Felicia Day And Gamergate: This Is What Happens Now

Felicia Day And Gamergate: This Is What Happens Now

Earlier this week, Felicia Day wrote a blog post. In it, the well-known actor eloquently expressed something that a great number of people in the video game scene have been feeling lately: She said she was afraid.

Shortly after publishing, some people posting in her comments section, one under the name "Gaimerg8", doxxed her, sharing what they claimed was her home address. In the space of an hour, video gaming's current culture of fear presented itself in microcosm.

"I have been terrified of inviting a deluge of abusive and condescending tweets into my timeline," Day wrote, citing the one instance where she replied supportively to a harassment victim on Twitter only to get a flood of harassment in response. She worried that in being critical of the tactics employed by Gamergate supporters, she would draw their attention and see those tactics employed on herself.

That Day's fears were so swiftly proven right is the most obvious story here, and the headline writes itself: "Felicia Day Says She's Afraid of Gamergate, Immediately Gets Doxxed." But the fears themselves are noteworthy for reasons other than the dispiriting, seemingly inevitable attack that came in the wake of their expression.

Day's post left me feeling incredibly sad. It resonated with me on a couple of different levels: That we increasingly think of fellow gamers as people to suspect and fear. That the art form that brought us together now feels like something that divides us. That we no longer feel safe online. And most of all, that we are afraid, and that we can be so hard on ourselves for being afraid.

When talking about how she hadn't addressed Gamergate up to this point, Day wrote the following:

I have had stalkers and restraining orders issued in the past, I have had people show up on my doorstep when my personal information was HARD to get. To have my location revealed to the world would give a entry point for a few mentally ill people who have fixated on me, and allow them to show up and make good on the kind of threats I've received that make me paranoid to walk around a convention alone. I haven't been able to stomach the risk of being afraid to get out of my car in my own driveway because I've expressed an opinion that someone on the internet didn't agree with.

HOW SICK IS THAT?

I have allowed a handful of anonymous people censor me. They have forced me, out of fear, into seeing myself a potential victim.

And that makes me loathe not THEM, but MYSELF.

I know that fear, and the self-loathing that comes with it. That probably sounds silly, since I get basically no flak from anyone about Gamergate. There's a reason for that, however: The main reason I don't catch shit about Gamergate is that I rarely say anything about it in public.

I keep quiet for a number of reasons, but it's primarily out of fear. Fear of uttering an opinion only to be sea lioned into circular debates that feel engineered more to exhaust than to enlighten. Fear that the fact that I briefly backed Zoe Quinn's Patreon for a total of $US10 might be used as an excuse to make me into the movement's next punching bag. Fear of being targeted, or of my family being targeted. And so I keep quiet.

You can't talk about Gamergate. That's the first rule of Gamergate. If you talk about it, particularly if you're critical of it, you better watch your back. You will be attacked. It remains to be seen how intense the attack will be, or what form it will take, but rest assured, it will happen. I'll be attacked for publishing this article.

It will be worse if you're a woman. That's the second rule of Gamergate. If you are a woman and you talk about Gamergate, particularly if you're critical of it, you better really watch your back. I'll be attacked for publishing this article, but I won't get it half as bad as I would if I were a woman.

"We are harassed too!" Gamergaters say. I have no doubt that's the case, and that sucks too. But while I happily echo my boss Stephen's repeated calls for across-the-board de-escalation, I must also acknowledge the truth that's apparent to anyone paying attention: This is not an equal thing. This is not a case of saying "both sides have it rough" and walking away, shaking our heads. As former NFL punter Chris Kluwe demonstrated this week with his scathing attack on Gamergate and subsequent total lack of doxxing, when a prominent man speaks critically about Gamergate, he can do so without worrying for his safety, despite calling the movement's followers "slackjawed pickletits." But when a prominent woman speaks about Gamergate with even a fraction of Kluwe's fire, the response is immediate and overwhelming: She is threatened, insulted, and attacked by dozens if not hundreds of different voices, on every platform available. Even a post as measured and personal as Day's is the target of immediate hostility. That it feels somehow risky to state what is so plainly obvious to any casual observer is surely one of Gamergate's most noteworthy aspects.

