by Sydney Schulte
The real world can be a nasty place for people. For some people, escaping reality for a few hours in a video game may give them some peace of mind. But as the online movement #GamerGate spews anonymous threats to opposition via social media, the virtual worlds of video games might become even worse than reality.
#GamerGate gained momentum when independent game designer Olivia Quinn released a free game called “Depression Quest.”As a non-traditional game with a more “choose your own adventure” feel, “Depression Quest” received mixed reviews. Some critics weren’t sure if it was a video game or just a new form of storytelling. Some gamers felt this was not a game at all; others saw it as a possibility to change the face of video games. This potential change is the main argument of the #GamerGate controversy.
Things fell in #GamerGate’s favor when Quinn’s ex-boyfriend claimed she slept with men in the gaming industry to get ahead. One of the men happened to be a reviewer for a popular gaming news site called “Kotaku.”
With that piece of information, #GamerGate supporters turned its main focus to media ethics. If the reviewer slept with Quinn, she received favorable reviews return. How can media be fair or unbiased when people give favors?
But another movement began to call out #GamerGate for its misogyny. This development strengthened when feminist video game critic Anna Sarkeesian canceled her speech at Utah State University. School officials received an anonymous threat, claiming to commit “the deadliest school shooting in American history” if Sarkeesian spoke that day.
Other examples follow the feminist gaming movement: Actress Felcia Day’s blog post resulted in #GamerGate supporters publicly leaking her personal information with the intent to cause harm. Game developer of #GamerGate Brianna Wu fled her home after receiving threats for speaking against #GamerGate.
There’s two sides to every argument. It’s time to pick yours.