School shooting threat over Sarkeesian talk

2 min read


Anita Sarkeesian. There seems to be no middle ground when it comes to the controversial woman behind the Tropes vs Women videos. Some think she’s one of the most important voices in video games criticism, while others think she’s an attention whore out to destroy the good name of videogames. Whatever your stance, there’s just no way to justify the sort of threats and abuse she, and other voices in the industry are receiving.

Gamergate is a headless, directionless movement that according to some is supposed to be about ethics in Game Journalism but is increasingly becoming more and more of a hate campaign . Under that banner, somebody threatened to disrupt Ms Sarkeesian’s latest talk at a University in Utah with wanton violence.

Utah State University received an anonymous threat advising the educator to cancel the talk, or face the risk of  “the deadliest school shooting in American history,” the Standard Examiner says.

“If you do not cancel her talk, a Montreal Massacre style attack will be carried out against attendees, as well as students and staff at the nearby Women’s Center,” reads the sinister email. The author, reportedly a student at the school, says that feminism has ruined his life.

“I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs,” the message continues. “You might be foolish enough to just beef up security at the event, but that won’t save you … One way or another, I’m going to make sure they die.”

Because of Utah (and indeed the USA’s) odd gun-carrying laws, police were unable to ensure there were no guns at the event, resulting in its cancellation. Hands were tied; Police aren’t legally allowed to search for concealed guns.

I’m not a fan of Sarkeesian’s approach, though I recognise the importance of her work. That said, threats of violence – whether empty or acted upon – because of something somebody said about videogames is frankly insane. If somebody says something you don’t like about games, and that’s enough to get you so worked up that you contemplate shooting and killing innocent people, there’s far more wrong with you than an overzealous approach to games.

For years, we gamers have been trying to disassociate school shootings from videogames – and now people are threatening to perpetuate them because of videogames? This is the sort of stuff  even the rational side of Gamergate proponents will be mixed with.  The sane and rational arguments behind Gamergate are still worth examining.. Yes, there very probably are ethics questions that need to be raised, but I think it’s time to do so under a banner that isn’t inextricably linked to misogyny and hate.

Last Updated: October 15, 2014

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I’m old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time – they were capable of being masterpieces. I’m here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

  • konfab aka derp

    Funny whilst so much money has been donated for fighting the supposed misogyny in computer games, not a cent has been spent fighting actual misogyny in countries such as Saudi Arabia.

    • Sageville

      Well, there you would be fighting against the actual law and religious laws.

      When government is the baddie you need to step lightly or face imprisonment.

      • Indeed. Not to mention cultural norms.

        • Sageville

          My parents live in Riyadh so I have a little bit of a personal perspective about this.

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      You sir… just won the internet! #ThumbsUp

  • cookiemonster

    Wow….people really are taking things too far.

  • Spaffy

    Some people…

    *Inserts GTA joke here.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    Because when someone says something you don’t agree with about your hobby the first resort is always domestic terrorism – who thinks like this?

    • Captain JJ Underleyened

      I agree with this. Also, video games make you violent.

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        Yes. It’s obvious. Let’s all thank our glorious #gamersgate brothers for undoing years of work convincing the general population that adults form the main gaming demographic, not socially inadequate with rage & impulse control issues. Well done on your crusade against this tyranny. We certainly wouldn’t want to have heated/rational/spirited/emotional debates about the many issues that impact on our hobby. No, that’s silly. If someone says something we don’t like let’s threaten to not just rape & kill that person, let’s threaten anyone who’s in their general vicinity too! Because that’s how real gamers deal with things they don’t like. Well, then I’m not a gamer & I’ll never be one. THANKS FUCK WITS.


        • Captain JJ Underleyened

          We don’t need a special club to define gaming for us. We buy the games, we enjoy the games, we talk about the games. Why should it be any more complex than that?
          Apart from the fact that some media and governments love to blame games for when something goes wrong.

        • Rags

          Hmm it would be foolish to think one sociopath/troll/pr agency is the representative of gamers critical of Anita work and the shitty journalism standards in the gaming media?

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            No, not at all. I think it’s foolish to even float the idea such a threat is “trolling” or “pr”. It’s also not just one isolated incident now is it.

          • Rags

            No, but really how representative is it? All these threats can come from one person for all we know. Say one council member of who is suspected to be DA, is corrupt, does that make all of the DA corrupt?
            I am floating the idea, because gaming journalism does not exist. My idea before evidence either way is equally plausible. Which is my point, we should be careful to make judgement of motivation before we know the facts.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Fair point, but enough single incidents give rise to a trend – which is not be good enough for legal matters, but when it comes to social issues it suffices because you’ll never have all the evidence because you’ll never deal with every single individual involved. Also, if you’re meaning plausible in the sense of possible, that does not mean equal probability.

