Aspiration & Struggle

Female Game Developers Facing Discrimination: What GamerGate Means for Millennials

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Our grandmothers could not have dreamed of the opportunities that we Millennials — especially female Millennials — have today. Yet, the glass ceiling for working women remains. Here in the United States, women still earn 78 cents for every dollar that men do and run fewer big companies than men named John.

So while discrimination clearly still exists, it’s even more pronounced in male-dominated industries. One such example: gaming. Since August 2014, female game developers have endured an onslaught of harassment and threats as part of a controversy known as GamerGate.

What Is GamerGate?

Though the intricacies of GamerGate can become tangled, here is a brief rundown.

It all began when an ex-boyfriend of female game developer, Zoe Quinn, made claims that Quinn had cheated on him with five different men, several of whom worked in video game journalism. The story gained traction in forums and social media platforms, which led to a group of gamers developing a conspiracy theory that Quinn had become involved with these men solely to gain publicity for her games.

On August 27, 2014, actor Adam Baldwin sent out this tweet, which used the #GamerGate for the first time. Once the cause had a name, it picked up steam and didn’t look back. The movement rallied around cries for unbiased journalism, but resulted in horrific amounts of discrimination against female game developers.

For women like Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian (feminist blogger), and Brianna Wu (female game developer), GamerGate became a violently disruptive force. Hackers revealed their home addresses and phone numbers online in a practice known as “doxxing.” This led to an ongoing cycle of death threats and sexual harassment.

And for what? Because the backers of GamerGate demand “fair journalism in gaming.” Though there are, of course, many GamerGate supporters who truly work towards this end, they are overshadowed by the fact that GamerGate has become a platform to discriminate against women involved in the gaming industry.

What Does GamerGate Mean for Millennials?

Regardless of whether you care about gaming, this is an important story for the Millennial generation. Today, only four-in-ten adults believe men and women are generally treated equally. The plight of these female game developers shows that sexism exists not only in the workplace, but in an industry largely populated by Millennials. And Millennial women know it. According to the Pew Research Center, 75 percent of them believe “this country needs to continue making changes to achieve gender equality in the workplace.”

GamerGate held a social spotlight to a tremendous crack in our system. While Millennials may be progressing rapidly as a generation in other social movements, sexism in the workplace is a battle that both men and women must constantly fight to even the playing field for future generations.