A lot of you may have noticed the trending hashtag #Gamergate and didn’t really know what it was. Gamergate is the controversy that concerns sexism in video game culture and for you to truly understand this social movement, we are going to have to start from the beginning with Zoe Quinn.
An independent game developer, in February 2013, Quinn released the interactive fiction browser game Depression Quest, developed to spread awareness of depression. While the game had positive reviews, many in the gaming world thought Quinn herself received unfair attention.
In August of 2014 her ex boyfriend Eron Gjoni posted a 9,425 word long blog post made of personal emails chat logs and text messages detailing his relationship with Quinn. In the post, Gjoni accused Quinn of cheating on him with Nathan Grayson,a journalist for Kotaku, a popular gaming site. Her relationship with Nathan led people to believe that Grayson wrote favorable reviews on her game. Kotaku eventually stepped in and said the only piece Nathan wrote about Quinn was before their relationship began.
Out of unnecessary rage, people in and out of the gaming industry doxed and harassed Quinn. They attacked both her and her family with rape threats, death threats and hacks of her tumblr, skype,and dropbox. The harassment became so bad she was forced out of her home. One threat reported in The New Yorker
“Next time she shows up at a conference we’ll give her a crippling injury that’s never going to fully heal, a good solid injury to the knees. I’d say brain damage, but we don’t want to make it so she ends up too retarded to fear us”
When asked about the harassment and threats in several different conferences Quinn said:
“It was nothing but trying to get me to kill myself, trying to get people to hurt me, going after my family”
Quinn told BBC news “There is no mention of ethics in journalism at all outside of making the same accusation everybody makes towards any successful woman; that clearly she got to where she is because she had sex with someone”. At another conference, Quinn said “I used to go to game events and feel like I was going home, now it’s just like, are any of the people in currently in the room with the ones that said they wanted to beat me to death?” In her interview with the New Yorker, Quinn actually stated that she felt sympathetic for her attackers because their behavior stemmed from years of self loathing.
The hashtag #Gamergate was made to resemble the Watergate scandal, using -gate as a suffix to denote political scandals. It was first used by the actor Adam Baldwin on Twitter, turning into a label directed towards attackers in the gaming world. The Gamergate supporters are made up of the sizable population of gamers that are angry that the ethics of video games are being questioned. This is why they have attacked feminists like Wu and Anita Sarkeesian when they spoke of issues regarding sexism in video games. The people who come to the defense of the victims of harassment, rape threats and doxing were labeled by the Gamergate supporters as White Nights or Social Justice Warriors.
Gamergate has been going on for over a year now, making other feminist gamers vulnerable to the same harassment Quinn experienced. This is only what started the movement, there is far more but that will be covered in a later segment because as with every scandal it is important to clarify it’s roots before getting caught up in the modern hype without the context.