You may have heard about the horrifying threats levelled against Anita Sarkeesian in the past few days. Sarkeesian is a video game critic, which in these modern times no longer means ‘unemployed’, ‘male’ or 'virgin'. I’m unfamiliar with her work, but a bit of research reveals that much of her criticism focuses on the representation of women in the industry and the depiction of female characters in games:
Because she thinks women should not be treated like shit IRL or in video games, many lonely men label her a ‘radical feminist’.
When your best friend is a custom Alienware X51 and the most important woman in your life is a waifu pillow, hearing some other female talk shit about your BFF can really make you want to pull the hairs from your neckbeard. So when Sarkeesian was scheduled to speak at the University of Utah, some nerd sent the school this email:
"I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs. This will be the deadliest school shooting in American history and I’m giving you a chance to stop it. You have 24 hours to cancel Sarkeesian’s talk. 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. I will write my manifesto in her spilled blood, and you will all bear witness to what feminist lies and poison have done to the men of America.”
Sarkeesian pulled out of the talk. Understandable, seeing as local police refused to prohibit concealed firearms from being taken into the venue due to Utah’s state laws.
This may seem outrageous, but when a place is best known for skiing, carcinogenic salt flats, mormon prophets and polygamy, you can’t expect them to operate with the greatest logic.
Sarkeesian was there to talk about Gamergate. Before I shoddily explain what it is, let me drop a little bit of history for you:
There was a time when most people grew out of video games. When you reached the age of 18 (achievement unlocked: adult), got a boy/girlfriend, started paying taxes and generally began to function as a regular human being, picking up the controller became a thing of the past. Sure, there were people who gamed into their twenties, but they were weird - the sort of troglodyte who developed rickets following marathon sessions of Super Metroid in a dark basement.
In short, adult gamers were odd, and they were most certainly all men.
Knowing that this chubby, socially repugnant model was unsustainable, the industry had to make games appeal to regular people too. With the introduction of stuff like Wii Sports, online gaming and sick GTA soundtracks, normal folk stopped associating video games with unpleasant celibates or children, and soon everyone was picking up the sticks! And soon after that, everyone (including women!!!) was voicing an opinion on their newfound hobby. Some women even started to develop games themselves *jaw-hitting-the-floor”.
One of these women was called Zoe Quinn, and earlier this year she created a game called Depression Quest. Seeing as I only occasionally play NBA 2K13 if I'm hella baked, Quinn’s game was not on my radar. In fact, the extent to which I couldn’t care less about Depression Quest, or 99.9% of games for that matter, could be a tangible entity all of its own: A full-blown, physical manifestation of intense apathy. If someone were to give me their opinion on Depression Quest, or on COD, or on Minecraft, or on any video game tbh, my response would be so unfeeling you’d probably think I was long since dead.
Typical Zoe Quinn hater
BUT, there are some people who aren’t like me, a group who dissect video game reviews in the same manner a Lit student would unpack Paradise Lost. These people are otherwise known as ‘total nerds’, and when they saw several positive write-ups for DQ, a game created by a woman, they were instantly suspicious.
This spelled the beginning of Gamergate.
Pissed that the one woman on earth who’d voluntarily sleep with him had now dumped his ass, Quinn’s ex, a guy called Eron Gjoni, claimed she’d gained the favourable reviews by banging guys in the industry. When this emerged, the nerds’ suspicion of DQ’s success was confirmed, and GG was born. Like many neckbeards, the rumour also reinforced their image of women as manipulative creatures, who ignore gentlesirs like themselves in favour of brutes they can fuck for personal gain + bottle service.
M'ladies don't know what they're missing at my LAN social!
However, critics of DQ said their beef wasn't with women, but with ethics in the industry. If you were to ask them, writing a positive review of Depression Quest on IGN was the equivalent of News of the World hacking Milly Dowler's phone.
Some women in the industry disputed these claims, instead citing a malignant misogyny in gaming as the cause of GG. Like Brianna Wu, a developer who handily screengrabbed some of her Twitter mentions as 'evidence':
Oppression of women? Are you crazy Bri?! Looks pretty friendly 2 me! :P
Sarkeesian, Quinn and Wu are just a handful of women who have been threatened by the gaming community. For someone like me to even take notice of absolutely anything in the industry is evidence enough of its significance. Even if the threats of school shootings are just that - threats - it still means these trolls want to scare these women, disrupt their lives and ultimately expel them from their jobs - or in Wu's case, her home.
All jokes about nerds and neckbeards aside, I do think gaming is probably one of the more egalitarian activities people can do. There really is a game for every person and every social group. Yet not totally dismissing jokes about nerds and neckbeards, the whole shitty situation has revealed that this feckless character does exist. A faction of insecure, confused men, who don't understand how to change with the rest of the world, even if that world is rendered in 3D. It's just lucky it wasn't Eliot Rodgers all over again.