Gender-biased harassment is not new. However, it has gone to a whole other level.
They broke up; he got mad and wrote a long blog accusing her of all kinds of nefarious goings on. In the parlance of the Internet it is TL;DR (too long; don’t read). If you are interested in the original blog, go to your favorite search engine, type in Zoe Quinn, and follow links until your heart is satisfied or annoyed.
Quick history: Zoe Quinn developed a game called Depression Quest, which came out in 2013. The game is an interactive, fictional story. The goal of the game is that people who do not fight depression can learn what it is to be depressed, without actually being depressed. It is also a tool to help those with depression realize that they are not alone.
Depression Quest has won awards and received high accolades from expert gaming critics. This has not stopped the accusations from flying. In fact, one of the accusations is that Quinn slept with these critics and journalists in order to further her career.
Back to the break up–Zoe’s ex went on a tirade in his blog, claiming that while they were together she slept her way through other gaming professionals on her way to developing Depression Quest. Despite his verbose (chatty, if you will) post, what we have is a nasty break-up, bad feelings, a spurned and broken heart, and laments.
Most of the time these laments are saved for our closest friends. Quinn’s ex took to the Internet with what amounts to, unproved allegations of an unfaithful heart. What it has become is so much more!
Though Zoe’s ex never outright accuses her of using sex to advance her career, he implies it. He suggests that her relationship with the man (a gaming journalist) she later collaborated with, were dark and murky. The Internet, specifically gamers, have taken his allegations, and turned them from just Zoe to every female who has ever had a thought of getting into the gaming business.
Many of the naysayers are using this “scandal” as a platform. In an effort to sound legitimate, they critique her game saying things like, “. . . it is apparent Quinn has never been to a creative writing workshop.” Because it is a simplistic game, graphically and mechanically, many gamers feel that its success was unwarranted. From that point, they go on to blast females in general and female gamers specifically.
As I said in my opening paragraph, gender-biased harassment is not new. It has been going on for decades; dare I say, centuries? I know for a fact it has been going on for decades. I remember my mother coming home from work angrier than I had ever seen her. A boss from another office told her not to “worry [her] pretty little head about it.” I was five. Concerning herself about the situation was her job. He made it clear she was not wanted there because she was “just a woman.”
For the most part, many people have accepted (at least publicly) that women want careers beyond home and hearth. They accept, (at least publicly), that women are going to be in positions of power and influence. However, the gaming world seems to be stuck in the Dark Ages.
There is a very vocal and even scary element in the gaming world that has taken stalking to a completely new level. They do not just bash women in the industry as being incompetent, a fallacious lie; they go to a level I have seldom seen before.
Far too many men in that world are willing to threaten the women who dare to cross the threshold of gaming. Accusations fly, example Zoe Quinn; abuse goes from denial of service to threats of rape, death, and dismemberment.
One example of this abuse is Anita Sarkeesian. She is the creator of the webseries, Feminist Frequency and Tropes vs Women in Video Games. Because she calls out the industry, she has become the target of some of the vilest harassment I have seen. Example: (WARNING: VERY GRAPHIC LANGUAGE, VIOLENCE, and SEXUAL CONTENT).
I usually don’t share the really scary stuff. But it’s important for folks to know how bad it gets [TRIGGER WARNING] pic.twitter.com/u6b3i0fysI
— Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) August 27, 2014
This is never acceptable. As a woman, I am furious! As a human being, I am sickened that another creature baring the title Homo sapiens would be like this.
Our laws need to catch up or States need to put more teeth to the laws that exist. This is not a Freedom of Speech issue. You cannot yell fire in a crowded theater and you cannot threaten someone. Cyberharassment simply must be a prosecutable offense. Under any other circumstance, this language would be considered a threat. If it were said to a person’s face, that person would be well within her right to protect herself. Most courts would find in her favor! If it were said in a “stand your ground” State, well . . . .
I am very thankful for many men who are fighting this alongside the women who just want to play video and Internet games. Jonathan McIntosh of Polygon and Andrew Todd of Baddass Digest are just two very big, very vocal supporters of women in gaming. There are others. There are many, my husband included, who support women as gamers and game developers. These men recognize that like the real world, the gaming world is not just a man’s domain; recognizing just how empty life (or pretend life) would be without the interaction of women.
To quote one young man, “I feel like now, more than ever, women are becoming a presence in gaming, and this is undoubtedly a good thing for all. Gaming is now taking strides toward abolishing the “boys club” mentality and perception, which is why it saddens me so much to see this event [Quinn controversy] unfold as it has. . . the[se] attitudes and actions have placed the sexism of the industry in the spotlight, . . . legitimate criticism has been drowned out by a sea of needless hate. I very much hope that we as a community [gamers] use this time to analyze where this toxicity comes from and take steps to remove it, leaving respect in its place. Gaming is for everyone and it is time everyone felt welcome.”
With young men like that, I have hope for the future of gaming. Thank you my friend. (Name withheld to protect him from cyberharassment).