In 2015, the media circus that has come to be called ‘Gamergate,’ was thrust into public light. While it should be an article all its own on this wiki, in summation: it is most widely known for a harassment campaign against several women in the video game industry, including game developers Zoë Quinn and Brianna Wu, and cultural critic Anita Sarkeesian--who'll we'll discuss in this post.
“The demographics should be a huge wake-up call to executives at gaming companies, because there is a huge amount of money to be made out of taking women seriously,” decrees founder and CEO of MakeLoveNotPorn.com, Cindy Gallop, on an ABCNews ‘exclusive’ investigative report. In the light of the ‘Gamergate’ debacle, this major news outlet shed light in 2015 on the dangerous reality some women in the tech/game field online, and how this reality effects their lives IRL.When women attempt to explain their viewpoint on anything—from the 2015 ‘Slutwalk,’ or experiences in ‘gaming’— 27% said that they are met with harassment online. We’ve discussed women’s voices being silenced online in our first section post: “Dickwolves Controversy,” and discussed the fallacious laws surrounding revenge porn in “Revenge Porn.” Yet we haven’t yet discussed the harassment of women in, perhaps, the most historically detrimental online space, that is the gaming sphere. Why is it that so many women are harassed in this particular online space?
According to a Washington Post article penned by Drew Harwell in 2015, “in the United States, twice as many adult women play video games as do boys, according to the Entertainment Software Association, the industry's top trade group.” Despite this fact, the representation of women’s perspectives in videogames has been widely disputed, as women gamers point out the flaws in game design and the depth of female-character development.
One cannot talk about harassing in the gaming industry without the name Anita Sarkeesian coming to mind. For years, she has been the internet’s No. 1 guide to all-things gaming and feminism; whether she is writing on her blog or posting videos on Youtube to her channel: feministfrequency. Edit
While this wiki post will not go discuss her viewpoints in-depth, her main argument about current videogame culture in general is that women are simply “ornamental” in standard gaming experiences. For more information on her stances and projects, there is a plethora of information floating around the Internet (biased, completely falsified, and factual) and that would be very difficult to condense for the purposes of this post. It should also be noted that gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry, and yet Sarkeesian is one of just a few women pointing out the “misogynistic nature of gaming” (ABCNews, 2015). And her criticism/presence on the Internet has not been taken lightly.
In fact, many, many, many people have taken to Youtube, message boards and news publications to slander Sarkeesian and “shed light” on the content she creates. Just type “Anita Sarkeesian” into the Youtube search bar, and seven pages of videos will emerge. The first six of which are videos titled something along the lines of “Anita Sarkeesian: SO STUPID ITS FUNNY!,” “5 Reasons People Hate Anita Sarkeesian - GFM,” and “ANITA SARKEESIAN, YOU OFFICIALLY SUCK AT FEMINISM.”
Additionally, (and perhaps this is indicative of the generation in which we live) many content-creators have made entire careers out of making fun and critiquing her every move. YouTube content creators like MrRepzion (aka Daniel Sulzbach) have garnered hundreds of thousands of views on videos pertaining to his own disagreements on feministfrequency’s online mini-series: “Tropes vs Women in Video Games.” Those hundreds of thousands of views have translated, in turn, to a potential six-figure salary.
From the ‘Gamergate’ debacle, we learn an essential point: when women enter men’s territory, they are discriminated and criticized; however, when men enter a woman’s territory, it is something to be celebrated, or at least, marketed.
Let’s use ‘Gamergate’ as an example of how the online interaction between men and women illustrates the attitudes of the Internet realm. It seems as if, using this framework, when women critique men there is a greater backlash. When ‘Gamergate’ first broke, there were countless written renouncing the movement itself, and countless videos have been made tearing apart feminist activists and activists of videogame reform. Yet, astoundingly, only a limited amount of articles in comparison have been written about advocating and illustrating the effects women have suffered: we’re not talking about they types of harassment women are facing.
After Anita Sarkeesian began her work on “Tropes vs Women in Video Games,” a huge backlash began on Youtube, 4chan and Reddit. She was doxed, publically humiliated, cum tributed, and impersonated in large quantities. She was threatened both verbally and on the Internet, and games like “Beat up Anita” surfaced—in which users could actively punch a picture of Sarkeesian’s face while the phrase, “you’re not allowed to criticize me, I’m a woman” is repeated over and over again in a high pitched tone.
While the game is seemingly comical, these impending threats lead Sarkeesian to cancel a speaking arrangement at Utah State University SOURCE?. This speech cost both time and money. The fact she was not able to speak—verbally voice her opinion publically—should be an homage to the detriment of trolling.
So, Ms. Cindy Gallop: if there is a huge amount of money to be made from taking women seriously, why haven’t gaming companies cashed into this idea? Let’s consult the numbers:
79% of game developers are men, according to Harwell of the Washington Post, and “International Game Developers Association research shows, an extension of a bitter gender divide, in which nine in 10 employees in U.S. technology work are men.” Link? Therefore, as it stands, it is actually most profitable right now to reduce women to sex objects and ornamentation, rather than include their perspectives in the game.
What other causalities have I missed from Gamergate? Hundreds? Thousands? Let's create more sections or examples of women's experiences throughout Gamergate. Let me know in the comments below.