GamerGate: Why you should care and what it all means (kind of)

GamerGate: Why you should care and what it all means (kind of)

Photo courtesy of Abby Hassler

For those who don't know, GamerGate is a recent issue in the gaming industry relating to women, journalism and gaming culture. Rallying cries can be seen all over social media and the hashtag #gamergate has exploded over the past few weeks. So what's all the fuss about? Well, it's hard to explain.

It all started when indie game creator Zoe Quinn ended a relationship with her boyfriend, Eron Gjoni. Gjoni proceeded to publish information about Quinn, claiming that she was sleeping around in the gaming journalism community for better reviews on her game, 'Depression Quest.'

Gjoni's opinions and accusations prompted deeper investigation, leading to the discovery of secret funding towards Quinn from a number of prominent members of the gaming community. The whole affair reeked of conspiracy, and much of the gaming community (both journalists and readers alike) were outraged. The situation left a bad taste in the mouths of many towards the entire establishment of gaming journalism and journalistic integrity was brought into question. Problematically, many female journalists were brought under suspicion of the same kind of raunchy behavior Quinn had allegedly exhibited. The entire issue spiraled out of control, with many blindly distrusting all women in the industry and transforming frustration at one woman and one circumstance into blind misogyny.

Critics such as Anita Sarkeesian (a critic who often talks about the issues of misogyny and female abuse in video games) received numerous threats of rape, death and sexual abuse'one going so far as to threaten to bomb a school where she planned to speak.

Around this time, many gaming sites began releasing articles relating to the 'death of the gamer,' a term coined to describe the deconstruction of the typical gamer persona of a white male. These same articles often criticized the gaming community for its actions and called for a change in the dynamics of the group. All of this only added fuel to the fire of #gamergate, leading to more threats and general hate towards much of the journalistic community and many movements towards gender equality in gaming.

None of this is good, ladies and gentlemen.

In reality, both sides have a point to make. The backers of GamerGate have a right to be upset. While it may be naïve to think, it's understandable that people would think that gaming journalism could be a place free of bias and conspiracy, and to hear that journalists and game makers might be in bed together (literally or figuratively) is something worth getting upset about. Even if media news will always have a spin, fighting for integrity in a field is something worth pursuing.

While the GamerGate movement may have a legitimate foundation, what it has become is unacceptable. The actions and threats made by the group have gone from supporting a cause to threatening the lives and safety of others, and that's a line that shouldn't be crossed. Regardless of the issue, a person shouldn't be threatened with death for speaking their mind.

GamerGate is a messy issue, primarily because of its multi-faceted nature and the number of parties involved. Personally, I believe video games are a medium that all people regardless of race, gender or economic status should be able to enjoy, and that the coverage of developments in video game media should be treated as any other source'with a healthy dose of skepticism.

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