Reddit’s primary hangout for Gamergaters was briefly shut down Friday by its creator, who called it a “cancerous growth” and said it had become “infested with racism and sexism.” (Don’t know what Gamergate is? We’ll get to that.)
“KiA is one of the many cancerous growths that have infiltrated reddit,” he wrote in a long goodbye letter. “The internet. The world. I did this. Now I am undoing it. This abomination should have always been aborted.”
/u/david-me lamented that the forum had become suffused with hate speech, despite moderators’ attempts to control it.
“The users have created content that should not be,” he wrote. “Topics that do not require debate. And often times molded by outside forces. We are better than this. I should have been better than this. Just look at the comment history of any users history. The hate is spread by very few, but very often. Overwhelmingly so.”
Polygon reported that a Reddit employee intervened to preserve the forum. The site is now back online, but without /u/david-me as a moderator.
What is Gamergate?
Gamergate erupted in August 2014, when online rumors spread that a female game developer had slept with critics to get favorable reviews of her indie game. They gained traction among some gamers who were frustrated that critics were focusing on “arthouse” games and not the traditional shoot-’em-ups they preferred. Suspicions of sexism turned into demonstrations of ugly misogyny when the female game developer was subjected to threats of violence, death and rape. She ultimately had to leave the industry.
The right-wing site Breitbart latched onto the controversy as an example of “political correctness” gone amok, and recriminations flew back and forth on that site, Reddit and other social-media platforms. The community endures today, having absorbed some members of the far right wing and hate groups.