For you fortunate souls who don’t know what “Gamergate” is, beyond a very poorly formed word, it is a current huge drama storm in the gaming community that involves accusations of corruption in games journalism, a great deal of trolling, and our old friend straight up misogyny. As someone who loves games, loves media analysis, and has done a lot of reading about feminism this would initially seem to be a subject that I would love to write about. So why haven’t I?
It’s because I am afraid.
As a woman who has public opinions about video games, even on my very tiny scale, watching the events of the last few weeks unfold has been, frankly, brutal. I have seen high-profile women and their families have to leave their homes because of threats that specifically mention personal addresses. I have seen women become targets of account hacking, right down to their pizzeria account. I’ve seen threats of assault and personal injury and horrible, horrible things.
I’ve seen what happens when a woman in particular mentions a hashtag or a key word on Twitter, and the anonymous opinion squad that immediately shows up to call them c****. I’ve seen links to porn of these women drawn by their detractors. I’ve seen women who even have a vague opinion be written up in lists of people who should have their livelihoods ruined. In the last few weeks I’ve seen women literally be hounded out of the game industry and off of social media.
A couple of years ago when I wrote for RIFT Junkies I earned a hater. For six weeks this fellow would be the first comment on any post I wrote, calling me a stupid bitch. He was never quite clear on why he hated me, just some mishmash of liking RIFT and having the temerity to be overweight and on the internet. The experience was so tiny compared to what I’m seeing happening right now, and yet it really bothered me. Admittedly I am a little sensitive, but I can’t even imagine dealing with something more vitriolic or on a larger scale.
There are a ton of brave men and women right now who have a bigger audience than I do, who speak more boldly on this subject than I ever will, and who take a lot of shit about it.
As for me, at some point a couple of weeks ago I literally became scared of stating an opinion about video games. I realized that there is no escape. You can never be temperate enough, talented enough, logical enough, kind enough to avoid the train of angry gamer mob justice when it spots you on the tracks.