The Internet has been abuzz with a movement known as GamerGate. What started out as a campaign to promote ethics and equality in gaming journalism, GamerGate has taken an ugly turn. Remember in school when Jimmy was caught eating candy, and ruined snack time for the entire class? It’s kind of like that; GamerGate still wants to promote ethics, but one faction has decided to take their trolling to such an extreme, that it has made me question a community that I have always enjoyed being a part of. Prominent females in the gaming community such as game developer Zoe Quinn and geek icon Felicia Day have been subjected to threats including rape, death, and “crippling injuries that’s never going to fully heal, a good solid injury to the knees. I’d say brain damage but we don’t want to make it so she ends up to [sic] retarded to fear us” while their male counterparts have had no such threats when speaking up against the trolls. Their personal information has been released, and they have gone on the record that they are afraid for their lives, and these people have made them go in hiding. Read Day’s response to GamerGate here.
I have no clue what it’s like to be in their shoes. I do know how hard it is to be a female in a male -dominant field. I am an avid gamer, I have been to midnight releases for games, went too long without sleep because of games, and have had weeklong diets that consisted mainly of Cheetos and Mountain Dew (yes, that stereotype holds true), but I do not game online and am far from a hardcore gamer. I do however own a plethora of Star Trek shirts, too many comic books to count, and have a borderline sick obsession with Lord of the Rings. I play tabletop games, go to Comic-Cons, and have Anime crushes. I am a geek and I am proud of it. I have been lucky enough to find a group of friends that share my common interests, and they have been fully accepting and never once questioned if I was geeky enough to know what I was talking about.
This does go without saying that, I have been doubted and criticized because I am a girl with a hobby that is mainly male-dominant. I have dealt with questions such as: “Are you at the comic book store to pick up something for your boyfriend?” “Did you actually read the comics, or do you only like The Avengers because of Chris Evans?” “Oh you’re dressing up, what are you going to be, sexy Batman, sexy Robin?” I have been snubbed in game lines, god forbid I am ever the first in line to pick up a game. I have been tested on my knowledge, and have been given a look of surprise when they come to find out I actually know my shit. I have had to prove myself and my passion over and over again to a community that really should be accepting of everyone, when, in reality, I’m just a normal girl who loves dragons.
I think I can speak for the majority of geeks when I say that most of us grew up bullied. We were the outcasts, people weren’t sure why were different, why we didn’t like sports, why we didn’t care about getting the guy/girl, we probably didn’t go to all the cool parties, we were looked at differently. The Internet made it possible to find geeks near and far for us to share our passions with. Now we are turning against each other, we are doing to one another, what people have been doing to us our entire lives. We have become less accepting, when we should be the most accepting, because we know firsthand what it feels like to be shunned for doing what we love. I have never been ashamed to be labeled a geek, now this whole controversy is making me question if it’s something I want to be associated with. Every community has their radicals, and the Gamergate trolls have made it seem like — to us and everyone else — that “geeks” are, in fact, incapable of social discourse.
So I ask you all to remember, remember what it feels like to open a fresh game out of the package, remember that feeling of going to your first comic-con, remember the feeling of seeing your favorite superhero come to life, remember the excitement of meeting someone who has the same passion as you, remember to be accepting of one another no matter what their gender is, and above all remember to let your geek flag fly.