan Grayson that were pulled from his private Facebook page. I have no interest of violating Nathan’s privacy here as his Facebook was protected. Other information, though invasive, is publicly available.
On the previous night, Phil Fish was allegedly hacked by 4chan with all of his resources and some personal information being posted. Logs from the #burgerandfries channel show that nobody knew the hack was underway until it was finished. They were just as surprised as everyone else according to the logs with them saying he’d been hacked. There appears to be no planning.
On August 22, Zoe Quinn alleges that 4chan hacked her Twitter. The use of alleged here is that there has been no case to prove guilt. Many sources lodged many different discussions concerning the veracity of this hacking and Quinn’s hacking. To this day, both events remain allegedly orchestrated by 4chan. Examination of the logs again show no evidence that #burgersandfries knew about the hacking.
It is important to note that as of current, no cases have come from these two alleged hacking events. However, a new scandal erupted over possible misdeeds concerning IndieCade. This is another point of refutation that #GamerGate is currently misogynistic—6 men are implicated in this accusation. 1 woman is.
Following the events of Quinn’s hacking, the #burgerandfries channel becomes quite dead in terms of discussing all of the events. Discussions are often limited to asking for updates and talking about video games. It remains dead until Anita Sarkeesian is threatened immediately around the time Joss Whedon tweets support on 8/26.
So from here I’d like to move to an examination of two tags which have come under fire by some as originating on 4chan or being pushed by 4chan themselves.
On August 26th at 10:00 PM Pacific, Joss Whedon tweets to Anita Sarkeesian in support. During this time, many people express dismay and disappointment that the messaging war has been lost. The response of some is to try to get someone else on board with power for the opposite side.
I watched a bunch of women get sliced up in video games and now I’m watching it on my twitter feed. @femfreq is just truth-telling. Deal.
— Joss Whedon (@josswhedon) August 27, 2014
On August 27th between 12:39 PM and 2:54 PM, Adam Baldwin retweets a tweet from @MissAngerist. The content of this tweet is the events that, at this time, were called The Quinnspiracy after Quinn’s tag.
(Edit: I corrected the timeline and removed the information on Sarkeesian’s alleged harassment. There’s no current evidence that the event was related to Adam Baldwin or the tag creation. When there is evidence, I’ll re-add it.)
Mentions of engaging Adam Baldwin on #burgerandfries do not occur until after the 26th tweet. This bears repeating in the face of accusations from Zoe Quinn that 4chan manipulated Baldwin or the tag from the chat:
Adam Baldwin tweeted his response to MissAngerist on August 27th between 12:39 PM and 2:54 PM Pacific.
Adam Baldwin was not mentioned in the #burgerandfries chat until August 27th at 6:51 PM Pacific time zone and only in response to MissAngerist by a chat bot.
Adam Baldwin was not mentioned in the chat by a human until 7:02 PM Pacific as having mentioned reporters. From there, no talk of how to approach him is given.
Adam Baldwin chose to tweet and was likely approached as a response to Whedon’s tweet to Sarkeesian. Baldwin is a noted conservative while Whedon is a staunch liberal.
There’s no evidence Baldwin was forced, coerced, or chosen therefore Quinn’s assertion that he was also a planned move is without merit.
Then on August 27th at 6:22 PM Pacific, movie star Adam Baldwin tweeted a tag for the first time in association with the events associated with Zoe Quinn. In the tweet, Adam Baldwin uses #GamerGate for the first time. He links to the retelling of what was previously called “The Quinnspiracy” again after Quinn’s twitter handle.
The timeline present does not permit Adam Baldwin to have been coerced, recruited, or brainwashed. It must thus be decided that the creation of the tag was not because of 4chan misogyny. It was created because a man tweeted a woman in support, a woman tweeted a man to GET support, and the man tweeted a woman in support.
Around August 28th, 12 days after the initial post, a slew of websites began to post concurrent stories declaring “gamers” as an identity dead, over, unnecessary starting with the piece by Leigh Alexander:
This caused the #GamerGate tag to kick into overdrive according to examination of the #GamerGate tag from topsy.com.
August 26: 0 tweets
August 27: 4,292 tweets
August 28: 8,124 tweets
August 29: 15,879 tweets
August 30: 43,328 tweets
August 31: 40,901 tweets
Compare that to #quinnspiracy which never breaks over 400 tweets.
When examining to see if the the tag originated from #burgerandfries, the first mention of #GamerGate was, in fact, Adam Baldwin’s tweet. The response was to push the tag. The chat remarks how quickly the tag is spreading without them, “#gamergate is spreading like wildfire.” Prior to this, discussion of any hashtags was typically minimal and reserved to observations that hashtags can help a message.
On August 27th, discussion on the comparison of those involved in the tag as neckbeard, misogynist pigs. Many of these terms included such things as calling all tag participants “white cis het males.” Some minorities, including women, LGBT people, and even feminists fought against the labels of being just a cis het white male.
