The media event of Gamergate is very complex. There are a number of news stories that commentators have framed explicitly in terms of explaining its complexity. Most of these articles introduce key figures and the various interactions and escalations that characterise the event. At a key point in the Gamergate media event however, these news-media outlets contributed to the controversy. This occurred when Gamasutra writer Leigh Alexander declared “gamers are over” on August 28, 2014 – an event that subsequently became known as the ‘death of the gamer’, which several other video game news-media outlets promptly supported. Due to its associations with video game journalism, feminism and a series of news events however, the ‘death of the gamer’ has been situated under the larger controversy that was eventually branded ‘Gamergate’. Before proceeding with an exploration of the ‘death of the gamer’ then, it is first necessary to investigate the events that instigated Gamergate.
The first phase of the Gamergate media event was organised around mobilisations of a vindictive ‘gamer’ community against peripheral stakeholders. At the core of this was a personal conflict about an intimate relationship that soured. One of the parties publicised various details about the relationship, including accusations of inciting a journalistic conflict of interest, which inspired an online harassment campaign against the other party.
Gamergate’s first phase commenced on August 16, 2014, and centres on Zoe Quinn, an independent game developer. At this time, Quinn was in a relationship with Nathan Grayson, a journalist from an online video game journalism publication known as Kotaku (Hern, 2014; Nott, 2014). With this information, Quinn’s ex-boyfriend, Eron Gjoni, posted a blog article that falsely accused Quinn of exchanging sex with Grayson (as well as a number of other journalists) for the publicity of her video game, titled Depression Quest. Even though Grayson had not recently reviewed or promoted the game in his journalism (Grayson, 2014), Gjoni’s blog article prompted heated discussions on Twitter and other social networks. These conversations used a rhetoric of concern about ethics in video game journalism in an attempt to harass Quinn (Chess & Shaw, 2015, pp. 210; Harwell, 2014). In particular, those who publicly associated themselves with the ‘Anonymous’ online platform 4chan went so far as to launch a harassment campaign against Quinn, in which her online accounts were hacked and her personal details were stolen and exposed online (Johnston, 2014a). Some observers have since linked the cause for these incidents to Quinn’s gender, because of allegations that Quinn’s bid to garner positive reviews for her video game was the basis for her relationship with Grayson (Ringo, 2014).
A number of figures within the video game industry came out in support of Quinn and they were also attacked. On August 17, independent game developer Phil Fish (responsible for the popular indie game, Fez) stepped in to defend Quinn against her online harassers, but this resulted in hackers breaking into his Twitter and Dropbox profiles, as well as exposing his e-mail accounts, passwords and banking information (McWhertor, 2014). Later, via his Twitter, Fish condemned the gamers who had harassed Quinn. He also announced that he was selling his development studio and intellectual property, and leaving the video game industry:
All you people attacking Zoe are cowards. Attacking a woman the easiest way you can. Despicable cowards, all of you … You made your point, “gamers”. You’re monsters. We get it … You should all be grieving. Videogames are dead. (Fish, 2014a, 2014b, 2014c, 2014d)
Other events also contributed to these negative news reports. On August 24, a hacker group concocted a fake bomb threat that diverted the flight carrying Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley, who is responsible for Sony’s online PlayStation gaming network (Good, 2014a). On August 27, pranksters called a SWAT team into the home of a popular video game streamer while he was live-streaming a game of Counter-Strike (Good, 2014b). The pranksters falsely reported an active shooter with multiple victims. It was the accumulation of these negative news events that characterised the first pre-Gamergate phase of the Gamergate media event.
The second phase of the movement is when the previously diffuse and largely anonymous community of those who mobilised against Quinn and her supporters gathered an identity – ‘Gamergate’. Not only did the ‘Gamergaters’ identify with the term, but other participants collectively mobilised against it. The use of the ‘Gamergate’ label was triggered by the creation and use of the #Gamergate hashtag by science-fiction film and television actor Adam Baldwin on August 27, 2014 (Wingfield, 2014). Baldwin tweeted the hashtag to his 190,000 Twitter followers and linked to two videos that openly condemned Quinn of inciting a conflict of interest in video game journalism. Thereafter, Baldwin’s Twitter followers helped to spread the hashtag across a number of networks – including Reddit, 4chan, and 8chan.
