GamerGate: the internet is merciless

Graphic by Joshua Awolade
Graphic by Joshua Awolade

I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a controversy composed of such a weird amalgamation of cultural forces.

The issue of Gamergate has been building for a few months now, and it has me extremely glad that I left video game culture in my past.

Gamergate managed to encompass everything that’s wrong with the Internet into a massive frenzy of vitriol and venom.

The lines have been drawn and the victims have suffered real consequences that should leave everyone shocked.

Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian are two people most recently affected by the everlasting void of rage found only in the bowels of the most popular Internet forums.

They’ve become the target of every form of verbal and emotional abuse there is, and it’s some of the most depressing filth I’ve ever read.

Feminists and video game enthusiasts have been attacked over the most trivial of things and it’s now evolved into a massive Internet campaign.

My first knowledge of this controversy came about when I learned the forces on Tumblr were uniting behind these two girls and aimed to defend them from their online bullies.

My gut reaction when I hear Tumblr takes a side is almost always to strongly disagree with them.

At first I thought these two girls must have done something pretty egregious to have both Reddit and 4Chan so frustrated with them.

But as I started to read up on it, I learned just how badly these women have been treated over absolutely nothing.

In Quinn’s case, she was accused online of cheating on her boyfriend with a video game journalist in order to gain a favourable review for her video game.

Although this turned out to be untrue, even if it were the case, what ensued were threats of rape and murder and even escalated to inappropriate phone calls to her house. This can only be described as utterly outrageous.

Quinn’s independent game was about her depression, and the “expert psychologists” on the 4Chan and Reddit forums simply dismissed her state of mind and began to hurl every ounce of negativity they could at her.

Sarkeesian was also roped into the controversy due to her making YouTube videos about how women are represented in video games.

Again, this is a pitiful excuse for outrage, and the reaction was both uncalled for and despicable. She has even received bomb threats because of her point of view.

These actions have amounted to near total condemnation of the video game industry as misogynistic, however I take issue with that too.

There’s no question that what these two woman have had to deal with is evil.

However I don’t think this represents patriarchy, especially since it’s coming from such a small but vocal minority.

I think this represents the problem of people thinking they’re invincible behind a keyboard.

These online bullying tactics are more common than one might think, and although this case has managed to reach such exacerbated proportions, I’d argue that it’s more indicative of the sheer number of people involved.

I’m a member of an online forum where, although the discussion is supposed to focus around hip-hop music, it can devolve into users trying to find personal details about each other.

The Internet is a merciless place – just look at the comment section of any popular video.

I couldn’t differ more from the victims’ philosophical views, but someone having a different opinion then me, under no circumstances, warrants that type of reaction.

Ironically, those who have attacked them for their cause have actually built up their prevalence on social media.

Now, their feminist views about the gaming industry have become fully realized and are gaining support.

The conflict isn’t over yet, but the tides are starting to turn. People in the gaming industry have unanimously condemned these bully tactics, and that is a strong step to eliminating the problem.

Having a point of view is not a crime, and when it leads to this level of destructiveness, it shines a bright light on the immaturity scurrying around the online world. These events are tragic and show the already well-known fact: the Internet is far, far from civil.

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