Back in August, I wrote about the ongoing harassment against Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian, the then-latest attempts by the would-be gatekeepers of gaming culture trying to evict women from their formerly1 exclusive clubhouse.
While it’s (depressingly) common to see outbursts like this bubble up from the underside of the Internet, it’s rare for it to last as long as the supposed Quinnspiracy has. These moments tend to be like the Internet equivalent of herpes – they flare up and make people miserable2 before fading away again – if only to erupt again later. Instead, it became an ideology. The supposed Quinspiracy morphed into GamerGate – a movement (or a “consumer revolution” – pick one) that supposedly is all about purging the nebulous idea of “corruption” from gaming journalism.
If only that was what GamerGate was really about.
Last week, game developer Brianna Wu was chased from her home after GamerGate-ers threatened to rape and kill her. Anita Sarkeesian was forced to cancel a speaking engagement at Utah State University after another threatened to commit a “Montreal Massacre-style attack”.3
Even more people have found themselves subjected to relentless harassment and threats if they so much as even mention GamerGate online. It’s become the Internet equivalent of standing in front of a mirror and saying Beetlejuice three times – say the words and if you’re lucky, you’ll only be swarmed by sea lions. If not…
In fact, as of my writing this, Felicia Day wrote a powerful piece about GamerGate and why the fear of retribution has kept her silent. Within an hour, she was doxxed.
And yet, we are told over and over again that GamerGate is about ethics, not hate. So which is it?
Let’s talk about what we’re really talking about when we talk about GamerGate.
- Except it never has been… [↩]
- Yes, it’s an awkward metaphor. But like herpes, in the real world, people getting butthurt over, say, cultural criticism of video games would be a minor inconvenience instead of something capable of ruining people’s lives… [↩]
- The Montreal Massacre refers to Marc Lepine shooting 28 people at École Polytechnique, targeting women specifically. [↩]