In reaction to the Anita Sarkeesian controversy, wherein her Kickstarter funding a series of videos critically analyzing female stereotypes in video games created a ferocious misogynistic backlash, Sam Killermann launched the Gamers Against Bigotry (GAB) website with the express purpose of signing a petition against bigotry:
As a gamer, I realize I contribute to an incredibly diverse social network of gamers around the world, and that my actions have the ability to impact others. In effort to make a positive impact, and to create a community that is welcoming to all, I pledge to not use bigoted language while gaming, online and otherwise. Bigoted language includes, but is not limited to, slurs based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and disability.
Killermann explained in a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) the purpose of the pledge:
The pledge is meant to be a source of external reinforcement for positive behavior. I think we can all agree that games would be more fun for folks if various aspects of their identity weren’t tirelessly targeted and attacked, but we can all probably also agree that it’s hard to break a bad habit. Bigotry isn’t part of gaming culture, and never has been; it’s just unfounded hatred, masked by anonymity. It’s something we need to get rid of.
The FAQ references Penny Arcade’s comic, which in turn referenced my thesis on disinhibition and anonymity, which led to creation of my book, The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games:
Ultimately, my thesis proved that anonymity increased inflammatory disinhibition, but not informational disinhibition. It’s possible that users communicating over computer-mediated communication lack the initial visual cues that help define first-time encounters with others. This lack of definition as a person makes a target of disinhibition much less of a person. A user may be less empathetic to other users because she does not recognize the other users as individuals.
Things really took off for the GAB effort when famous geek and actor Wil Wheaton blogged about it on Tumblr. Attention, both positive and negative, surged on the site, jumping to over 1,500 pledges…before it was brought low by hackers and trolls defacing the site with bigotry.
But like Sarkeesian’s crowdsourcing efforts, this only brought more attention to the GAB site. The public focus only strengthened Killermann’s cause on Indiegogo. With a goal of just $700 and few days to go, the crowdsourced cause has raised over $3,000. The original goal of the crowdsourcing was to launch GAB as a 501(c)3 non-profit, but much of the funds will now go to beefing up security for the site.
If you’re interested in supporting GAB’s cause, you can follow Killerman’s efforts on Twitter and Facebook.
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