Alec Holowka Died, Gamergate Readying to Exploit the Tragedy

The playbook of 2014-era Gamergate is being pulled out again.

Tragedy-grifting has become Gamergate’s main currency of choice. After dozens of women and non-binary people came out in stern opposition against sexual abuse, inadequate pay, and workplace discrimination — a predominant staple in the gaming industry–now a new event is likely to shift the tides in their favor back again, after game composer Alec Holowka — one of many who the accusations centered around — was pronounced dead via suicide this Saturday morning.

It didn’t take long for Gamergate to take this into the streets, protesting it as a failure of cancel culture. Jeremy “TheQuartering” Hambly already milked the tragedy for views by painting a target on Zoe Quinn and other victims’ backs less than an hour after the news broke. In their view, because the accusations were unsubstantiated, this gave no right to Quinn to accuse Holowka of sexual abuse, holding them captive in his apartment, and blacklisting them from getting further gigs in the industry. But therein lies the problem already–Holowka’s sister when announcing the death of her brother, confirmed the allegations were true. So making the opposite claim would be the harshest disrespect to her family in a time where his death should be a learning moment for all, to duly consider supporting mental health organizations across the globe, not exploit the tragedy for further harassment against his victims.

To put things into proper context, Alec has always had some form of suicide ideation, according to Zoe Quinn’s testimony and his own sister’s obituary. As these words are being penned, Zoe’s Twitter account has vanished off the internet, presumably signaling that they’re getting a new round of harassment from people who thought the Alec situation could’ve been “better handled”.

What this “better handling” looks like, warrants a thorough examination. The first presumption is that if done through the proper channels, Zoe would’ve had a much better chance at exacting justice against Alec without him taking his own life. The problem is that according to recent studies, less than 1% of rape cases lead to felony convictions–a number that is so low, that the margin for error is easily within the hundreds of thousands, if not millions. Furthermore, the one who we had the #MeToo moment to accredit for — Harvey Weinstein — had just recently reached a settlement agreement with his accusers at a whopping $44 million. If privileged white men can buy themselves out of a crime, it is not within the realm of possibility that even when going through trial, Alec could have gotten a very generous plea deal which does not at all match up with the gravity of what he incurred to his victims. So claiming the legal system is in any way qualified to handle this situation borders the line of insanity so thin, that it could almost leap off its edge.

There’s also the usual line of “cancel culture is unequivocally bad” and while I agree with that sentiment on a surface level, what Alec Holowka did was nothing short of abhorrent. The man wielded his influence to bar fellow women in the gaming industry from protesting their mistreatment. If Holowka’s response to being accused of sexual abuse and general symptoms of sociopathy, is to deny himself the right to live, there’s great reason to believe he did it out of guilt, not wrongful judgment. Zoe Quinn also had their issues with suicide, and to just toss theirs aside in favor of siding with a known abuser just because his death somehow metaphysically absolved him of his actions… well what’s next? Are we going to start making amends with Jeffrey Epstein because a guard overslept his surveillance shift? Culpability makes a conduit for suicide, but it shouldn’t be the revisionist lense through which we view history.

What ended up taking Alec Holowka’s life, wasn’t Zoe Quinn coming forth with their story. It was the notion men keep being instructed from a very young age, that women’s sole raison d’être is to be their own therapist, to put up with colossal amounts of emotional labor for which they are not compensated, but rather ridiculed. Phrasing it any other way not only strips Alec of responsibility regarding his accusations, but falsely assigns blame to people — among whom is Quinn — who out of concern for his own health and safety, chose not to disclose his identity when they alluded to him in the initial round of accusations when Gamergate took off five years ago.

Unfortunately, Gamergate will likely take this as a win for their movement, with the irony of Zoe Quinn having contemplated suicide when Holowka subjected them to undue emotional and physical torture completely skipping over their head. But that’s to be expected from a movement for which falsehood is not a warping of reality to avoid, but the very source of their fraudulent crusade after gaming journalism and the gaming industry.