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Gamergate: Has the online world turned against women?

Game developer Brianna Wu and feminism Soraya Chemaly discuss sexism in the gaming world.
Listen14:13

Game developer Brianna Wu has been subjected to online threats of violence and rape and has had her home address posted on the web -- all because of her views on Gamergate, the highly charged debate over sexism in gaming. 

Wu talks to Jian about how the controversy has affected her life, how harassment and sexism in the gaming industry isn't new, and what she thinks needs to be done to make it stop. 

Gamergate, she explains, is a movement that has taken hold of the game industry over the last several months. 

While supporters say it is about journalistic ethics, Wu says it's been denounced by almost every major outlet in the games world as "a source of misogyny because they go after women in this field over and over and over." 

She adds, "Specifically, they're very angry about women like myself who kind of work to make games a more equal space for everybody, and they're very bitter about that." 

How social media turned against women

While Wu says that sexism and harassment has long existed in gaming, it has now escalated to a new level that could lead to women avoiding the game industry altogether. "I really think this is the moment we as an industry either stand up and really denounce this, frankly, terror on women in the field or we go back to sleep." 

Feminist and media critic Soraya Chemaly, author of "The Unsafety Net: How Social Media Turned Against Women," also joins the conversation and says sexism in the online world isn't restricted to the gaming community. 

She says similar patterns of harassment show up in other online spaces, targeting female lead singers of bands to feminist campaigners. 

"It's a similar pattern," Chemaly says. "It's a very reactionary response to women in public space."

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