Female Game Developers Receive Death Threats: Here's What #GamerGate Means For All Women


Even if you don't know your Grand Theft Auto from your World of Warcraft, you've probably heard of #GamerGate.

While the online movement may have started over concerns about ethical corruption in video game journalism, for some misogynists #GamerGate became a way to intimidate outspoken women in the gaming community.

Female game developer Brianna Wu fled her home after receiving rape and death threats online. Developer Zoe Quinn also received graphic threats before details of her home address were posted on social media.

The threats made during the #GamerGate furore almost certainly echo the threats female journalists, authors and campaigners faced last year.

So what does #GamerGate mean for women who aren't into gaming?

For a start, the movement reveals the sad truth that feminist criticism still isn't respected in male dominated fields.

Anita Sarkeesian, founder of Feminist Frequency - a website that hosts a video series on negative characters, or ‘tropes’, in the virtual world - was recently scheduled to speak on the topic of harassment and abuse in video games culture at Utah State University.

Sarkeesian was forced to cancel the talk after the university received an email promising a mass shooting would occur if she was allowed to speak.

And what had Sarkeesian done to so offend those claiming to act under the #GamerGate agenda?

Critiquing the 2006 game Hitman: Blood Money, she wrote: "The marketing blitz surrounding the release of the 2006 game Hitman: Blood Money featured several advertisements depicting the murdered bodies of sexualized women with captions like “Beautifully executed”. Even in death these lingerie-clad women are posed provocatively to sexually arouse straight male viewers."

In short, she spoke her mind.

The #GamerGate controversy highlights that we still live in a world where white men rule and everyone else has to battle to get their voices heard.

Despite the fact that in 2014 nearly half of gamers are female, women only make up 22% of employees in the industry.

While some continue to hijack #GamerGate to promote their own misogynistic agenda, the tech industry is unlikely to attract more female workers.

In 2014, a woman should not be made to feel that a career is unavailable to her because of her gender.

The threats made to Wu, Quinn and Sarkeesian may have happened in the gaming community, but they serve to remind us that women are being held back and misrepresented in many other industries.

In sport, business, politics and media, women are treated as inferior to men in that they are still not getting equal representation in senior management and/or equal pay.

We cannot just assume that #GamerGate has nothing to do with us because we don't happen to be gamers. This is about silencing women and intimidating them into not having a voice - and that affects every child and woman with or without a joystick in their hands.

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