William & Mary Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice


The frequency with which female gamers and game developers experience sexual harassment and threats of violence online is significant enough to warrant concern about a section of our society— female gamers and game developers—having their sexuality and gender identity used against them, both as weapons and as barriers blocking them from access to a lucrative economic venture. An examination of the 2014 Gamergate controversy and various other instances of cyberharassment against female gamers and developers, as well as a look into the realm of eSports and an analysis of cyberharassment and the concept of true threats, indicate that this particular class of citizens deserve a form of legal redress to address the uncouth and deplorable acts that are deeply embedded within the male-dominated gaming and eSports industry. This Note suggests that the current statutes in existence are simply not doing enough, and therefore, there must be adjustments made in order to properly remedy this issue.

Moreover, while First Amendment concerns abound regarding even the most minor and necessary of government restrictions on speech, this Note submits that federal legislation may be the most effective way to squash the growth of cyberharassment against this class of citizens (and women more generally). Additionally, nationally enforced social media and internet communication education classes should be provided for (and required of) law enforcement officials. Further, the implementation of a system of increased monitoring by moderators for online social media and gaming platforms may also help facilitate an effective remedy to the vast harassment experienced by female gamers and developers. The Introduction will discuss the contextual background of the Gamergate controversy and its role as a window into cyberharassment against female gamers and developers in the industry. Part I will examine cyberharassment and the federal statutes in effect, as well as examples of state statutes attempting to address this issue. Part I further discusses how First Amendment implications, as they relate to the gaming and eSports industry, may negatively affect female gamers and developers. Part II proposes methods this country could adopt to help remedy the plight facing this class of American citizens. Parts III and IV delve into the economic salience of adopting the measures proposed in Part II, and examine the morality prong to the ideas proposed in this Note, respectively. The Conclusion presents thoughts and insights into the viability of instilling these proposed measures to remedy the gaming industry and the toxic culture in which the industry sits.