GamerGate’s victims are bravely speaking out about what needs to change

If you’ve been following GamerGate, the movement supposedly about ethics in video game journalism that has turned into an ongoing harassment campaign against women in the industry, the names Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian are probably already familiar to you. Quinn, a 27-year-old independent video game developer, was forced out of her home after her ex-boyfriend Eron Gjoni posted a blog post accusing Quinn of influencing her media coverage by having a relationship with journalist Nathan Grayson. The ensuing maelstrom of online hatred aimed at Quinn forced her to flee her home.

Quinn came forward to give an interview with the BBC this week, and detailed how horrible the past three months have been. “I used to go to game events and feel like I was going home,” Quinn said. “Now it’s just like. . .are any of the people I’m currently in the room with the ones that said they wanted to beat me to death? It’s terrifying.”

Quinn then called on the gaming community to come together and take action to stop the harassment.

“We need everybody to stand-up and condemn it — and not in this milquetoast ‘harassment is bad you guys’ way – because they don’t think that what they’re doing is harassment,” Quinn said. “When people that are prominent in the industry can stand up and say ‘I’m part of games, I love games, this hate mob doesn’t speak for me, this is not welcome in games’, it has the two-fold effect of making it less damaging to those that this can hurt, and it does something repair this horrible misrepresentation of this medium that so many of us love.”

The only way to put a stop to this growing problem is by “condemning them and saying they do not speak for games,” she added. “It’s so fundamental, otherwise this is going to keep happening.”

Anita Sarkeesian, the feminist game critic who was forced to cancel a lecture at Utah State University after an anonymous email threatened a school massacre, had a similar take on the situation when she spoke to the New York Times a few weeks back.

“Game studios, developers and major publishers need to vocally speak up against the harassment of women and say this behavior is unacceptable,” Sarkeesian told the Times.

This week, she appeared on The Colbert Report to talk about GamerGate and condemn the violent threats women in the gaming world are facing.

“What it is, is women are being harassed, threatened, and terrorized,” Sarkeesian said. “They’re lashing out because we’re challenging the status quo of gaming as a male dominated space. . .This is actually attacks on women. Ethics in journalism is not happening in any way. It’s actually men going after women in really hostile aggressive ways.”

(Then she convinced Stephen Colbert to admit he was feminist, which was pretty awesome. Watch it below.)

Sarkeesian’s triumphant appearance set off a barrage of angry tweets, not only aimed at the media critic, but at Colbert.

But don’t expect Sarkeesian to back down or let the threats hold her back in challenging the lack of diversity in games.

In an op-ed for the New York Times this week, she wrote: “Those who police the borders of our hobby, the ones who try to shame and threaten women like me into silence, have already lost. The new reality is that video games are maturing, evolving and becoming more diverse. Those of us who critique the industry are simply saying that games matter. We know games can tell different, broader stories, be quirky and emotional, and give us more ways to win and have fun.”

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