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Eden Rohatensky navigates the pitfalls and perks of the online world.

“Eden Rohatensky is a scumbag slut.”

The phrase is the chosen taunt of one of Rohatensky’s most vitriolic bullies, one regularly hurled via Twitter at the Regina-based computer programmer, podcaster and musician.

The Internet can be a hostile environment for women who comment on and play video games, and the backlash is real, and frightening.

Over the past year she’s been the victim of constant online harassment. On a recent afternoon her anonymous tormentors found her phone number and sent her death threats. She’s had her credit card compromised, her romantic partners and friends targeted, and her salary emailed to friends by people angered by her commentary on gaming and her strong online presence.

It began when Rohatensky posted a video on YouTube responding to some of the discussion around GamerGate and Anita Sarkeesian, a media critic and blogger who has received threats of rape and death for her outspoken views on misogyny in video games. Rohatensky’s video, which aligned with Sarkeesian’s views, spurred a torrent of comments.

“Some were making critiques that were constructive but obviously a little bit misogynist. There were ones that were like ‘you look like a woman who has been raped, I hope it happens to you again,’” Rohatensky said.

At first she responded, which angered them more. She’s tried finding out more about them. She’s reported it to Twitter. Without a warrant, there’s not much the police can do.

“It’s a tough one,” said Const. Janet Klemp, a school resource officer with the Regina Police Service.

While the police can obtain a warrant in some circumstances, finding out who sits behind the screen is difficult.

“For us to get hold of the IP address or any information as to who is doing it is almost impossible,” said Klemp. “Kids are creating fake names, fake accounts.”

As a police officer, dealing with the fallout from online harassment is a regular occurrence both in the schools she works in and at the police station.

Most of the time a phone call or meeting with a police officer can solve the problem, but if you don’t know who it is, not much can be done, she said. She cautions that backlash comes with the territory.

“If you’re going to put your opinions publicly out there on Twitter, you’re going to expect a certain amount of tweets back,” Klemp said.

Anyone making critiques about how women are represented in gaming becomes a target, explained Rohatensky.

“There’s this sacred feeling of what a gamer is to these people. To them it’s a dude who hangs out in his basement and has been made fun of his whole life. Challenging that is difficult,” she said.

Curtis Paradis, another Regina-based Internet gaming commentator says the perception of gamers is skewed. Video games have advanced, with many women participating, but people still think about the gamer as some guy sitting in front of his TV “surrounded by chip bags.”

“The game comes and it doesn’t say ‘only for guys.’ Anyone can play,” he said.

Paradis has produced YouTube videos about video games, specifically The Sims, for six years. His posts have created relationships and earned him sponsorship with EA Games as well as helping him land a job with CTV Regina.

He’s experienced many negative comments on his videos, especially starting out. When you start creating content, he says there’s usually more negative than positive feedback.

“If you can push past that point it starts getting better,” he said.

Despite the backlash, Rohatensky didn’t stop creating, developing a podcast network called Jimmy & Eden. Their podcast has about 10,000 listens per episode, receiving support from a dedicated community of journalists, developers and gamers. As she became more involved, Rohatensky’s Twitter following exploded. She now has more than 18,000 people tapped into her Twitter feed.

“We were extremely fortunate for that. But as I got more popular, the hate started to get more focused,” she said.

Rohatensky is hesitant to let the attacks cast too big a shadow over her use of social media.

“It’s pushed my career forward a ton,” said the University of Regina computer science alumni who now works for U.S.-based Internet news company Vox Media. She found her current job in part through networking on Twitter. Rohatensky has never met her Jimmy & Eden co-host in real life, and most of the fan base for her music is in the United States, where she’s never performed.

“There are so many benefits to having this online community, it’s just there are dark sides like there are to any community,” she said. “I personally don’t want to live my life in fear.”

Klemp has a different take on it.

“I’m a big non-believer. I don’t support it at all. I don’t have any accounts myself,” she said. “There’s just so many dangers.”