Dear Decaturish – An open letter about GamerGate

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt October 17, 2014
Indie game developer Zoe Quinn was the target of a "virulent" harassment campaign after her ex-boyfriend made allegations against her that included her cheating on him with a journalist for Kotaku. Source: Wikimedia commons

Indie game developer Zoe Quinn was the target of a “virulent” harassment campaign after her ex-boyfriend made allegations against her that included her cheating on him with a journalist for Kotaku. Source: Wikimedia commons

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Dear Decaturish,

“GamerGate” all started because of a break up. A guy blogs about his game designer ex-girlfriend sleeping with a member of the media in an effort to gain favorable reviews for her game.

So let’s examine this claim of it being about journalistic integrity shall we?

A woman, who clearly has a reasonably high self-esteem (I say this because she has succeeded in designing and building a game in a very male dominated industry) slept with a guy. Her motives for doing so may or may not have been to gain something aside from a night (or several) nights of good fun with a member of the opposite sex that happens to be a member of the media. If she did do it to gain favorable reviews for her game, so what? It’s not like men haven’t been doing the same thing as a means to get what they want for centuries.

So the jilted ex’s blog goes up and here is where it sparks a wildfire that has resulted in several women being harassed and threatened to the point that they fear for their safety and have fled their own homes.  And over what? The need to dominate, bully, “put people in their place” and undervalue the female members of our species.  This is the part when the worst of our kind show their true colors.

For those that aren’t involved with or pay attention to the gaming, comic and all out “nerd” communities I feel that a bit of history is needed. For as long as these industries and communities have been around there has been an overwhelming sense of misogyny and male dominated entitlement. All of the writers/developers were men and with the exception of Wonder Woman, all of the characters that weren’t relegated to side kick status were male, though I suppose Pepper Potts really did run Tony Starks life but she still operated from another role female characters were relegated to, love interest or “girl Friday’s.” So we hapless women complained, and were told to do something about it.

So we did. Women opened their own game development companies, started writing their own comics and everything was right with the world right? Wrong.  The bullying and harassment of women in these industries and communities isn’t something new that was started with “GamerGate.” It has been ongoing, though now, because of “GamerGate” more attention has been called to it, and rightfully so.

Now for an admission on my part: I’m a female gamer, but I’m not really big on pc/system games, nor am I a huge comic book fan. I tend to lean more towards board games and table top or live action roleplaying games as my niche in the nerd world, but my fourteen year old daughter does. She is a huge pc/system gamer, and she loves comic books and Manga so even though I don’t play the games or read the comics, I have noticed the misogynistic nature of many of these things, and that saddens me but I know that people, mostly women yes but not only women, have been working to change this.

Though now, a group of trolls given courage by the anonymity that the internet affords has decided to stop even this slow progress in its tracks by bullying and intimidating those working to make a more inclusive industry and community. It seems as though they fear that if women can succeed in making female characters be seen as more than decoration or victims that they will lose their outlet for their sick need to dominate women in a way that is unhealthy and uses no safe-words.

It can be argued that this is America, we have the right to free speech, and that these men are simply exercising it, and this is correct. However, the Westboro Baptist Church exercises their right to free speech and while everyone hates them and what they stand for, we recognize and protect their rights to their own views.

So here is where I exercise my own right to free speech. You aren’t tough. You aren’t men. You are scared little boys that are living in the basement of your parents’ house, playing games and writing hate mail because you would much rather blame your lack of meaningful employment on that *Bitch* in the office that got you fired because your off color and sexist jokes were just too much for the ego that “Feminazi” to handle or whatever you tell yourself to feel better.

Everyone deserves a seat at the proverbial table. Everyone deserves to be represented in a fashion that is respectful and celebrates us as people, be it in front of a computer writing code for the next game, in line at the comic book store, or with a game controller in their hand trying to win the next “boss” fight. So what if some of us have boobs?

Miranda Rosenblum

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

  • Rob

    I agree wholeheartedly with the letter, but I have to disagree with the third paragraph. The game being discussed was never reviewed by the media member in question. This entire wave of sexism is trying to claim it’s relevance on questioning the journalistic integrity on a piece that was never written.

    • underscorex

      Real talk – if you want to talk about journalistic integrity w/r/t gaming, start with every top-shelf gaming news website that regurgitates press releases and gives fawning reviews to every major release in exchange for continued early access to said releases.

      But no, there was a GIRL in OUR INDUSTRY so time to bring out the death threats. Pathetic, and typical of people in power when their power is challenged. I wonder how many whites in the 1960s accused black people of burning crosses on their own lawns for attention….

  • Isobel_Riel

    To get to the crux of the Gamergate narrative vs. the media narrative, you have to understand the difference between anecdotal and quantitative evidence. Anecdotal evidence is, as you probably know, based on personal accounts of events, and because of that, it can offer deep, personal insights into an event. Quantitative evidence is, as you can probably gather, based on the quantity of an event occurring.

    There is plenty of anecdotal evidence out there of Gamergaters being misogynistic, condoning and partaking in harassment, and doxxing (releasing personal information without consent) women. This is where most of the media is at. Having said that, people fail to understand that, assuming that the average GamerGater has tweeted 5 times about the issue, Gamergate is literally the size of Toledo, and has had nearly 1.5 million tweets, let alone other forms of communication.

    Hard numbers do not back the notion that GamerGate is a harassment movement. Out of the 1.48 million tweets in Gamergate, only 22,348 mention Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn, or Leigh Alexander (1.5%), and only 13,512 use the c-word, b-word, “kill”, “murder”, or “rape” (<1%).

    Are there other threats that get made that use other language that wouldn't get picked up by that graph? Absolutely. So, let's hypothetically consider that a woman gets harassed by a GamerGater every 10 seconds. This would mean there would be over 8,600 instances of harassment per day, which is a massive over-exaggeration compared to what's actually going on, but we'll roll with it as an absolute worst case scenario.

    The GamerGate hashtag was created on August 28th, and it's currently October 17th, so the hashtag has been going on for 50 days. Even if a woman gets harassed every 10 seconds, which it's not nearly that much IRL, over 70% of all tweets would not have been harassment.

    If this was a hate movement, we'd be better at hating people. We wouldn't have people spending 5 hours to spam pictures on 8chan so that Zoe Quinn's personal information would get kicked off the last page on the board and removed. We wouldn't be tracking down a Brazillian games journalist who made death threats to Anita Sarkeesian and reporting him to authorities. We definitely wouldn't have donated over $30,000 to help a woman design a game, or $12,000 to PACER, an anti-bullying charity, or over $5,000 for Suicide Prevention.

    We have a lot of reasons to be mad, and to give you the context you'd require to fully understand why, it'll take a bit of time, which you'll hopefully give us now that you understand that we're not a hate group.

  • LittleDecatur

    I don’t know much about gaming much less GameGate. This seems more like a rant about someone who feels like her civil liberties were violated. I read this blog this morning and then ran across this article later today….

    Jade Raymond who is female “served as producer on the original Assassin’s Creed, and worked as an executive producer on Assassin’s Creed II. Other credits include Watch Dogs and Splinter Cell: Blacklist. She has served as Ubisoft Toronto’s managing director since 2009.”

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