Sports scandals, political uproar, plagues, social injustice, and suffering—in terms of sheer online vitriol and animosity, the video game controversy “#gamergate” seems like it swamps them all. Even though I don't play a log of video games myself, it's been an alternately fascinating and horrifying spectacle. Partly that's just because when there's a mess online it can be hard to look away. But mostly it's because the anger and abuse around video games echoes the anger and abuse I'm used to hearing about in a community I am more familiar with—comics.
Gamergate, for those who have blessedly missed it, started back in August when online trolls began attacking indie game developer Zoe Quinn over her sex life. That same month, feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian released the latest in her series of YouTube videos analyzing sexism in video games; she received credible death threats and was forced out of her home. Many game journalists were repulsed by this outpouring of misogynist abuse and wrote articles excoriating the games community. Leigh Alexander for instance called those attacking Quinn and Sarkeesian "These obtuse shitslingers, these wailing hyper-consumers, these childish internet-arguers," and argued that games were attracting a more diverse audience than just misogynistic white guys. Many gamers were in turn furious at being labeled as violent woman-hating jerks and argued that games journalists were corrupt colluders out to get them. They started the hashtag #gamergate to push for what they called ethics in journalism, and to push back against "SJWs," or social justice warrior critical of misogyny and lack of representation in gaming.