Ismail: ‘GamerGate was inevitable’

The co-founder of indie developer Vlambeer has said that the GamerGate hate campaign that came to define 2014 was something that could not have been avoided.

GamerGate was inevitable,” Rami Ismail told the Guardian. These movements have been in motion since the early 2000s, and what has happened is fascinating from a sociological perspective – although tremendously depressing, personally.

Very clearly, a group of people are completely disenfranchised with the direction games are going in, and they don’t know who to blame so they blame anyone who has any sort of say in the industry – but not the people they like. The developers who are still making the games they appreciate – they’re fine, but the people trying to make new stuff, or reporting on new stuff, or have any sympathy for new stuff, are all obviously part of a huge conspiracy.”

Ismail argues that Gamergate eventually fell under the weight of its need to keep concocting conspiracies that were increasingly far-fetched to maintain its position as fighting against something that rendered people powerless.

They were weak because this is a huge industry that they are just a small part of, but they also had to appear strong because you can’t attract people if you’re not potentially powerful. No one will join a hopeless cause,” he added.

But what eventually happened was, as Gamergate grew, they couldn’t remain the underdog, even though they had to. You can’t be a revolt against something that you’re as loud as. So every time they grew, they invented a new conspiracy that was slightly bigger so they could retain the underdog status. I don’t think that was intentional, it’s just how something like that grows.”

The developer also thinks that GamerGate could yet survive as a right-leaning movement within gaming fandom (I think we could happily live as a medium where there’s a traditionalist conservative sector”) although it will have to abandon its tactics of harassment and demonization to do so.

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