Thursday, 6 November 2014

Did The Rest Of The World Even Know Gamergate Was Happening?

A scandal sparked by pervading misogyny within the Gaming Industry causing tension and division, the likes of which the Gaming World has never experienced.



The unfortunate legacy of the clumsily named Gamergate will be one of sexual harassment, death threats and just plain nastiness. This, however, does not give a clear reflection of what has transpired in the passed couple of months and the consequences which will continue to be seen in the following few. Anita Sarkeesian, who found herself very much on the front-line during the height of this scandal, claimed during her interview on the Colbert Report that Gamergate was in actual fact not about ethics in gaming journalism, and that it was actually centred around attacks from males on females within the gaming space. Perhaps a forgivable amount of egotism is at play here, given the ordeal Sarkeesian had to endure, because this is simply not true. Sexism and misogyny in gaming was certainly the fuse, and should be the most important takeaway from Gamergate, but what took place once the fuse was lit spiraled beyond that realm.

To preface the journalistic debacle which took place, one must first look at the terrorism which engulfed prominent female members of the gaming world. Anita Sarkeesian, who I previously mentioned, is head of the online feminist group known as Feminist Frequency. A video which she posted on Youtube about blatant misogyny and the objectification of women in gaming caused quite the stir as many male gamers felt her points were a threat to the creativity and free will of developers. In reality, however, males most likely felt their dominant stance within the industry being threatened. This lead to verbal abuse, cyber harassment and death threats sent to Sarkeesian's house which caused her to leave her home in fear of her own safety. One depraved person went as far as threatening to shoot up the college that Sarkeesian attends if the college did not kick her out. This gives one an idea of just how ugly the scandal became.

To compound the vicious collusion which took place between some (and I mean some) scornful male gamers, a new scandal emerged. A sexist crusade which sought to expose Independent game dev Zoe Quinn as a callous adulterer. Former colleague and butt-hurt ex-boyfriend, Eron Gjoni, wrote an extensive blogpost outlining how Quinn was a deceitful self-promoter and should not be trusted. To my amazement while writing this, the blog has still not been taken down, despite the hateful tirade of abuse towards Quinn which this caused. Again, including the increasingly tiresome yet still worrying death threats which females had to endure. Sure, Zoe Quinn might be a terrible girlfriend, but to try and tarnish her name professionally is just nasty. Furhermore, many of the claims made by Gjoni held no evidence to back them up.

Gamergate became so uncontrollable, seeming to turn any forum related to gaming into a contemptuous debate through cyber-osmosis, that Reddit admins of gaming related subreddits began to delete any threads even somewhat related to the issue. 4chan, as always, did not have such a sensitive persuasion. The deliberation on gaming-related forums on 4chan spoke about the ethics involved with the abuse women received. Tactics used by these bigots, however, were not so honourable. Threats of violence and attempting to hack social media accounts held by prominent female members of the industry, for example Zoe Quinn's tumblr, became part of the daily crusade to dismantle these people's reputation. Brianna Wu, founder of Boston-based developer Giant Spacekat, who recently came out claiming that she expects jail time for those involved in the harassment, was targeted simply for being a critic of the Gamergate movement. And also, it would seem, for being female and having an opinion on matters related to gaming.


This crisis came in the wake of a sustained retreat from gaming journalism, which has caused many journalists to become resentful towards their audience. The jaded and in general more elderly journalists, frustrated by the fact that the gaming world was no longer the little boy's club which they felt they had influence in, concluded that this debacle was caused by the death of the gamer. Multiple articles began popping up on GamasutraDestructoid and inevitably on Kotaku claiming that 'Gamer Identity' was now a thing of the past. Never mind the fact that the vast number of members within the gaming community were very outspoken in condemning the campaign. This explanation for the scandal was bore out of a frustration for no longer being listened to, and worse of all, for being seen as pawns of the mainstream, multi-billion dollar gaming heavy-hitters such as Sony, Microsoft and the other major players in the AAA market. The gaming journalists were essentially trying to bite off the last hand who bothered to feed their petulant mouths. To better understand this from someone who's a far better writer than I am, I would highly recommend reading any of David Auerbach's articles on slate.com on the topic.

Gamergate is about the truth that the seemingly most advanced and post-modern members of western society still hold sentiments deemed by modern standards as archaic. Gamergate is about the accelerated decline of Gaming Journalism. But Gamergate is not about the Gamer. The Gamer, sitting at home playing their console, PC or handheld device shouldn't be bothered by pathetic journalists, but they should be very aware of the vicious sexism which exists in the industry and could well be exposed in other tech industries if the recent Tinder scandal is anything to go by.