This post addresses jilted boyfriends, emotional abuse, lies, sex, video games, journalistic integrity, feminism, hatred, sexism, hackers, explosions, rape threats, murder plots and perverts . But I will answer your most pressing question first.
The young lady up there? Her name is Vivian James. Step one.
Ms. James was created on 4chan as the anime mascot for a Twitter movement protesting …what? No, I… I don’t know why they have an anime mascot. But don’t ask questions yet, this gets weirder before it gets vaguely understandable. Just accept that a perturbed redhead is the avatar for thousands of ALL-CAP forum posts and YouTube screeds.
Though now that I think about it, all controversial subjects should have anime mascots. Life would be easier. Or at least, more entertaining.
But let’s get away from Vivian. She’s leading me further into an Escher print. Let’s start with something more fun: A ruined, unhealthy relationship. Wheeeeeee….
Zoe Quinn is an independent game developer and activist, and, as her name foreshadows, a woman. That last point has made her life a little difficult. In an interview with NPR, she says, “I don’t think I’ve ever released a game without getting some sort of rape threat… It’s like the Internet is eager and waiting for a reason to be a total scumbag to you — at least if you’re a woman.”
Quinn once dated a programmer named Eron Gjoni. “Once” meaning their relationship exploded. Like, in supernova fashion.
After the messy breakup, Gjoni wrote a 9,000 word thesis to “warn you to be cautious of Zoe. [This post] is here to paint a portrait of her actual personality.”
The first part of his epic saga is titled, “Act 0: Whereof One Cannot Speak, Thereof One Must Be Silent.” After this he, to reiterate, wrote about 9,000 words. Wherefor only had he selfsame silence advice therein.
“The Zoe Post” reads like an episode of Dr. Phil. She lied, she cheated on him multiple times, she manipulated him, he accused her of having sex to garner better game reviews… daily on OWN, check your local listings. He also made her real name public. And multiple pages of their personal texts. And revealed most of the guys she slept with. So yeah.
While she did indeed cheat on Gjoni, it’s since been revealed that the reviewer she sexed didn’t review her game at all. But little things like facts tend to get in the way.
#Gamergate started off bad, calling itself #TheQuinnspiracy, as if one developer was controlling the whole industry with sexcapades and feminine wiles. Here’s a collection of tweets, compiled by Quinn in her Cracked article, “5 Thing I Learned as the Internet’s Most Hated Person.”
Classy. Quinn received death threats, rape threats, accusations of being a slut whore slut slut slut whore whore fake fake fake bitch bitch. But it got worse when some of the horde found her address and phone number. And those of her friends and family.
Quinn writes, “My dad’s an old-school biker dude who types with two fingers and has me fix the settings on his cellphone every time I see him — I still don’t think he quite understands what all this has been about. He just knows now to hang up when someone calls and screams ‘YOUR DAUGHTER’S A WHORE’ into the receiver.”
The mob hacked her friends’ Skype accounts, contact lists, social security numbers, bank statements… she actually had to move and cancel credit cards. People who defended or shared her viewpoints got similar treatment. And, as Quinn points out, this all stems from an angry ex.
Afterward, some accused Quinn and her friends of blowing the threats out of proportion to garner sympathy and page views. Which… well, the hat’s made of tinfoil and the argument’s soft as baked potatoes.
To be fair, some video game review sites did receive valid complaints about corruption and paid reviews. But trolls only care when it involves conspiratorial feminists using sex in power plays.
Luke McKinney was pretty close when he penned Cracked’s “7 Reasons ‘Gamergate’ Proves Humanity is Doomed.”
However, even something born of falsity and misogyny isn’t devoid of hope. What was rightly covered as angry white males venting frustration over perceived power loss has become… well, it gets tricky.
Nate Rott of NPR writes, “#Gamergate is about two key things: ethics in video game journalism, and the role and treatment of women in the video game industry — an industry that has long been dominated by men.”
The WordPress blog Refrigerator Rants elaborates on other topics, such as undeserved anger at social justice, online harassment, shallow vilification… all good stuff. Well, bad stuff. You know what I mean.
All those are important topics, deserving discussion. Which finally brings me to a defense of this whole affair. Started to feel like Eron Gjoni… though I’d need 7,000 more words…
#Gamergate has not doomed humanity. There’s a lot of ugliness in this, and no online argument is worth scaring people from homes and ruining lives. But now we work with what we’ve got. And we’re looking at a movement for integrity, equality and transparency in video games. All good things. Luckily, there are many intelligent parties furthering those goals. It’s just some of their background players are lunatics, brats and/or perverts. The background is too frequently louder, but don’t let baby join the bathwater.
What started as shit is now not-shit. Where it goes and what it affects is hard to tell, but it’s going up. Granted, we started at slut whore slut slut slut whore whore fake fake fake bitch bitch… but up is up.
After all, how bad can it be? It has a cute anime mascot!