#GamerGate 2.0: The Transnational Far-Right Targeting and Calling for Violence Against Video Game Companies Over “Wokeness”

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Warning: This analysis contains highly offensive and potentially triggering language and imagery. Where possible, slur words are marked with asterisks, but in cases where that may make the content unclear, offensive language is cited.

Over the past week, a surge of targeted hateful and violent posts on fringe and mainstream platforms have ignited what some on the far-right are calling “GamerGate 2.0,” which, like its predecessor, includes virulent antisemitism, misogyny, racism, and calls for violence. Gamers across the web, including on fringe, mainstream, and gaming platforms, are taking part in this campaign.

#GamerGate, which occurred in the 2010s, was a harassment campaign against women in gaming, with indie game developer Zoe Quinn and gaming critic Anita Sarkeesian being the first targets, the latter featured in a now-deplatformed video game designed so that players could “beat her up.” It also led to the FBI investigating a marked increase in online harassment, and helped extremists such as neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin build their audiences. Anglin continues to write antisemitic and misogynistic commentary on video games through his own website, The Daily Stormer. The online hatred against marginalized communities that was normalized during the 2010s remains prevalent today, including instances of violent misogyny. These include acts like the recent virtual sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl in the “Metaverse” investigated by the British police in January after her avatar was attacked by several other players. The “Metaverse” is a virtual world created by Mark Zuckerberg’s company Meta.

Whereas the first iteration of #GamerGate targeted criticism of video games, specifically women video game journalists and gamers, “#GamerGate 2.0” is aimed at consulting companies, namely Sweet Baby Inc., a narrative design company often hired by major gaming studios for input on upcoming games. Sweet Baby Inc. works to ensure that “a game’s plot points make logical sense and are satisfying to players, and that characters speak and behave in consistent ways,” such as writing in-game ads and audio logs for Rocksteady Studio’s Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Once the far-right found similar companies involved in video game development, they claimed there was a sinister and well-organized campaign to force “wokeness” in the industry. Organizations such as TakeThis, which called for development companies to stand up against the “Gamergate mob,” have also fallen into the crosshairs of these gamers as another step in extremist pushback against the industry. The far-right has long been organizing to co-opt gaming to push their own bigoted ideologies.

Extremists Begin Their Campaign on the Fringe

Fringe platforms, such as 4chan, Kiwifarms, Communities, Odysse, and BitChute, which have all embraced being bastions of hateful content, were home to some of the most vile comments. Across these platforms, users were quick to blame “wokeness” on Jews, like referring to Sweet Baby Inc. co-founder Kim Belair as “(((Kim Belair))).” Parentheses surrounding someone’s name, referred to as “echoes,” are often used by antisemites to signal the names of Jewish people, Jewish organizations, or those thought to be Jewish. Several other users, primarily on 4chan, renewed their attacks against Zoe Quinn, calling her “a priestess of whatever satan cult jews [sic] do.” Another user wanted to expand on #GamerGate’s influence on the radicalization process, saying, “Gamergate proved Jews controlled the media. Let’s redpill a whole new generation too. Trump would have been impossible without Gamergate.” Disturbingly, the hatred towards Jews on 4chan culminated in claims that this iteration of #GamerGate will “kickstart the second Shoa [sic].” Shoah is the Hebrew word for “catastrophe,” and specifically denotes the genocide of six million Jews by Nazis during the Holocaust.

On the video-hosting platforms Odysee and Bitchute, several videos have been published discussing Sweet Baby Inc., including threats in a video thumbnail that “they will know pain,” claims that Sweet Baby Inc. are “gaslighting you about the evil they do,” “rewrit(ing) history,” an excuse used by far-right gamers to be racist, and that companies like Sweet Baby Inc. are pretending to be the “good boy that dindu nuffin,” a racist term against Black people originating on white supremacist online forums. In one video targeting TakeThis on Odysee, user “truthagon” commented that they were made up of “pedofaggot freemasons,” and that any organization defending Sweet Baby Inc. is akin to “faggot beer,” referring to Bud Light and their campaign with trans activist Dylan Mulvaney, and “faggot Disney,” referring to hatred targeting the company for including more diversity in their films. 

One video thumbnail published on Bitchute saying that Sweet Baby Inc. “will know pain” (Source: Bitchute)

On Telegram, several extremist groups and organizations weighed in. The white supremacist White Lives Matter (WLM) Utah chat called Sweet Baby Inc. a “DEI consulting firm responsible for turning video games into political activism” and blamed them for the amount of “faggots” and “crazy stuff in media…nowadays.”

