“It’s like an ancient religion,” says one woman at a #gamergaters party, as she stands on the sidewalk outside a bar in the sweltering city of Seattle.
She’s wearing a black hoodie and a pair of white headphones over a dark blue tank top and black jeans.
“We all just want to play the game.”
Her friend, who is also in her 20s, adds, “I just wanna play the damn game.”
In the past few months, the hashtag has seen a dramatic spike in popularity, as many gamers, many of them young, have found a way to take part in the harassment campaigns against their peers and journalists.
The hashtag, which began in 2014 and has been popularized by the #gamerGate campaign, has become a rallying cry for some of the most marginalized and marginalized communities in the United States: the disabled, the poor, the queer, the mentally ill, people of color, and many others.
The #gamer gatherers, who refer to themselves as #gamer, have been rallying behind their cause since October, when they organized a “riot” in Seattle.
On Twitter, #gamer has grown from an informal gathering of #GamerGate supporters to a major online movement with tens of thousands of followers.
“A lot of people just started tweeting it out because it’s cool,” says Alexis Broussard, a 22-year-old writer for The Escapist, who participated in the #Gamergate rally.
She and several others at the gathering were among the hundreds of people arrested and banned for harassment.
The event, which attracted the support of celebrities including actor and comedian Adam Baldwin and gaming journalist and Twitch streamer Dan Olson, was called #GamerCon, a nod to the gaming community’s popular conventions.
The next day, the police arrested dozens of people at the event.
The number of people who have been arrested for #Gamergaters’ harassment has skyrocketed, from an average of five per day last year to about 25 per day this year.
On Friday, at the center of the protest, several people wearing masks and carrying signs with slogans such as “Stop the censorship” and “Free speech or die” broke up a fistfight between police and protesters.
In one particularly ugly moment, an officer in a yellow shirt yelled “Get the f*** out!” to a woman in a black sweater who had tried to block him.
She later told reporters that she had been assaulted by the officer and that he punched her repeatedly in the face and body.
She was charged with assault and battery.
The officer was later charged with misconduct, and he was fired.
Several of the people arrested were later released on bail, but not without a court order, which required them to remain under the influence of drugs.
#Gamer has gained national attention, but the movement is still largely anonymous, and some of its most vocal members, including Baldwin, have had their Twitter accounts shut down.
While some members of the #Gamers have been vocal in their support of Baldwin, he’s faced backlash from many of the more vocal #Gamer fans, who accuse him of being a misogynist, sexist, and a “social justice warrior” who is anti-white.
Baldwin has faced some criticism for retweeting a tweet by a prominent anti-#GamerGaters person who called his supporters a “faggot-free zone” and suggested that they shouldn’t use #Gamercon because “they’re fucking sick.”
Baldwin has since deleted the tweet, which was quickly deleted, but his account has been suspended.
On Thursday, Baldwin and Olson were also charged with harassment by a woman who claims to have been sexually assaulted by one of the attendees of #gamercon.
“I was assaulted at a con,” Olson says in a video posted to his YouTube channel, which is filled with tweets from the #gamers and their supporters.
He also tweeted a screenshot of a tweet Olson wrote on behalf of another #Gamer, who claims he was assaulted by another person at the convention.
The man who allegedly assaulted Olson says that he is “not a rapist,” and that Olson had asked him to leave the convention by claiming he was “not being very nice to her.”
He also says that Olson was “hating on me” and that the man had been “pissed off” by the fact that Olson tried to intervene when Olson tried pushing him off the stage.
Olson says he was left with a “severe concussion” and a scar on his arm.
He says he has been harassed by people who are now “trying to get in my head.”
Olson says his case is not unique, and that people have been harassing him for years, even though he has never been physically assaulted.
He said he was able to post on his Twitter account on Thursday, and it was retweeted more than 1,000 times.
#gamer is still a very loose term, Olson says, and people often think of it as a group of people