            Why do you say games journalism doesn’t exist? Because the bulk of it is previews, reviews & opinion?

    • Hammersteyn

      All this does is refocus everyones attention on gaming=violence, only this time it’s server with a helping of one womens feminin views

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    Also, how did feminism ruin his life? Is his life utterly dependent on his perceived superiority over women? If you’re threatened by equality it’s just an indicator of how pathetic you are as an individual.

    • Weanerdog

      Look he allegedly made pipe bombs that he keeps in his house, I don’t think that rational thinking is really one this fellows strong points.

    • Sageville

      Well, I do think everyone will agree, this loser is bat-shit crazy, so no point in trying to explain his stupid manifesto.

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        Crazy people have reasons for what they do, however nonsense they appear to be. It’s just a matter of understanding their world view.

        • Sageville

          Sure, but understanding this guy’s world view doesn’t really change his craziness and possible actions. Maybe useful if you want to prevent future dogshows, but this dood is beyond hope, imho.

  • Weanerdog

    Thought for the day,

    How is it that you can deny people a freedom where they have a free meeting without any weapons allowed because that denies others the freedom of bringing said weapons to this meeting that they only have to attend if they really want to.

    You have to love freedom where you are so free that you are allowed to form a neo-nazi meeting as long as you don’t ban people from bringing guns to the meeting.

  • Hammersteyn

    This reeks of flase flag. I bet she organized the threat herself. Plans to deliver a speech, who cares. Plans to deliver a speech with death threats being issued, everyone takes note and starts reporting on it. Then there’s mentioning a infamous school shooting, threatening to do it near a Women’s Center, claiming that feminism has ruined his life? How can feminism ruin your life? Plus if it did then it sounds more like the persons anti feminin, he didn’t state that feminism in gaming ruined his life.

    • Weanerdog

      Thought did cross my mind and yes it is very convenient as it makes the speakers points so eloquently due to her not having to actually say anything. But do not underestimate the stupidity of some fool trying to be cool or some crackpot.

    • Brady miaau

      Ah, you must be a software developer. You cannot spell false. 🙂

      • Hammersteyn


  • Jac7

    The hardest thing for any of us to do at this moment is to try and understand how someone could be so upset by someone’s opinion that he/she would resort to violence or, even worse, domestic terrorism. And, ironically, prove Sarkeesian right by instigating such violence against her.

    • What you said.

    • Captain JJ Underleyened

      They’ll probably track him down, he doesn’t seem too clever.

      • Jac7

        Agreed, the level of ignorance is staggering. Hope they slap him/her/it with a rather lengthy prison sentence,

  • Love to meet some justice out on this sad, lonely and fucking stupid individual.

    • Weanerdog

      Funny how when you threaten him because its justified makes it OK. #justsaying

      • I didn’t threaten him with violence, I threatened him with justice. BIG difference. Hopefully the FBI will get to the bottom of this as it’s a national matter.

        • Weanerdog

          OK, if that is what you meant I do apologize for my call out.

          But I hope that they do find him and lock him away for ever because it is only a matter of time before something else to blame for his shitty life comes along and he lands up killing a bunch of people.

          • Exactly my thoughts. It’s like a warning sign. To go this mental on a meeting, can you imagine when the school bully goes overboard? As you say, I can see this leading to some dark shit.

  • Kikmi

    Would really prefer this whole thing gets blown over but this is really turning into some extreme version of big brother house, but with meth addicts.

    What is the average Joe/Juliet supposed to do now? Do we voice opinions and sustain the note or do we ignore and move on with our lives, you know, like responsible adults?
    The fact this whole debacle has dilapidated to the point of violence and abuse (more so now than it ever was) is a clear indication that the movement and the folk who take part of it aren’t looking for solutions but a podiums to blurt out rhetoric. Much like most of the SJW’s and MRA’s, niether are actively participating in any resolution or middle ground. We fight now with threats of violence against others and constant social paladin lambasting.

    Where the flying fuck is this going to resolve the issues at hand?
    If you have an issue with an article, raise your concern with the senior authority and use research and forethought to prove your case. If some one has made a demeaning remark on social media within the gaming environment (or any other) rather than crack wise with some 2 bit monosyllabic insult and rather try understand the points being pushed and teach where and why you think the statement is wrong

    Compassion never killed anyone. Neither did civility. We’re supposedly a society, surely we have the education and fortitude to find a resolution?