The ‘–gate’ suffix in ‘Gamergate’ signifies a ‘scandal’. Its use derives from the Watergate controversy that occurred in the United States during the early 1970s. Broadly, Watergate involved the administration of then U.S. President Richard Nixon engaging in illegal activities, abusing power and attempting to cover up these involvements (History.com, 2009). Since then, the ‘–gate’ suffix has been used in relation to a number of other political scandals to suggest extensive corruption, usually with the purpose of calling for a full investigation and disclosure (Maier, 2013). In this sense, masculine Gamergaters used the hashtag to protest against an alleged corruption in video game journalism, but also to denote their suspicion that feminists are attempting to sabotage the video game industry (Chess & Shaw, 2015, pp. 210).
There was ongoing evidence of self-identifying Gamergaters displaying an aggressive predisposition (including harassment) towards self-identifying feminists (Chess & Shaw, 2015, pp. 209–210). Among these feminists was popular video blogger, Anita Sarkeesian, whose blog Feminist Frequency has a considerable following of over 410,000 followers on Twitter (as of November 2015) (Twitter.com, 2015). On August 25, 2014, Sarkeesian published a new episode in her video blog series, ‘Tropes vs. Women in Video Games’. This episode, titled ‘Women as Background Decoration (Part 2)’, argued how objectified female bodies serve a dual role in video game media, as both a sexual plaything and a victim of male violence (Sarkeesian, 2014). The response this episode generated was divisive and, like Quinn, Sarkeesian recounted her experience of the online harassment it spawned, including rape and death threats (North, 2015). Sarkeesian added that her harassment was a result of speaking out against these sexist tropes, as well as against the misogynistic and anti-feminist tendencies held by the Gamergate public (Nott, 2014). A snapshot of the daily harassment directed at Anita Sarkeesian has been provided below. These comments were not published during the period in question (August 25–27, 2014), but according to Sarkeesian, they are representative of the messages that have been directed at her on a daily basis, since ‘Tropes vs. Women in Video Games’ began in 2012 (Sarkeesian, 2015). Sarkeesian (2015) recorded 156 abusive Twitter messages during the week of January 20–26, 2015. These tweets were directed at Sarkeesian’s Twitter handle, @femfreq. Based on similar Twitter research and tweet typologies (Awan, 2014, pp. 143; Zubiaga, et al, 2011, pp. 2462), this research has categorised Sarkeesian’s data into five types:
“@femfreq I hope every feminist has their head severed from their shoulders.”
[1 favourite; 8:40 PM – 20 Jan 2015]
|Reluctance to accept gender equality and diversity in video games||imDLXE @imDLXE|
“@femfreq dumb bitch, your going to ruin the gaming community for millions of people we hope your happy”
[7:54 AM – 21 Jan 2015]
|Rape threats||Stache=^] @staache|
“im going to come to your house and violently rape you in front of your family @femfreq”
[1 retweet; 1 favourite; 10:45 AM – 25 Jan 2015]
|Death threats||MetalGear_Snake @teraberserker22|
“@femfreq Hope she dies really soon, if not soon enough, then I’ll kill her.”
[1 retweet; 5:21 PM – 23 Jan 2015]
|Defending misogyny as part of video game culture||Marc xStazza @Squad7_|
“@femfreq Death threats and rape threats are in the culture of gaming… Have you ever played an Online game? Get used to it..”
[9:24PM – 21 Jan 2015]
Figure 2. A typology of tweets directed at Anita Sarkeesian’s Twitter account (@femfreq) between January 20–26, 2015 (Sarkeesian, 2015).
