The Enthusaist Press Abandoned Its Freelancers During GamerGate

This has been without a doubt, the most depressing few weeks in gaming ever.

What’s broken about the games industry, gaming media and gaming fandom combined of form a super storm of negativity, hatred, harassment and ugliness over the past few weeks that has left a wake of carnage and destruction, primarily in the freelance community.

Rather than try to recap everything here, I’ll point you here and here for some recaps of what’s been going on. If you Google search GamerGate, you’ll find dozens more articles as well.

One of the biggest problems with trying to discuss issues this big on the internet is that it’s very easy to lose the human element and people tend to greatly over-generalize.

There are a million gaming blogs out there that will be doing autopsies on GamerGate for months (maybe years) to come. But one of the aspects of this that you probably won’t read about on the big enthusiast press sites is how while all of this was going down, they stood by and watched their freelancers get devoured by wolves.

The worst example is Jenn Frank, an award-winning writer who not only was one of my favorite people at 1UP back in the day, has written some amazing pieces about games and life over the past few years. Where were all of her colleagues, or the sites she’s written for when all of this was going down? Nowhere to be found. And the harassment was so bad it drove her away from writing about games.

There were other writers who decided to walk away as well, and a great many more that were caught in the wave of harassment and ugliness that has enveloped everything about GamerGate. These harassment campaigns tied to “ethics in journalism”  were largely targeted at female freelancers, and the sites that they’ve done work for were almost completely silent while this was happening. Whatever their reasoning was, it sent a pretty strong message about how they value freelancers.

When the smoke clears, the people who led the campaigns of targeted harassment will be exposed. No one can deny that sexism and misogyny are part of the gaming culture when we all just saw how this whole GamerGate situation unfolded. No one can unsee what has happened.

But hopefully the enthusiast press has learned a few lessons here as well, and will think about how they conduct themselves with game developers, publishers, their audience and most importantly, the freelancers who help keep their sites alive and work for almost nothing (and in many cases actually nothing). There’s a lot of work to be done there.