A joke by one of the gaming industry’s most famous designers, Tim Schafer, inflamed the GamerGate community last night, leading to a barrage of angry responses about a joke that supporters perceived as “mocking minorities”.
The anger led to Schafer’s name trending on Twitter and a barrage of abuse on social networks.
Games designer Schafer took to the stage at the Game Developer’s Choice Awards last night, the first to be held since the controversy erupted last summer. He made a joke to the audience about the “not your shield” hashtag, where women and minorities demonstrate their support for the movement on social media.
Supporters of GamerGate say that the hashtag is a way for those groups to communicate that they do not support the criticisms of the movement as misogynist or racist. But others have claimed that it is a way of deflecting criticism from the often aggressive and threatening response to female critics like Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn.
While making a speech, Schafer used a sock to make a joke about the movement. The sock is thought to be a representation of sockpuppets, a term used on the internet to refer to fake accounts and identities set up to give the impression that comments are coming from a third-party.
In the character of the sock, Schafer asks: “How many gamergaters does it take to make a single piece of armor?” Schafer, as himself, says that he doesn’t know.
The sock replies: “Fifty. One to do the modeling, one to do the materials, and forty-eight to tweet that it’s not your shield.”
Many prominent gamergaters took to Twitter, YouTube and other social networks to demonstrate the offence the joke had caused, perceiving it as an attack on the “not your shield” movement and so women and ethnic minority gamers in general.
One game developer called the joke a “huge setback to peace and diversity”, and another gamer described it as “hate speech against minorities, alternate gender identities, and sexualities”.
To counter the attack, supporters of GamerGate established a campaign under #SchaferSocks, raising money to give to people who need socks. “Lets turn an SJWs jackassed behaviour into a positive, again,” wrote one user — a reference to the common tactic of GamerGate supporters to start campaigns after criticism from those that oppose the movement.
Other internet users who oppose the movement mocked the outraged response on social media. Most mocked the angry response to the joke, and others tweeted their support.