By Maya Palit
Remember the GamerGate controversy? Three years ago, feminist cultural critics of video games like Anita Sarkeesian, as well as female game designers, received death and rape threats after they talked about the misogyny and stereotyping of women in the the gaming world.
The Twitter hashtag #GamerGate was where the male trolls gathered, and spewed tons of vitriol aimed at intimidating and harassing women critics. There was also Islamophobia, racism, and homophobia in the mix, as well as various instances of doxing and SWATing, where fake calls were placed to the police with the intention of getting armed forces to show up at certain houses.
The game developer Brianna Wu had to flee her home after receiving threats like “I’ve got a K-bar and I’m coming to your house so I can shove it up your ugly feminist cunt.” Sarkeesian also had it particularly bad, and was forced to cancel talks in public spaces after outraged gamers sent bomb threats, and claimed that they would begin the ‘deadliest school shooting in American history’ if she spoke at Utah State University.
Recently the magazine Bust reported that the FBI had released the files from its year-long investigation on GamerGate, which concluded that none of the death threats were ‘actionable’ and that they were unable to’ identity any subjects’. Of course the gaming world is only one of several online spaces which assist discrimination and attacks on women and other minorities. And just last week, a report indicated that such spaces also find support in unlikely places, and stated that the internet company Cloudfare is helping Neonazi online communities and giving them the personal details of people (names, email addresses) who report their content. (It has since changed its abuse policy and now allows for anonymous complaints.)