By Kathryn Magura
**Warning: this blog post contains content of a violent nature that may unintentionally trigger someone. Please read on with caution.**
I am not a gamer. I do not go online and play video games with other people. Why then would I purport to get involved with an issue called #GamerGate?
Well, for starters, women are being threatened with horrendous crimes because they have chosen to speak out against #GamerGate. Yes, you read that correctly. Women – a growing population in the gaming world – are being threatened with specific threats of violence like gang rape when they choose to speak out against the sexism in gaming. If you are not aware, there is quite a bit of overt sexism in the gaming world. Everything from female characters who are sexualized to bullying women out of the community, it is truly an ugly world to be a part of if you are a woman. That said, some women still choose to partake simply because they love to game. Something they have every right to continue doing.
Women who speak out against #GamerGate face a real threat of being doxxed (which is internet speak for when personally identifying information like address, age, Social Security Number is published) and thusly sent into hiding. Felicia Day, a famous gamer and actress finally spoke out against #GamerGate, and within minutes was doxxed. Men who speak out do not face the same doxxing threats. Why? This is wrong, and the only way to stop it is to draw more attention to the issue.
For some more context about this issue, those who are pro #GamerGate claim that the issue is about media ethics in gaming. When I first tweeted about #GamerGate:
I received quite a few responses from people who defended #GamerGate under the belief that they were defending the need for more ethics in gaming. While I believe these people wholeheartedly believe this version of #GamerGate, they are also incredibly naive to ignore what has happened to the women who speak out against #GamerGate. These atrocities are happening to women only, not the men who also speak out. How is this an issue of gaming ethics??
Newsweek sought out to answer the question of what the root issue of #GamerGate is, and concluded that #GamerGate is about harassing women more than gaming ethics. In 2014 we have blatant sexism running rampant without consequence. THIS IS NOT OK.
So why should Student Affairs professionals care about #GamerGate? Besides the fact that we have women being harassed and threatened, there is a deeper issue at play here. Many of these gamers who are threatening women and sharing their private information are our students. They are our residents on campus. They are the students in our first year seminar classes. They are the students who attend our events (or not).
We have students on our campuses who think it is ok to publish personal information about a woman, or even threaten to rape her, simply because she disagrees with him. This is not ok. We need to reach out to these students and help them see the true value in other human beings. This is not a game. This is reality, and people are getting hurt. The threat is real, and we owe it to these gamers to encourage them to see the difference.