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The New York Times recently ran three informative opinion pieces marking the fourth anniversary of the launch of “Gamergate” and the #Quinnspiracy that vomited up (via Breitbart and other “alt-right” sites) misogynist trolls like Mike Cernovich and Milo Yiannapolis who have plagued the earth ever since.

“Gamergate” also normalized orchestrated pile-on troll attacks on anyone deemed a political enemy of the far right, which now routinely include graphically detailed and imaginative death and rape threats. “Gamergate” set forth a template for doing battle on-line that mirrored Trump’s brazen disregard for civility and benefited his rise out of the muck to power.

The over-the-top viciousness of the death and rape threats we saw aimed at Dr. Christine Blasey Ford when she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about Brett Kavanaugh attacking her in high school were perfected during “Gamergate.”

It will be interesting to see the alt-right Gamer response to Trump throwing them under the bus by going full Joe Lieberman on their asses.

Following the mass shootings in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton, Trump, the “Glorious Leader” to legions of young Gamers, made a powerful statement condemning violence “in our culture”:

“[W]e must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace.  It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this, and it has to begin immediately.” (“Remarks by President Trump on the Mass Shootings in Texas and Ohio,” The White House, August 5, 2019, 10:08 AM EST) [emphasis added]

Perhaps a few Gamers marked that day on their calendars: Monday, August 5th, 10:08 in the morning, Eastern Standard Time, the “Glorious Leader” is now dead to me.

In the same speech, Trump dumped on those in the Gaming community who are constantly virtue-signaling their heroic defense of First Amendment free speech rights that sound a lot like the “social justice warriors” they despise. Said Trump:

“We must recognize that the Internet has provided a dangerous avenue to radicalize disturbed minds and perform demented acts. We must shine light on the dark recesses of the Internet, and stop mass murders before they start. . . . The perils of the Internet and social media cannot be ignored, and they will not be ignored.”

Trump chose to “go there.” He reiterated the idea that video games (as well as the “free speech” sub/-Reddits & chan message boards) are to blame for violence in society and even mass shootings. You’d think this kind of talk would piss off a great number of Gamers and alt-righters.

We all know that every serious sociological and psychological study ever done proves that games do not cause violence and certainly do not cause mass shootings. If gaming had any connection whatsoever to the prevalence of violence in American society then South Korea and Japan would be having stabbings and mass shootings every half-hour.

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Trump was mimicking the old moralizing of Joe Lieberman. Lest we forget, Lieberman was once a Democratic Senator from Connecticut, and then a Democratic vice-presidential nominee, and then a “Republican” who chummed around with Lindsey Graham (and even gave a big speech at the 2008 Republican convention), and then a Trump supporter, and all along Lieberman was crusading against the “immorality” of any video game that even hinted of “violence.”

Way back in 1993, when most of today’s Gamers hadn’t been conceived yet, Lieberman was holding Senate hearings about trying to find ways to take their games away. On December 2, 1993, with great fanfare, then Senator Lieberman held a press conference where he stood next to the children’s TV star, Captain Kangaroo, to drive home the idea that games cause violent behavior:

“Few parents would buy these games for their kids if they really knew what was in them,” Lieberman said at a Capitol Hill news conference. . . .

Lieberman showed reporters segments of two video games, Mortal Kombat and Night Trap. . . . “We’re not talking Pac-Man or Space Invaders anymore,” Lieberman said. “We’re talking about video games that glorify violence and teach children to enjoy inflicting the most gruesome forms of cruelty imaginable.”

Lieberman and allies from both parties put the power of the federal government behind attacking games and invented an entire discourse that has never gone away. It has been trotted out every time a mass shooting takes place – all the way up to Trump’s remarks of August 5th. The N.R.A. fucking loves it.

“Hollywood and computerized games have undermined the core values of civility,” declared then Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in 1999. And as Senator from New York, Hillary Clinton introduced a bill trying to hold game designers accountable whenever a game fell into a minor’s hands. (One can only imagine what the response from Gamer trolls would be had Hillary Clinton said the exact same thing Trump said on August 5th. Ooh-Wee!)

Blaming video games for mass shootings has been a bipartisan blood sport for decades. And now Trump added to this tired trope. Trump dissed his legions of fans among the gaming community to protect the precious N.R.A.

Given that Gamers have been fighting against government and industry censorship ever since Tipper Gore and her parents’ brigade first targeted games in the 1980s, I wonder what they think about Trump parroting those same talking points? Are they cool with it? They don’t think Trump’s words will have any consequences? Really? It looks like Gamers vs. the N.R.A. to me.

By blaming video games, Trump killed two birds with one stone: He shielded the N.R.A. once again from criticism following mass shootings; and tried to help his reelection bid by saying stuff that might fly well with white suburban moms who have been abandoning the GOP.

In many ways, Gamers and their allies inside the “alt-right” Internet universe invented Trump. After “Gamergate” in 2014, they paved the way for Trump’s rise to power. They utilized their undeniable skills at meme-making and shit-posting on the sub-Reddits and the chans, which enabled smart propagandists like Steve Bannon over at Breibart to giddily vacuum up free content for political gain.

And this is how Trump repays them? Blaming games for the mass shootings? The fact that Tipper Gore or Lieberman’s ideas could ever pass through the lips of the “Glorious Leader” should give pause to every Trump-loving Gamer.


Joseph Palermo
Joseph Palermo's Blog