If you haven’t been following the story, a group of people have banded behind the Twitter hashtag Gamergate and perpetrated a number of terrorist and criminal activities. But Gamergate is just the public face of an undercurrent in today’s culture. Women developers and journalists in the electronic games community have received death threats, rape threats, their personal information has been hacked and revealed to the Internet at large … the list goes on and on and on.
“I was literally watching 8chan go after me in their specific chatroom for Gamergate,” [Brianna Wu] told Kotaku today. “They posted my address, and within moments I got that death threat.”
And I mean it when I say that she is the latest target. Other targets have been:
These are just a few of the ones we know about. There have been many, many more that haven’t made their stories public or haven’t been public figures to begin with.
This criminal, misogynist behavior is nothing new in the tech industry. Over seven years ago, in March of 2007, Kathy Sierra, a co-creator of the popular Head First series of technical books, canceled a speaking engagement because of exactly this kind of harassment and subsequently removed herself from the public Internet until just last year. Oh … except she has chosen to leave Twitter just this month due to … you guessed it! Even more harassment.
She had this to say in her recent blog post about the subject:
the first threat had nothing to do with what I actually made or said in my books, blog posts, articles, and conference presentations. The real problem — as my first harasser described — was that others were beginning to pay attention to me.
And this seems to be the crux of it. A lot of these people seem to be upset that people are paying attention to women. People are listening to what they have to say. People are listening when these women say that something needs to change in games, gaming and the tech industry in general! What are some of these angry people doing about it? Everything in their power, legal and illegal, moral and immoral, to shut these women up.
Brianna Wu has taken a stand. She has refused to back down. She has continued to speak out about these issues and, because of the attention all of this has gotten, has been given an international platform to speak out about them by being invited to speak on NBC, CBS, the BBC and many others. I’ve listened to all of this going on.
Y’know what? She’s convinced me.1 Things need to change. Far, far beyond the fact that this violence against and abuse of women, physical, emotional, mental, professional, financial and otherwise needs to stop. The games and tech industries need to become more inclusive and beyond that they need to stop being actively poisonous towards women and other marginalized groups.
How are we going to get there from here? I don’t know yet. But I’ll start with this …
I support Brianna Wu.
It sucks that these horrible, reprehensible actions were the catalyst that finally got me to publicly say something about this. But in my experience people’s beliefs are either influenced or chosen. And more often than not, when someone chooses a belief it is because of a personal connection … while their beliefs are influenced subconsciously. These events have reached me on a personal level. ↩