The aggression that pushes people out that I am referring to is the gendered slurs, the homophobic slurs, and the general conversation that leaves many people feeling gross for having participated in the video game community. I have been toying over collecting the evidence that demonstrates this is still, despite great strides, very much a part of the video game community, of which #GamerGate is simply a quick snapshot, but that will have to join my list of writing for the Interim. But if you don’t think this is still part of it, and you play any games with a Global Chat (even Clash of Clans) spend a few minutes on that and you’ll more than likely see what I’m referring to at this moment.
I have been using both terms “woman” and “female” throughout this paper. I do not mean this as an exclusionary word. In my own experience, I use them interchangeably. When pushed, I will demarcate along biological lines and cultural lines, much in the way Gia Milinovich explains. But for everyday instances, and especially when people are being attacked for both claiming woman as their gender or people assuming they identify as a woman, I will claim solidarity with anyone who identifies as a woman. And in the instance of #GamerGate, since many tweets were sent with gendered and sexist harassment, this resolve is only strengthened. I just wanted to clarify that I am most comfortable a including all the disparate incarnations of femininity (or womanness) and not inclined to draw lines regarding what being a woman looks like, acts like, sounds like, loves like…… Please leave your thoughts in the comments!
Update – I realized that I did not explicitly state here that these same thoughts apply to all genders. Please share your pronoun preference, and I will gladly use it. Gender is already socially complicated to pin down, and I find the labels rarely help in understanding the person.
I feel like everyone knows that there are always dark alleys regardless of how bright the streets are. The Internet has always had dark alleys the size of California freeways. The most recent incarnations of these are 4chan and 8chan. The forums most pertinent for the GamerGate conversation on 4chan (boards.4chan.org/v/) and on 8chan (8chan.co/gg/). They are absolutely Not Safe For Work! They are barely safe for people who actually like other humans to tread through. The addresses for the dark alleys will change, as they have through time. The users always feel like wherever their current home exists sells out, which precipitates a move to a new, more welcoming space for what has always existed online.
Trolls live on the Internet. The traditional stories of Europe may have them under bridges threatening and being threatened by goats, but with the creation and rise of the Internet, we have learned they live in the forums online.
In the stories they turn to stone in the sunlight and are generally giant oafs who will eat anything they can catch. Online, they post comments wherever they think they can get a rise. They are generally anonymous, and their posts are generally targeted to be the most offensive they can get past the moderators. The comments are generally easy to pick out, because they are designed to illicit the most vitriolic response from the other people in the forum. The rationale that has been gleaned over the years for this behavior is that the troll is looking for attention and enjoys the discomfort of the people who post responses. Years ago, I saw someone explain that they had created a game with a friend where they would go onto comment sections and post tolling comments in order to gain points for all the responses, and for the types of responses, they each received.
The long standing admonition has been, “Don’t Feed the Trolls“. This advice is to ignore the people posting the outrageous comments with the thought to starve the poster of the attention that they desire.
Recently, though, there is beginning to be some resistance to this ancient wisdom of the interwebz. Whitney Phillips reframes trolling as a form of bullying and creates space for nuance in the activities that have historically been grouped together under the term troll. Phillips then argues that the long-standing advice actually turns into a form of victim blaming if the target speaks out and receives more attention in response.
As the Internet continues to become a home for more people from diverse backgrounds, trolls and how people deal with them will continue to change.
This statement is a little bit of a slight against the harassment that many of the women (and to a lesser extent men) involved against the misogynistic presentation of ideas and basis of attacks in the GamerGate Twitter fight. The sentiment it sums up was the frequent refrain of sea lioning type tactics. The phrase has a Tumblr dedicated to it. And it has even made it to the archive of Know Your Meme. The constant refrain helped to shape part of the conversation as a whole, while becoming a kind of joke amongst those who spend a large portion of their time on the internet.
A quick note on hashtags. If you’re old enough, # is a pound sign. I’m not entirely sure what it did on touch-tone phones (because I’m apparently not old enough. As this note isn’t about that research, I’m not doing it this time around. Please leave notes and links in the comments regarding this gap in knowledge, if you feel so inclined), but the symbol predates the internet. Twitter was the first (as far as I know) major social media platform to being utilizing this symbol for a specific Internet era purpose. The use of # (known now as a hashtag) tells the internet to sort and archive the data surrounding the hashtag. So, when someone posts a Tweet to Twitter, if they include a # and then words connected to it, such as #GamerGate, the platform knows to sort that information into a searchable category. This tagging system allows for easier search through millions of bytes of data to find related information more easily. Going to Twitter and searching for #GamerGate will provide a plethora of tweets beginning with the most recent tweet using the hashtag.
