Hundreds of game developers have put their names to an open letter to the gaming community overnight, which calls for a public stand against harassment, violent threats and hate speech.
The letter, created by indie developer Andreas Zecher, has over 1200 signatories at the time of writing. It states that "everyone, no matter what gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or religion has the right to play games, criticise games and make games without getting harassed or threatened." It calls for threats of violence to be reported and for all members of the community to take a public stand against "hateful, harassing speech".
Alongside many independent creators, students and representatives of publishers and the gaming press, the signatories include developers from Rockstar North, Riot, Blizzard, Bungie, Naughty Dog, Ubisoft Montreal, BioWare, Guerrilla, id, Epic, DICE, Arkane, Crystal Dynamics, Lionhead, Bohemia Interactive, Sony Santa Monica, Telltale, PopCap, Traveller's Tales, Ninja Theory, Insomniac, Remedy, Volition, Avalanche, 343, Relic, Infinity Ward and Oculus VR. Household names include Tim Schafer of Double Fine; Chris Charla, head of Microsoft's ID@Xbox indie initiative; Raph Koster, veteran designer of Ultima Online; and Nathan Vella and Rami Ismail, founders of prominent indie studios Capybara and Vlambeer.
You probably know what this is in reference to, although we haven't written about it directly up to now. It's the phenomenon known on social media as "GamerGate", which began with allegations against an indie developer made by an ex-boyfriend and has taken on an increasingly toxic life of its own in the intervening period.
At times, the heated discussion around sexism, ethics and cyber-bullying online has tipped over into threats of violence against individuals coupled with the publication of their personal information. After the latest in her Tropes vs Women video series was published, feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian tweeted that threats against herself and her family had reached the point that she contacted the authorities and left her home to stay with friends.
We didn't think there was much to say about the original allegations. The stuff about the developer's private life was her own business. This subsequently evolved into accusations about the developer's apparently illicit collusion with a journalist, although the claims didn't stand up to even the most basic scrutiny, so we left it alone.
Others have spoken out, though, and much of what has been written is worth reading. If you have an interest, we'd encourage you to start with Dan Golding on "The end of gamers"; Devin Faraci of BadAss Digest on "Why I feel bad for - and understand - the angry #GamerGate gamers"; and many more articles rounded up over at the always-excellent Critical Distance.
Most of all though, we'd like to add our voice to those who have signed Zecher's open letter. We believe a more diverse and inclusive culture is essential to the future of video games, and we want to support and encourage anyone else who feels the same way.
The full text of the developers' open letter is as follows:
"We believe that everyone, no matter what gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or religion has the right to play games, criticize games and make games without getting harassed or threatened. It is the diversity of our community that allows games to flourish.
"If you see threats of violence or harm in comments on Steam, YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook or reddit, please take a minute to report them on the respective sites.
"If you see hateful, harassing speech, take a public stand against it and make the gaming community a more enjoyable space to be in."
- Tom Bramwell (Editor-in-Chief), Oli Welsh (Deputy Editor) and the Eurogamer team