  • Ross Woofels Mason

    Is it just more or does anyone who actually likes playing video, I dunno to busy playing video games to give a crap about any of these people or their vendettas against what ever?

    I dunno man, I love my video games but my life is not so devoid of any other meaning that I would need to partake in drama like this from either side over a pixels on a screen lol.

  • Mark Treloar

    Not sure this is even related to videos games? She has made other videos about feminism that are not gaming related, are we even sure this is in reference to the tropes vs women videos?

    • Hammersteyn

      The person clearly said that feminism has ruined his life, so it’s not even personal. It’s about feminism. But it gets attention because it’s Sarkeesian

      • Mark Treloar

        Yeah except she has made feminism related videos regarding Lego and other subjects. How do we know this is specifically related to the video games series?

  • Sageville

    Well, I hope authorities trace this nutter’s IP and disappear him into “Enemy Combatant” limbo.

  • Rags

    Or its just a troll, who sat back and just typed the threat through secure proxies without even caring and just doing it for the lulz and moving on with the rest of his/her day. Or part of the Anita PR campaign like they did with Emma Watson? Who knows what their motivation is before we even know who made the threats.

    I’d be hesitant to come to a conclusion as to the motivation before even the basics are known.

    • Kikmi

      This has been exactly my thoughts too, a police investigation is under way but apparently everybody already knows the details? Funny that.

      Dont get me wrong, I am against the fact that it happened but there is far too much assumption going around and not enough fact.

  • Jaded_Reprobate



  • Sir Rants A Lot Llew

    You know what, while some wrongly use the word feminism and seem to use it to make it appear that all men are pigs and women are better, it’s still wrong to threaten anyone’s life. It is disgusting.

    If you are against feminism for whatever reason then don’t go and enforce the stereotype so many feminists are pushing about men. Seriously. You have something to say? Hold a talk about it. Start a campaign to bring to light how people are using feminism as an excuse to wrongfully attack men. But don’t threaten violence. Especially not against a woman who, while controversial, isn’t hurting you in any way.

  • Nahuel Graziani

    Man, this whole thing is a real schlep. Regardless of the validity of the threat, I just want to point something out.

    I’m going to go semi Godwin’s Law here and talk about World War 1 Germany a bit to draw a comparison. When Germany was unified as one country, the biggest “threat” to them was being encircled by the enemy. Being Germanic and Prussian, naturally, everyone was the enemy and due to the geography of their country, they were formed as a country surrounded by enemy figures. Thing is, that at the time, they weren’t actively involved in any conflict. They had no real “enemies”, just people that they were not on good terms with that could potentially be enemies due to past histories.

    Anyway, Franz Ferdinand is killed and they declare war on Serbia. This caused a domino effect of other countries getting dragged into their alliances and ultimately WW1. Thing is, Germany preemptively attacked France because of the Franco-Russian alliance, knowing full well France would get in the mix.

    Long story short: Germany is scared of being circled by enemies. Their allies’ leader gets killed and they attack Serbia and other countries (some neutral) preemptively in order to not face a threat. (Spoilers) Didn’t work out too well for the Germans.

    So, going back to this. The gamers are like Germany. Once divided, now unified and scared of attack from outside sources that completely surround them. All it took as a catalyst was one person’s controversy (Zoe Quinn) to spark everything off and for the gamers to actively attack anyone they view as a threat. Journalists, feminists, game developers and basically anyone who spoke out against them or could even possibly threaten them. Thing is, like Germany in WW1, not everyone that is a gamer shares these ideals or viewpoints, but in the end, they’re all gamers and like Germans and are put in the same bucket and face the same kind of stigma.

    Douches like the guy who allegedly threatened Anita not only perpetuates the notion that this is some kind of “war” that should be fought, where the rest of us that really enjoy playing games just want this all to die and for our Treaty of Versailles to come, so we can be seen as non-aggressive once again.

    Holy crap, this was a wall of text.

    • Rags

      Ha yes. 😀 And for decades women looked down on the nerdy video gamer, thought less of them and childish. Now they are fighting for equality and equal representation and no mysogyny. But just mention you are a gamer at a party and see if the girls edge towards you or away from you. 😛

      • I think at the moment them maceing us would be justified 😛

      • Nahuel Graziani

        Ironically enough Wilhelm the Second (Leader of Germany) was born with a gammy arm and had an inferiority complex about it, which is why he so aggressively pursued the conquest of Europe.

