The media is currently running a false narrative about #GamerGate and the recent arrest of blogger Ethan Ralph from TheRalphRetort.com. They’re claiming that Ethan Ralph was the leader of #GamerGate and that it was all about harassing women.
The truth of the matter is that #GamerGate is a leaderless movement. The Wikipedia article, in all its biased intentions, still attribute the consumer revolt against unethical journalism as a leaderless movement…
“Following the accusations against Quinn, proponents of Gamergate began to use the “KotakuInAction” subreddit and boards on 8chan to discuss and organize. Because of its anonymous membership, lack of organization and leaderless nature, sources differ as to the goals or mission of Gamergate and, with no person or group able to speak for Gamergate, defining it has been difficult.”
The descriptive block was even pulled from Jesse Singal’s piece that was published on October 20th, 2014 on New York Magazine, where the writer — despite being against #GamerGate — still admits that it’s a leaderless movement.
Additionally, other notable outlets have also reiterated the same thing; that the movement is leaderless. Erik Kain, a contributor to Forbes, wrote on August 21st, 2015…
“[…] because #GamerGate is an amorphous, leaderless movement as concerned with SJWs as it is with ethics, there has never been a proper decision as to what exactly its grievances are, what precisely its ethics complaints may be. The two sides of the coin—anti-SJW agenda and ethics in game journalism—spin so fast we can never quite tell what we’re seeing.”
So then how does a grassroots movement go from being generally recognized by mainstream and enthusiast press as being a leaderless movement to having Ethan Ralph as the leader?
In this case, Ethan Ralph, from The Ralph Retort, was arrested on multiple charges of assault and disorderly conduct after he was found drunk in the lobby of a hotel. He’s currently being held without bail. Brianna Wu did an article on the Daily Dot with a headline titled “Gamergate leader arrested on 2 felony counts of assaulting a police officer”. However, Wu wisely avoids the direct assertion within the article itself that Ralph was actually the leader of the consumer revolt, but instead writes that he was “One of Gamergate’s most notorious harassers”.
David Ferguson from RAW Story picked up the news from the Daily Dot, reiterating the headline from Wu’s article but also avoids directly inferring that Ralph was the leader in the article itself, writing…
“A notorious alt-right troll from Virginia who played a major role in the harassment of women in the video game industry was arrested in late August after he drunkenly passed out in a hotel lobby, then assaulted a sheriff’s deputy when he came to.”
Ben Gilbert, a former member of the Game Journo Pros, wrote an article for Business Insider with the headline “A prominent leader of Gamergate was just arrested on charges of assaulting a police officer”. The article itself avoids calling Ralph a “leader”, but instead states…
“One of Gamergate’s most prominent voices, Ethan Ralph, was arrested recently on two counts of assault on law enforcement and count of obstruction of justice.”
The article continues to repeat what was mentioned in both Wu’s article on the Daily Dot and the article on RAW Story. None of them mention that #GamerGate is actually a leaderless movement.
What’s more is that even Ralph himself has claimed distance from the GamerGate hashtag, far removing any position of leadership within the consumer revolt. On March 24th, 2015 Ralph wrote on his blog…
“It’s no secret that I have heat with some people over on 8chan. The person who runs /v/ is a shithead who put my links on archive, and we all know about the baphomet stuff.”
The post refers to the 8chan #GamerGate boards and the drama he’s had with the people involved. In fact, the 8chan branch of #GamerGate – an imageboard where people can post anonymously – absolutely detest Ethan Ralph. In fact, they despise him so much that you can’t even type out the name of his website on the #GamerGate boards; the name is automatically changed to prevent people from linking to or talking about Ralph’s articles.
Ralph did a post about his site being archived on 8chan, preventing him from receiving hits or views from anyone who attempts to link to his content on the board, writing in a post on February 19th, 2015…
“The “board owner” of 8chan’s /v/ (@MarkM447) has been triggered by some of the success we’ve achieved here. So, he took it upon himself to make sure all my links would now have to be archived. Apparently this is supposed to hurt the site? I’m not sure.”
Ralph’s content is also barred from being shared on the other #GamerGate hub, Kotaku In Action, a popular board on Reddit, unless the content is archived.
There were various debates and discussions about Ralph and his content on Kotaku In Action, which eventually led to a consensus to archive any content from his site to avoid him getting any hits or making any ad revenue from his content, with Reddit user FSMhelpusall writing…
“I defended [Ralph] for a while, but after the utter dancing on Lily’s grave shit they pulled trying to get at (Edited for Accuracy) CultofVivian, I think it’s time we force archive on it too.”
This was in response to Ralph publishing articles attacking various individuals who were associated with #GamerGate, including someone who previously supported the hashtag but had committed suicide (which is what the quote above is referring to). There was also an especially vitriolic piece on activist and writer Liana Kerzner – a sympathetic but mostly neutral associate to #GamerGate – that caused many who use the GamerGate hashtag to completely disassociate from Ethan Ralph and The Ralph Retort.
@OldSchoolGamerP The Ralph Retort ran a thing where that was an assertion. It was labeled "parody" but people repeated it as fact.
— Liana Kerzner (@redlianak) July 6, 2016
Ralph started off with some strong support from sections of #GamerGate but quickly became too fringe for the majority of moderates, and many felt as if a movement focused on ethics in journalism should not reward someone with hits and support who they felt was the equivalent of a clickbait blogger.
Ralph is now mostly highly regarded by a group known as GGRevolt, who felt as if #GamerGate was too soft in its approach. The GGRevolt group managed to catch the ire of the 8chan, Kotaku In Action and Twitter factions of #GamerGate, with Kotaku In Action labeling GGRevolt as “anti-#GamerGate”. Kotaku in Action regular, Netscape9, summed up Ralph’s disassociation from #GamerGate by writing…
“Ralph is a muckraker whose website got put on the blacklist after he published articles attacking the friends and family of a GamerGate supporter who killed herself. Revolt are mostly a mixture of trolls and actual extremists who think GamerGate should become far-right extremists and purge GamerGate of anyone who holds moderate, left-wing or even centre-right views. Revolt and Ralph were made for each other.”
Ralph’s pariah status within #GamerGate is neither hinted at nor mentioned in any of the pieces by the Daily Dot, RAW Story or Business Insider. Instead they focus on Ralph as a harasser and doxxer, a nuisance to Brianna Wu and one of #GamerGate’s leaders.