The aggressive harassment and threats of violence drove Sarkeesian out of her home on August 26, 2014 (Campbell, 2014). The abusive Twitter messages that surfaced in response to Sarkeesian’s video have since been reported and removed from Twitter’s servers.
These misogynistic practices represent a style of communication that is sometimes associated with the Gamergate public (Hern, 2014; Nott, 2014; Wingfield, 2014; Chess & Shaw, 2015, pp. 210), but the aim of this research project is not to psychoanalyse this particular demographic. Rather, this thesis is concerned with the function of discourse in Gamergate as an event of social mediation – or in other words, whether the Gamergate public’s antisocial practices have transformed over the course of the controversy, and what conditions have facilitated the character of this change.
2.2 The ‘death of the gamer’
Possible motivations for this aggressive messaging became a key topic for commentary that shaped the discourse in circulation. A number of articles critical of the ‘gamer’ identity worked to make a connection between the personal practices of individual ‘gamers’ and the masculine and aggressive culture of gaming that fostered and valorised such practices. Gamasutra journalist Leigh Alexander (2014) instigated this commentary on August 28, 2014 in her article titled “‘Gamers’ don’t have to be your audience. ‘Gamers’ are over.” Her argument condemned the general reputation of ‘gamers’ through the eyes of the mainstream media, as a reflection of their online behaviours:
‘Games culture’ is a petri dish of people who know so little about how human social interaction and professional life works that they can concoct online ‘wars’ about social justice or ‘game journalism ethics,’ straight-faced, and cause genuine human consequences. Because of video games. (Alexander, 2014)
Alexander (2014) stresses that the antisocial behaviours that masculine ‘gamers’ display in online spaces is representative of video game culture in general. She cites the harassment of Anita Sarkeesian as a key concern and specifically mentions the aforementioned incident where Sarkeesian was driven out of her home. Alexander (2014) also refers to the hegemonic, geeky masculinity in video game media, and she supposes that ‘hardcore gamers’ are refusing to let go of this cultural trope as this would lead to ‘sharing’ video games with the players outside of their masculine demographic (the hegemonic character of geeky masculinity is further discussed in Chapter 3 and Chapter 4). Alexander’s argument aligns with the critique that the reluctance of gamers to accept gender equality and diversity in video games is a cultural problem (Shaw, 2012, pp. 29). Ultimately, Alexander (2014) affirms that the traditional ‘gamer’ identity has died because the industry has evolved beyond the need to cater to a market organised around these masculine tropes. She advocates for the ongoing goal of fostering an industry that is inclusive of all audiences, and interested in creating diverse works of art.
A featured post from Gamasutra community member Devin Wilson was published a few hours after Alexander’s article, and supported her assertion that “gamers are over”. Wilson’s article is in the form of an 18-point manifesto and is titled ‘A Guide to Ending “Gamers”’ (Wilson, 2014). It articulates a discursive shift in video games’ social community whereby other members of the gaming public can be included. Notably, Wilson (2014) echoes Alexander’s rhetoric of ‘maturity’ – that video game culture can only advance if the interests of others are valued throughout its community and industry, and if the culture of video game consumption shifts to focus on thoroughly investigating and criticising video game media. He also suggests abandoning terms such as ‘hardcore’ and ‘casual’ gamers, as associating strongly with these vague category distinctions only serves to perpetuate the hegemony of masculine taste cultures that has led to video games’ deep-rooted misogyny. On the topic of feminism and Anita Sarkeesian, he assures readers that their aim is not to impose feminist discourse into video games, but to bring attention to the misogynistic design choices of video game developers.
