The term “GamerGate” may have been coined in the last few months, but the mob of reactionary, conservative gamers has appeared in headlines before. Two years ago, they responded with threats and toxic language to media critic Anita Sarkeesian’s Kickstarter for a web series that would critically examine the common portrayals of women in video games. Then, this August, a man implicitly accused his developer ex-girlfriend of sleeping with a journalist to garner positive reviews for her game. Though the claim was proven to be false, the developer faced a barrage of backlash—which, again, included insults, threats, and smear campaigns.
In both cases, gamers claimed that their extreme reactions were necessary in order to “protect” their hobby.