Felicia Day is one of the most high-profile women in the gaming community. She’s an actress, comedian and the founder of Geek & Sundry, a community and network that specializes in all things geek — recently acquired by Legendary, the same company that swept up Nerdist and Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls. She created the webseries “The Guild” and currently appears on the CW show “Supernatural.”
Until Wednesday, Day had largely avoided the fray surrounding Gamergate. She sparingly retweeted a few articles about the subject, but by and large, one of the biggest and most well-respected female geeks on the Internet remained silent on the issue.
Day was worried that if she spoke up about Gamergate, she would be viciously harassed by the same torch-bearing misogynists who have targeted feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian and developers Brianna Wu and Zoe Quinn.
Well, she was right.
Just minutes after she published a blog post called “Crossing the Street” expressing her fears about speaking publicly about Gamergate, someone posted Day’s personal information — now deleted — in the comments section below the post. In it, she wrote how she encountered two men wearing “Halo” and “Call of Duty” T-shirts. Rather than approach them, or acknowledge them with a smile, as she normally would have done, Day said she went out of her way to avoid the pair. She questioned the sense of kinship she felt with other gamers — a sense of community now replaced with doubt and fear. “A small voice of doubt in my brain now suspected that those guys and I might not be comrades after all,” Day wrote. “That they might not greet me with reflected friendliness, but contempt.”
I have not said many public things about Gamer Gate. I have tried to leave it alone, aside from a few @ replies on Twitter that journalists have decided to use in their articles, siding me against the hashtag. Why have I remained mostly silent?
Self-protection and fear. …
The attacks I experienced over the years were NOTHING compared to people who are the victims of these attacks now, but I still thought early on during the Gamer Gate phenomenon, “These trolls will dissipate into the night like they always do, it will be fine.”
But they have not dissipated. And because of the frightening emotions and actions attached to what has happened over the last month, the events are sure to have a long-lasting affect on gaming as a culture. The fact that it has affected me, to the point where I decided to cross the street last weekend away from those gamers, was heartbreaking. Because I realized my silence on the issue was not motivated by some grand strategy, but out of fear that the issue has created about speaking out.
— DreadfulGutBlood (@DrunkenGeeBee) October 22, 2014
These intimidation tactics — rape and death threats, publicizing personal information such as addresses and phone numbers, constant harassment on Twitter — have become de rigueur for a movement of gamers, nearly all men, who operate under the auspices of exposing an ethics conspiracy in gaming journalism. In actuality, it is a crusade against feminism, feminist critiques of games and gamer culture, and diversifying said culture. Part of its aim is to silence the voices it disagrees with rather than engage in anything resembling reasoned debate — which is why Sarkeesian and Wu were driven from their homes, and Sarkeesian was forced to cancel a lecture at Utah State following threats of a school shooting.
#Gamergate, right now, is literally the KKK saying “Yeah, but, we have bake sales on Saturdays. What hoods?”
— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) October 23, 2014
Former NFL punter Chris Kluwe, an avid gamer who has been emphatically anti-Gamergate, stepped up to publicly support Day.
“Holy s—. You f—ing losers in #Gamergate claim it’s about ethics, and then dox a woman who speaks up in her comments section? Get f—ed,” he tweeted. Later, he continued: “And for the record, none of you f—ing #Gamergate tools tried to dox me, even after I tore you a new one. I’m not even a tough target. Instead, you go after a woman who wrote why your movement concerns her. F— #Gamergate and anyone aligned with it.”
It’s not difficult to divine what Gamergate aims to do next: Attack the media. It’s already successfully convinced Intel to withdraw its ad support of the site GamaSutra, and recently went after Gawker media for what it views as unfavorable coverage. Caitlin Dewey explains, with a list of other Gamergate targets, on the Intersect.