I remember when I first felt uncomfortable with a video game. It was the first christmas party I had in college. The game everyone had to play was Grand Theft Auto 3. I watched in horror as the boy I was dating could not wait to show his buddies that you could have sex with a prostitute then beat her up to steal back your money. They erupted in laughter and I did too. As a girl who had spent most of high school being picked on for being different. All I wanted from college was to fit in. So I shoved it down in jar with a lid that said do not open and laughed.
Almost a decade later Red Dead Redemption happened. I had some major health problems. It was while recovering I decided to play Red Dead Redemption. I hooked up my Xbox 360 and tried to distract myself. That however did not happen. You aren’t even in to the real game play before casual misogyny starts. I never even got to the infamous side missions before I sold the game back to GameStop. It shattered that decade old jar. I told myself that I had simply out grown video games and quit.
So this summer, after almost three years away from mainstream video games my boyfriend bought me a 3DS XL. The 3DS brought a way for us to have fun together while apart. I started checking my town in Animal Crossing: New Leaf and unlocking characters in Mario Kart. I also started reading about games again. looking at next gen consoles and future 3DS and Wii U titles. My rekindled love of video games came almost instep with the biggest blow up of sexism in the industry. Days before that 3DS showed up on my door, GamerGate (GG) was born. It would be a few days before I found it. At first I hid my head in the sand. Applying Nancy Thompson’s logic of ignoring Freddy Kruger to deny him power to terrorize her. However I like Nancy underestimated the force I was dealing with.
Eventually GG went after Intel. Intel folded under the pressure. Intel gave them the legitimacy they had so desperately craved. Intel make the processor that runs my MacBook Air. Intel makes the processors of most of my female blogging friends computers. Girls who don’t care about video games and video game culture. How could they fold to such a vile contingency of their customers. How could they not see beyond gamers to regular consumers who would be insulted by this groups origins. Why would anyone actively alienate 50% of the population? When I tweeted my disappointment at Intel. My mentions suddenly filled with GG people. Who started hashtag their replies with gamergate to call on more people to tell me how wrong I was. All of them hounding you with the same nonsensical questions. Trying to intimated you into being silent or to stop tweeting by the sheer number of people tweeting at you. Any empathy I had towards their purported goals was gone. It became stunningly clear that all they wanted was the silence of the opposition. That the only to choices are being quiet and submissive to their wants or gird your loins to face the on coming mob. I saw people who actively refused to use the hashtag mobbed by GG. People who wanted to voice their support and their concern with out directly engaging GG were sought out to be silenced. Everyday it spirals more and more out of control.
Last night Anita Sarkeesian had to cancel her talk at Utah State University because someone threatened to commit mass murder on the campus if she spoke. Utah’s screwed up gun laws made it impossible for her to speak and stay safe. Last night an Actor got on twitter and used his celebrity to egg on a victims aggressors. She asked him to take into account his vitriol could get her killed. He called her a liar. Yesterday Huffington Post’s Live show allowed “both sides” to be heard. The website who’s founder got air time spent last night openly musing about murder and continued doxxing victims. Today as I was about to publish this post one of the biggest voices in gaming media is saying “Death threats are wrong. Don’t do that but….” I’m sorry Penny Arcade there is no but. Saying but is a casual admission that the ends justify the means. (they don’t) Saying but is saying it OK to bully view points you don’t agree with out of the conversation. (it’s not) When you justify GG position against the media you say that 0.5% of articles talking about feminism is 0.5% too much.