October 1, 2016

GamerGate: Little boys throw controllers when girls join the club

gamergate

Illustrated by Victoria Courtney

Video gaming can no longer be the boy’s club it’s been for years. But a select few misogynistic extremists are trying to keep it that way in their fight against progress in what has been horribly dubbed GamerGate.

GamerGate’s origins are long and meaningless. It stems from a few gamers falsely accusing developer Zoe Quinn of promiscuity. But it’s what this group of “true gamers” did next that made national headlines.

They began to make death threats — even threatening to commit the largest school shooting in history any time critics spoke out against the anti-women attitude the gaming community has fostered.

I’ve been gaming since I was a child, and it’s been a beloved passion of mine. Gaming has helped me stay in touch with friends and lifted me up when nothing else would. But it’s times like these I am ashamed to be a gamer. I’m sure this is how many Republicans feel when the tea party makes some racist statement about Obama.

So how do we fight this bad PR? We talk about it.

We talk about the ridiculousness of female portrayal in video games. When the term “bikini armor” is commonly accepted among a community, there is a problem. But the implied sexism in games can be even more subtle.

When I picked up the latest Call of Duty, I was thrilled to see I could make my character female, and better yet, her customizable armor was just that —  armor, no bikini.

But all of 20 seconds into my first game, I noticed while the male characters grunted and yelled when they got shot, my character sounded like she had her first orgasm when she died.

But worse yet, this sexism has deeply rooted itself in the community. It’s a  community where, if they even think a player is a girl, every 12-year-old with a mic or keyboard will harass or threaten to rape her.

And being a woman gamer still gets the response: “She doesn’t actually play, she only does it for attention.”

While playing a single match of League of Legends with a female friend, which is obvious by her username, she was sexually harassed by more than half of the players in the match.


As gamers, we need to understand where we and our industry are falling short in order to become a more inclusive community. 


Anita Sarkeesian of the Feminist Frequency has been trying to fight sexism in the gaming industry. While I disagree with her on some points, and think she may go a little too far with some of her claims, I still listen and try to engage people on the topics.

Again, we don’t have to agree with everything critics like Sarkeesian are saying, but we can at least respond better than releasing her home address and making death and rape threats toward her and her family, like what happened to her in October.

Gamers are nothing if not passionate about their hobby. Just look at the conventions where thousands gather dressed as their favorite characters just to see new games and socialize with fellow fans.

Passionate people can do stupid things and think too little. But look past the idiots making the threats, and gaming can be a great community, regardless of gender or sexual identity.

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  • Kat

    ‘GamerGate’s origins are long and meaningless’

    Do your job.

    • Casey Snow

      They are meaningless though. No one wants to write about meaningless garbage.

      • Gregg Braddoch

        So the little boy wants to call all those supporting gamergate “little boys” along with the author. That’s cute.

      • edtastic

        You don’t get tens of thousands to spontaneously rise up against the Gaming Press and sustain that campaign for months producing 4.5 million tweets over something “meaningless”. If you don’t get it that’s because you’re ignorant. Some of us care to live in the real world where they know vast numbers of people won’t invest tremendous effort in a cause without having a strong sense of purpose.

        You need to learn how to respect the public instead of feeding the ego’s of arrogant journalists who find it expedient to dismiss any who disagree with them using the most crude and dishonest methods.

  • Nic_223

    Your identity (gender,race,sexuality) has absolutely no meaning in video games unless you advertise it.Games allow anyone regardless to compete on a equal footing with anyone else. It is the most egalitarian media in the world.As for male and female competition it is again quite unique. There is hardly anything in this world where women and men can compete against each other on equal terms.Feminist extremists like Sarkeesian are not gamers they just like to censor content they do not like or find “misogynist” which is everything ever made.The biggest reason we do not see more female and minority leads in large AAA game franchises is because they are put under the microscope of these same extremist SJW groups.A good example was the latest Tomb Raider video game where the lead character Lara Croft is captured by a gang and is almost molested (unless you tap A really fast or whatever) that one single scene almost sunk the entire game because feminazis and their corrupt friends in the media starting saying Tomb Raider was “normalizing rape” or whatever crazy thing they can come up with.Same with minorities if you portray them you run the risk of being called racist and again sinking your game franchise.The only lead character that can have artistic freedom and have everything done to him without causing outrage is the white CIS gendered male lead.