It makes sense that doxxing — sharing someone's address and other personal information against their will — is one of the primary instruments wielded in this battle. Doxxers use identity as a weapon, and so much of this conflict is, at its core, about identity. There's the stated claim that the gamer identity is under attack, and also the pervading sense that this "war" is less about journalistic ethics and more about the murk of entrenched identity politics. Video games have hugely informed our generation's cultural identity, and so cultural criticism of games feels somehow personal, like we're the ones being criticised. I get it. I do.

I also hear the arguments of more reasonable Gamergate supporters, and I take them seriously. Some of the movement's supporters have valid complaints, like the not-incorrect notion that some video game publications don't always seem to be looking out for their readers, or the sense that some developers in the indie game scene are too buddy-buddy with the reporters who cover them. But again and again, I come back to the fear. The fear is inescapable.

People are terrified of Gamergate. It's what made that Onion article from earlier this week so funny: "Look this whole thing over and tell us if there's anything we should change," they implored Gamergate supporters at the end of the article. "Email all of your demands to [email protected] We'll get on it right away. Please don't hurt us."

Of course people are terrified. They have read the forums, where hateful sexist and transphobic slurs are tossed around like it's nothing, where women targets are given code names and insane conspiracy theories and militaristic jargon sit side by side with voices impotently urging for calm. They have seen the Twitter reply-feeds of the women (and men) who speak out against Gamergate.

They see all that and are frightened, as well they should be. Gamergate has become defined by fear, and that fear is not going away, because no one has the power to make it go away. Gamergate may have a logo and a mascot, but it has no leader, and as a result its many supporters can remain unaccountable for any actions they deem the work of fringe extremists. The movement's moderates can repeatedly disavow harassment — as some did in the aftermath of Day's doxxing — and chide those who go too far for hurting the cause. Yet it is difficult to submerge oneself in the anger and hate-speech coursing through so many GG forums and online discussions without feeling like it is an unseverable element of the movement.

There is more fear in video games today than there was yesterday, and unless something changes, there will be more next week than there was today. If another woman receives death threats tomorrow, there will be more headlines, more disavowal from outspoken Gamergate supporters, more inarguable claims that this goes both ways. We have arrived at a plateau of awfulness, and it sure doesn't feel like things are going to relax anytime soon.

Can there be any denying that one fundamental truth? That women like Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian, Leigh Alexander, Brianna Wu, and countless less-visible others are living in fear while bearing an immense amount of harassment? That dissent's swift, terrifying reprisal has become an inevitability, that we now exist under a perpetual fog of paranoia and fear? One has only to look at what happened to Felicia Day to know that no, there cannot.

This week, a prominent woman in games talked about Gamergate. She said she wished things weren't the way they are, that she was afraid and didn't want to be. The attack that followed said it plain as day: You should be afraid. This is what happens now. This is what happens when you speak up.

And it is. It really, really is.


Comments

    Funny. i havent seen Kotaku interview Brad Wardell about all this seeing as he knows all about receiving death threats. Also i wonder how the Staff at gamersgate.com ( the digital Distrubition site) is feeling seeing as its been getting hate mail from antiGGers.

    Oh yeah i dont remember seeing Kotaku post about the Death threats that the guy from Breibart (who is gay and covered this whole stinking mess from the GG side) in which someone sent a fucking suringe (unknown if it was used or not). I know Breibart is full of conservative arsewipes but come one fair is fair if you going to post about people involved in this mess receiving death threats you need to post when it happens on both sides

    "That the art form that brought us together now feels like something that divides us."

    Must have missed the memo where games are classified as 'art'.

    So. and I dont take a complete side with anyone here incidentally, a lot of you are acting worse than I ever would've thought possible towards each other.

    We have one side angry about whatever and another side angry that theyre angry at whatever. Both sides can't even agree on what theyre angry at. Then we have unidentifiable people sending threats who may or may not be linked to tbe first party, COULD be actually part of the 2nd looking to make the first worse or more realistically, an unattached 3rd party trolling to fuel the flames.