On the same day, PhD student Dan Golding (2014) published a blog post that provided a pseudo-analytical approach to the ‘death of the gamer’ media event. Golding (2014) describes the tension that occurred in the ‘gamer’ identity when video games expanded their marketability beyond the traditional male player. He posits that this introduced a progressive paradigm shift among emerging demographics of players and developers, and that this has continued to force the disintegration of the masculine ‘gamer’ identity. Ultimately, he declares this identity as culturally irrelevant because video games are no longer exclusively for ‘gamers’, but are increasingly becoming marketable towards all audiences: “I am convinced that this marks the end. We are finished here. From now on, there are no more gamers—only players” (Golding, 2014). This coincides with assertions that geek culture and its video game subcategories have transferred into ‘mainstream’ or popular markets – a series of events that was labelled (perhaps pre-emptively) as the ‘revenge’ of these previously ‘alternative’ or countercultural formations (Woo, 2012, pp. 32–34). Golding’s argument also echoes gender scholar Adrienne Shaw’s claim that the culture of gender discrimination in video games will collapse only by normalising video games into ‘everyday’, contemporary media culture (Shaw, 2012, pp. 40).
The points raised by key critical figures such as Alexander, Wilson and Golding promptly circulated throughout social media platforms, other niche gaming publications including Kotaku, Polygon, Destructoid and Rock, Paper, Shotgun, as well as online journalism outlets like BuzzFeed News and Vice, and larger news networks such as The Guardian, The New York Times and Forbes. This research counted 18 articles that surfaced during the week spanning August 28, 2014 to September 3, 2014. These articles referenced similar news events, but most focused on distinct elements connected to the alleged collapse of the ‘gamer’ identity.
|Date of publication||Author||Publication||Title of article||Number of comments|
|August 28, 2014||Alexander, Leigh||Gamasutra||‘Gamers’ don’t have to be your audience. ‘Gamers’ are over.||290|
|August 28, 2014||Golding, Dan||Dan Golding [Tumblr blog]||The End of Gamers||225 [5,914 notes*]|
|August 28, 2014||O’Rourke, Patrick||Financial Post||Sexism, misogyny and online attacks: It’s a horrible time to consider yourself a ‘gamer’||0|
|August 28, 2014||Plante, Chris||Polygon||An awful week to care about video games||530|
|August 28, 2014||Plunkett, Luke||Kotaku||We Might Be Witnessing The ‘Death of An Identity’||1,942|
|August 28, 2014||Wilson, Devin||Gamasutra||A Guide to Ending “Gamers”||90|
|August 29, 2014||Bernstein, Joseph||BuzzFeed News||Gaming Is Leaving “Gamers” Behind||70|
|August 29, 2014||Johnston, Casey||Ars Technica||The death of the “gamers” and the women who “killed” them||1,754|
|August 29, 2014||North, Anna||The New York Times||Why a Video Game Critic Was Forced to Flee Her Home||11|
|August 29, 2014||O’Malley, Harris||Dr. NerdLove||The End of Gatekeeping: The Extinction Burst of Gaming Culture||754|
|August 29, 2014||Pearl, Mike||Vice||This guy’s embarrassing relationship drama is killing the “gamer” identity||– [Article removed]|
|August 31, 2014||Holmes, Jonathan||Destructoid||Why does the term ‘gamer’ feel important?||698|
|September 1, 2014||Kain, Erik||Forbes||The Gamer Is Dead: Long Live The Gamer||1|
|September 1, 2014||Ligman, Kris||Gamasutra||This Week in Video Game Criticism: Tropes vs Anita Sarkeesian and the Demise of ‘Gamers’||16|
|September 1, 2014||Smith, Graham||Rock, Paper, Shotgun||The Monday Papers||– [Comments closed]|
|September 2, 2014||Cooper, Ryan||The Week||How to stop misogynists from terrorizing the world of gamers||– [Comments not enabled]|
|September 2, 2014||Williams, Ian||Jacobin||Death to the Gamer||– [Comments not enabled]|
|September 3, 2014||Stuart, Keith||The Guardian||Gamergate: the community is eating itself but there should be room for all||674|
* ‘Notes’ are a measurement of activity on the Tumblr blogging platform. They combine the total ‘likes’, comments and ‘reblogs’ by other Tumblr users for any single blog post.
