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Swedish devs declare intolerance for sexism, threats against women

Developers in Sweden are taking a stand against harassment in the video game industry, denouncing threats, intimidation and hate as unacceptable — including recent events some link to GamerGate — according to daily Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

The declaration, translated via Google, comes from academics and representatives in the Swedish gaming industry, including Avalanche Studios, Coffee Stain Studios, DICE, Paradox Interactive, Mojang and Ubisoft Massive. We've contacted all those listed for comment and will update accordingly. The publication does not specifically mention GamerGate, but links to a piece discussing its origins and effects.

The GamerGate movement and Twitter hashtag is a social campaign defined by most supporters as a call to effect change in video game journalism and to defend the "gamer" identity. The movement is difficult to define because what it has come to represent has no central leadership or agreed-upon manifesto. The hashtag was first used by actor Adam Baldwin in August after intimate details of a personal relationship between a video game developer and a video game journalist were made public and led some to allege cronyism between press and developers. The campaign is now also linked to ongoing and well-established harassment of women in video games, including Depression Quest creator Zoe Quinn, Feminist Frequency creator Anita Sarkeesian and Giant Spacekat head Brianna Wu, though many of GamerGate's supporters deny the campaign should be blamed for harassment.

"We will never accept threats, hate, violence or sexism in the name of games."

According to the story in the publication, developers are aware of the attacks on "women who publicly take a stand against sexism in computer games" from anonymous individuals online.

"... Their physical safety and security in their homes can not be guaranteed," the post reads. "It should not have to be said: Hatred, intimidation and harassment is never acceptable."

"We declare our support to the women affected. We want to defend everyone's right to be and act in the game [industry] without being treated worse because of background, affiliation or gender. Threats should always be taken very seriously."

Quinn, Wu and Sarkeesian have all been forced to flee their homes due to violent threats. Earlier this month, an anonymous person threatened Utah State University, where Sarkeesian was scheduled to speak, with "the deadliest school shooting in American history." Sarkeesian canceled her talk because she felt security measures were inadequate.

Most recently, actress and geek icon Felicia Day discussed her thoughts on and fear to address GamerGate; shortly after, her personal contact information was publicly outed in the post.

The story in the Swedish paper adds that Diversi, a project designed for game companies and communities to support each other's diversity efforts, started a petition "calling for diversity and equality, against hatred, threats and sexism." It currently includes more than 1,000 signatures from developers such as Blizzard Entertainment Europe, Epic Games, Media Molecule, SCEE and Rovio Sweden.

"We're not just an anti-GamerGate movement."

"Sometimes you have to state the obvious: We will never accept threats, hate, violence or sexism in the name of games," the petition reads. "We welcome more diversity. We oppose any discrimination. Games are for all!"

Speaking with Polygon via email, a Diversi spokesperson said that the organization has not received any kind of threats, but instead continues to receive signatures and support from the industry. Its goals stretch beyond GamerGate-related harassment.

"We think it's really important that it's clear we're taking a firm stance against harassment in the gaming industry, and yes, GamerGate has been the biggest source of that the last few months," the spokesperson said. "But we also want to be clear in the fact that we're not just an anti-GamerGate movement, we are a long-term collaborative endeavor to support people facing harassment in the games industry, to promote diversity in all its forms, and to connect game companies, game educations, and gaming communities with the common goal of creating an industry where everybody is welcome."

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