Judging by the #GamerGate hashtag currently infesting Twitter, you’d think there had been some kind of actual scandal involving the video game industry, the media…something. But what the last week in gaming culture has seen is actually the final extinction cries of sad man-boys who think they’re the only ones who should be catered to in an industry that not only needs but genuinely wants to be inclusive.


It’s barely worth mentioning the non-scandal that started this latest wildfire of unchecked straight-white-male privilege except to highlight just how foolish and overblown the whole thing is. The match that set this one off was a blog post by the angry ex-boyfriend of an outspoken indie game developer, whose posted chat logs revealed that she had cheated on him with someone I will generously call a “games journalist”. Given a chance to both slut-shame AND proclaim that this is why women aren’t welcome in gaming, the grosser parts of the internet (read: Reddit) exploded.


That the social circles of indie developers and writers for popular gaming news sites overlap should come as no surprise to anyone except, apparently, people with no social circles at all. That has nothing at all to do with the corruption in gaming media. Everyone with an ounce of sense knows that, even since the magazine days, gaming media has always been a joke, funded by the very game publishers whose games they’re expected to review. Nintendo Power, the progenitor of gaming media, was published BY NINTENDO. For years there have been verifiable examples of sites taking publisher money for good reviews. But those payouts have always come from big publishers like EA and Activision. None of that has anything to do with a single indie developer sleeping with someone who never even wrote a review of her game. But those perfectly legitimate criticisms don’t spark the misogynist imagination like an indie developer’s sex life.


To make things worse, Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency posted another entry in her excellent Tropes vs Women in Video Games series, which resulted in the same ugliness as every other one she’s posted. Her series of YouTube videos, created thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, takes the same critical look at the treatment of women and female characters in video games that you’d see given to other serious art forms. The most recent one suggested that maybe we don’t need to kill virtual sex workers every time a developer wants to show how dark and edgy they are. But the sort of young men who have always been catered to, and who resent feminism for making it harder for gross guys to get dates, have decided the best response to this well-thought-out criticism is rape and murder threats. There’s a saying that nothing proves the need for feminism like the comments on any post about feminism, and the same holds true for Sarkeesian herself — the inevitable disgusting, vitriolic, downright barbaric response to her proves how much we need her. Unfortunately, it’s also driven her out of her home in fear of her own safety on more than one occasion, including this one. The fuss over “GamerGate” had whetted the appetites of the entitled man-boys, and they were all ready to attack.


But it’s not all dark and hopeless. The #GamerGate tag is just as full of people denouncing it and defending the women who have dared to make and talk about games. What we’re seeing now is loud, and it’s ugly, and it’s dangerous, but it’s also the final dying cries of a culture that knows its day is coming to an end.