Why GamerGate Is Important

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The video game industry is under fire recently because of GamerGate, and allegations of harassment of female players and developers.

It's hard to ignore what's happening in gaming: Several women in video game design have allegedly been sent death and rape threats for their work in the field.

Aside from an obsession with Doom for a few years in the 1990s, I don't pretend to know a lot about modern gaming culture, but I do feel an affinity toward women who work in nontraditional fields and are in a minority in their industry. These women in gaming have come under fire for challenging the way women have been portrayed in some games.

Is the situation in gaming similar to what some of the first women to play and watch sports experienced -- a resistance to their presence as women?

I spoke to some women who love and work in sports and also play video games to give me a sense of the difference.

"There are times I think sports is ahead of the curve," Yardbarker online editor Sarah Sprague said. "Sports already went through this a long time ago. Leagues cater to female fans because they want to sell them things."

It turns out the misogyny women in the gaming industry are experiencing is way beyond what women in sports, as a group, experience. Here are some numbers Newsweek put together to assess whether GamerGate was an ethics movement, as proponents say, or tacit harassment. Judging from tweets and hashtags, the reporter found more women were targeted with negative tweets than the journalists the ethics arm critiques.

Another woman, who didn't want to be named because of safety concerns, said she played online games such as First World and City of Heroes until she experienced harassment after another player tracked her Internet address.

"It's an environment that has long supported online harassment," she said.

This New York Times piece reports actress Felicia Day wrote an essay about the situation, and almost immediately, a commenter posted what was noted as her home address.

Women in sports do get trolled online, but rarely does it escalate to the point that they leave their homes or have a speech cancelled due to a threat of mass shooting, as in the recent case of Anita Sarkeesian.

"Being a sports fan can be tough for women, but I think it's a generational thing," Sprague said. "Games are different -- they've always been geared more toward men. So if women say, 'We'd like to see fewer women in bikinis shooting things,' that's going at the core."

Also, she notes, the anonymity of the web makes it pretty easy to threaten someone.

In this case, the woman who was harassed ultimately decided to give up online gaming, though she continues to play console games. She still is into sports, however, and works in the industry without issue.

"I hate to compare what women in gaming go through to what women in sports go through because neither is acceptable," she said.

As a mother and, more importantly, a human with eyes, I was totally freaked out when I came across a page of Halloween costumes for elementary-age girls and noticed some included fishnets. As a roller derby player, I love fishnets -- but they have a place. Seven-year-olds encouraged to dress like Batgirl with fishnets? Wonder Woman with fishnets? It's gross.

It's bad enough we force adult women to dress like bordello owners or else invent their own costumes (I like to wear all yellow and claim I'm a banana -- no stealing!). Sexualizing little girls is not cool.

Former Clemson coach Tommy Bowden doesn't think Condoleezza Rice should be on the College Football Playoff Committee because he's a jealous former coach. Maybe you think that's petty, but I'm tired of listening to men rag on her when they are far less qualified than Rice to use big words in public.

How does Florida State keep getting into The Vitriolist? This week it's because running back Karlos Williams is under investigation for alleged domestic battery. The NFL's policy has no bearing on college football, but each school would be wise to have a solid policy regarding allegations of sexual assault and domestic violence. It is federal law.

I'm really okay with ignoring when KimYe shows up to a sporting event. Unless the couple plays cornerback, in which case the Jets could use them both.

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