One of the biggest tech controversies of 2014 was Gamergate, which was sparked by a spate of harassment and threats targeting women in the video game industry. These incidents led to a heated debate about sexism in video game culture, a debate which raged on both online and offline forums.
The media immediately zoomed in on the attacks carried out by Gamergate supporters on prominent figures, mainly women, involved in video game journalism. These attacks escalated to overt death threats and public shaming online of these individuals, exposing a deep undercurrent of misogyny and sexism which runs deep within the traditional gamer base.
As the controversy rages on in 2015, we’ve listed our seven top predictions describing the ways the Gamergate controversy could evolve:
1 – Greater appreciation of diversity in video game culture
Face it, Gamergate has shaken the video game culture to its root. Many people would agree that the controversy finally managed to make the public at large more aware of how misogynistic and sexist that culture had been allowed to become.
The intolerant behaviour of Gamergate supporters, made explicit in their hateful online comments, showed just how badly video games and gamers needed a good dose of reality and inject more diversity in their midst.
2 – Time for the video game industry to grow up
What’s in store for the video game industry in the aftermath of Gamergate? For starters, the release of titles which centre around the values and life experiences of minorities.
We expect to see an increase in the number of female lead characters in games, as well as more ethnically diverse characters in games. Moreover, video game plots will feature more and more narrative elements drawn from a wider cultural base.
3 – Gamergate supporters gain traction and become an internet force to reckon with
But the positive outcomes of the Gamergate controversy could easily be outweighed by the negative. Gamergate supporters are currently a leaderless, unorganised band of internet users fuelled by their chauvinistic, right-wing attitudes.
That could all change drastically if, or when, a more coherent faction emerges and proceeds to wreak systematic havoc on people who do not sympathise with their views of a male-dominated video game industry.
4 – Clamping down on internet freedom of expression
As Gamergate supporters become more vocal, the limits of freedom of expression on the internet will be severely tested.
Social media services such as Twitter vowed that they will not step in to censor what people will post on their accounts. However, if harassment and threats of violence continue to proliferate online, social media networks could easily decide to change their mind and begin policing activity on their services more harshly.
5 – Girl Power Level Up!
Although the incident that triggered Gamergate was an attack on a female indie game developer, what happened next was an overwhelming reaction that gave girl power a more prominent stand in the industry.
This won’t change the demographics of the video game community, those have been changing continuously for as long as we can remember, however it will go a long way towards giving a more realistic representation of the way the industry is structured, with people traditionally treated as minority groups given the influence they merit.
6 – Something really terrible happens
We have sadly witnessed some horrifying events during the Gamergate saga, notably the rape and death threat made to feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian. Will there be a credible threat to her life or health if Gamergate supporters do manage to get their act together? One certainly hopes not, but things could turn really nasty if they’re not kept in check.
7 – Gamergate controversy fades away
Of course, another plausible scenario for the future of Gamergate is that it will fade away quietly, leaving a video game industry scarred with the shameful attacks made on some of its components, but visibly determined to set the record straight.
The worst thing that could happen is that nothing changes after the controversy dies down, setting the stage for Gamergate Part II to hog the headlines of gaming news in the near future.
Is 2015 the year that the Gamergate controversy will be finally put to rest, or will it rage on throughout the next twelve months and drag even more victims in it?
Share your opinions about this hot topic in the comments below and let us know which one of the seven possible scenarios we outlined above strikes you as the most likely and which ones are just our imaginations running wild.
Do you have a prediction of your own to add to the seven listed above? Let us know what you think the next chapter of the Gamergate saga will involve.