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  1. #1
    Symbolic Herald Vasilisa's Avatar
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    Post Gamergate: A Scandal Erupts in the Video-Game Community

    Gamergate: A Scandal Erupts in the Video-Game Community
    By Simon Parkin
    October 17, 2014
    The New Yorker

    Excerpt:
    At this year’s Game Developers Choice Awards, the closest the video-game industry has to an Oscars ceremony, Anita Sarkeesian received the Ambassador Award, a prize that honors individuals who help the industry “advance to a better place” through advocacy or action. Sarkeesian, a Canadian-American feminist and media critic, won the award for creating a series of videos titled Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, which discuss and challenge sexism and misogyny in gaming. “My … project was born out of a desire to … take gaming seriously,” she said in her acceptance speech, adding that game developers can “portray women as capable, complex, and inspirational.”

    Earlier, the award ceremony’s organizers had received an anonymous e-mail that stated, “A bomb will be detonated at the Game Developers Choice award ceremony tonight unless Anita Sarkeesian’s Ambassador Award is revoked. We estimate the bomb will kill at least a dozen people and injure dozens more. It would be in your best interest to accept our simple request. This is not a joke. You have been warned.” The message was just one example of the many threats that Sarkeesian had received since launching her video series. In 2012, the Times reported that Sarkeesian had been sent images showing video-game characters raping her. Her Wikipedia entry was repeatedly vandalized. One man created a Web game called Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian, in which players could punch Sarkeesian’s image and watch her face become bruised. The violent threats have continued unabated; Sarkeesian fled her home in August after a Twitter user posted her address and threatened to kill her.

    The most recent incident occurred on Tuesday, when the director of Utah State University’s Center for Women and Gender received an e-mail proposing “the deadliest school shooting in American history” if Sarkeesian’s upcoming speaking engagement at the school was not cancelled. The e-mail, which was published online by the Standard-Examiner, read, “I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs…. Anita Sarkeesian is everything wrong with the feminist woman, and she is going to die screaming like the craven little whore that she is if you let her come to USU.” Sarkeesian cancelled her talk after the campus police, citing Utah’s gun laws, refused to prohibit attendees from carrying concealed weapons to the event. The e-mail is being considered as part of an ongoing F.B.I. investigation into threats against Sarkeesian.

    These death threats are clearly the work of troubled minds. More mundane and more prevalent are the tens of thousands of messages that Sarkeesian has received that attempt to debunk her work and force her to silence. Speaking to Mother Jones in May, Sarkeesian said, “The gaming industry has been male-dominated ever since its inception, but over the last several years there has been an increase in women’s voices challenging the sexist status quo. We are witnessing a very slow and painful cultural shift. Some male gamers with a deep sense of entitlement are terrified of change.”

    Video games have, in recent years, begun to expand beyond the traditional themes of sports, racing, and warfare. The Cat and the Coup, for example, allows players to experience the life of the pet cat of Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran. Coolest Girl in School challenges its players to get through the day with a period stain on their skirts. This new subject matter has allowed critics, who have traditionally judged video games based on their entertainment value, to broaden the lenses through which they approach a work.

    But there are those who wish to close down these new lines of conversation and creativity, whether by campaigning for the removal of a relatively obscure piece of interactive fiction about depression, or by silencing critics like Sarkeesian who critique games through a feminist lens. Now the fear of change that Sarkeesian has identified (which is ultimately a fear that one’s power or position will be compromised) has coalesced into a movement of sorts. Some of its participants have clustered around the banner #gamergate , a cringe-inducing Twitter hashtag popularized by the actor Adam Baldwin. Baldwin, seeking to point out an example of unethical journalism, linked on Twitter to a video claiming that a video-game writer had promoted work by the independent game-maker Zoe Quinn while the two were in a relationship. (This claim that has since been proved false.)

