I’m sure most gamers have heard of #GamerGate and the protest against prominent female games critics/makers Brianna Wu and Anita Sarkeesian. We only have the vaguest idea of how it started, but it’s grown and grown beyond any kind of control – or, in our opinion, sense. As a movement it’s only ever been a loose affiliation of likeminded people anyway, and at times members have gone way beyond decency in their attempts to discourage people whose opinions they don’t like.
Upfront, let us point out that we’re not big fans of Anita Sarkeesian ourselves, actually. But the torrent of abuse she’s received is just ridiculous – and if anything, gives her even more of a platform to speak about her views, because of the widespread media and popular attention caused by the constant trolling of #GamerGaters.
Some great people have been involved in #GamerGate, or in speaking out against it. If it were really just about ethics in gaming journalism, we’d totally agree. We plan to be completely honest here, and we hope all other game reviewers do the same – even if they’re sleeping with the developer of a game. Still, one isolated incident with an indie game doesn’t seem like much justification for the storm of abuse that has ensued.
So often the argument seems to have become about women in the gaming industry. The targets often seem to be women – though there have been some exceptions, like Veerender Jubbal. (We’ll say more about that in a minute.) We think women can’t help but add interesting stuff to the gaming industry, and we can’t help but welcome a greater range of games with a greater range of characters. We don’t see that as taking anything away from traditional games – and if you haven’t played Mass Effect with a female Shepard, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. We think she’s more badass than male Shep, with Jennifer Hale’s awesome voice acting work.
The other thing that’s happening is huge amounts of abuse. Particularly in cases like Veerender Jubbal. People in #GamerGate edited an innocuous photo of him to make him look like a terrorist in the wake of the attacks in Paris in November. (You can read his statement here.) Newspapers actually picked this up and it could have put him in serious danger of reprisals or violent arrests. It could even have endangered his life.
So we think #GamerGate is a little bit out of hand, and we don’t mind saying that we’ll be speaking up whenever we think that’s happening. We advise you to do the same, else all gamers will be tarred with the same brush.