The latest episode of Law and Order: SVU was supposed to take on the idea of women in gaming and the ever-controversial Gamergate. Instead, “Intimidation Game” was just a deluge of geek cultural references and painful storytelling. Throw in some dramatic music and meaningful pauses, and the final product is just one more ridiculous portrayal of geek life.
Three members of the SVU (Special Victims Unit) squad are at a video game convention so, of course, a woman is attacked in the bathroom. While learning her story, the detectives uncover a vicious cycle of female victimization within the gaming world, and learn about 80% of gamer-related slang.
After speaking to Raina, the victim’s boss, the detectives discover that she is also a victim and has been receiving hate mail and threats. The situation quickly spirals out of control as she is doxed, swatted, kidnapped, and raped within the next 15 minutes. Through it all, there is a masked gamer livestreaming everything and randomly spouting the male power hate speech that inspired this episode in the first place.
In the end, the police are able to rescue Raina, but her spirit has been broken and she declares that she won’t be developing any more games because her attackers have already won. Thus sending the valuable message that women should expect to be victimized by the male power system and should probably just stick to Facebook and Instagram if they insist on venturing into the online world.
I don’t know about everyone else, but I have seen the light. The gaming world is full of potential psychopaths who take gaming too seriously, and I will no longer be a part of it. I mean, I don’t want to run the risk of waking up one morning with the uncontrollable urge to kidnap or kill someone just because I was determined to get that last achievement and finally have 100% completion in Lego Batman!
In all seriousness, there is a little (read miniscule) truth in the content of “Intimidation Game,” but it is presented in such a way that it’s impossible to truly take seriously. Are there crazy people on the internet? Well, just scroll through the comments of almost any online article and judge for yourself. Are there people who take gaming too seriously? Of course. There are also people who take veganism and lawncare to extremes. However, most of us are just playing to have fun and, in my 30 years of gaming and 20 years of online interaction, I have never felt threatened or attacked.
This episode, unfortunately, seems directed less at what problems exist and more at trying to paint a specific picture for people to be offended by. As with so much media these days, it is deliberately inflammatory and seems designed to strike fear into uneducated hearts everywhere. The only good thing about the episode is that the agenda is so poorly done and obvious, only people who are completely uninvolved in the gaming culture could ever take it seriously. Since we’re all sitting in our basements playing FPS’s and eating Cheetos, we probably won’t have to talk to those people anyway.
“For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.” – Romans 10:2
One of the first thoughts I had about this episode was that it seemed to have been written by people with an opinion about the subject matter but no actual knowledge or experience with the gaming culture at large. The writers take the worst possible situation and present it as commonplace and expected.
While we get annoyed when geek culture is portrayed this way, as Christians we should be careful about doing this ourselves, since we are representing God. Whatever the topic, we need to seek God’s knowledge before we offer our own personal opinions as biblical truths. We also need to diligently seek our own knowledge from God instead of always relying on others to tell us what is right and true, or we become susceptible to believing anything presented, no matter how far off the mark.
“The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” – Psalm 145:9
I frequently wonder if God thinks I am as ridiculous as I seem to myself. Does He watch my life and shake his head as I make some of my more brilliant decisions? Even if God is baffled by my endless capacity to get things wrong, He is also my biggest supporter. What we need to remember is that He also loves the people opposing our views, even if they are as ridiculous as we are.
A lot of the conversation that I hear or read about Gamergate and “Intimidation Game” is extremely derogatory toward the women involved. While I don’t agree with much of what the women are saying, I admit that I’m likely to be on their side simply because of the ways in which they are attacked. Death threats are scary, even if no one takes them seriously. For women, threats of sexual violence are on a different level and are often more disturbing.
As Christians, we should be grieved by the stories of women like Brianna Wu and Anita Sarkeesian, and we need to spend more time condemning the attacks on them instead of mocking them. Their views may be extreme, but the threats that these women have received are too.
Language – There is a lot of cursing in this episode (d***, b****, a**, s***), and most of it is directed at women (wh***, sl**, c***). Besides the cursing, there is also a lot of aggressive content regarding a woman’s worth and her place in society and sexuality.
Violence – There is a lot of violence in this show, and most of it is sexual in nature. A woman is attacked and groped in a bathroom stall within the first 5 minutes, and the woman who is the main focus of the show is kidnapped and raped. There is a scene where a woman is “swatted,” and while no one is actually harmed, the scene is disturbing. In one of the final scenes, the kidnappers are confronted by police and eventually shot. There are also some scenes of violence within videogames.
Sexual Content/Nudity – Discussion of attacking and groping a woman. There is no complete nudity, but there is one instance of a woman’s clothing being removed before she is raped. In this episode, all sexual content is in the form of punishment or revenge and is violent in nature.
The Bottom Line
All the episode manages to do is widen the divide between already opposing viewpoints and, from start to finish, gamers will be offended and non-gamers will be horrified.