Instagram and Facebook adopted the # as a method of categorizing the data on those platforms as well.
This is a collection of the numerous blog posts and news articles that archive the predominately agreed upon historical narrative regarding the beginnings and elements of GamerGate. I skimmed through them as they popped up in my Twitter feed. The history presented in my Storify is created from how I remember the history unfolding. There is also, I am sure because I am now re-telling it within the context of an academic paper for an Advocacy class, an element of editorial arrangement for flow and application to the meaning being made in the story.
This list is the one that I collected. If you’re looking for evaluative posts, that is still pending. Check back later to see if it’s been revised. And feel free to leave links in the comments to other take you fee hold value to this discussion.
There have been several women connected to GamerGate who have been chased out of their homes. Brianna Wu’s flight with her husband in October 2014 made international news. The Guardian covered it. She covered it herself on xojane.com. Kotaku covered it in detail which includes screenshots of a series of tweets with direct threats. Zoe Quinn, the woman at the beginning of the GamerGate controversy, also left her home out of concern for her safety. Anita Sarkeesian left home out of fear of her safety, and she remains vague regarding her whereabouts. Sarkeesian has even felt compelled to cancel a speaking event at Utah State University after the school received threats of a mass shooting.
There have been claims of attacks on pro-GamerGaters, however, I was unable to find sources that provided the claimed video evidence. This could be for a few reasons, not the least is fatigue from searching through numerous articles and tweets and blog posts and Tumblr memes and….
If you would like to provide links in the comments, that would be appreciated. Add whatever other links you feel would help add to this information in general.
Merriam-Websters’ definition can be found here. I frequently use this word as it carries the academic connotation of akin to fight. When I’m talking in person, I usually pause a beat before deciding discussion is the most effective word.
In the GamerGate project, I see the hashtag as more of a record of a fight. But fight doesn’t carry the same academic weight as discussion. Argument is also a probable synonym, but that holds a different meaning in academia. Attack would also probably work, if it did not also carry military and conquest elements. And while these additional elements may meaningfully add to the conversation, I am making the call that it opens the conversation to be directed in unintended ways I wish to avoid.
In my PhD program, I opted to take a Politics, Policy, and Advocacy class. This has been very informative, and challenging (in an incredibly good way). I’m having a great time in the class, and learning a lot about advocacy from a theoretical perspective, which has been helpful in naming some of my past experiences.
But as it’s a PhD class (or really a class in general), I have to create a final paper/project. And I have a great idea for how I’m going to format it! (I’m seriously super excited for my idea to work out; a draft will be posted here, the link to the final will be as well).
As excited for trying a new writing form as I am, I find I am nervous for the content. Because I will be talking about the type of advocacy that is hidden in the
fight conversation that is happening at the hashtag gg (if you don’t know what this is, watch this space. All will become clear in the next few weeks. As will the reasons I am hesitant to be clearer).
Beyond sharing this random collection of thoughts, I wanted to have a post explaining why there are going to be a quick flurry of posts that aren’t pushed to my social media forums. I am going to be publishing my final project the week before it’s due on Storify, which might also be how I submit the final project. To make the argument clearer, I feel like there are places where I need footnotes. However, publishing through Storify makes footnotes a little tricky (this could be due to my n00b status with Storify), so I plan to create un-social media linked posts here to function as footnotes. As I think the footnotes are interesting as stand alone thoughts, I won’t have them as hidden links on the site; they will simply be folded into the feed.
So if you’re subscribed for updates, this is my apology for the influx of updates. If you’re not subscribed, then this is just another random post from me 🙂
Please feel free to leave any thoughts on my argument, or gg in general, or really anything else, in the comments on any of the posts. This is not, however, an invitation for harassment of me or a take down of me as a person. I love debating the ideas; I will not debate me as a person. I also will not debate any deconstruction of another person. I will entertain debating other ideas, because that’s the whole purpose of getting a PhD. Comments here are held for approval by me as a default (always). Anything that looks as though it will move the conversation on my site to a debate or take down of a person, will not be approved. Feel free to create your own site, if you feel I am somehow infringing on your right to speak. But I recommend re-reading the U.S. Bill of Rights as you take on the endeavor.
And now, here we go 🙂