If you’re here, odds are you know what Gamergate is. If not, you can find out more about it here and here (this one is good). In brief, Gamergate has been a strange movement to target/expose/doxx/threaten people who are seen as threatening the integrity of the gaming community and its attached journalistic circles. Funnily enough, those people seem to be primarily women and those who dare suggest that the portrayal of women/LGBTQ+/PoC is a relevant concern when discussing video gaming. It’s largely already been said, but the actions taken by Gamergaters or on behalf of Gamergate have had some pretty scary results. But, if you’ll bear with me for a little bit, I’ll tell you about how some of these targets are fighting back.
If you’ve been following along these past couple months, you’ll recall that Brianna Wu had to leave her home after someone told her that “I’ve got a K-bar and I’m coming to your house so I can shove it up your ugly feminist cunt.” (I assume that this is the Ka-Bar to which they are referring.) You’ll also recall that Zoe Quinn had to leave her home after a stream of insults, rape threats, and death threats. You’ll further recall that Anita Sarkeesian was forced to leave her home after threats were made against her and her completely relevant parents. Which is obviously conducive to getting people external to gaming culture and media to view gaming as a space worthy of consideration that is characterized by integrity. Yeah.
I could detail here my myriad objections to the premise of Gamergate, but I’ve already done so. In a turn of events simultaneously troubling and predictable, Gamergaters have taken the rather large weight of media articles which decry their actions and question their motives as evidence of a “Quinnspiracy” against them, or something idiotic like that. What part of this occurred after October 14th has been dubbed MediaGate by some. That is right around when reporting about Brianna Wu, her making fun of Gamergate, and the threats made against her hit its stride. It really is truly disgusting behavior, but these women aren’t taking this lying down.
For gaming, fandom, and nerd culture, it has been a fucked-up couple of months. This much is obvious by now. The events of #Gamergate not only leave me highly disappointed, they also confirm the notion that any scandal or event described with the suffix “-gate” will be idiotic. This is not the first time I’ve addressed this subject, but I had hoped that in the intervening two months, #Gamergate would have blown over and we could all go back to eating Cheetos, having learned our lesson. But we haven’t, and so this fiasco stretches forward into November. Continue reading →
I’ll begin in the thick of it: a week ago, feminist video blogger Anita Sarkeesian (@femfreq), notable for her Tropes vs Women in Video Games series, left her home in fear for her safety in the wake of violent threats against her and her family. You probably already know this. You probably already know that Sarkeesian has long been the target of threats and harassment, including a 2012 game entitled Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian. I will not link to it, but suffice it to say that it is self-explanatory. She has documented some of it here. You may even know that this most recent bout of threats of violence, sexual and non, came from an individual who made it clear to Sarkeesian that they had acquired her address, and that of her parents. This individual declared their intent to murder them.
If there was any of that you did not know, please take a moment to sit, mouth agape, in rage and horror. However, if you’re barely surprised, no one could blame you. Not after thousands demanded that Carolyn Petit be fired for so much as suggesting that GTA V’s treatment of women is problematic, to say nothing of transphobic threats and harassment. Or after Miranda Pakozdi was harassed into quitting a video game tournament by her own team’s coach. You could probably name a million other incidents where someone in the gaming community has been abused, threatened, demeaned, or had their privacy invaded. All those events, recent and more distant, are tied together by the fact that the targeted persons dared to criticize or declare real the once-troubling-now-terrifying misogyny of “gamer culture”. Or they simply dared to be women in that culture.
The past few weeks in the gaming industry have been, for lack of a better word, bleak, in regards to how we treat each other. Game developers, journalists, and enthusiasts have been fighting about how said relationships should be functioning, with distrust and anger running high. At the tip of this iceberg is the continued (and escalated) harrassment towards Feminist Frequency creator Anita Sarkeesian and game developer Zoe Quinn, among many other female members of the community. With this flood of toxic behavior, it’s been hard to remember all the good that the medium can actually do. I love video games. Games can provide enjoyment, they can be an escape, they can teach, and they can give you access to a set of ideas that you might not have had a chance to experience firsthand. It is for this reason I want to highlight the game Depression Quest, written by Zoe Quinn and Patrick Lindsey.