The most frightening words anyone can type online these days are “Gamer Gate," according to a recent Tumblr post by popular actress and video gamer Felicia Day, who is pleading for tolerance and an end to extreme cyberbullying.
“I have tried to retweet a few of the articles I’ve seen dissecting the issue in support, but personally I am terrified to be doxxed [having one’s personal documents, address and family information maliciously made public] for even typing the words “Gamer Gate,” Ms. Day wrote in her Tumblr post this week from Canada where she was at work on an upcoming episode of the popular TV drama series Supernatural.
Day and numerous others have been plagued online by malicious cyber ghosts. Her post details how in real life, she recently crossed the street to avoid two young men wearing T-shirts with popular video game logos. Pre Gamergate, Day would have crossed over to meet them, she writes.
“I have allowed a handful of anonymous people censor me. They have forced me, out of fear, into seeing myself a potential victim. And that makes me loathe not THEM, but MYSELF. “
Gamergate essentially began with the reasonable purpose of protesting what some gamers viewed as unethical journalistic practices among those who write or otherwise produce video blogs and podcasts about the video gaming community.
While the Sturm und Drang as largely been contained to the gaming community since its inception, roughly three months ago, postings by cross-over celebrities who straddle the line between the shadow worlds online and television - such as Day- have brought Gamergate under what might be called “the eye of Sauron” aka mainstream media.
On Tuesday, The Guardian newspaper reported that factions of the movement have allegedly become a frightening online bullying force that singles out women.
“The recent uproar – said to be over ethics in journalism but focused mostly on targeting outspoken women who aren’t journalists at all – is just the last, desperate gasp of misogynists facing an unwelcoming future. But this particular bitter end, while long overdue, is loud, angry and extremely dangerous,” according to The Guardian.
The article lists female game developers who have been targeted by those claiming to be a part of Gamergate saying: “Brianna Wu and Zoe Quinn have fled their homes in fear after a terrifying barrage of rape and death threats. Feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian was forced to cancel a talk last week at Utah State University after the school received an email promising a “Montreal Massacre-style” mass shooting if she was allowed to speak.”
In her post this week Day admits to having been driven offline by the cyber bullying.
“I have been terrified of inviting a deluge of abusive and condescending tweets into my timeline,” Day writes. “I did one simple @ reply to one of the main victims several weeks back, and got a flood of things I simply couldn’t stand to read directed at me. I had to log offline for a few days until it went away.”
This is reminiscent of the abuse directed at Robin William’s daughter in mid-August on Twitter by a pack of “trolls” after his suicide. Trolls – those who post on people’s social media feeds for the sole purpose of causing unrest or inflicting random emotional damage.
Ms. Williams was driven offline and Twitter swiftly reacted by amending its policies regarding abuse.
Despite her fear of reprisals Day gave a voice to all those who simply love to game, who seek community and acceptance among their peers.
She asked those who are shouting to take a breath and listen to reason. Day did what many peace seekers have done before her - walking, unarmed, palms up into the lion’s den and setting an example of how frightened people can become heroes.
Day calling for an end to hostilities that appear to be doing little more than vilifying the entire gaming community.
So to myself and to everyone else who operates out of love not vengeance: Don’t abandon games,” Day writes. “Don’t cross the street. Gaming needs you. To create, to play, to connect.”