Woman Receives Death Threats for Confronting Misogynist Game Designer

A feminist has become the target of threats of physical violence for her confrontation of the game designer who made the game in which players brutalize Anita Sarkeesian.

by on 9th Jul, 2012

Steph Guthrie, via Twitter

A host of death threats were made against Toronto-based feminist and avid Twitterer Steph Guthrie for her coverage of the “Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian” flash game and its creator, Ben “Bendilin” Spurr, a story which I covered a few days ago on Gameranx.

My story received numerous “troll” responses, but the public’s reception of the article was nowhere as vitriolic, or as personal as the attacks made towards Guthrie.

Steph Guthrie’s coverage of Ben Spurr over the social media story-curation service Storify prompted the story to go more or less viral, with word of its happenings reaching—and being subsequently broadcast—by the likes of The IT Crowd creator Graham Linehan (@Glinner), among many popular users on Twitter. Linehan even went so far as to confront Ben Spurr on Twitter, drawing the attention of thousands of other users to do the same.

Ben Spurr’s Twitter account was suspended yesterday, for reasons undisclosed by Twitter staff. One can only assume that the amount of complaints made towards his account prompted the service to take action. None of these complaints were endorsed by Guthrie, who has now become the target of Spurr’s supporters, one of whom going by the name of @Super_Cool_Guy made a series of death threats towards her over a dozen tweets.

Aside from death threats, a small number of Ben Spurr’s supporters have come out of the woodworks to hurl abuse at Steph Guthrie, perhaps perceiving her as an easy target despite the fact that she is just one among many other writers, journalists, and feminist activists to speak up about the issue—Gameranx included. Others, like Ben Spurr supporter “EggNogFan” have made attempts to dismiss the threats as merely “jokes” despite the clear threats posed in the tweets quoted above.

Needless to say, Guthrie isn’t taking the threat of violence sitting down and has since reported the incident to the Toronto Police.

This ugly, yet sadly not uncommon incident highlights the urgent need for the videogame enthusiast community to ask some serious questions about where it is, where it’s going, and how it plans to handle misogyny from within. There’s no reason anyone—gamers or otherwise—should have to put up with threats of violence, much less accept these incidences as par for the course.

Photo courtesy of Steph Guthrie.

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