    • Gregg Braddoch

      ^ Amen and Hallelujah! This is exactly why we don’t see diversity in movies, comic books, video games, and most media – because it’s not enough just to have diversity, you have to satisfy impossible standards made by the same people who complain about lack of diversity.

    • hurin

      Catch 22. Introduce a female or minority characters with flaws and you’re sexist or racist, introduce a flawless character and no one will buy your boring game.

    • Andrew

      “Your identity (gender,race,sexuality) has absolutely no meaning in video games unless you advertise it.”

      You say that, and all I hear is “If you don’t say you’re a girl, they’ll assume you are a white, straight male and leave you alone.” It’s good for people to see that there are female, non-white, non-straight players of video games because it breaks down their preconceptions of what a gamer is.

      • Nic_223

        The video games industry is a global $100 billion industry it has a larger appeal then both music and film combined.Countries with the largest share of video game players as a percentage of the population are in Asia.When one plays a game one becomes whatever pixilated thing is projected on the screen.So if it is a little fighter plane like in the classic Space Invaders you become this.It does not matter who or what you are it has no bearing on your ability to enjoy Space Invaders.It is why games that are well made have a universal appeal , trancending all religious and cultural barriers.There is no such thing as a game “made for white heterosexual males” video game players are historically consumed by people of every background,gender,race,religion.Non are a pre-requisite or requirement,it simply does not matter.

  • dude

    ironically, this article is part of the reason why gamergate exists, a journalist who is too lazy to search for the facts. as the previos poster stated: do your job

  • Nic_223

    Also this thing you mention about male gamers PM’ing female gamers and sexually harassing them. I quite frankly have not heard any of my female friends mention it. I think it probably does happen? But I think that females can never really escape the fact that they are sexually attractive to males? It is a burden they will have to learn to live with? Most multiplayer games allow other players to be muted and banned if they are abusive so if it happens there are plenty of tools available to stop it.

    • MmmCake

      This, with caveats. Yes, it probably happens pretty often, and like you said, it is usually pretty easy to mute the idiots responsible. It is kind of interesting how the article overtly states how sexism is “deeply rooted” in the community, then acknowledges it’s usually the annoying little brats making the worst fuss. They do the same for people over the age of 25, btw, which I always enjoy.
      Anyway, the point is, I refuse to be held accountable for the actions of these idiots as though I’m culpable for their dumbassery.

  • hurin

    A big mob of male gamers are driving women out of the industry, what a load of bull.

    This makes as much sense as the recent Rolling Stone article on campus rape, and for much the same reasons.

  • MmmCake

    I don’t know. I get what you’re saying, but to a degree it kind of assumes that the 12-year-olds with mics and keyboards only talk shit to women, and that somehow the rest of us (the people not acting like ass-hats) have some sort of intrinsic responsibility for their behavior. I, as a 30-year-old who has been a fan of video games for a long time now, catch plenty of flack from these entitled little shits. I don’t chalk it up to gender, I just now how kids can be.
    As far as it being a boy’s club, it’s kind of a product of the consumers who are involved. I got my wife into video games, had to pull her away from Skyrim, and love that she enjoys them. I have never personally witnessed the kind of behaviors being addressed in this article, but I don’t doubt they happen. Simply put, I don’t think that most people would not condone this kind of harassment.
    Also, I’ll be the asshole that says it, the internet, much like the rest of the world, can be ugly sometimes. Really have to learn to shrug off the haters and keep on doing you.

