How Do You Solve A Problem Like #GamerGate?


With another female in gaming being forced to flee her home following vicious death threats after posting a series of memes poking fun at #Gamergate, I feel that as a woman in the gaming industry it is finally my time to speak up.

Some background on me. I am a girl, I have played video games pretty much my whole life. I write about video games, cosplay from video games a bit and I also have a YouTube channel, which I share with my male partner. It does Let’s Plays and reviews of games. While the vast majority of feedback I get from my writing and videos is positive, occasionally I receive sexist comments on YouTube mostly claiming that as a women I’m extraneous. I’m the first to admit that I am very marginal in terms of involvement in the industry, but I love games. I play them a lot.

I used to consider myself pretty much on the left of the political spectrum. I read the Guardian, I voted Lib Dem at the last general election and I even convinced my parents not to vote UKIP, but then I started getting involved with people on the other side of the pond and realised that I might be more central than I thought.

Americans have attacked me for claiming that men can suffer from sexism, for saying that as a white person living in Japan I experience racism as a minority, and in terms of Zoe Quinn attacking the Fine Young Capitalists on their transgender policies I simply couldn’t wrap my head around it. I do still consider myself slightly left of centre. Yet I can’t condone things that have been done on either the left or the right. I am a feminist, and I still use that term, not because I hate men, but because I wish that women were treated equally to men.

First things first, the harassment and bullying of people within the industry has to stop. I do not know what makes someone so angry about a meme or an article that they think it is their right to call someone’s dad to tell them their daughter is a slut, to chase people from their homes, to hack their credit card information or even to approach an advertiser to tell them to stop advertising on a site you don’t agree with. I do understand that this is just a vocal minority and not indicative of the #Gamergate movement as a whole but it is disgusting and amoral.

When Zoe Quinn lied and manipulated the media, accusing Wizard-chan of harassment in order to further her career, or when she used her relationships in the media to block interviews with the Fine Young Capitalists, or when she claimed she was going to organise a rebeljam with no updates in almost 5 months and kept the money (Editor’s Note: Updated to remove “cancelled” language, as it is still possible to occur despite 5 months of inactivity), that was corrupt of her and wrong; but is it then right the threaten to rape her for her actions? Her punishment for her manipulation should have been perhaps poor coverage of her work and people pulling out of financially supporting her work; not fearing for her life and escaping her home.

If we look at the goals of those on both sides we will see that they are basically the same: Better video games for all.

When Anita Sarkeesian made poorly researched and monotonous YouTube videos damning the portrayal of women in video games, she should have simply faded into obscurity, instead of receiving death threats. Whether, like me, you don’t agree with all the points she makes, she absolutely has every right to express them. In the same way that Jenn Frank had the right to display her opinion in the Guardian, Leigh Alexander had the right to express her opinion on Gamasutra and Brianna Wu has the right to explain her beliefs through memes. Everyone should be of course afforded their right to free speech and if you don’t agree with these women you can exercise your free speech in an article disagreeing, instead of doxxing them and threatening to come to their house and rape them.

At the same time the journalists and other people showing their support for the anti-#Gamergate community could do their part to be less biased. When you are fighting people that send rape threats and marginalise groups into quitting the industry, it is very easy to demonise them, which is why I find it confusing when they then write biased articles, memes and tweets, dehumanising these people further.

The fact is the people on both sides are just that: people, and I think that is something which we are quick to forget. People supporting #Gamergate are upset about 2 very valid things: an attack on something they love, and the misrepresentation and corruption of themselves and video games within the media. While those opposing the movement are also fighting for something worth fighting for: a more inclusive space within video games for all and the prevention of harassment within the industry.

The fact is that women such as Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian and Brianna Wu wouldn’t be held aloft as the faces of feminism if the people who hated them so much hadn’t placed them upon this sky high pedestal, and more marginal feminists would be left to shine. Instead of fear and hatred we need empathy and understanding from both sides. If we look at the goals of those on both sides we will see that they are basically the same: Better video games for all.

And that is what this is all about really; enjoying video games. What is best for everyone is a place where new, interesting and innovative games are being created. Games so good they can bring us back to our childhoods, let us escape our lives for a while and simply immerse ourselves in a world of fantasy. This can only really be achieved if we decide to work together and allow more developers and commentators to get into the industry.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get back to discussing video games. Portal is rubbish isn’t it?

The views expressed in this article explicitly belong to the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of, nor should be attributed to, GameSided as an organization. (Especially the one about Portal being rubbish)

Edit: At the time of writing this article I had not heard of the doxxing or death threats send to those on the pro-gamergate side including women. I wanted to add this aside to show that I deplore this also. I guess the fact that I hadn’t heard of it shows that the media is mostly biased to anti-gaters. I also asked Zoe Quinn some reasonable questions on her AMA to give her a chance to clear her name concerning Gamergate and I was banned.(Zoe didn’t ban me personally nothing against her, just the owners of the subreddit.) I feel the media is censoring anything remotely pro-gate, which I think is sad.