Video Game Sophistry's latest show asks Brianna Wu and Jennifer Allaway to speak about GamerGate, but before the show aired, VGS' host allegedly received aggressive emails and tweets.
Video Game Sophistry, a radio show about the artistic, economic, and social implications of gaming, is the latest entity to speak about GamerGate, giving a voice to game developer Brianna Wu and social researcher Jennifer Allaway. Before the show went live, people within GamerGate allegedly threatened to target advertisers and call for the host's termination, VGS host Andy told The Escapist in an interview.
Andy, who felt uneasy enough to request his last name be left out of this article, said he received emails and thousands of tweets to VGS' official twitter account from alleged participants of GamerGate. "The campaign demanded an apology for an allusion I made that connected [GamerGate] to hate groups," he said.
VGS apologized on Twitter through the following tweets: "From VGS Host. I apologize for an early tweet that alluded to any connection between ISISL and the gamer movement - GamerGate. That was not the intention and I do NOT believe Gaters are comparable to ISISL."
Andy claimed people within the GamerGate community sent tweets and emails to Andy and to Toronto talk radio station AM640 Radio, threatening to target the advertisers of the Corus radio network and email all levels of management demanding his termination. GamerGate's "Operation Disrespectful Nod" has attacked media by persuading advertisers to withdraw from select media outlets. Organization of contacting Canadian media and entertainment conglomerate Corus Entertainment took place on the subreddit KotakuInAction. A participant spoke of "need[ing] to hit all these advertisers hard." In response, Wu asked people to speak with management at Talk Radio AM640 to allow the show to air. Afterward, Talk Radio AM640 decided to release the interview. Andy said he and AM640 management did not contact the police and kept discussion of harassment within management. Talk Radio AM640 management declined to comment to The Escapist.
"Personally, after being attacked for merely wanting to give a victim a chance to spread her message, it was incredible to see the outpouring of support for those who wanted to hear what Brianna had to say," Andy said.
On Thursday, October 16, Andy spoke with Wu, who had to leave her home on October 10 because of threats, and Allaway, who was collecting data for a study on players' desires for diversity compared to what developers think players want in diversity. The show was supposed to air on Sunday, October 19. It was delayed to October 22 and then pushed back further another day after a man shot a guard in downtown Ottawa and rushed the Parliament building.
On the show, Wu noted she has experienced death threats, impersonation with the goal of damaging her reputation, and attacks on financial accounts. While she expressed her exhaustion, saying last week was the worst week of her life, she is proud national media are paying attention to sexism within the games industry and the wider technology industries.
"GamerGate didn't happen in a vacuum," Wu said.
Allaway spoke on matters she addressed in an article she wrote for Jezebel. Allaway was gathering data for a study on desires for diversity when GamerGate participants on 8chan sought to corrupt her data. The survey jumped from 700 responses collected over one month to 1100 responses in four hours. In the article Allaway included screenshots of some responses, one of which identified as "killer of women" and told Allaway to kill herself. On VGS, she pointed to two studies of people who troll and harass others online. Both studies found patterns of behaviors associated with the Dark Tetrad: sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism.
"You can find a lot of this within the GamerGate community as well," Allaway said. "The problem is a lot of people who feel committed to GamerGate feel too committed to back down now."
On October 16, the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization, included an article about GamerGate on its Hate Watch blog, although GamerGate supporters consistently maintain they are not a hate group and need to work to weed out the extremists within their cause.
Wu had some solutions. She advised consumers to speak up in support of women in and out of game development. She also suggested if more women were in the games press, games made by women and about women would be more likely to receive fair evaluations. Wu agreed that game journalism should examine itself for close relationships among the press and developers, but she condemned GamerGate's attacks on independent developers like herself and Zoe Quinn.
Additionally, Allaway criticized game journalists for treating GamerGate as an unbiased situation with two sides. "If this was a situation with any other hate group where people were being harassed and threatened, they wouldn't go to the hate group for a statement," she said. For the record, however, journalists have approached the leaders of groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and then-leader David Duke for statements and interviews that also indicated when people were using racial slurs and reported Duke's links to extremist groups. More recently, Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps was a frequent spokesperson for the church's campaign against the LBGT community before his death earlier this year.
Should there be no scheduling conflicts or complications, Quinn plans to be a guest on the next VGS show this week, Andy said. Quinn went on MSNBC this Monday for her first TV interview on GamerGate.
"I sincerely hope that those who are critical of artistic equality in the world of gaming will listen to the interview before passing judgment," Andy said.