    • Scyphe

      This is very true. Regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, etc., chances are you’re going to get harassed. As a female gamer myself, I absolutely feel like I’ve gotten harassed a lot less than some of my male gamer friends. They get called faggots or queers all the time and receive claims that they’re going to have their mother screwed – all from those cliche 12-year-olds with mics.
      Do females get harassed? I’m positive it happens. But I’m also positive it happens with males.
      I’ve been playing mmos for over a decade and I’ve not been harassed once on account of being female, and I tend to be a pretty social gamer. I’ve played Xbox Live games and Steam games as well, and never have gotten harassed (figured I’d include those too since they have voice chat and a slightly different audience).

  • Queen Leia

    ummmm im a woman and i support GG, this is not really an accurate representation

    • Jason Mounce

      I suppose #Notyourshield has to be brought back up?

    • Clark

      Well, you’re obviously a sock puppet, and #notyourshield are just hundreds and hundreds of sock puppets, as well.

  • MadMen

    First off the term “boys club” makes women look like whinners and sexist, they cant hangle something doesnt include them, do you see men lining up to break “womens club”? NO because men can actually handle the idea that we DONT need to be in all things. Who cares if a few women like something men do, that doesnt break the BOYS club mentality, nor some men joining womens only clubs. For every rule there are exceptions.

    In the end, The reason some things are boys are girls clubs is because that sex has a more general interest, just because some self centered people like to call it progress when its nothing more than they cant handle the idea of a one type club.

    No one really cares in the end, it will always be more of a boys club in gaming, not because they will make it that way, because men are naturally more drawn to visual stimulation = gamesgaming in general.

    Take Psych 101.

  • Jason Mounce

    “But worse yet, this sexism has deeply rooted itself in the community. It’s a community where, if they even think a player is a girl, every 12-year-old with a mic or keyboard will harass or threaten to rape her.”

    This goes back to similar topics of problems that simply go back to incompetent parents not teaching their children what’s Right from wrong. This is not a Gamer issue, this is a Human and developmental issue in psychology where parents are so idiotic and incompetent that it is a norm to allow their mouthy, bratty, untrained, untamed little sh*ts go on Xbox Live or on PC, play online games as a form of Babysitter and they do not care what they do – there is little to no supervision and they’re left to roam free. Parents being useless of the growing generation of crappy parenting. Parenting 20-30, 40, 50, 60 years ago? If we had internet back then when ‘we’ were kids. WE’D NOT BE IN THE SAME SHOES as the kids and mouthy, anonymous-teens and the odd few in their 20-30s’ in these days. It’s all about how you were raised. Our attitudes were different, our parents would spank our a*s raw if we said the things kids say these days. Parents are being less strict, more ignorant to stopping their child or even attempting to find out if they’re doing bad things online. Cause tell me, if you hear these people yelling these things over the mic? Why is no parent hearing any of it? Reacting to it? Cause they’re at work? Cause the kid has the ‘freedom’ to have his own computer in his room to do whatever they want? Too much power, too little restriction. It goes back to incompetent parents. You never leave your mobiles or iPads or computers available for your children if you have NOT raised your children decently. Back in the days before I was born, so, what, you’d have it so you had ‘Little hellrazors’, little kids who might be the black sheep of the neighbourhood, your typical ‘Dennis the Menace’ who’d do many horrible things – until POLICE stop them, until they’re CAUGHT. They will NOT STOP being a Menace to the ‘society’ until Caught and traumatized by the fear of Punishment. WHAT PUNISHMENT COMES….To those untaught by the norms and formal rules of society, when parents don’t teach it to them?

    There is no innate sexism on the internet or among gamers. There is no innate racism or the like. ‘The internet’ has more openness to the variables of human-kind than does that of the world outside of the internet I’d bet. The problem is that when a person gets mouthy, typically, they yell the loudest and get heard the most. There are more people online who don’t talk trash or don’t ‘act’ discriminative than there are those who act discriminative. The discrimination is a means of ventilation and empowerment and bullying rather than it’s a form of sexism, it’s just a Randomly chosen field of possible discriminations. Lastly-

    For the most part I encourage you to do research on the ‘Scapegoat Theory’ and ‘Authoritarian Personality Theory’ they are as follows:

