Toxic Gamer Culture

Hardcore "gamer" culture has garnered a reputation as particularly vitriolic, especially within seemingly-anonymous online spaces. While these attitudes have been accepted wearily in the past as a consequence of a connected culture, the increasingly blurred line between online and offline life in recent years has brought increased attention and criticism towards the negative aspects of gamer culture. The following page documents articles concerning fanboys, trolling, sexism and racism within gaming communities and other elements of an, at times, toxic enthusiast culture.

An in-depth introduction to this topic is available courtesy of Brian Crecente on Polygon from Aug. 15, 2013: Plague of game dev harassment erodes industry, spurs support group. Crecente revisited this idea a year later, only to find that improvements had not been made: Aug. 19, 2014: Game dev harassment remains as bad as it was a year ago.


In the wake of the Anita Sarkeesian controversy and the virality of the #1ReasonWhy campaign on Twitter, there were a number of stories about sexism among gamers and game developers. Many of them are archived under the specific posts on those two topics, but some articles are broader in scope and not tied to specific episodes or events. They are documented here.

Resources for Victims of Online Harassment:

Open Letter to the Gaming Community

In September 2014, Andreas Zecher on Medium released an open letter to the gaming community against harassment based on gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or disability. It calls for people who see threats of violence or harm in comments in places such as Steam, YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook or Reddit to report them to the respective sites. It was signed first by Zecher of Spaces of Play, and it was hitherto signed by a large number of game developers and others from across the industry. The full statement and list of signatures can be found here.

Sexism in Game Culture

Penny Arcade Controversy and Rape Culture

Foz Meadows tackled the topic of rape culture on her blog shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows:

The referenced comic strips are here:

In response to criticism of her post on the page itself and on Reddit, Meadows wrote a follow-up post defining rape culture in relation to video games on June 11, 2012: Rape culture in gaming

An anonymous poster created a Tumblr devoted to the controversy and its ensuing discussion, originally created on January 31, 2011: The pratfall of Penny Arcade - A timeline

GTFO: A Film on Sexism in Gaming

In this documentary director Shannon Sun-Higginson highlights the experience of abuse and discrimination of female gamers and industry professionals. The website for the documentary can be found here. Reviews and commentary will be compiled here.

Indie Wire also published an interview with director, Shannon Sun-Higginson.

Fat, Ugly or Slutty

A group of gamers created a website called Fat, Ugly or Slutty, which attempts to collate the vast amount of misogynistic comments made over online services such as Xbox Live. While the website takes a mocking tone, it also serves as a shocking reminder of the abuse that some groups - especially women - face in these spaces.

The blog can be found at

Phil Fish Quits the Industry

On July 27, 2013, Phil Fish, the somewhat controversial creator of indie darling Fez, announced in a short post on his company Polytron's website that he was cancelling the previously-announced Fez II and quitting the games industry. He cited continued abuse from gamers as the reason for his departure. As of June 7, 2014, he appears to be keeping his word, and has not returned to the industry since. Discussion of the incident can be found in the articles below.


Swatting is the practice of calling in a fake violent crime (hostages, shooting, etc) that would force the local law enforcement to send a SWAT team to an individual's home. While cases of this are widely reported outside of video games, there is a fair share of victims involved in gaming, some of whom are developers.

For another perspective, Patrick Kelpek of Kotaku interviews a teenager who claims to be a swatter.

Competitive Gaming

eSports, or competitive live gaming, is a growing trend in the industry, but it is not always just games for players as things get serious in light of millions of dollars in prizes and winnings. This can lead to controversies and disagreements among players.

Companies and Devs Against Toxicity


Often, people on the internet behind the mask of anonymity will purposefully do things to annoy or harm other internet users. This is called "trolling." The following articles document purposeful attempts of trolling related to the gaming industry.



General Discussion