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Law & Order: SVU to air episode based on GamerGate

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The social media campaign known as GamerGate has been in the mainstream eye nearly since its inception, with coverage from outlets ranging from The New York Times to CNN. Now the harassment that springs from GamerGate will be showcased in an unexpected new place: NBC crime drama Law & Order: SVU.

According to fan blog All Things Law and Order, an episode of Law & Order: SVU titled "Intimidation Game" will air next month. The episode covers a woman game developer who is preparing to launch her first game only to be met with "a stream of online insults, intimidation and death threats from the male-dominated gaming community." Another woman developer is assaulted at a gaming convention, leading to intervention from series mainstay Detective Tutuola (played by Ice-T).

"Raina refuses to delay the launch, and the cops must 'level up' to protect her," reads the official description.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (usually shortened SVU) is a spin-off of long-running crime drama Law & Order. Premiering in 1999, SVU primarily focuses on crimes involving sexual assault.

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, Sarkeesian and Giant Spacekat head Brianna Wu, though many of GamerGate's supporters deny the campaign should be blamed for harassment.

While there have been no publicly reported cases of physical violence tied directly to GamerGate, there's little doubt that this synopsis draws on some of the episodes of harassment and anger that have become synonymous with the movement. We'll have to wait to watch the episode to see how close to home it hits.

For more on GamerGate, you can read Polygon's letter from the editor on the topic from last year.