Game Over, Gamers: Contesting the Gamer Identity through the Gamergate Controversy

During my completion of a Bachelor of Arts and Design (Honours) at the University of Canberra, I produced a dissertation titled Game Over, Gamers: Contesting the Gamer Identity through the Gamergate Controversy. For this thesis, I used big data research methods to compile large quantities of social media data, and then I analysed the interplay between ‘gamer’ and feminist discourses in news comment threads.


  • For this dissertation, I was awarded the University Medal, awarded to a graduating student on the basis of the highest academic achievement from an eligible undergraduate honours degree course with First Class Honours.
  • I presented this dissertation and its findings at the Australia and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) 2016 conference.



The ‘gamer’ identity experienced a discursive shift when a series of opinion pieces declaring the ‘death of the gamer’ were published between August and September, 2014. This media event – which was a part of the larger ‘Gamergate’ controversy – prompted heated contestations between two antagonistic online publics, which can be loosely defined as consisting of ‘gamers’ and feminists (or ‘social justice warriors’). These opinion pieces concerned the ‘gamer’ identity and its ongoing relevance, as the scope of people who play video games has expanded beyond the niche, young, male, ‘geek’ stereotype that is sometimes associated with ‘hardcore gamers’.

By combining the Foucauldian methodology of eventalisation with big data research methods, this thesis compiles an archive of the discursive politics enacted between the commentators and publics participating in the ‘death of the gamer’. Through this discourse analysis, this thesis investigates the transformation of the ‘gamer’ identity through the ‘death of the gamer’ media event. It argues that the ‘gamer’ identity has derived from ‘geek’ culture – to which it shares a number of cultural values, such as the authenticity of identity – and that it is being threatened by ‘casual’ or ‘mainstream’ definitions. This thesis also argues that the conflicts that transpired during the ‘death of the gamer’ were mobilised by the hegemonic masculinity that is systemically ingrained in ‘gamer’ culture, and that this masculinity manifests as performative misogyny and anti-feminism in some ‘gamer’ publics.