    Scapegoat Theory: “Holds that prejudice springs from frustration among people who are themselves disadvantaged”

    and ‘Authoritarian Personality Theory’ – “A theory showing that people who express strong prejudice toward one minority, typically do so toward all minorities”

    I use the Authoritarian one because I’m putting emphasis that people who become involved in the Scapegoat theory, it’s this pattern simple pattern, Scapegoat, then the prejudice begins, and it goes towards ‘ANY’ minority, Women are an easy target because they’re a hot topic of today in controversy and feminism. Women being the target is, like a buzzword on the minds of those looking to discriminate, they’re not CONSCIOUSLY picking on Women because they’re women, these twits are attacking women because it’s heuristics, it’s just They’re There, so why not? If Racism and Africans and racism and slavery were the hot-topic, kids would likely scream racially-insensitive words rather than Female-derogative words/patterns/thoughts/ideas.

  • Jason Mounce

    sciencedaily(dot)com/releases/2011/12/111221140627.htm

    Something to read for you Article-op.

    “People who need to make quick judgments will judge a new person based on what they already believe about their category. “The easiest and fastest way to judge is to say, for example, ok, this person is a black man. If you just use your ideas about what black men are generally like, that’s an easy way to have an opinion of that person,” Roets says. “You say, ‘he’s part of this group, so he’s probably like this.’”

    It’s virtually impossible to change the basic way that people think. Now for the good news: It’s possible to actually also use this way of thinking to reduce people’s prejudice. If people who need quick answers meet people from other groups and like them personally, they are likely to use this positive experience to form their views of the whole group. “This is very much about salient positive information taking away the aversion, anxiety, and fear of the unknown,” Roets says.

    Roets’s conclusions suggest that the fundamental source of prejudice is not ideology, but rather a basic human need and way of thinking. “It really makes us think differently about how people become prejudiced or why people are prejudiced,” Roets says. “To reduce prejudice, we first have to acknowledge that it often satisfies some basic need to have quick answers and stable knowledge people rely on to make sense of the world.”

  • Clark

    “They began to make death threats — even threatening to commit the largest school shooting in history any time critics spoke out against the anti-women attitude the gaming community has fostered.”

    What!? What are you talking about? You mean the three isolated incidences by a, as you call it, “select few” trolls who went under the hashtag gamergate? Oof. I’m enjoying this.

    “I’m sure this is how many Republicans feel when the tea party makes some racist statement about Obama.”

    You do realize you’ve made a very accurate parallel, right? Gamergate DOES feel that way in regards to trolls who go under the hashtag. The problem is that people like you, who have done so little to no actual fact finding that you still think Zoe Quinn has any relevance whatsoever, are proclaiming that ALL of gamergate is behind the select few bad apples. And lets be honest, these are probably teenage kids that are being given the attention they want by having these idiot feminists taking their threats seriously.

    “When the term “bikini armor” is commonly accepted among a community, there is a problem. But the implied sexism in games can be even more subtle.”

    Exaggerations in figure and form are part of make believe and fantasy. No one on the planet looks like a GI Joe, but for some reason there has been no talk of how boys might foster impossible standards because of the perfect muscular build of, say, Solid Snake. By the way, it’s not sexist to portray people sexually. Unless you take the double standard I’ve noted into play, then you’re simply trying to censor hetero male sexuality.

    “my character sounded like she had her first orgasm when she died.”

    Because a male grunt could never be construed as an orgasmic sound. You sound like someone who could look at tree bark and find sexism on it somewhere.

    “But worse yet, this sexism has deeply rooted itself in the community. It’s a community where, if they even think a player is a girl, every 12-year-old with a mic or keyboard will harass or threaten to rape her.”

    Wow. That’s just straight up generalizing. It’s also very hateful to brand an entire movement, who cover all ethnicities and genders #notyourshield, as one big collective hate group. Also, you know how many times men have been threatened to have been raped by other players? My friends have been playing COD since they were 14 and have probably received more abuse than any female player could fathom. Trolls are trolls, not a movement, unless you count feminism. No one cares if a player is a girl as long as they can play.