    The Gamergate hashtag has been used more than a million times on Twitter, for myriad purposes. Some denounce harassment but consider the tag a demand for better ethical practices in video-game journalism, including more objective reporting and a removal of politics from criticism. (Never mind that Gamergate itself is awash in politics). Critics see Gamergate as a hate movement, born of extremists, which has grown by providing a sense of belonging, self-worth, and direction to those experiencing crisis or disaffection.

    The Gamergate movement is tiny relative to the mainstream audience for games, and its collective aims are ambiguous, but it has still managed to make itself heard. After the Web site Gamasutra came under criticism for its connection to the hashtag, Intel removed advertising from the site. (Intel later claimed that it was unaware of the hashtag when it made its decision, but Gamasutra maintains that this is untrue. Intel ultimately apologized for pulling its ads.) Outside of Twitter, the tag’s users continue to organize e-mail campaigns aimed at companies who advertise on gaming Web sites with whom they collectively disagree. Regardless of the aims and beliefs of any one individual using the tag, Gamergate is an expression of a narrative that certain video-game fans have chosen to believe: that the types of games they enjoy may change or disappear in the face of progressive criticism and commentary, and that the writers and journalists who cover the industry coördinate their message and skew it to push an agenda. It is a movement rooted in distrust and fear.

    For those who have found refuge and sanctuary in video games (in virtual worlds that are ruled through fairness and justice, in which everyone can succeed if they follow the rules), the fear is that criticism is the first step toward censorship. They worry that the games that have been meaningful to them will change. Some feel that Sarkeesian, in criticizing games for their misogynistic portrayals of women, is also accusing those who enjoy the games of misogyny. Some believe that they are at risk of becoming an oppressed minority.

    Criticism of video games used to come primarily from those who saw them as a shameful, wasteful pursuit that, at its worst, encouraged acts of violence among vulnerable young people. That argument (which has also been aimed at theatre and film) has largely passed. This time, it’s the progressive voices from within—the critics and creators who have given their professional lives over to the video games not out of hatred or suspicion but because they believe in the medium—who must be driven out of town.

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  2. #2
    royal member Rasofy's Avatar
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  3. #3
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    I don't get it.


    I've read half a dozen articles, watched a video, breezed through a subreddit, read a wiki about it: I don't get it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 93JC View Post
    I don't get it.


    I've read half a dozen articles, watched a video, breezed through a subreddit, read a wiki about it: I don't get it.
    lol

    it's the death of an identity, forever violent

    gamer culture is roont

    it's pathetic.

  6. #6
    Senior Member iHeartCats's Avatar
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    True Neutral by alignment, True Neutral in this case.


  7. #7
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    I was waiting on this thread. Took surprisingly long, really.

    The Deadspin article Ivy posted is really good.

    It's funny, I've been having arguments about this sort of thing on message boards since I was like 13. I was on the forum dicussing the development of World of Warcraft (which turned out to be of no interest to me by the time it was released ) and this whole discussion emerged about female orcs. The appearance of female orcs was revealed, and they were ugly in the way male orcs were ugly, of course. Why wouldn't they be? But there were all of these guys who were upset that female orcs weren't hot. Mythos be damned, no matter how little sense it made, female orcs had to be sexy human women with green screen. As stupid as this idea sounds, there were a lot of people for it and the discussions about it actually became pretty mean and personal.

    You can't exactly say the gamergate sentiment is new, but there have been gradual changes since that stupid WoW debate. The video game industry got bigger, more commercially important, more interesting to the media. The game playing base has become larger and more diverse, still has a long way to go, but a lot more diverse than 12 years ago. And from there, the resentment of a certain kind of gamer, the ones that angrily demanded sexy orcs, has only deepened. It's deepened to the point of making violent threats against any public figure (or maybe just any female one) who'd say that sexy female orcs is a terrible idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by 93JC View Post
    I don't get it.


