School shooting threat over Sarkeesian talk

3 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

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