Figure 3. The ‘gamers are dead’ articles collated during the week from August 28, 2014 to September 3, 2014.
The rate at which the ‘death of the gamer’ media event spread across multiple publications resulted in a reciprocal response from ‘gamers’ themselves. These responses are contained in the comments sections of the articles detailed in Figure 3, above. They were facilitated primarily by video game and geek interest-based publications, as opposed to ‘mainstream’ news outlets. This is suggested by the number of comments generated by each article; where these numbers are relatively higher for geek interest websites such as Kotaku (1,942), Ars Technica (1,754), Dr. NerdLove (754) and Destructoid (698), these numbers are relatively lower for the non-geek publications, such as BuzzFeed News (70), The New York Times (11), Forbes (1) and Financial Post (0). The clear exceptions in this deduction are the British national daily newspaper The Guardian, which generated 674 comments, and video game-based publication Gamasutra, of which two articles (other than Leigh Alexander’s) generated 90 and 16 comments. These comments are further analysed at the end of this chapter, as well as in Chapter 3 – Gamer, Geek and Consumer Identity and Chapter 4 – Publics, Counterpublics and Hegemonic Masculinity.
2.3 Commentating the ‘death of the gamer’
As opposed to commenters, this thesis refers to the authors of the ‘death of the gamer’ articles as commentators engaging in ‘commentary’ about the event, which framed the discussion within the event itself. ‘Commentary’ is defined by Foucault as one of the “internal rules” of discourse (Foucault, 1972, pp. 220). Here, Foucault is largely talking about the discursive function of secondary commentaries in academic and literary domains, but a similar function can be seen in journalistic commentaries about an ongoing media event (Andrejevic, 2008, pp. 611; Mitchelson, 2012). Instead of shaping the form of a discipline over a number of years however, this commentary shapes the form of a media event over a period of weeks, if not days. Key forms of commentary in the ‘death of the gamer’ media event included attempts to summarise the debate and mediations on the key critical points raised about the gendered character of the ‘gamer’ identity and the role of gatekeeping in ‘gamer’ culture.
A significant portion of the commentators agreed with Leigh Alexander’s assertions. Some approached her arguments from different perspectives however, such as that of female video game enthusiasts. For instance, Ars Technica’s Casey Johnston emphasised the victimisation of women in this ongoing culture war: “it especially holds the medium back when these situations not only fail to play out in a civilised way, but become opportunistic embroiling of women in the ‘problems’ of gaming culture, creation and coverage” (Johnston, 2014b). Polygon’s Chris Plante took to aggregating the previous week’s negative and positive news events, closing with a call to the gaming community to realise the significance of their industry’s discursive shift and the implications this has for facilitating a more diverse video game culture: “No longer are games designed, marketed and sold to a niche group of young men. Games are now ubiquitous … More games are being created by more people for more people than ever before” (Plante, 2014).
Some commentators attempted to articulate the discursive subject position of a gaming enthusiast, but without the hostile traits associated with ‘gamers’. Notably, Kotaku’s Luke Plunkett tried to distance the figure of the ‘gamer’ in Alexander’s piece from the everyday practices of ‘normal’ video game players (Plunkett, 2014). After citing Alexander’s and Golding’s ‘gamers are dead’ articles, Plunkett assured his readers that the ‘gamer’ being referred to is in fact the hegemonic-masculine gamer that resists against the diversification of video games, their industry and their social communities: “Note they’re not talking about everyone who plays games, or who self-identifies as a “gamer”, as being the worst … If you call yourself a “gamer” and are a cool person, keep on being a cool person” (Plunkett, 2014).
