Maybe you’ve been following this topic, or maybe you know that your kids have been mentioning the phrase. Do you get what it’s actually about? If not, don’t feel bad; it’s a complicated topic that covers more than really makes sense at a glance. But if you’re curious about what your kids or your nerdier friends are talking about, here’s a brief explanation that will let you chat with them about it.
The hashtag was created members by of the video game community online to talk about basically two things:
- Journalism covering the gaming industry and
- Women in the gaming industry.
At this point you’re probably asking what in the world these two things have to do with each other. Well, let’s go a little deeper.
Journalism in the gaming industry: gamers are worried about the kind of information that is being reported to them by ezines and articles online. When journalists in the gaming industry seem to be more interested in being buddies with game developers than they are with thorough reporting on the games that people are paying for, it can be upsetting. It’s like worrying that Consumer Report is telling you to buy a fridge because it’s the best fridge on the market, but after you buy it you find that it’s a cruddy fridge and Consumer Report got a little kickback from the fridge manufacturer. A lot of gamers put a lot of money into their hobby, and want to feel that reporting on it is done fairly and with the consumer’s interests in mind. So they’re using #GamerGate to express their disappointment and ambition for change.
Makes sense so far, right?
But here’s where it gets messy. Rather than get into all the ridiculous and torrid tale of how #GamerGate began with one journalist’s unprofessional tirade against an ex-girlfriend (feel free to read a more detailed explanation here) I will sum up how this relates to women in the gaming industry: #GamerGaters are arguing that they are victims of discrimination. How? Well, they’re upset that women and minorities have been pointing out how game characters and game developers are male and white–despite how all ethnicities play video games and women now make up 47% of gamers in the U.S. The viewpoint of #GamerGaters is that women are represented plenty, thanks. And women who argue otherwise, like Anita Sarkeesian and Brianna Wu, find themselves brutally harassed online until they no longer feel safe in their own homes.
#GamerGate is a complex issue that lots of people find themselves talking about, whether they’re interested in the gaming industry, journalistic integrity or institutionalized sexism. Don’t worry if you’re still a little confused: it’s a really complicated story. If you know of someone struggling with the topic and want to understand it better, take a look at this list of stories about it.
Do you have an opinion about #GamerGate? Share with us in the comments!