Gamergate target Brianna Wu speaking at UC Irvine (video below)
Gamergate has hurt academic interest in the study of games, according to an anonymous academic who recently posted this to the consternation of Gamergates' leading detractors on Reddit. Sample:
We have been working for years to make games a legitimate tool for education and for study, and we were making progress. People were starting to take games seriously. And then came GamerGate. I have seen the careful progress of a decade come crashing down, and now, when I go to talk about games to industry groups or fellow academics, GamerGate always comes up as an example of how terrible and immature people who play games are. It will take years and years to repair the damage, and it is absolutely devastating to the serious study and application of the power of games to real problems.
I put that point to three leading academics in game studies, however, and they had a very different story. If anything, their replies suggest, Gamergate has increased interest in gaming as an academic focus. Take Tom Boellstorff, Professor and Graduate Director at UC Irvine's Anthropology department and a staffer at the university's Institute for Virtual Environments and Computer Games:
"We just had Brianna Wu at Irvine and she gave an amazing talk that ended with a standing ovation," Tom tells me (video below). "There's a balance here: (1) Gamergate has caused problems, but (2) we don't want to blow that out of proportion to the extent that it reinforces a focus on only one type of gamer and also (3) there are other factors at play with all this including hype cycles and such.
"But," he goes on, "something else that Gamergate shows, indirectly, is that games and gaming are important. They are important to all human cultures throughout history (there is no society that does not have some form of play and games), and they are extremely important now. They are going to play a key role in shaping our new digital age. We clearly do not yet understand all the forms of that influence and their possible implications, but we can’t give up working together to gain better understandings and strive for better, more inclusive and just futures!"
In this, Tom was reflecting on comments from Mia Consalvo, Canada Research Chair In Game Studies & Design at Concordia University: