Gamergate is complicated. Its proponents argue it’s an organic grass-roots push for ethics in gaming journalism. Its opponents—many of whom write for Slate—say that’s nonsense: This “movement” is little more than a misogynist cabal seeking to terrorize women in the gaming world. In an effort to simplify a hard-to-distill concept, a number of journalists have drawn comparisons between Gamergate and the Tea Party. Deadspin, the Guardian, New York Magazine, TechCrunch, and Time have all run articles suggesting there are telling parallels between the two groups, including that both have reactionary origins, are fueled by fear of social change, and have metastasized beyond their original goals. And, given the kind of blistering criticism Gamergate has received, those comparisons have some prominent Tea Partiers a bit peeved.
“That’s an absurd comparison,” said Niger Innis, former Nevada congressional candidate and executive director of TheTeaParty.net, reacting to the lengthy Deadspin essay arguing that the two movements share intellectual roots. “It sounds like a desperate left-winger who knows his ass is about to get handed to him in the upcoming election and is desperately grasping at any way possible to slam the Tea Party.”
“We are offended by any attacks on women, be it in videos, be it in rap lyrics,” he added. “Last time I checked there are not a bunch of rappers that are Tea Partiers, yet they use the same kind of misogynistic themes that go on in these video games.”
Taylor Budowich, the executive director of Tea Party Express, concurred.
“It’s just kind of stupid,” he said. “There’s no actual connection.”
And Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips said that Tea Partiers’ conflict-resolution skills are far superior to Gamergaters’, citing the messy falling out between Tea Party leaders Jenny Beth Martin and Amy Kremer. The story of those two is a protracted one, but it seems to have started when Kremer was kicked off the board of Tea Party Patriots, it became quite litigious and—from what I can tell—wasn’t pleasant for anyone. But, Phillips points out, nobody got doxed.
“They didn’t hack each other, they didn’t do other things like that,” he said. “They instead went to court.”
But he added that the Gamergate comparisons don’t offend him.
“In this day and age, too many people get offended far too often,” he said. “I think that’s just nuts.”
None of that stops some right-leaning Gamergate supporters from making the case that it’s a Tea Party–friendly outfit. Brandon Morse, a libertarian activist and self-described participant in Gamergate, said his fellow conservatives and libertarians could learn a lot from the gamer movement.
“They’re very effective at doing what we’ve been fighting for a long time,” he said, referring to the negative fallout—including blowback from advertisers—that some media outlets have faced after drawing Gamergate’s ire.
“This is the new front line against Cultural Marxism,” Morse added.
And Mytheos Holt, an associate policy analyst at the R Street Institute and video game reviewer for Gamesided who described himself as “a sympathetic bystander” to Gamergate, also said right-wingers could find a “new conservative constituency” within this movement.
“If the right can make the case that there will never be room for them in the left’s ideal world, this may be the start of a new coalition,” says Holt.
That looks unlikely.