Other commentators focused on the role of gatekeeping in ‘gamer’ culture, as well as the participatory logics associated with these practices. For example, BuzzFeed News’ Joseph Bernstein (2014) referenced Golding’s article with a purpose of highlighting video game discourse as on the verge of having no bias towards any group. An article published by Dr. NerdLove built on this point by citing the disintegration of gatekeeping practices in ‘gamer’ culture: “those old conditioned responses to the stereotypical gamer are going away and allowing gaming to advance” (O’Malley, 2014). Destructoid’s Jonathan Holmes developed this discussion further by acknowledging that “we’ve reached a point where almost everybody plays video games”, but he criticises the way that the ‘gamer’ label is used to elevate its users above others: “‘Gamer’ was a way to take back ‘videogame nerd’ and remove the social stigma, and now it’s being used as a pedestal to stigmatize others” (Holmes, 2014). Discussing this antagonistic character of ‘gamer’ culture, Jacobin’s Ian Williams stressed that ‘gamers’ tend to become hostile when counterpublics challenge their identity as ‘gamers’: “When their imaginary identity politics are challenged, they’ll lash out, angrily, with as much vitriol as they can muster” (Williams, 2014).
Media publications outside of video game journalism also contributed to this commentary in support of Alexander’s arguments. Among the ‘mainstream’ outlets that published news and opinion-editorials about ‘the death of the gamer’, several – such as The New York Times – approached this media event by aggregating its newsworthy elements – namely the harassment of Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian, and the antagonistic online publics that have organised around these issues (North, 2014). In another instance, Financial Post’s Patrick O’Rourke (2014) underlined the severity of these events, and then echoed Wilson’s (2014) assertions that video games can only progress to a more diverse position if players become critical of the gender biases that pervade its medium and industry.
A number of ‘mainstream’ media outlets were critical of Leigh Alexander and the key points behind the ‘death of the gamer’ media event, however. While The Guardian’s Keith Stuart condemned gamers for “[shutting] out different voices and new forms of design … [and denying] that this industry needs to improve its representation”, he suggested that online feminist counterpublics will ultimately be unsuccessful in their efforts: “they are not going to convince Activision, EA, Capcom or any other multinational games corporations to stop making games that conflict with their beliefs” (Stuart, 2014). In a similar manner, Jacobin’s Ian Williams asserted that the ‘gamer’ identity will endure for as long as it persists as a consumer identity: “Gamers won’t die because there will always be, in capitalism, people who define themselves by what they buy” (Williams, 2014). Forbes’ Erik Kain was also critical of the notion that the ‘gamer’ cultural identity can be eradicated: “critics and journalists who attempt to destroy a word in the name of politics are not furthering some noble goal, some cultural evolutionary step. As if by proclamation anyone could declare a word dead to begin with” (Kain, 2014). Furthermore, Kain deplored the manner in which Alexander approached her agenda: “she’s doing it in a weird way—attacking the idea of being a gamer just because a minority of those people engage in harassment and misogyny” (Kain, 2014). Kain suggested that rather than dividing gamers and so-called SJWs, these conflicting publics ought to be united: “all this fighting and squabbling just serves to further the very narrow self-interest of particular people and groups of people on both sides of the issue” (Kain, 2014).
2.4 The ‘death of the gamer’ as an acute event
The ‘death of the gamer’ can be classified as an ‘acute event’. This term is used to denote news events in which participants play a more substantive role in covering news than the journalists and media outlets reporting the event (O’Donnell & Hutchinson, 2015, pp. 108; Bruns, 2012, pp. 4). Acute events occur through the shift in attention from the journalistic commentators to the consumers of news, who may be producing their own media content, communicating with key stakeholders via public social networks such as Twitter, or by actively contributing to the debate in news comment threads.
As an acute event, the ‘death of the gamer’ is characterised by how commenters responded to these commentators’ articulations of the ‘gamer’ identity. For example, some commenters resonated with the articles, particularly within social networks organised by more ‘mainstream’ publications. One occurrence saw BuzzFeed News reader ‘Daniel Firestone’ commenting “‘gamer’ is just another word for ‘obsessed’” (Daniel Firestone, 2014). Similarly, commenting to The New York Times, ‘John Lunn’ criticised Gamergaters’ efforts to preserve the ‘gamer’ identity in their discursive territory: “control of turf, no matter how large or small, is always part of an immature mind” (John Lunn, 2014).
