GamerGate is a hashtag that you’ve likely seen before. Wherever you found the term, it doesn’t matter. What’s important is to understand what GamerGate is, and why it is so destructive to the gaming community.
To be honest, I don’t know how GamerGate started; various sources tell various stories. At this point, there’s so much hate circling the term that it’s almost impossible to tell what’s real and what’s not about the origin. It’s possible that the GamerGate movement started innocently by gamers concerned with the journalistic ethics of the gaming culture. However, the term has been so corrupted that it could strike fear into the heart of any female gamer anywhere.
GamerGate has become the term used to describe a specific group of people who attack women gamers, especially those in blogging or journalism. It has become an icon of censorship – one of the very things they claim to be against.
Any female speaking out against GamerGate or sexism in video games, even video games in general, knows that they’re making themselves a target. It’s become painfully clear that any woman with an opinion needs to worry if their address or other personal information will be stolen and posted all over the internet because someone didn’t like what they had to say.
As a female gamer, I know I’ve been terrified.
I’m not an actor or a developer; I’m not even a significantly popular writer. I have a tiny movie-based blog that has very little to do with gaming. So, why am I scared?
Felicia Day (Supernatural, The Guild, Buffy The Vampire Slayer) wrote an article about GamerGate on Wednesday, October 22. No one could say it better.
“For the first time maybe in my life, on that Saturday afternoon, I walked towards that pair of gamers and I didn’t smile. I didn’t say hello. In fact, I crossed the street so I wouldn’t walk by them. Because after all the years of gamer love and inclusiveness, something had changed in me. A small voice of doubt in my brain now suspected that those guys and I might not be comrades after all. That they might not greet me with reflected friendliness, but contempt. I went home and was totally, utterly depressed.”
At the time Felicia Day wrote that, she hadn’t been a victim of GamerGate yet. Keyword: yet. GamerGate made sure to victimize her after that article was posted.
All GamerGate has succeeded in doing is making gamer girls feel unwelcome and vulnerable. They haven’t stopped us from gaming — they’ve stopped us from talking and from trusting other gamers.
There was a time when I could walk into my local game store and chat with the employees. I could ask questions about games and discuss gaming theory all day long. Now whenever I walk into a game store, I wonder if any of them is disgusted by the fact that I’m a female. I wonder if the personal information I give them is going to wind up online because they see my mere existence as some imagined slight against them.
I haven’t been to a game store in months. Not even to browse.
GamerGate is a plague upon the gaming community. It’s been tearing gamers apart.
Supporters swear that they have good and honest intentions, but the GamerGate movement is still doxing any women who speak out against them. It’s difficult to the cleanse anything that insists on sitting in the mud while you’re trying.
I don’t know what would appease these digital terrorists, and I don’t know what to do to make them go away.
There’s no tutorial for that.
What I do know is that we can’t let fear get the best of us, and that I will not stop doing something I love because of it.
[ Images courtesy of EPN.tv and Caitlin Vaughn ]