GamerGate's violence stains all

I’ve loved video games for years, but I shudder when somebody calls me a “gamer.” Thanks to GamerGate, I’ve distanced myself even further from my peers.

The movement known as GamerGate is amorphous. Many involved are gamers, angry over slights from a video game press in bed with the developers they cover.

Brief introduction: GamerGate started with the August blog post of a jilted ex-lover of

Depression Quest developer Zoe Quinn claiming she slept with journalists to get good reviews for her game. This was quickly proved wrong, but it kicked off weeks of harassment of her, feminist game critic Anita Sarkeesian and many others.

The pro side calls GamerGate a consumer movement to reform ethics in game journalism, and they ask you to pay no attention to the shrill horde sending anonymous threats of rape and death to female critics and developers.

While the misogynists make it easy to dismiss the entire pro side, I know there are many among them who are reasonable, not misogynist and who despise such abuse and idiocy.

Those against GamerGate aren’t as noxious but are often out of line. They deny the legitimacy of the outrage over shady relations between press and developers, because video games are supposedly for children. They have their own way of harassing people, but it’s more “I hope you die” as opposed to “I have your address and I plan to rape you.”

The media paints GamerGate as an issue of sexism (which it clearly is), and its advocates want it to be about ethical journalism (which it clearly is).

But in the swirling shitstorm, screaming mobs assassinate anybody who speaks up. Threats forced Quinn and Sarkeesian from their homes, and GamerGate supporters are bombarded with tweets suggesting that they commit suicide.

Having been the subject of a vicious Internet campaign—in college, I wrote a stupid, angry column mocking nerds and subsequently suffered online threats and images of my face edited to look like somebody kicked the shit out of me—it’s troubling to see similar, but much worse, harassment of people on all sides.

Let’s talk about how sexist video games are, and let’s decry shoddy game journalism. But we should treat one another with respect as we do it.