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Hiding Behind “Ethics”: The “Gamergate” Controversy

by on October 29, 2014

One recent controversy that has become a hot button issue in both the gaming and journalism communities is, “Gamergate.”  A specific attack on game developer, Zoe Quinn by her ex-boyfriend sparked the issue, but what occurred following this attack, is something that’s been happening for ages.

To summarize, Quinn released a game on the popular website, Steam, this past August. Following this release her ex-boyfriend, Eron Gjoni, published a blog post claiming that Quinn had an affair with gaming journalist, Nathan Grayson. He suggested that her relationship with Grayson led to him posting a positive review of her game. He believed that this went against journalistic ethics. However, these allegations were false. Despite the fact that Grayson and Quinn were romantically involved, Grayson never once wrote any article regarding her game.

These claims proved to be extremely harmful to Quinn, who received numerous death and rape threats, but also to other women who criticized the actions of these misogynistic, male gamers. One game developer and critic, Brianna Wu, had her home address leaked and eventually had to move due to the threats she was receiving.

What this entire controversy boils down to is simple misogyny that has been present in the gaming community since its very inception. Many of these gamers claim that this isn’t a gender issue, but an issue of journalistic ethics. This is completely false, due to many factors, including the aforementioned fact that Grayson never wrote an article about Quinn in the first place. Another factor is that many, prominent male figures, such as Wil Wheaton, have spoken out against this issue and haven’t received any major threats to their well-being. Meanwhile, female critics, such as actress, Felicia Day, have been strongly harassed.

Overall, Gamergate is an incredibly sexist issue, but it’s also a problem for gaming journalists. There was no violation of journalism ethics here, yet, numerous attackers are hiding behind their claim that this “ethical dilemma” is the main reason for their threats. They are doing this just so they can appear to be decent people, when in reality all they’re doing is threatening innocent people for no good reason. How far are they willing to go in order to keep up this facade of actually caring about journalism ethics? And even if there were an ethical dilemma involved in this controversy, would any kind of threats be in any way warranted?

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