    So the problem we have here is a lack of identity. It's just giving more fuel to those who think the anonymity of the internet should be taken away. You know what, at the end of the day it's us, not them who are giving them the proverbial ammunition for their arguments and pretending our morality and pride will make us bulletproof.

    In reality, it's going to lead to a field of moral, pride filled corpses. Enjoy that anonymity while it lasts everyone, we champion it and we're doing the best we can to get rid of it it would seem.

      Anonymity isn't going anywhere, it's too valuable for many people to let go of it and not find some way to use it for it's original purpose: free expression within political speech. It's even more amusing to think that somehow ratbag attitudes in expression will be its downfall, or that righteous and civil expression would champion its existence, when social interaction isn't even a rigid science.

        Unfortunately, the 'social' is missing in all discourse from both sides. As far as your identity online goes, don't believe for a moment in a few years you won't be able to be identified easily. There's sites now that utilise your personal facebook for instance through things such as Disqus. The ideal that anonymity isn't going anywhere is amusing. Compared to ten years ago when we were truly anonymous on the internet, these days, we're pretty well known, putting most stuff of our own on there voluntarily. The 'ratbag attitudes in expression' only have to offend that one person with the ability to get the ball rolling, it's happened in the past to people in various walks of life, you just need to piss off that one person, it'll happen again.

        But, in reference to the lack of 'social' on here, the way people on here are talking, people from *both* sides, it's like you want to cut each others throats on here with those who don't agree and it's a putrid thing to see. Go back and read most of the comments which at some people resort to telling people offensively where to go etc, or disagreeing with them (not a bad thing) in words to the same effect ( a bad thing) and feel free to highlight how that in itself is a good thing? People rarely act like that in real life (please, I believe *noone* who says they do), those who do quickly find themselves in trouble, so why would people on here?

        Issues such as cyberbullying, issues such as the whole doxxing thing, they're leading to one conclusion: Accountability. People need to be accountable for their actions. If that means they have to be more identifiable to do so, to hell with it, do it. I've taught now for a while and know of two students that killed themselves over constant, constant cyberbullying, the kind of crap going on here (and yes, what's going on here is cyberbullying by any other name), and when that happens, when peoples safety is an issue, when threats are thrown around? It trumps yours and all others cry for personal anonymity so they can feel comfortable throwing hyperbole around the internet.

        Last edited 27/10/14 12:15 pm

          I didn't say that anonymity wouldn't change on specific site-by-site basis, because of course the level of anonymity and moderation of discussions is at the behest of the host. My point was that the ability to converse anonymously in some form or other will remain and continue to be fought for by concerned parties. People who don't mind particular discussion being attached to their name will talk like they do now on facebook et. al.

          Forget amusing then, I find it concerning, scary even, that someone would advocate for the abandon of wilful anonymity or privacy. Without such avenues there becomes a whole lot more control put in the hands of irresponsible third-parties.

          I'm not at anyone's throat. Yeah language around here is bad but I dunno, there's no black and white - all grey. Some comments are deplorable some I'd say funny. In this case I'd say you've got to take the bad with the good, since a lot of neither would be said if everyone was afraid of stepping on a nerve.

          It trumps yours and all others cry for personal anonymity so they can feel comfortable throwing hyperbole around the internet.

          That's a problematic attitude IMO because whatever could be done to address it would not end there. Responsibility and accountability are important, but so is resilience and forgiveness. To me at least, helping everyone get along better is not effective simply by enforcing it.

          I don't use Facebook or Twitter so I can stay Anonymous right? :D
          I need to try and lighten the mood, this whole thread is depressing. I don't say anything under this name that I wouldn't say in public, I use this name in a variety of locations so I am somewhat attached to it.

          Audience + Anonymity = Arseholes

          I look at every ban we have, and I can trace it back to basically one jerk. Not allowed to have Cans or Bottles at a sports match, there was that incident years ago when a player took a bottle or can to the head. Only allowed 4 Drinks at a time at a Stadium. Drunken Idiot had 20 beers (for himself) he then tripped and dropped 19.5 of them and was refused free replacements. He became Violent and assaulted somebody.