        Kinda like a lot of these guys that feel threatened by women involved in gaming feeling threatened and insecure thus aggressively attacking these women.

  • Guild

    People are stupid.

    That is all. Continue as you were…

    • Your face is stupid! *RUNS

      • Captain JJ Underleyened

        I don’t know how you always manage to come up with the great comebacks. And they’re never the same either. ;P

        • Your black-eyed face is stupid!

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          tee hee

  • Kensei Seraph – Staff

    If they catch this guy and expel him I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that he blames it all on Sarkeesian.

    • Rags

      I doubt someone who makes such threats will say “I am from the university”. Or they have REALLY low qualifying standards. 😛

  • Norman Pleasant

    Ah, gamers. Always setting good examples.

  • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    Not to be that guy, but what’s the connection with Gamergate? Brianna Wu also blamed Gamergate for getting threats (and having to vacate her home), yet the account that was used to threaten her had no ties to Gamergate. In fact, it was also used to threaten pro-gamergate female gamers (which incidentally the usual suspects in the gamer media ignores).

    I know it’s all fashionable to join the “anti-Gamergate, we’re SJWs fighting for geyndurp freeeeeduumms, blah blah.. Right-wing Manchildren” crowd, but there’s more to this than some twitter hashtag. The fact that Gamergate is still going strong, has to tell you something.

  • Disclaimer: I do not condone the use of threats on people but this chick is the devil. I have been following Gamergate since the very beginning. Some gaming friends and I where even discussing how the press(youtube and “free gaming press”) had been bought by big budget games long before this all came about. Now the feel I get from the gaming community is that we are at war with the bought, with the corrupt and with those that claim they speak on our behalf but underhandedly represent big corp. Think of gaming as a country and gamers as the citizens. Eventually the people will stand up to the corruption and a civil war ensues. No matter what you will have extremists on both sides this may be one of those cases however something else needs to be investigated. In the release from the Sarkeesian inner circle report there is information that eludes to them posting fake threats to themselves. Has a case been opened against the perpetrator? Has the FBI investigated just like the prank caller in the CS:GO fiasco. That took 2 days to investigate and apprehend. Should no case be opened, I’ll just add this to my pile of BS building up against her and her compatriots. Oh and last note. She is mainstream media, sucking corporate dick like no other. Selling herself as a pro female gamer jerno. She is anything but. Nothing but self serving entitlement and contrived abuse of women’s rights in gaming for her own gains.

    TL;DR Sarkeesian is not a gamer and has no right to point fingers using women’s rights in gaming for her own gain.

  • rollingmol

    This if A+A then it equals B crap needs to stop . I get it people jump to crazy conclusions and want to do something about it . They gather funds and get support , but when it comes to doing something about it the supporter’s conclusions never fully equals the answer to the “problem” …It’s only a complete opinion . It reminds me of this :

    There once was a scientist who studied frogs. One day, the scientist
    put the frog on the ground and told it to jump. The frog jumped four

    So the scientist wrote in his notebook, “Frog with four feet, jumps four feet.”

    So the scientist cut off one of one of the frogs legs. The scientist
    told the frog to jump. Frog jumped three feet. So the scientist wrote in
    his note book, “Frog with three feet, jumps three feet.”

    So the scientist cut of another leg. He told the frog to jump. The frog
    jumped two feet. So the scientist wrote in his notebook “Frog with two
    feet, jumps two feet.”

    The scientist cut off one more leg. He told the frog to jump. Frog
    jumped one foot. So the scientist wrote in his notebook, “Frog with one
    foot, jumps one foot.”

    So the scientist cut off his last leg.

    “He said, “Frog jump. Frog jump. FROG JUMP!”

    So the scientist wrote in his notebook, “Frog with no feet, goes deaf.”

  • Brady miaau

    “I’m not a fan of Sarkeesian’s approach, though I recognise the importance of her work. That said, threats of violence”

    Nice one, Geoff. Sums up my feelings pretty well. I believe she misses context and blah, blah, blah, but what she does is still important.

  • Erin Schwartz

    Maybe Anita should start an educational campaign to educate the public about gun violence in video games? That would probably help in bringing together the Gamergate and anti-Gamergate factions.

  • Maris

    So GamersGate’s supposed stance is to end censorship and corruption in the press, but the second someone wants to have a press conference on a topic they oppose they censor them?

    Totally don’t see any problem there!

  • fool

    I don’t know man, feels a bit suspect. This isn’t the first time either. Anita is playing us all. She received more threads than the president. I don’t buy it. Could we get an actual journalist on this.

    • fool

      “threats” not “threads”. 😉

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