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Female Game Developers Share Their Views on #GamerGate

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Developer #3

The term gamer seems to be as varied in definition as "art", in that no one can quite agree how it should be defined but a great many people have opinions on it. Mine is that anyone who plays games is a "gamer", which is broader than most. Maybe that's because when I was younger I never felt like a "real" gamer, even though I've been playing games since the day my dad brought home the TI-99 or the Apple ][e. I can't put my finger on exactly why; I guess it was always the silent accusation of being a fake geek girl, because for various reasons I wasn't hardcore enough.

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I think #GamerGate is a colossal mess. It started with terrible origins and gained some legitimate followers with decent intentions, but those will never be taken seriously because the hashtag is irrevocably tainted with the misogyny and malice of those who formed it and the fact that those who still hold it up and insist that that isn't what it stands for is baffling to me. You can say all you want that this isn't what your movement stands for, but that is what it was birthed in, and the people who are spewing hatred and threatening violence are raising your banner and marching behind it when they take the battlefield. They might be the minority (which, how do you even prove that?) but their voices are the loudest. And what was with the endless harassment of Zoe and Anita to "prove" that the former actually gave to charity, and the latter actually filed the police report? When both women's actions were substantiated, were any apologies issued for the endless haranguing? Being a woman on the internet, silently observing this abuse, has been endlessly depressing.

As for the press and corruption: sure. There is corruption, but the indie scene is the last place the focus should be for that. And the "corruption in journalism" angle was only ever a smokescreen to have a flimsy reason to crucify a woman on the internet for having sex. Come on. The corruption issue is why GamerGate has legs; gamers are legitimately unhappy and want to see change in some areas. But that is NOT how it got started and everyone who is honest with themselves knows that.

Controversial games should be available, sure. A game about anything should be available if there is someone out there who wants to make a statement about something. But let me be clear: your game will always be making a statement about something. If your game is a rape simulator, your statement is that you are an asshole who doesn't take rape seriously and you will deserve the negative attention coming your way. Your right to make a game doesn't negate the right of other people to think you're an asshole. And obviously kids don't need to have unrestricted access to games with mature content. But there's also a lot to be learned from "controversial" games like Anna Anthropy's Dys4ia, which puts you in the shoes of someone dealing with gender identity disorder. As far as social issues interacting with my work, mostly they have just influenced conversations about inclusion and character diversity with race and gender. Progress is frustratingly slow but it is there.

GamerGate has definitely affected me personally and professionally. Too many friends have been on the front lines, bearing the brunt of the internet's wrath, and I have survivor's guilt for not being more involved as though making myself a target would really help anyone. I signal boost and retweet and support from the sidelines but then wonder if it makes any difference at all. On the other hand, I also don't want to get fired. Thankfully no one in my audience seems to be particularly outspoken about GamerGate. I don't think everyone involved in it has bad intentions, like I said above. But most of it is loud, obnoxious, and it's not even entirely sure what it wants.



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