I have always understood the phrase ____-gate to refer to a controversy or conflict. For example, deflate-gate was the hubbub around whether the Patriots intentionally deflated balls during the AFC Championship. The original, Watergate, was a scandal under the Nixon administration.

However, I hear references to people being pro-gamergate or anti-gamergate. This seems to imply that gamergate is not a description of a controversy or conflict, but rather, of only one side of some conflict.

Under my understanding, it wouldn't make sense to call somebody pro-watergate, or anti-watergate. You'd have to say pro-Nixon or anti-Nixon.

Is gamergate used in a non-standard way as compared to other -gates? If so, how did this come about?

Edit: Twice now, I've been presented with a banner saying "This question may already have an answer here: Why do we use the suffix “‑gate” when referring to a scandal? [closed] 3 answers" It gives me an option: "No, my question is different. I will edit to explain how." So, I'm editing to explain how my question is different.

I am not asking why we use the suffix "-gate" when referring to a scandal. I give the etymology of that use in my question, so there is no way you could construe my question as asking why we use the suffix "-gate" when referring to a scandal. I'm asking: given that we use the suffix "-gate" when referring to a scandal, is the use of terms like "pro-gamergate" non-standard as compared to previous uses? The answerer and a few commenters got exactly what I was asking. This question generated an answer different than the type of answer the other "duplicate" answer generated. Those other questions were not sufficient to address this novel sense of the "-gate" suffix.


Gamergate was initially about a scandal, one in which there was an alleged affair between a games developer and a games journalist.

The 'scandal' that is alluded to is the supposed ethical complications of such a relationship, and whether or not it is acceptable for someone in a particular industry (in this case gaming) to have a personal relationship with someone who is supposed to be impartial within that industry when reviewing games.

This spawned a hashtag on twitter #gamergate, in order to raise awareness of the closeness between developers and journalists in gaming.

The hashtag #gamergate then became a general rallying cry for activists to make allegations against games developers and journalists who they believed were breaching gaming ethics.

So the word gamergate that is used now simply stems from the original scandal, but is now a word used to identify with something that has evolved beyond the scandal.

I won't go into any further detail, because I could stir up a lot of controversies about the debate between pro-gamergate and anti-gamergate.

This is not a statement on gamergate itself or what it may or may not represent, but let me state as a disclaimer that this is simply an impartial answer stating the facts to a specific question about the origins of a word. Hence the word alleged.

To go back to the OP, you can't be pro- or anti- scandal. The pro- or anti- is based on the movement that followed the alleged scandal.

For example, you can be pro- or anti-feminism, which is a movement.

You cannot be pro- or anti-20th century, that is just a thing that happened.

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  • Which side is generally labelled (or self-identified as) pro-gamergate? – pro-anti-gate-gate Mar 19 '15 at 17:15
  • To be pro-gamergate is to be a supporter of sexism in video game culture. – Ian MacDonald Mar 19 '15 at 17:18
  • Just to confirm then, this is a usage that doesn't conform to the standard usage of the -gate suffix? – pro-anti-gate-gate Mar 19 '15 at 17:19
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    Pro-gamergate is the side that agrees with the argument that game developers and journalists are too close personally. However the movement has evolved beyond that now. I won't go into detail because that discussion does not belong on this site. I would link further reading, but I'm unlikely to find a site that has an impartial view, and would not want to influence any outside reader's decision on it. – Mike.C.Ford Mar 19 '15 at 17:20
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    The "Pro" side views the controversy as stemming from problems with game journalism. The "Anti" side views the controversy as stemming from sexism on the part of gamers. It's a real mess because the two sides are arguing about completely different things. – Ask About Monica Mar 19 '15 at 17:23

GamerGate was coined when a number of journalists pointed out how toxic "gamer" culture had become, citing the harassment of women as the primary example. They pointed out that half if players are now female, and that they were of the opinion that it was time for the toxic "gamer" culture to go away.

Mike's answer is incorrect. The phrase was coined in a tweet by actor Adam Baldwin, in response to the above criticism. Before that point it was simply the harassment of women.

So, the scandal that GamerGate refers to is the reaction against the actions of self proclaimed "gamers" who harassed women.

The pro/anti labels came about because the core of the GamerGate movement started a fake "ethics in gaming" angle, mostly using sock puppet accounts. Some people fell for the deception and joined what they thought was a legitimate cause. Thus the pro group consists of misogynists and people with genuine (if exaggerated) ethical concerns. The anti group is opposed to harassment.

So this is an interesting case where there was a scandal (harassment), but the people doing the scandalous behaviour tried to take control of the narrative by owning the name. Thus, the -gate suffix is somewhat awkward.

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