A high number of commenters in ‘geek’ and ‘gamer’ communities assessed the ‘death of the gamer’ as undeserving of media attention, however. These participants tended to downplay the articles as ‘clickbait’ (i.e. online journalism that is devised to accumulate ‘hits’, thus procuring advertising revenue for its publication) (John Prior, 2012). Among these actors was Amir Barak, who panned Devin Wilson’s Gamasutra article as “a cheap trick designed to jump on a very specific ‘trendy’ bandwagon and make the author/s feel superior” (Amir Barak, 2014). Similarly, James Austen in The Guardian’s comments described clickbait in video game journalism as “articles about social justice”, and emphasised that these articles were “alienating their target audience” (James Austen, 2014). Some commenters even speculated that the ‘death of the gamer’ had been entirely fabricated by the media, as user ‘fred tam’ commented on Kris Ligman’s Gamasutra article: “look at how all those ‘gamer is dead’ articles came out simultaneously, they are exhibiting corruption and group think on a scale which is just on a different level” (fred tam, 2014).
Certain readers felt that the ‘death of the gamer’ media event had misrepresented ‘gamers’ because commentators had not strived for an objective narration of the Gamergate controversy, in which gamers’ perspectives were also covered. This was one of the key arguments constituting gamers’ critiques of the ‘ethics in video game journalism’. For instance, Polygon’s comments section was divisive over the quality of the publication’s news coverage, with many participants demanding objective reporting – as opposed to “feelings with no evidence” (TheAsterite, 2014) – so as to avoid “reducing a massive and varied spectrum of opinion and behaviour into two opposing ‘sides’” (hiddencamel, 2014). ‘LostToys’ articulated this in their comment:
… the article paints this issue as either being black or white … This is a disingenuous representation of everything, particularly when you consider that some people on the “the other side” were also spreading hate, threats, and general malice. (LostToys, 2014)
There was general disparagement directed towards commentators’ treatment of the ‘gamer’ identity. This occurred under Wilson’s Gamasutra article, where ‘Ricardo Hernandez’ refused “to let an article like this re-define at [sic] term I have used for so long with so innocent consequences” (Ricardo Hernandez, 2014). Similarly, posting in The Guardian’s comments section, user ‘FatedToPretend’ accrued 53 ‘recommendations’ when they expressed that they felt “betrayed” by video game journalists: “Whilst I know that the slew of articles last week declaring the death of ‘the Gamer’, or generally decrying ‘the Gamer’ weren’t specifically about me, it still feels like it is” (FatedToPretend, 2014). Disparately, in Polygon’s comments, TheFirstUniverseKing rebutted calls for ‘fair and balanced’ journalism, describing the ongoing shift in video game discourse as imperative to fostering gender representation and diversity in its culture:
Yes, there’s a bias on Polygon and other places towards equality, but you act like that’s a bad thing and that the reaction among some extremists … is justified. Fact is, in order for change to happen, conversations like this NEED to occur, and journalists should not shy away from having them like they have in the past. (TheFirstUniverseKing, 2014)
Overall, what can be gathered from the ‘death of the gamer’ media event is that key commentators in the video game industry condemned the ‘gamer’ identity as a way of also critiquing ‘gamer’ culture at large. These critiques drew on a relatively recent history of harassment and misogyny performed towards self-identifying feminists in online social networks. Commentators argued that ‘gamer’ culture is influenced by the hypermasculine character of video game design, which also validates this culture’s sexist social practices, including gatekeeping. In order to assimilate video game culture into ‘everyday’ media culture, these commentators ultimately argued that developers should shift their focus away from masculine ‘gamers’ and towards an inclusive community of video game players. These assertions led to an aggrieved response from self-identifying ‘gamers’ participating in the acute event.