Almost Nobody Sided With GamerGate

I don’t particularly care about gaming or gamer culture. I work with computers for a living and try not to let screens also be a significant portion of my extra-curricular activities. But when the petulant mob of manchildren calling themselves “GamerGate” blew up last summer, I was disgusted. I don’t care about games, but I sure as hell care about women’s lives being torn apart by a vindictive mob of assholes.

GameGate tried to pass itself off as about “ethics in game journalism” but I saw very few people buying that narrative outside of its rabid supporters. Livio De La Cruz decided to tackle the narrative that there was something approaching parity in the perception of GamerGate in his exhaustive Almost No One Sided with #GamerGate: A Research Paper on the Internet’s Reaction to Last Year’s Mob:

I’ve had GamerGaters tell me that most people don’t equate GamerGate with online harassment and that most people (or at least, most gamers) are actually on GamerGate’s side… The results of this project suggest that the vast majority of people do in fact equate GamerGate with online harassment, sexism, and/or misogyny. More people see GamerGate as a toxic mob rather than a legitimate movement worthy of respect.

I love the conclusion, where De La Cruz argues that GamerGate has actually promoted the very things it detests:

The Week compared GamerGate to a soccer team that has only ever managed to score on its own goal and responds with self-congratulatory remarks on a job well done. Their efforts to silence feminist and political critique of games actually ended up inspiring more of it. Their efforts to convince journalists to stop critiquing gamers for their sexist, bigoted behavior has only amplified people’s awareness of society’s misogyny problem. Their efforts to discredit Zoe Quinn, Leigh Alexander, Anita Sarkeesian, and Brianna Wu have led to them becoming some of the most respected voices in games, as more people are inspired by their work against abuse and their advancement of the medium itself. Their efforts to scare women out of the games industry actually led to more money, time, and talent being dedicated towards fixing tech’s diversity problem.

More heavily researched and linked things like this on the internet, please.

Women are Not Cattle or Slaves

Kameron Hurley is a terrific fantasy author who wrote a great piece called ‘We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative for the recently retired Dribble of Ink blog. I’m on record as questioning the fantasy genre’s marriage to redemptive violence, but Hurley does a masterful job of asking why fantasy—a genre that should, by definition, not be a slave to history—should have such a laughably simplistic (and historically inaccurate!) portrayal of women:

[W]omen did all sorts of things we think they didn’t do. In the middle ages, they were doctors and sheriffs. In Greece they were… oh, sod it. Listen. Foz Meadows does a better job with all the linky-links, for those who desire “proof.” Let’s just put it this way: if you think there’s a thing – anything – women didn’t do in the past, you’re wrong.

The whole piece is genius. If you like fantasy as a genre, you owe it to yourself to read this.

Men Who Harass Women Are Literally Losers

Men who harass women online are quite literally losers, new study finds. That’s a great headline, although I think this study has broader applications beyond the study’s focus on online video games (thus my headline).

[T]he researchers observed that — no matter their skill level, or how the game went — men tended to be pretty cordial to each other. Male players who were good at the game also tended to pay compliments to other male and female players.

Some male players, however — the ones who were less-skilled at the game, and performing worse relative their peers — made frequent, nasty comments to the female gamers. In other words, sexist dudes are literally losers.

Video games are but the latest area that, while once, male-dominated, isn’t any more, and this upsets the losers:

a recent influx of female participants has disrupted a pre-existing social hierarchy. That’s okay for the guys at the top — but for the guys at the bottom, who stand to lose more status, that’s very threatening.

The actual study is Insights into Sexism: Male Status and Performance Moderates Female-Directed Hostile and Amicable Behaviour, by Michael M. Kasumovic and Jeffrey H. Kuznekoff. There’s much more insight to be had there, if not so many juicy quotations.