    “She doesn’t actually play, she only does it for attention.”

    Glad you quoted yourself here. Um. There are a few people like this, sure. #notallmen, of course. But I think this stems more from women who casually play games, this goes for guys too, calling themselves “geeks” at video game conventions when if they were ever in the presence of real geeks, the ones who only hang out with other geeks, they would want nothing to do with them. It’s funny how an outcast group is somehow now an elitist organization. I simply see projection.

    “While playing a single match of League of Legends with a female friend, which is obvious by her username, she was sexually harassed by more than half of the players in the match.”

    Cite your sources. You do know this kind of journalism is exactly why gamergate has occurred, right? Your blanket statements and lack of ETHICS in even attempting to be objective is what gamergate is fighting. Keep using that misogynist victim card, though. It’s all you got.

    “Again, we don’t have to agree with everything critics like Sarkeesian are saying, but we can at least respond better than releasing her home address and making death and rape threats toward her and her family, like what happened to her in October.”

    The FBI told her the threats were not credible. And I’m not saying this is an excuse for threatening anyone, but how are you supposed to respond to someone who shuts down the comment section on every one of her videos the moment it pops up? I can close every comment on every video I make and cry “sexism”, too. She’s manipulating the narrative and you’re buying it.

  • MmmCake

    This opinion piece wasn’t sitting well with me from the onset and I just realized why…
    …it’s supposed to be about the evils of sexism, but is perfectly happy to toss “little boys” under the bus. Repeatedly.

    • Wyrdless

      Great point ! It shows what the author REALLY thinks.

  • D&D Rules

    Now I don’t want to be mean, but I know for a fact most Gamers I know did not care that much about women/girls joining them in their hobby. Granted most of them are RPG gamers and D&D gamers and maybe they are a bit more accepting. But event hey got attacked by this and told they where “dead!” and insulted to the bone, riling them up against the people who otherwise made good points.

    None of them agreed with the bikini armour and “arm bitches” in computer games. None of the agreed with the rape culture in esports, But in both cases they where lopped in with people who they find despicable and told they where terrible people to be laughed at. Yet when they got angry, they are told they are Chauvinists and arseholes.

    Both Male Rights activists as Radical Feminists are taking a Sledgehammer to fix a cracked porcelain cup. I more ont he side of the feminists in this case, and there are shitloads of problems, but I can understand that with the current tone of voice (which even in this article is mostly aimed at RPG gamers, while actually the Esports, Call of Duty Gamers and other Bro gamer idiots are the biggest offenders) you really are not making friends on either side of the argument.

    If you want to get the Brogamers, try to reach out to us geeks and fantasy gamers. We have been bullied and beaten up by the same guys for ages. You’d find a shit load of “loot/treasure” to use against them if you just are a bit more diplomatic ;).

    –Signed Female D&D player.

    • Clark

      Binkini armor or whatever doesn’t propagate rape culture. You don’t see anyone telling women that all the physically perfect men in video games that you can murder wantonly are contributing to a kind of pandemic of males being raped and murdered. Jack Thomspon’s already been disproven.

      It’s actually very sexist to insist that such a thing contributes to anything involved with rape. Unless you think men are morally inferior and are a bunch of monkey see monkey do boys, then you need to use the same nonsensical scrutiny you’re putting toward hetero male sexuality on female hetero sexuality, as well.

    • Clark

      Also, rape culture doesn’t exist. It’s a bigoted idea that insists that men are the only perpetrators and that the messages sent vis a vis society are creating non thinking rapists in the waiting, and that women are inherently better people because they are perpetual victims who are the only ones worthy of empathy.

      You should maybe question authority figures instead of believing everything they say. Be a decent human being.

      • D&D Rules

        Rape culture exist, just as role enforcement. ANd that doesn’t mean only men rape or only women get raped. Women also rape, children for instance, and some men are abused in a relationship.