          It's LCD (Not screen but Lowest Common Denominator) thinking here, that we allow the biggest idiots to set the bar we all walk under. Why do Irons have warnings not to use on clothes your wearing. Because somebody was stupid enough to heat up a piece of metal and run it over their body. Why does my Mums hair dryer have a warning not to use it in the shower? Because some fool stood under running water and attempted to dry their hair.

          I feel that we have less personal responsibility now days then ever before. You got drunk and fell down a flight of stairs in the 80's and your an idiot. Do it tonight and you can sue the guy who sold you alcohol. If he refuses to sell it to you, than sue for discrimination. If you get your sober mate to buy it, sue the guy who sold it to your mate because he should have known better.

            I just had Akuma from here find me on Bloody-disgusting. I use Weresmurf across the internet. You can go to Aintitcool news and search for my user name, you'll find my reviews and interviews from years gone by. So I'm easy to track lol.

            I completely agree, anonymity plus the internet = the opportunity to turn into the worst possible person, and people often resort to that. I've acted in ways on here I wouldn't in real life but for the most part, it's me. I try to be me, not the me I wish I was but the me I am. Not 100% succesful all the time, but most of the time. That's how I figure it realistically is with people. You get to be you but there's that liberty to be something else, that will be taken advantage of at some time.

            We definitely have less personal responsibility and the internet is the greatest example of it. If we were to equate it with Western history, right now the internet is the Wild West. It's a free for all, bandits and bastards abound. Wonder what it'll be like in 5 - 10 years time?

            Of course, it's already happening, with the NBN eventually rolling out everywhere (HAH! yeh right), once you're on that sucker, say bye bye to anonymity.

      Who'da thought a neutral voice would be the most refreshing to read? Thanks for being sensible.

    So it sounds like GG's response to any criticism is so sinister and excessive that they're becoming untouchable like Scientology or the NRA. (But then again, what do I know, I'm Aussie.)

    If only we could find a way to get them into some sort of 3-way grudge match, and watch as they use the same tactics on each other to the point of assured mutual destruction.

      Forget the grudge match, I think threeways would do more good. You know, get the angst out, chill everyone out a whole bunch...

    so let me get this right, women have fought for years for equality and now they are being treated just like men... and they cry about it.

    im at a loss. sure its not ok to threaten anyone man or woman, but men have gotten abuse for years for sub par games , companies that are mainly ran by men coming under the fire, ie activision and modern warfare, but somehow soon as a woman is involved they play the "woman" card.

    u want equality you got it but now you don't like how it is on the other side of the fence. guess what deal with it, just like us blokes have to. seriously enough is enough. there are nutcases everywhere out there, that will go out of their way to cause trouble and im talking about the ones that make the threats that post the address that basically take things way too far.

    But it is not ok to lump us all with those nutjobs and use the "woman" card is just typical of how women over react. men think( oh I really think we should do this based on....) and women feel ( oh I really feel we should do this it would be....) there is a difference.

    men don't are not affected or influenced in our thinking and making a accurate decision based on our emotions, we use our brains and are never and should never be run by emotions, and this is a fact that women cannot do this. its a biological fact.

    im so over this rubbish, can we just stop posting this stuff please kotaku, just ignore it and it will go away. otherwise you are just as bad as all those nagging whining women that wont shut up long enough to listen. just stop.

    Last edited 27/10/14 2:43 pm

    This whole Gamergate thing is stuck. It needs to be a reasonable, rational and mature discussion. That can not happen. You can't have a rational discussion when a mob of irrational people follow you around screaming for or against your cause.

    Oh sure I got 20 sane and polite people here to discuss this with you but somewhere along the way we picked up a lunatic who just seems to follow us around agreeing with me and threatening to kill people who don't or anybody who is a Lizard man in disguise.

    So yeah we can no longer discuss the best pizza topping in the world.
    It's Cheese, with out any it's just not a pizza. You can have Alfredo or Barbeque sauce instead of Pizza Sauce, you can add or leave off Anchovies, Onions or what ever but with out Cheese Topping it's just not right.

      What... how dare you leave off cheese!!!

      #dairygate

    Well, at least we know GG will die out, after all, no woman will be prepared to make babies with these dufii...

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