When we noted that Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was going to have a GamerGate episode, we assumed it was going to be a disaster. And we were right! Although the episode was not without its amusing moments, as the Internet reactions will remind you.
Reactions from the trolls, on the other hand, were mixed, as you might expect from people who can’t figure out when the Onion is making fun of them.
As for the actual attempt: Well… they tried? The episode, to its credit, does actually try to tackle some very serious issues going on right now, from threats of death and rape over the Internet to the practice of prank-calling SWAT teams in the hope of getting someone killed. We’re talking about a situation where 10-year-olds are confronted by cops pointing guns at them and mentally unstable people who genuinely believe independent game developers are trying to have them assassinated.
The problem is, well, it just doesn’t handle any of it very well. Kotaku has a few clips of the worst moments, the “game” Amazonian Woman in particular standing out, and that’s not even half of it. There’s quite literally a scene where one character, seconds before they plow through the door, explains swatting to a SWAT team. Maybe brief them earlier, guys?
But the real problem is the end of the episode, where, after being kidnapped and gang-raped, the female developer quits. Some people were, reasonably, pissed:
That last tweet really sums up the problem with the episode. GamerGate is not “inevitable.” GamerGate is a bunch of people who, at best, lack perspective on the world and define themselves by the consumer products they buy. At worst, they are a collection of cowards who manifest their fear of women and anybody else who isn’t them in threats and rhetoric using video games as a shield for those attempts.
More to the point, the “movement,” however you want to define it, has no victories. Intel responded to getting suckered into taking down ads temporarily by announcing an enormous diversity initiative to ensure it does better. The seed of GamerGate, an attempted humiliation of Zoe Quinn by her ex, has ended with Crash Override, a coordinated anti-harassment response network. Thanks largely to GamerGate, Anita Sarkeesian got a spot on the Colbert Report.
That’s cold comfort to the people still getting threats or attempts on their life by proxy. As I noted elsewhere, there are serious problems. But the reality is, GamerGate will fade away as its dumb teenagers realize they’re being used by misogynists, and women will still be playing, and making, video games. The episode should have reflected that.