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Understanding the Jargon of Gamergate

The memetic terms Gamergate's supporters love to repeat, explained.

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In the past two months, the online movement Gamergate has produced a series of memes, like “NotYourShield” and “GameJournoPros,” that crop up in many online discussions and debates. I left these terms out of my explanation of Gamergate yesterday because even though they’re a convenient shorthand for supporters, they make everything much harder to understand for outsiders.

Here, then, is a quick and dirty index of what Gamergate’s memetic jargon means.

Social Justice Warrior long predates Gamergate, but is frequently invoked all the same. A Social Justice Warrior, or SJW, is any person, female or male, who argues online for political correctness or feminism. “Social justice” may sound like a good thing to many of our readers, but the people who use this term only use it pejoratively.

White Knight is another term predating Gamergate, and it also refers to a supporter of feminism, but in this case, it specifically means a man. The notion is that a White Knight man tries to “save” a woman from harassment, or at least sees himself as doing so, because he wants a reward, which may range from public praise to sex with that woman, depending on whom you ask.

GameJournoPros is the name of a Google Groups mailing list created by Ars Technica writer Kyle Orland and shared by Orland and a group of his peers (side note: I know Orland professionally, but was never a member of the group). Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos wrote about a leaked message to the list from Orland, suggesting a “public letter of support” for Gamergate target Zoe Quinn, which in concert with a slew of similar articles about Gamergate’s women-focused attacks on different websites spurred belief in media collusion.

Thunderclap refers to a website of the same name used to synchronize social media posts about a cause or campaign. An ongoing campaign there claims that supporters of Gamergate are the ones who have been harassed, not the women written about in the media, though as I noted in my explanation yesterday, the movement only started because of the publication of a rant against a female game developer.

#NotYourShield is a hashtag campaign designed to illustrate the diversity of Gamergate. The idea is that, in the battle between the movement’s supporters and the press, journalists are holding up women or other under-represented groups in the gaming community as a “shield,” manufacturing the narrative that those groups are under attack. In theory, #NotYourShield is to be used by women who support Gamergate, though most of the tweets I’ve seen that use it are men raising awareness of the hashtag.

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