I really didn't want to have to talk about this. I'm not a confrontational person by nature. I much prefer to be diplomatic and avoid saying anything that could be divisive. But ignoring the problem is part of what's led to things getting as bad as they have. So we're going to talk about it. Or at least I am, right here and now.
You've probably already guessed what I'm referring to. I'm not going to use the stupid term that's been coined for the whole mess because a) The original 'scandal' that it refers to is a tempest in a teapot and b) I refuse to contribute to the tired nomenclature. Watergate was called Watergate because the apartments that were broken into were the Watergate Apartments. Slapping 'gate' on the end of something to make it a thing is just old and tired now. Please stop. I digress.
A woman made a game. Already this was enough to get her harassed by the scum of the internet. It happened to Jade Raymond nearly a decade ago and now it happened to Zoe Quinn. Then her ex-boyfriend decided to drag their personal past out and throw it up on the internet, and the hate parade really got going.
The level of hate on display is absurd, and at the same time nothing remotely new. This has been going on for years. Those responsible for the harassment claim to be trying to defend gaming from some horrible feminist-led conspiracy to control the gaming press. A lot of them probably even believe what they're saying. Conspiracy theorists usually really do think they've uncovered a secret truth. But what this is really about is fear.
Video games have historically been viewed as a male space. In reality, there've always been women playing video games, but men have been the majority and the medium primarily served that audience. Over the years that view has been challenged. More and more women are playing games, making games, and talking about games. At the same time, women in general have been less willing to silently endure the constant background radiation of sexism that society exposes them to. Put that together, and the He-Man Woman Haters contingent of gamers find their sacred space in danger. In response they lash out, desperately trying to protect their ability to be sexist pigs on the internet, and just make things worse for everyone.
But here's the thing; they're going to lose. These toxic gamers are a tiny subset of gaming as a whole. They seem bigger than they are because of their bluster and bombastic rhetoric, but they're in the minority. And I think they've finally gone too far and shown the rest of us that this isn't something that can just be ignored. It won't be quick, and it won't be easy. It'll take those of us who just want to play games and have fun getting out of our comfort zone and confronting them. But it'll happen. I have faith.