Intel pulls ads over sexism in video game drama

Controversy has swirled around male-centric video games such as "Grand Theft Auto V."

Story highlights

  • Intel has pulled ads from gaming news site Gamasutra
  • The chip maker was responding to a campaign by gamers upset with a recent column
  • The site and others are being targeted for challenging the representation of women in video games
On Thursday, a major tech company stepped into the middle of a vicious two-month-long battle among video game fans, scholars, developers and journalists over the representation of women in games.
Intel has pulled an ad campaign from popular video game news site Gamasutra. The move is in response to a online protest by a group of gamers upset with a column by the site's editor-at-large, Leigh Alexander.
A veteran games journalist, Alexander is one of many writers who have recently been critical of parts of the gamer culture and the male-centric "gamer" identity.
Gamasutra confirmed the action on Twitter, saying "Yes, our partners at @intel were flooded with complaints over a recent opinion piece, and they did pull an ad campaign."
The tension began in August when critic and academic Anita Sarkeesian released the latest episode in her YouTube show on female tropes in video games. Around the same time, a game designer named Zoe Quinn was attacked online by an ex-boyfriend who claimed she cheated on him with a games journalist.
Both women found themselves at the receiving end of graphic threats of violence from defensive gamers and Internet trolls. Sarkeesian contacted the police and had to temporarily leave her home.
The backlash against the two soon spread to journalists and others who were critical of the gaming status quo and the way women are treated in the medium.
On the other end are gamers who feel their subculture is being threatened. Some game players worry that activists will cause game makers to change their product to please a wider audience. They started rallying under the #Gamergate hashtag.
Supporters of the Gamergate movement, who are well organized and driven, say they are actually combating corrupt games journalism. In the case of Alexander, they say her columns were "offensive" and "racist." The emails to Intel were part of a larger campaign against sites that have published content they find offensive, including Kotaku and Polygon.
After confirming that Intel had indeed pulled the ads, a company spokesperson told Re/Code on Wednesday, "We take feedback from our customers very seriously especially as it relates to contextually relevant content and placements." Intel declined to comment further to CNN.