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Newsweek Drills Down on Percentage of #GamerGate Tweets to Developers Rather Than Journalists, Results Are Predictable

Predictable by an order of magnitude.


The so-called GamerGate movement has been characterized by two things for weeks, if not months, now. First, as a movement of angry gamers that threatens prominent female opponents to its goal of protecting the gaming industry’s historical focus on the young straight male demographic with violence, rape, and the release of their personal information. And second, as a movement of angry gamers who insist that all the threats and doxxing are performed by a small fringe group of the movement, that those who continue to label GamerGate as misogynist are doing so maliciously, and that the whole thing is actually about ethics in journalism.

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Well, said Newsweek, if the whole “misogynist” label is really created by outside observers then there are two further possibilities: either those observers are lying, or, despite its stated goals, GamerGate really does appear to be dominated by folks whose intent is to wage a harassment campaign. So let’s ask a social media analytics company to delve deep into the #GamerGate tag to see which is more predominant: tweets at games journalists, or tweets at game developers who have no direct power to affect ethical behavior in games journalism.

Not surprisingly this was a big job, so BrandWatch based their research on 25% of the more than two million tweets in the GamerGate twitter tag since September 1st. Then they compared the number of tagged tweets aimed at Zoe Quinn to those aimed at Stephen Totilo. Harassment against Quinn, and the subsequent discovery and public release of her personal contact information and home address, is considered by most to be the first big effort of GamerGate. An ex-boyfriend shared details of their relationship on a public internet forum as well as levying accusations that she’d parlayed a sexual relationship with a games journalist Nathan Grayson into positive reviews of her game on Kotaku, despite the fact that Grayson and Quinn broke up before Grayson began working for Kotaku, that he has never written a review of her game, and that the only thing he has written that mentions her was published before her ex-boyfriend claims they began their relationship.

If the majority of folks claiming the GamerGate movement as their own are really interested in getting games journalists to think more about ethics, Newsweek hypothesized, then Grayson, the journalist accused of wrongdoing, would be receiving the brunt of the tag’s attention. The results?

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…

GamerGaters do tweet a lot at the official Kotaku account—more than any individual journalist or editor. That account has been pummeled with 23,500 tweets since September 1. But that number pales in comparison to the tweets received by Brianna Wu, another female game developer who has spoken out against GamerGate, and Anita Sarkeesian, who has been a vocal critic of sexism in gaming. Sarkeesian has been bombarded with 35,188 tweets since September 1, while Wu has gotten 38,952 in the same time period. Combined, these two women have gotten more tweets on the #GamerGate hashtag than all the games journalists Newsweek looked at combined. And, again, neither of them has committed any supposed “ethics” violations. They’re just women who disagree with #GamerGate.

Newsweek also studied the tweets for signs of “negative” or “positive” intent, although they don’t go into detail about how intent was detected. While the relative differences in quantity should bear roughly out with a 25% sample, Brianna Wu has this stark reminder of how much larger the actual numbers are:

It’s one thing if a group’s goals or message is misunderstood by outsiders focusing on or willfully exaggerating the behavior of a minority within the group; it’s quite another for a group’s public behavior to be dominated by acts that run contrary to their stated goals. The former speaks to an indifferent or hostile environment to the group’s goals; the latter speaks to a group that needs to either do some internet housekeeping, or have a serious think about forming a splinter movement.

(via Newsweek)

Previously in GamerGate

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Susana Polo
Susana Polo thought she'd get her Creative Writing degree from Oberlin, work a crap job, and fake it until she made it into comics. Instead she stumbled into a great job: founding and running this very website (she's Editor at Large now, very fancy). She's spoken at events like Geek Girl Con, New York Comic Con, and Comic Book City Con, wants to get a Batwoman tattoo and write a graphic novel, and one of her canine teeth is in backwards.

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