Advance View: Gamers reflect larger society

The vile spectre of the Montreal Massacre was raised again this week as an unknown would-be terrorist threatened a mass murder of feminists in Utah.

The threats were against Anita Sarkeesian, a Toronto-born cultural critic who was planning to speak at Utah State University. She had to withdraw after local police couldn’t guarantee her safety due to local concealed weapon carry laws. The pathetic goon who caused all this actually signed his letter with the name of Marc Lepine, the mass murderer who killed 14 women at a Montreal University in 1989.

What did Sarkeesian do to so enrage some anonymous halfwit? She critiques video games.

Sarkeesian has been the target of an endless flow of rape and death threats over the last few years because of her articles and online videos pointing out that in many games, women exist only as damsels in distress, scantily clad background decoration, or simply to be killed off and avenged by the male characters.

The cretins behind these campaigns against Sarkeesian and others have recently rallied behind the label GamerGate, claiming that they are standing up for, of all things, integrity in game reviewing and journalism. In practice, typing #GamerGate into Twitter will summon a legion of misogynist trolls out of the ether. The GamerGate troops have managed to harass several women, including Sarkeesian and game developers, into leaving their homes. Their addresses and names of family members were publicized, along with graphic threats to kill them.

If all this sounds incredibly juvenile – sad man-children afraid of icky girls – that’s because it is. But it’s also something that virtually every woman who writes online about games, comics, sci-fi, sports, or almost any other allegedly male sphere of culture has to deal with. 

This isn’t a problem with games, it’s a problem with society. Those of us who oppose this vile behaviour are in the majority, and we should stand up together to oppose the trolls and support their targets.

– M.C.

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