One of those included my own disclosure on September 1st that I am a gay male. I tweeted the following on August 29th at 3:19 PM Pacific:
@dangillmor I would appreciate it if you don’t use me and my community as an attack to exclude people. I’m gay, I am not your weapon.Thanks
— jw (@cainejw) August 29, 2014
On September 2, 2013 at 10:15 PM Central user @Ninouh tweeted the hashtag #notyourshield for the first time (https://twitter.com/Ninouh90/status/507019008009195520). According to Ninouh’s profile he lives in the Central Time Zone.
After this, user Broand states that “notyourshield is starting up” at 23.40.59. Across the continental US the following times were possible at the time of this first mention in burgersandfries. After examining the logs closely, I identified the logger’s name. I will not disclose it as he or she is a source. This logger’s location, after examination, was in Texas. Logger, if you are reading, thank you /nick.
The first mention of #notyourshield was at 11:40 PM Central time. This means that the first mention of #notyourshield in burgerandfries 2 hours after the tag was created.
Let’s make that clear:
The #notyourshield tag was created at 10:15 PM Central
The #notyourshield tag was mentioned on 4chan’s board at 10:59 PM Central.
Accordingly, we must eliminate the possibility that the chat created the tag.
The #notyourshield tag was mentioned on 4chan at 9:59 PM Central.
The #notyourshield tag was created at 10:15 PM Central.
Now, could this be where the tag came from? Of course. 4chan, bastion of all that is wrong, may be behind the tag for “weaponizing minorities,” but remember this is about the truth. The truth that was omitted? This is the post where 4chan suggested the tag.
This post, in entirety, reads: “ WHO /MINORITY/ HERE? I’m like 2/3 of the things these faggots say they are fighting for, and when I engage them on Twitter (WITH MY FUCKING PERSONAL ACCOUNT) they ignore me. Jesus Christ this is getting frustrating, I might as well be a white male for these faggots.”
And the source for the relationship with this post? The man who first tweeted the tag who admits that he was in one of the posts present in the conversation.
Furthermore, I tweeted on August 27th for the first time concerning my sexuality and this issue but I can attest that I commented on MundaneMatt’s video.
So the assertion that 4chan orchestrated the tag through a chat has no merit. The assertion that 4chan planned the tag on the board is confirmed, but it is also confirmed that the tag originated from the outrage of minority users of 4chan. I think we could all agree that the usage of a website does not erase status as a protected class and minority. As such, the overall implication that the #notyourshield tag is a ruse by white men to force minorities into place is without merit.
Now, can one argue that the people on 4chan are just pretending to be diverse? Of course. You can also argue that Zoe Quinn is pretending to be harassed and hacked. Neither assertion has proof, so let’s stick to proof, shall we?
Edit on 9/7:
It appears that Zoe Quinn has multiple channels from which she’s derived that this was all a 4chan ruse. NewDCD, the user supposedly responsible for the plan, is not in the #burgerandfries logs anywhere. The only mention of him/her in #burgersandfries is 9/6 asking who the person is. Since this log is currently missing, there’s not much we can do. Ms. Quinn refuses to produce any full logs despite 4chan users doing the same.
@Phubens, a developer, was not mentioned until 9/3 in the #burgerandfries . In the screenshot given by Quinn, he is mentioned as “hit pretty hard.” This means this log occured after the start of September as @phubens only engaged the issue on 9/2 by posting a video on the issue. So suggesting that phubens was in on some creation is impossible as he did not join the discussion until weeks after it started.
So why write this?
Simply put, there is this idea that 4chan forced us to speak up. They did not. We chose to speak up first by disclosing our minority status and then by adopting #notyourshield possibly at the suggestion and encouragement of 4chan users. Think about that narrative a second. 4chan users encouraged minorities to stand up against what was being seen as utilitarian use by a certain group of people who minorities felt were actually oppressing them. Your head should now explode when compared to the narrative that 4chan hates anything not-white.
No matter how much you or anyone else may wish it, minorities exist and they exist in opposition to those who profess they know better.
As for #GamerGate being born from misogyny, we would have to turn to the definition of misogyny as the, “dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.” Now let us judge that definition against the creator’s post at the time the tag was created.
It would appear to disseminate information. It does not profess the hatred of all women. It does not profess even the hatred for one woman. The videos linked never mention having a dislike, contempt for, or prejudice against women (plural).
It disseminates information about one woman with a tag that would likely failed had it not been for one event to cause a rally: Gaming journalists demanding the death of the “gamer” identity for men and women alike. No current evidence tells us the demographics of who ascribes to the “gamer” identity therefore we cannot assume the desired outcome is only to one class of people.
All while #burgerandfries, the orchestration of this master plan, sit back and wonder what the hell to do next.
Here’s a hypothesis and opinion. Maybe it isn’t 4chan steering this boat. Maybe it’s a mix of people, some of who are fed up with being called… (Source of all of these is gamergateharrassment.tumblr.com.
“Misogynists.” (Note: I’ve been informed that this post may be a troll account. I’ll replace this example shortly, but I’m taking a break from the #GamerGate issue for a bit.)
“Racial slurs.” (Note:The veracity of this instance is in question as a possible troll. The blog where I got it from, as with the rest of these, http://gamergateharrassment.tumblr.com/#, is unsure of the source. I’m leaving it up so as to not just pretend I didn’t post it, but I’m going to add that this link is questionable in intent.)
“And best of all … ”trash.”