This place matters

This place matters

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Foolish games

In recent weeks, you've probably heard of a controversy in the video game community that people are calling "gamergate." You've probably heard that it's about journalistic ethics, or the depiction of genders in games; you've heard wrong. 
Sure, there's been a lot of conversation about journalistic ethics and portrayal of women, and that's a good conversation to have. But the events that precipitated this debate have nothing to do with any of those things - they have everything to do with men who hate women.
A couple of months ago, a man named Eron Gjoni started ranting online about his relationship with an ex - a relatively little-known indie video game developer called Zoe Quinn. It was a 10,000 word manifesto about how she'd cheated on him a bunch of items, and he posted it on a bunch of online forums. 
The ex alleged that Quinn had had a relationship with game reviewer Jeremy Grayson, but did not allege that she had done so in exchange for a favorable review, mostly because Grayson had never reviewed Quinn's game. That did not stop thousands of gamers from launching a terror campaign against her from deep in their parents' basements.
Terror campaign is not hyperbole, by the way. A bunch of men who weren't involved in the conflict in any way dug up tons of personal information about her and posted it online. They made threatening calls to her, her family, and her friends. They plotted her demise online. The New Yorker gives one example of the sorts of things people posted about her:
"Next time she shows up at a conference we ... give her a crippling injury that's never going to fully heal ... a good solid injury to the knees. I'd say a brain damage, but we don't want to make it so she ends up too retarded to fear us."
Whoever defended her was a target for threats and hacking campaigns. There were graphic descriptions of how they would kill and rape her supporters. She fled from her home.
To reiterate, a phalanx of grown-ass men launched an atomic bullying campaign against a woman they don't know because a man they don't know claims she cheated on him. 
Name-calling: The best way to announce to the world
that you have absolutely nothing of value to contribute to
this conversation. You doody-heads.  
I don't know Zoe Quinn. She might be a horrible person. She might have cheated on her boyfriend with the entire cast of The Big Bang Theory. Worse, she might even watch The Big Bang Theory. An all-out terror assault from a bunch of people who don't even know her is not an appropriate response. If she had traded sex for favorable reviews (but she didn't), an appropriate response would be an angry letter to the editor, not a threatening call to her father. If Zoe Quinn was sacrificing kittens to the prince of darkness, none of this would be an appropriate response (and this is coming from me). Death threats are never okay. Rape threats are never okay. The fact that thousands of men in the gaming community don't know this is terrifying. 
Several times, the "Died" date was changed to coincide with
her public appearances. Other times it was just changed to "soon."

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