        Sadly due to role enforcement and Rape Culture these men are prevented from seeking help or escape. They are pushed back into their place with lines as :”What did you let yourself get beaten up by a “woman”?” or :”You’re a man stand up for yourself!” and other shaming of the victim who then stays in that bad environment.

        Most Feminists will also agitate against that. As it is just as poisonous and evil, maybe not as frequent as women being abused, but abuse and rape is still abuse and rape.

        • Clark

          Men are more likely to think that it’s impossible to be raped by a woman in our society. So if a man is raped by a woman he is less likely to treat it like a woman would because he has been taught that he can’t be raped. That’s systemic. 95% of men in the western world would hunt down a man just accused of raping a woman.

          A systemic form of rape among individuals also exists in prisons, which feminists have never brought up, considering it’s 90% male populated, and so it doesn’t effect women.

          There’s also been ZERO efforts by the likes of the CDC or even RAINN to study the number of female perpetrators of rape. Women, and feminists, hold the rape narrative because they’re the only ones who have been considered the victims.

          The moment that men speak up, rape culture theory, which holds that men have been systemically indoctrinated to see women as “less than” and that’s why rape occurs, will collapse like a bad dream.

          You’re a woman, I’m assuming. Could you fathom a movement that held that because women are more often than men the perpetrators of child murder that there’s a systemic conditioning that women adhere to which allows them to think that it’s okay to kill children? If you can’t empathize with men the same way you can with women then you’re a bigot, and so is your movement.

  • MusouTensei

    “Again, we don’t have to agree with everything critics like Sarkeesian
    are saying, but we can at least respond better than releasing her home
    address and making death and rape threats toward her and her family,
    like what happened to her in October.”

    I yet have to see actual proof of that, Listen & Believe doesn’t applies to me as an actually thinking human being.

  • Grim

    Hmmm…as a gamer I never cared or even aaware of the Zoe Quinn incident. Gamergate have been appearing on some of my favourite sites for weeks but I never cared. Until I read in a blurb saying gaming and gamers are dead. The fact that a whole group of gaming media submitted articles decrying gaming in a single day is enough for to get interested.

    Remember it was Anita Sarkeesian who assured Coldbert on TV that her movement is out not to take our toys away or cut our balls out and put in a jar. That is fine and dandy…if it weren’t for the fact that some feminists succeeded in doing what Jack Thompson failed- getting GTA V banned from a store. Recently even a popular Papers, Please! was banned from the iPhone because it’s supposedly pornographic materials.

  • Lifesabitch

    This is a disappointing article that once again misrepresents the issue at hand by decrying misogyny and lumping in assholes with the majority, as if GamerGate was only ever meant to keep women out of gaming forever.

    Gaming media and the faux-feminism machine surrounding it would rather focus on presenting women as poor victims at the hands of angry, privileged, white virgins who want nothing more than to keep women out of their vaunted club, than actually examine the women who actually work in the industry and their accomplishments in order to help solve the issue (which I agree does exist!) of sexism in gaming. But no, making articles criticizing some boy’s club and trying to somehow shame the people into being more inclusive will solve the issue.

    The men who don’t act like assholes already understand the points everyone has already made, and the men who DO act like assholes are going to be assholes regardless of psuedo-philosophical social justice rhetoric.

    The fact of the matter is that it generates a lot more publicity to write bullshit clickbait articles than it does to actually tackle the issue at hand.

    • Clark

      It’s a very presumptive act in proclaiming that “sexism in gaming” is a universal, and actually exists in any kind of systemic way. It’s like saying that sexism in television, film, novels, non fiction, or while walking on the sidewalk exists. it’s utterly pointless to even be pointed out. In fact, I’m willing to be bet that people like you only bring up such ideas in little brackets so that you don’t get the same treatment that people with balls, the gamergate folks, have been given in terms of being labeled misogynists just for saying that there’s no inherent sexism in gaming culture, or the games themselves.

  • Guest

    Problem is that if a gaming company makes an ultra-PC gender neutral game that rubs politics, ‘privledge’ and avoids boobs & trigger words, it will not do as well as games that are fun.