Watching the Tug-of-War Around Zoë Quinn's Book

On the 5th, Indie Developer, Zoë Quinn released their book, Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate, and I decided to check it out. Having been active in the gaming community during the high of Gamergate as a Black, Queer, femme, I already had an idea of what their story would contain. What I wanted to know what conclusions and solutions Quinn had discovered in these past years. I'm going to talk more about that here at some point.But for now,  I want to take some time to say, this book is worth a read and to point out how the Amazon Reviews of Quinn's book has become a microcosm of the exact phenomena Quinn writes about.

For the unfamiliar, Zoë Quinn was the person at the center of the hate-driven Gamergate movement of 2013, after their Ex-boyfriend insinuated they cheated on him with five men, one of which was a video game journalist. This detail about the game journalist is important because, it was also suggested that this supposed affair somehow netted Quinn a favorable score on one of their games. Never mind that the guy in question never reviewed Quinn's work.

This tiny shred of misinformation sparked Gamergate, which earliest moments were spent pretending that it was a movement about exposing corruption among games journalists. Simultaneously, the reality of this entity was far less honorable. They would target those talking about the ways the gaming industry was intolerant and aim to ruin their lives. The results were far-reaching, and persist even to this day, even if Gamergate, has receded to a slow simmer, rather than the roaring boil of 2013.

I see proof of this every day but, I was struck by it on the fifth while trying to purchase Quinn's book. Within 7 hours, it had 42 reviews and their book was rated 2 1/2 stars. Most of these reviews were 1 star, many of them written by people who seemed to be reviewing their for purpose of undermining their credibility.

Here are some Examples:

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I don't usually give a shit about reviews but, in this case, they point to a couple important things. One, a good portion of the people who aimed to do Quinn's career harm, in 2013, still feel so strongly about them and their work that they continue to perpetuate the idea they're an unethical content creator. The comments give off the slightest whiff of the people who'd call them a slut, and misgender them perpetually if these reviews were moderated by Twitter or Reddit. The reviews have become a watered-down microcosm of the very entity Quinn writes about dismantling. 

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I felt disgusted. But, also compelled to watch how this would play out throughout the week. As various sources pushed out the news of the memoir's arrival, on Polygon, The Verge, and other sources, I saw the good reviews start to come in. Right now, 51% of the reviews are 5-Stars, praising Quinn for their bravery and the choice to present solutions alongside the story of their tragedy. 41% are 1-star, the majority of the reviews look like the ones above. I might also mention that, in it's category, Crash Override is #1 best selling.

This illustrates a certain reality about the worst members of gaming culture and how to combat them, that I've known for a while.  There are more decent folk than jerks in the gaming community but, it ain't by a large margin. And the people who are jerks are obsessive in the continuation  of the horrible things they choose to do, and the only way to combat that is to be obsessive in supporting the targets of this abuse. 

Gamergate is still trying to discredit the same people they spent hours, and probably a lot of money, trying to discredit in 2013. It's the same game. It'll always be the same game. So, we need to use the platforms we have as people who know better to correct the flood of misinformation.

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We see y'all, Gamergate.

-N