Victims of Gamergate Need to Take A Stronger Stance

Reflections of a former cop writer on Gamergate.

Reflections of a former cop writer on Gamergate.

Gamergate was once again in the news early this week after a critic of the movement, Israel Galvez, became a victim of SWATing.

While not officially confirmed, Gamergate advocates have been suspected of making the call since others like Galvez have been the victims of SWATing. This was followed by Dateline‘s report on the movement as it told the story of what Anita Sarkeesian and others have endured.

Based on who you ask, Gamergate is either a sexist movement that targets women in gaming or a community trying to hold the media accountable. In all honesty, Gamergate is not a sexist movement in same way that Birthers are not racist.

Such trolling has been an issue in the gaming world but it has gotten real ugly in the last several months. The biggest reason that the Gamergate has gained so much strength has been because those who have been targeted by the movement have failed to stand strong. 

Legitimizing Threats

Despite the movement having to rely on clowns using dummy accounts, most of their targets have given them legitimacy by taking the threats seriously. As someone who had been in the same predicament, I respect what they are doing but can not respect how they have allowed fear to define who they are.

Many years ago I took an unpopular stance on a controversial issue and received some threatening emails because of it. No it wasn’t about how women are portrayed in video games, it was about the arrest of Phuong Ho by the San Jose Police.   

Back in 2009, the police were called to a dorm after Ho allegedly threatened a roommate with a knife. When he failed to cooperate with the officers, they had to subdue him while the incident was being recorded.

This all taking place in the Bay Area, civil rights and student groups were quick to denounce the actions of the officers as an act of police brutality. Obviously some even accused the officers of being racist (because all cops are being racist when doing their job).

I was among the few who defended the actions of the San Jose Police, given my background as a cop reporter. However those who disagreed with my stance attacked my character while a few radicals sent death threats.

One clown even emailed me a 500 word letter calling me an animal, threatening to harm me, and wanting to report me to President Obama (half of the letter made no sense). The second half of the letter was more of a diatribe about his sad life and something about war and murder (again no spell check was used). Unfortunately for these trolls, I was not intimidated and the article is still available for everyone to read.

I even kept that stupid email as a souvenir while passing it to friends who wanted a good laugh. This was not the only time thugs have tried to harass or intimidate me because of an article I wrote.

Being a Crime Writer

Long before becoming a video game writer, I was a political commentator and crime writer for La Voz Weekly at De Anza College. I had the pleasure of following the brave officers who protected the campus while writing about several incidents. However, some people didn’t like their arrest being on the front page and emailed me their outrage. Despite what my advisor would say, I never would take any of the hate mail seriously.

Despite the danger, I do miss being a crime reporter but I will publish an OpEd’s about a controversial arrest from time to time. I still get hate mail by clowns threatening me but most of it gets deleted.

While I never had anyone post my address online or called a SWAT team on, there were moments I did fear for own well-being. However, I refused to show weakness and stood strong in the face of attempted bullying.

What victims of Gamergate have failed to realize is that the majority of these trolls are most likely childish teens who cannot back up their threats. It needs to be noted that targets of this fringe movement are feminist game critics living in the Western world, not civil rights activists in a Third World regime.

Those who have stood up to injustice have always met with hostile opposition that put them at risk. Yet they never surrendered to fear and kept fighting on until the change they wanted was achieved.

Rather than show fear, these figures should follow Alanah Pearce‘s example by tracking down these trolls and reporting them to their mothers.

Following the example of Charlie Hebdo, feminist game critics need to take a stance that shows they will not give-in to the threats. In the words of the great Sir. Winston S. Churchill, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” Critics like Sarkeesian need to focus more on their message of change and less on the trolls.  

About the author

Stan Rezaee

Stan Rezaee is a gamer from the Bay Area who has been writing about the medium for over five years. He is an old school gamer who still plays with his N64, PlayStation 2 and GameCube. When on his PC, he could still be found playing classic Counter-Strike with friends.