A member of the WLM Utah chat on Telegram discusses their conspiratorial beliefs about Sweet Baby Inc.’s involvement in the shifting landscape of video games (Source: Telegram)

Kvlt Games, an Identitarian game studio led by Roland Moritz based in Austria and responsible for the racist, conspiratorial, and homophobic games Heimat Defender and The Great Rebellion, claimed that companies like Sweet Baby Inc. “write the narratives for all your big budget slop games and are stinking up your beloved franchises with their woke bs,” attaching a screenshot of Sweet Baby Inc.’s website showcasing their involvement in the development of Alan Wake II and God of War: Ragnarok (Ragnarok won six awards at the 2022 Game Awards while Alan Wake II won three the following year). The developer for the video game “Westmen,” based in the United Kingdom, which had their game deplatformed from the development tool OperaGX for offensive content, added Sweet Baby Inc. as characters to kill in its game, represented by giant satanic babies.

The developer of Westmen posts an update to his game featuring “sweet babies” that the player is encouraged to kill (Source: Telegram)

Australian neo-Nazi Blair Cottrell wrote a post about the video game industry being harmed by “modern political culture,” such as being “anti-white” and “anti-male,” and singled out Sweet Baby Inc. for “lacing too much propaganda into big budget games.” The post was also shared by British neo-Nazi Mark Collett. American neo-Nazi outlet Amerikaner called narrative consulting “extortion” by “Libtards in the industry” who are receiving financial incentives from “the Finance Jew.”

Neo-Nazi Blair Cottrell shares a YouTube video targeting Sweet Baby Inc. along with a caption claiming they’re responsible for the injection of “anti-white” and “anti-male” propaganda into video games (Source: Telegram)

Hatred in the Mainstream

Just like with #GamerGate, this year’s hate campaign reached the mainstream quickly. One monetized YouTube video targeting Sweet Baby Inc. by Ryan Kinel, an “anti-woke” YouTuber and former member of the United States Navy who has close to 300,000 subscribers, was shared extensively by extremists, including Blair Cottrell and Mark Collett. Many videos published by large channels on YouTube have also amassed hundreds of thousands of views, with some eclipsing one million. YouTube’s continued acceptance of such bigoted and hateful narratives that caused the original #GamerGate can, and has, led to a “significant uptick” in harassment aimed at companies like Sweet Baby Inc.

Some examples of large YouTube channels targeting Sweet Baby Inc. and those defending them (Source: YouTube)

The hateful campaign against “wokeism” in games gained so much momentum that self-proclaimed theocratic fascist Matt Walsh hosted an entire podcast episode on the “Radical wokeness of the video game industry.” The owner of Twitter, Elon Musk, posted that “video games need to get rid of the woke bs” and that games were filled with “tedious propaganda.” He also retweeted a post blaming the “woke machine” for the perceived decline in “AAA gaming” (games developed by large companies). His fans responded with glee, including misogynistic influencer Carl Benjamin, the founder of Lotus Eaters, a far-right media outlet, who said “Welcome to GamerGate, Mr. Musk.” 

On the video game vendor Steam, owned by Valve, a review-bombing group was created targeting games with Sweet Baby Inc.’s involvement called “Sweet Baby Inc detected.” An interview posted on YouTube featured the supposed creator of the group, who is based in Brazil. He claimed to create it because Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 and God of War: Ragnarok have “extremely diverse cast(s).” He also admits to never playing either game. At the time of publishing, “Sweet Baby Inc detected” has over 281,000 followers and includes 16 games on its list, all of which they claim were previously featured on Sweet Baby Inc.’s website. On Steam forums, some gamers are worried about all their favorite games becoming “woke,” including one user who wanted to check if Ghost of Tsushima was “sweet baby inc esque” because “that stuff is Satanic.”

A review-bombing campaign currently hosted on Steam features games supposedly linked to Sweet Baby Inc. (Source: Steam)

Unfortunately, the endless harassment spurred by the far right led to one organization called Black Girl Gamers to issue a statement about “the amount of harassment [they’ve] received during Gamergate 2” but affirmed that they’re “not going anywhere.” It’s important that the video game industry does not backtrack on the progress it has made over the past decade and stands firm against the hate brigade that #GamerGate 2.0 is ushering towards them. Major gaming companies like Valve and Discord have not only remained silent on this harassment campaign, but continue to permit far-right organizations on their platforms.

2000 1335 Global Project Against Hate and Extremism
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