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.