Lately I’ve been troubled by the fact that GamerGate’s supporters and I seem to have completely opposite perceptions about what most people think of their movement. 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. How is it that our perceptions of “what most people think” are so different? Could it be that we all live inside some social-media echo chamber that makes us oblivious to other points of view?
So I decided to start a little research project to settle the question: What did most people think about GamerGate?
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.
The following paper goes into great detail about how I conducted this research and why I reached those conclusions. This paper also reads like a historical analysis of the previous year by uncovering patterns in the ways that different people reacted to GamerGate.
There’s a strong TRIGGER WARNING for anyone who was deeply affected by last year’s events and similar forms of harassment. Things get particularly heavy in the section titled Patterns in How People Reacted to GamerGate.
Table of Contents
- The Data
- Link to the Full Data Set
- Observations & Analysis
- A Look at the Pro-GamerGate Sources
- Comparing Estimates of Population Size
- Patterns in How Publications Started Covering GamerGate
- Intel and its Advertisements
- What Exactly is All of this GamerGate Stuff?
- Harassment and Death Threats
- Patterns in How People Reacted to GamerGate
- Fear and Terror
- Sadness, Anger, and Outrage
- Analyzing and Fighting GamerGate
- Why Does GamerGate Think Everyone Likes Them?
- Patterns in How People Remember GamerGate
- Conclusion, and GamerGate’s Legacy
I’m still having trouble dealing with what happened to the games community during the second half of 2014. A lot of really depressing stuff happened, and so it’s not surprising that that sense of depression still lingers.
Unfortunately, #GamerGate still isn’t over. When I say “post-GamerGate,” what I really mean is “post-(that-time-when-everyone-was-talking-about)-GamerGate.” The hate mob is still obsessively fixating on and continuously harassing the same four or so women, and they’re still coming up with new targets to attack every week.
I was surprised by how much I was emotionally affected by the whole GamerGate mess. I usually don’t get worked up over many things, since I generally try to be laid back and optimistic, and I also try very hard to stay mentally grounded, since I know that politically and emotionally charged events such as this one have a tendency to mess up one’s sense of perspective. And so I was genuinely surprised when I realized how cynical and depressed I had grown over this whole thing.
And frankly, I’m tired of being depressed about this, so I’m hoping that writing this post might help me to get some of it out of my system, or at least reach a greater sense of emotional clarity on this.
I personally don’t have much to say about the political and social issues that fuel the #GamerGate mess, but all of this has gotten me thinking a lot about community management. Specifically, I find myself cringing at all of the very serious community management mistakes that have been hurting the #GamerGate movement ever since it started, so I kinda just wanted to write a postmortem-like post on how it all could have gone better.
More importantly, this made me think more about how we can better manage the overall videogame community, because at the end of the day, all I really care about is whether or not people actually like being here. I think this post turned into a pretty great case for why we need more smart, tolerant, and prominent voices helping to keep our community healthy.