    I've read half a dozen articles, watched a video, breezed through a subreddit, read a wiki about it: I don't get it.
    Let me give you a summary of what I think. It may sound a little trite, and it's presumably not 100% accurate, but it's how it appears to me. The kind of person who participates in this gamergate cause(?) if you can call it that, is someone who feels terribly insecure but found some sort of security in games or being a gamer. That is, someone who felt unimportant, or felt important but that their importance wasn't appreciated, who incidentally at first, got into video games, and through their dedication to video games managed to establish themselves in a gaming culture which gave them the sense of importance that nothing else did. They could claim to be experts. They could claim to be masters. They could claim to be representatives of an archetypal identity. They could claim to be a vital voice in a commercial industry. All the sorts of importance you could want.

    We could talk about why these people were usually male, or usually white, or not typically poor, there's a bunch of hypotheses you could come up with. We could also easily make claims (and people do perhaps too often) about why a socially frustrated person would be more likely to turn to video games as a hobby. Whatever the reason, that seems to have happened in the beginning, but maintaining all of those forms of importance list above becomes harder the more your interested becomes popular. You will inevitably become a smaller share of the population involved, and the defining traits of the participant will become blurrier.

    So what you get is a certain semi-homogeneous group of people who feel that their only source of importance is being threatened with coming to an end by the growing pluralism and populism of the gaming industry. As trivial as the subject of video games in and of themselves may sound, for these guys, we're talking about something bordering on an existential threat.

    EDIT: I should add, to address a really generic complaint, that my description is not supposed to be one of every person who makes the gamergate arguments or aligns with that cause, but rather what I see as the core. Collective behavior like this tends to have a more extreme core that often defines the direction of the group, while also having a large periphery of people who are on board because they may agree with only some of the arguments or feel only some of the sentiments, but they are less organized and more quiet and tend to get dragged around by the core.
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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  8. #8
    Supreme High Commander Andy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    I was waiting on this thread. Took surprisingly long, really.

    The Deadspin article Ivy posted is really good.

    It's funny, I've been having arguments about this sort of thing on message boards since I was like 13. I was on the forum dicussing the development of World of Warcraft (which turned out to be of no interest to me by the time it was released ) and this whole discussion emerged about female orcs. The appearance of female orcs was revealed, and they were ugly in the way male orcs were ugly, of course. Why wouldn't they be? But there were all of these guys who were upset that female orcs weren't hot. Mythos be damned, no matter how little sense it made, female orcs had to be sexy human women with green screen. As stupid as this idea sounds, there were a lot of people for it and the discussions about it actually became pretty mean and personal.
    This reminds me of something I saw in an old roleplay game magazine, published back in the late eighties. On the letters page, some one had written in asking why the women on the cover of the last issue had some much armour on (i.e., why couldn't he see more lovely girl flesh) to which the editor replied "To stop the dragon ripping her to pieces."
    Don't make whine out of sour grapes.
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  9. #9
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Aside from all the threats against Sarkeesian and Wu and others being pretty disturbing, the feeling I'm having right now is a tremendous sense of disappointment in Jayne. You were so cute in your little hat, Jayne. Why couldn't you stay that way?

  10. #10
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    I've been watching this stuff unfold for months with regards to Sarkeesian in various articles and youtube vlogs etc. The above article doesn't convey the extent of the fucked up behaviour that has gone on. It's a full blown hate campaign. People have not just gone out of their way to post some abuse on Twitter; it's endless hacking, doxxing, bullying, and threats to the point it's practically a internet meme. It's incredibly disturbing to me how much barely suppressed hatred for women has been festering in these men's minds, now to be unleashed with such unrestrained vitriol. It seriously makes me paranoid that this is what many men may believe deep down, despite giving the appearance of being decent and respectful towards women.

    And it makes not the least bit of sense. If you watch her videos she's not some foaming at the mouth, radical feminist. She takes a calm, balanced, intellectual perspective and explains herself very rationally. And the vast majority of her ideas are not controversial at all. She just points out things that are standard fare for anyone that has taken a media studies class. She even says repeatedly that she loves video games and that has played them much of her life.
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