14 times more

Newsweek did an analysis of GamerGate to determine whether it was really about a perceived lack of ethics among video games journalists, or a campaign of harassment against women who make, write about and enjoy video games, masquerading as a movement of gamers upset about a perceived lack of ethics among games journalists. Newsweek concluded it’s the latter.

The claim that GamerGate is not a campaign to harass women—but rather advocacy for better journalism—has had some pull. This claim was used to harass Intel into pulling ads from popular gaming website Gamasutra after journalist Leigh Alexander wrote an essay there critiquing the gaming world. “‘Game culture’ as we know it is kind of embarrassing—it’s not even culture,” Alexander wrote in August. “It’s just buying things, spackling over memes and in-jokes repeatedly, and getting mad on the Internet.”

She urged game developers to pay less attention to the demands of gamers. Instead, gamers pressured advertisers to pull their dollars from the site.

And it worked: Intel pulled its dollars from Gamasutra.

The same tactic was used to pressure Adobe to cancel its sponsorship of Gawker Media. Mercedes-Benz USA also temporarily pulled ads from Gawker Media after a reporter there made mocking tweets about gamers. The move has cost Gawker Media CEO Nick Denton and company “thousands of dollars already, and potentially…thousands more, if not millions,” according to Max Read, Gawker’s editor-in-chief.

GamerGate is largely playing out on Twitter, and if the movement is about ethics in games journalism, logic says the majority of tweets on the #GamerGate hashtag should be directed at games journalists and their employers and not at game developers.

But are they? Are they? Are they?

Newsweek askedBrandWatch, a social media analytics company, to dig through 25 percent of the more than 2 million tweets about GamerGate since September 1 to discover how often Twitter users tweeted at or about the major players in the debate, and whether those tweets were positive, negative or neutral.

In the following graphic, compare how often GamerGaters tweet at Zoe Quinn, a developer, and Nathan Grayson, a Kotaku games journalist. In August, GamerGaters accused Grayson of giving Quinn’s game Depression Quest favorable reviews because Grayson and Quinn had been in a relationship. The relationship was fact, those ‘favorable reviews’ were fiction. Grayson only wrote about Quinn once, for a story on a failed reality show, and that was before they were in a relationship, according to Stephen Totilo, the editor-in-chief of Kotaku and Grayson’s boss.

The graphic is pretty striking.

Twitter users have tweeted at Quinn using the #GamerGate hashtag 10,400 times since September 1. Grayson has received 732 tweets with the same hashtag during the same period. If GamerGate is about ethics among journalists, why is the female developer receiving 14 times as many outraged tweets as the male journalist?

Why? Because females are 14 times more annoying.



  1. Scr... Archivist says

    Ophelia, it’s even worse than that.

    According to the stats, Anita Sarkeesian was tweeted at 48 times more than Nathan Grayson. She isn’t even a game reviewer (as such) or a game developer! And Brianna Wu received 53 times as many tweets as Grayson. Furthermore, these communications were far more negative than positive, for all of the targets.

    It seems that some game developers are more “annoying” than others, and game critics are right up there with them. What makes them “annoying” is probably the fact that they are fighting back. But I’m glad that they are.

  2. says

    Ophelia, I hope I’ve demonstrated my bona fides in the Gamergate discussion. I think we all agree that GamerGate is almost entirely about the woman-hate.

    However, Kluwe is right in that there is a kernel of genuine concern about shoddy practices in games media out there. This has been hijacked by sexists and turned into a toxic swamp. Kluwe suggests those folks who want that discussion really need to rebrand and put clear water between themselves and the coterie of MRAs, harassers and fellow travellers raising Cain on the internet.

    I have some empathy for those who want that discussion about the media and had been wanting to have it long before Gamergate and the theatre of Full-Metal Misogyny. (Anyone remember the Jeff Gerstmann Gamespot affair? I do, vividly.) Some of those who want to tackle the media are friends: indie developers who have skin in the game and feel it is rigged. How, I wonder, can they drag themselves out of the toxic quagmire now that that GamerGate has tainted and warped everything that was genuine and honest about the debate on games media?

  3. MyaR says

    How, I wonder, can they drag themselves out of the toxic quagmire now that that GamerGate has tainted and warped everything that was genuine and honest about the debate on games media?

    Do the hard work. Write about the actual ethical issues, and never, ever mention gamergate, even to repudiate it, when talking about ethics in games journalism. Get their writing published, even if it’s on their own blog, promote it, develop a personal network dedicated to improving the status quo, and never, ever use gamergate. Be willing to publicly cut ties with ‘friends’ who turn out to be more interested in harassment than ethics.

    Also, look at the work Soraya Chemaly has done in constructing and critiquing effective hashtag campaigns, including the pitfalls. And just read everything she writes, because it’s good.

  4. Ysidro says


    I think they won’t have much of a problem disassociating with GamerGate when the ‘gaters are attacking people who actually ARE making statements about game journalism ethics. The ‘gaters NEVER talk about AAA gaming, just their few targets plus a lot of references to themselves.

    Look at Jim Sterling. He does publicly criticize poor ethically decisions in games journalism. He’s only ever mentioned GamerGate to repudiate them.

    I don’t see what’s so hard about it? Don’t use their hastag, don’t attack random women involved in gaming, and actually talk about real issues in games journalism. What’s the problem?

  5. says

    How, I wonder, can they drag themselves out of the toxic quagmire

    Focus on critique of actions, not actors. The problem they have is that there’s hardly enough meat on those bones for a serious critique. One way to do it would be to map out any disparity between how certain reviewers rate certain games from certain publishers and how the public rates those games. That’d be meaty and revealing and there’s no need to point and call anyone “poo poo head” or bring personalities into it.

    From the beginning of the kerfluffle I have seen people asking repeatedly for substantive critique but it’s generally pretty nebulous. And, yes, it’s centered around vague accusations of cherry picking by Anita Sarkeesian — and whenever someone asks “which clip, specifically, do you feel she cherry picked and how was she wrong about its context?” the discussion suddenly dries up. It’s weird when you ask someone what the substance of their complaint is, and they can’t seem to remember anything but vague impressions, isn’t it?

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