It’s been a rough month in the gamer community. The furor surrounding Anita Sarkeesian opened up the floodgates for endless discussions of gender in games and gamer culture — and that much, at least, is good. Even if we don’t all agree on the same points, the fact that lots of people are having conversations about it is a healthy thing. But I’ve been bothered. Not because there are people out there saying things I disagree with, or those who disagree with the things I say. That’s to be expected. No, what’s been bothering me is the vitriol. The people who think that disagreement is license for cruelty, or who are just cruel for no good reason at all. Online harassment is a well-established problem, but the casual hatred and bile being thrown around left me disheartened. To see this level of ugliness in a community that I love, one that is based around playing games with friends…it’s just wrong.
But encouragingly, there are folks out there trying to make a positive difference. Meet Sam Killermann, a gamer on a one-man mission to make our community a more welcoming place. In late June, he launched a site called Gamers Against Bigotry, which asks visitors to sign a pledge against using hateful language and identity-based slurs in-game. A few weeks after the site’s quiet debut, Killermann is now running an IndieGoGo campaign to raise the funds needed to make GAB a non-profit organization. I got in touch with him to learn more about the project, and to pick his brain about the issue at hand.