EDITOR’S NOTE: The viewpoints in this article do not represent the opinions of The Writer’s Bloc.
If you’ve been anywhere on the Internet these past couple of months, then you’ve probably heard of and/or are completely sick of something called “Gamergate.”
This whole mess started back in August when a man named Eron Gjoni created a blog post claiming that his then-girlfriend independent game developer Zoe Quinn cheated on him with at least 5 men involved with the video game industry in order to gain favorable reviews on her game Depression Quest.
Later on it was found that one editor for Polygon who had reviewed Quinn’s game was contributing to her Patreon. Gjoni’s claims went viral and incited a mass discussion on corruption within the video game journalism industry.
Within a week of its creation, the hashtag #Gamergate was retweeted nearly 250,000 times. The online movement left the Web, reaching as far as the pages of The New Yorker.
On the surface, Gamergate seems like a great idea. The gamers are finally taking control of their industry back from the corrupt masters! Except, that’s not what’s happening.
In an article she wrote for the humor website Cracked.com, Quinn detailed the nightmare her life has become since the movement began. She has received death threats. She has had her character torn apart by complete strangers. She has become the subject of rape fantasies. The Gamegaters even found her home number and called her father to tell him that his daughter is a whore.
Regardless of whether or not Quinn actually cheated on her ex, her treatment has been absolutely vile. Any movement that can’t get its point across without resorting to rape threats is not a movement worth following.
Quinn is not the sole target of the Gamegaters. Video game critic and feminist Anita Sarkeesian had to cancel a talk at Utah State University due to death threats she received. Sarkeesian had a negative reputation in gaming even before Gamergate due to her controversial series “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games” and her unclear use of Kickstarter funds, so it is understandable if not excusable why she is getting this kind of backlash, but fan favorites are being thrown under the bus as well.
Fandom darling Felicia Day, known for her role as the witty and charming Charlie Bradbury on “Supernatural,” was doxed less than an hour after making a post about how the current environment in the gaming industry made her fear for her safety. Game developer Brianna Wu was forced to flee her home over online harassment.
Gamergate has its extremists, as does any other ideal that reaches this magnitude. But these actions are not the work of extremists as much as they are a reflection of the current sense of entitlement within the gaming community. There is a status quo within gaming, and once that is breached, the floodgates of Hell are opened.
Not all gamers are committing these horrible acts, but enough are sitting back and just letting them happen to reflect poorly on the entire community.
It should be noted that former NFL player Chris Kluwe has spoken up against Gamergate, yet he has yet to receive any serious threats of violence. No matter what some on Twitter may say, women are being unfairly targeted through this.
No matter what the original intentions may have been of Gamergate’s creators, the movement is now little more than a toxic mass witch hunt that seeks to blame the very people who it is meant to protect. Those who support it are willingly siding themselves with people who threaten violence and harm to get what they want.
Things need to change in the video game industry. Something needs to be done about the intensely toxic environment and the way that corporations can now pay major reviewers for good reviews, among other things. However, Gamergate is neither the movement gaming needs nor the one it deserves.
Rosie Brown is a sophomore prospective journalism major and can be reached at email@example.com.