Recently a number of people, mostly females and their supporters, have come under attack from “hardcore” gamers. This isn’t anything new; female gamers and those who work in the gaming industry have always been on the receiving end of hate mail and slurs. However, the #Gamergate scandal has opened the world of gaming communities to the wider media and it is apparent that sexism is still alive and well in gamer culture.
It all started with Gamergate. To be fair, the media coverage of harassment and death threats that females receive started with Gamergate. Women in the gaming community have always received slurs, but it was Gamergate that brought everything to a tipping point for gamers.
At first glance Gamergate seems to be about the alleged conspiracy in left leaning media outlets that want the destruction of the “hardcore” gamer identity. This ongoing saga about the death of gaming culture has been an insane tangle of issues, ranging from journalistic ethics to free speech.
What the #Gamergate scandal is really and only about is sexism in gamer culture.
It began as an attempt to ruin Zoe Quinn, an indie game developer who released the game “Depression Quest.” Quinn’s ex-boyfriend Eron Gjoni blogged about how Quinn supposedly slept with her reviewers to further her career and to get good reviews for her game.
What started as revenge by a spurned ex to get back at his girlfriend turned into an internet culture war. While Quinn said she did not sleep with anyone who reviewed her games, naysayers decided that she definitely slept with people for the publicity and that Quinn was trying to cover up for corruption in the press. This started a harassment campaign that forced Quinn to leave her house after someone posted her address online.
On one side of this battle are the naysayers: people who don’t want a greater inclusion of females in gaming and who believe that the corrupt press wants to end gaming culture. On the other side are people who advocate for females and minorities to be included more in gaming and video games.
This battle over whether or not there is a conspiracy by the media to secretly end gaming culture is insane. It has never been about ethics in the press. It has been about misogynists who don’t want females or anyone who isn’t a white straight male anywhere near the gaming communities. It has been about the naysayers who don’t believe that female gamers get death threats and who don’t want games to change.
There’s nothing wrong with being a gamer or playing video games. It’s a hobby— for some a lifestyle—that millions of people enjoy. What is wrong is the continued harassment that females get while playing games and issues like Gamergate that ruin games for people who thought they would be part of the gamer community.
And let’s just remember that Zoe Quinn isn’t the only high profile female gamer to receive death threats and be forced to flee her house. Quinn joins a long list of females in the gaming community who are sick of sexism in games and have spoken out against it only to receive murder and rape threats. This list includes Anita Sarkeesian, a culture critic who recently had to cancel her talk at Utah State University after a male threatened to shoot people who attended, and Leigh Alexander, a technology critic who received hate mail after she wrote about video games for Time magazine.
Video games are for everyone and gamers shouldn’t have to face harassment from individuals who believe that video game culture should never include women.
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