Editor’s Note: The Index presents to the reader two perspectives of #gamergate: the first by Emaline Lapinski, and the second by Sean Bogue. The individual accounts of both writers have been combined as the single piece displayed below.
Despite the fact that what triggered the movement known as “GamerGate” happened nearly three months ago, talk surrounding the controversy remains at the forefront of both the gaming and feminist community.
Two issues are at stake here – journalism ethics, and the continued and intensified harassment of feminist women who speak out against misogyny in the games industry. While I do agree that journalism ethics are an important issue that needs to be discussed, the larger issue is the outright misogyny going on in the gaming community.
It is vital to note that the people receiving the most threats from supposed “agents of GamerGate” have been women challenging the “boys club” attitude of the gaming community.
One woman, Jenn Frank, wrote an op-ed defending Zoe Quinn; she was forced to leave her position as a freelance writer for the Guardian due to the threats she received. Frank’s involvement with the journalism industry wasn’t the issue – her opinions, as a woman, about the gaming industry was what fueled the fire.
Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist blogger who analyzes media, has gotten hundreds of death threats that have nothing to do with her “journalistic integrity.” Anti-feminist GamerGate instigators actually bullied Intel into withdrawing funding from a company named Gamasutra, which champions equal gender representation in video games. Gamasutra is not part of the journalism industry, so why were they targeted?
Is the issue here really about ethics in game journalism? Absolutely not. The incredibly misogynistic attacks on women like Quinn, Sarkeesian, and Frank show that this isn’t a movement about journalism at all – it’s about abusing and harassing feminists who are intruding into a “boys club.”
Journalistic integrity is just a cover for anti-feminist rhetoric, just like how anti-choicers say they’re protecting womanhood and homophobes use the “sanctity of marriage” argument to further their discriminatory agendas.
“But not all male gamers harass and abuse women!” This is true. I know many male gamers who welcome women into their spaces. But I know too many female gamers who have been abused and harassed in a space where they should feel safe to do what they enjoy.
The phrase “not all gamers,” just like the phrases “not all men” or “not all white people,” stops the conversation before it can actually begin. The fact that women continue to receive death threats from people supporting GamerGate shows that this really isn’t about journalistic integrity – it’s about bullying women out of a space where they’re seen as not welcome.
On Journalistic Integrity
By Sean Bogue
#Gamergate2014 sparked numerous debates and arguments over the very broad group of “gamers”. Arguably the largest debate that sparked was that of journalism integrity.
After the initial wave of GamerGate sparked, many gaming magazines released stories such as “A Guide to Ending ‘Gamers’” by Gamasutra and “Sexism, misogyny and online attacks: It’s a horrible time to consider yourself a ‘gamer’” by Financial Post.
This blatant attack on the gaming community was led by the gaming magazine industry itself, wrongly accusing all gamers of being “sexist” and overall terrible people. These claims of what gamers are was not backed by any factual evidence, which was the largest issue at hand.
For an industry to attack and falsely label their own revenue source shows that GamerGate was more about the attack of gamers than it is about the attack on Feminists and women.
Although there are a small portion of gamers that may hold those negative opinions of women and people that are different than them, this small portion does not represent the entire gaming community.
A study by the Entertainment Software Association conducted in 2013 said that up to 67% of every American household plays video games. Of that same study, it was also found that 48% of gamers are women. With startling facts such as these, it makes it impossible to make claims about gamers being misogynists when almost half of the community is women.
The gaming community is filled with wonderful people from all over the world and to make harmful and hate-filled comments generalizing them is unfair and journalistically dishonest. A journalist’s job is to report the facts, not make the news. Yet, that was exactly what the gaming magazine industry was doing.
Although women make up a large portion of the gaming community and the Feminists working with GamerGate have very valid and pertinent claims, the attacks by media collected everyone, men and women, together into one category to belittle them, making the journalistic side of GamerGate more about everyone and less about one group affected by this.
Overall, misogyny within the gaming community is a problem that needs to be addressed, but GamerGate was more centrally based around the idea of journalist integrity and the compromise of media.