By Jessica Wright
The online gaming world promises a place where people can play and interact based on their skills rather than who or what they are. However, one online gaming community seems to be threatening this safety.
Recent reports show that an online gaming community, GamerGate, has been threatening prominent female gamers. GamerGate claims to be concerned with the ethics in video game journalism; however, the community has been rapidly building itself the reputation of being unreasonably misogynistic and volatile.
her presentation was faced with a bomb threat and the school could not ensure her safety
Feminist Anita Sarkeesian, known for her YouTube channel, “Feminist Frequency,” dissects the roles and design of female characters in video games. Sarkeesian is one of many women who have come under fire from GamerGate lately for holding feminist ideals in the gaming universe. Sarkeesian was forced to leave her home when her personal information got doxxed, or posted online against her wishes, and has received multiple rape and death threats. Additionally, she recently had to cancel an appearance at Utah State University after her presentation was faced with a bomb threat and the school could not ensure her safety.
GamerGate’s abuse of women is not limited to Sarkeesian; the most recent well-known occurrence of GamerGate members acting against women revolves around actress, vlogger, and founder of Geek & Sundry, Felicia Day. Day posted on her tumblr that she was afraid to even comment on the GamerGate controversy and that she stayed silent out of “self-protection and fear” of backlash from the GamerGate community. An actress in the TV show Supernatural, Day chose to keep to herself rather than enthusiastically greeting some male gamers while on the street during a break in filming, as per her norm. Apparently, her fears weren’t unwarranted. Less than 24 hours after her post, which really didn’t take a stand for or against the GamerGate controversy itself, her personal information was leaked online just as Sarkeesian’s had been.
Women are not the only people disgusted with the GamerGate members’ behavior. Tom McKay, a columnist for PolicyMic, in his article “The Disturbing Violation of Felicia Day Proves GamerGate Is Destined for a Bad End,” agrees that GamerGate is waging a war on women. Former NFL player and long-time gamer, Chris Kluwe, was so enraged with the GamerGate phenomena that he came out with several scathing tweets and blog entries calling GamerGate members “neo-Nazis” and saying they were “ascending to cult status.” The backlash he received was so minimal that he responded in a blog entry by saying “And for the record, none of you fucking #GamerGate tools tried to dox me, even after I tore you a new one. I’m not even a tough target. Instead, you go after a woman who wrote why your movement concerns her.” While Kluwe seems to be full of fiery opinions on this controversy, it’s undeniable that he has a point. That in 2014 a man can make a threat against a woman and have minimal, if any, repercussions is unacceptable. That an entire community of men could make threats against women and be met with minimal backlash is inexcusable. The lack of basic respect that men seem to have for women in our culture is revolting.
While it’s true that some men are taking a stand and speaking out against the GamerGate community, more needs to be done. Police need to take the rape and death threats being made against these women more seriously, and society needs to make it clear that doxxing people’s information will not be tolerated.
Rather than threatening women in the industry, the gaming community needs to take a stand against GamerGate and stop the war on women. The gaming community needs to rise up and create a safe space where all people, despite age, gender, or race can come and enjoy gaming without the potential of being harassed or threatened. The love of video games is what brought this community into existence and has helped it to thrive—and the love of video games is what is being forgotten as these boys get hostile because women want to share their toys.