Conversations of GamerGate and Fractured Fandom

One of the things I have been doing this year (i.e. 2015) is trying to better understand what I mean when I say “fractured fandom” and how it manifests in the world. I’ve been writing about it for a couple years now, I have done an online interview study to gather people’s stories, I have attended panels at conventions and conferences that relate to the idea, and I have talked to fans and academics about the idea.

One of the aspects that I have delved into lately that relates to this fractured fandom idea is the issue of GamerGate and how it reflects and manifests these fractures. I cannot claim to be completely neutral on the issues behind and involved in GamerGate, since I consider myself a feminist, but I have tried to be neutral by engaging with both sides (as if GamerGate is only a two-sided matter, which is too simplistic and reductionist) to understand how people who position themselves as pro-GG or anti-GG make sense of what is going on.

Because I think I understand the anti-GG mindset more (which is probably an amazing fallacy on my part that I need to rectify), I have focused more on talking to the pro-GG side to understand how they understand the purpose of GamerGate and the antagonisms associated with it.

I have had these conversations via Twitter, as Twitter has been the primary location of GamerGate, given the identity of the issue is owed to the #GamerGate and given that the majority of the antagonism occurs in this online communication space. I believe it can be hard to have a conversation on Twitter with one person, as the disjointed nature of those discrete tweets can make for a somewhat schizophrenic experience; keeping up with what the other person says in real time, and know what tweet is a response to what, can require more patience than I can sometimes exhibit (my failing more than the tool’s, I believe). But having a conversation with multiple, even dozens of, people at once can be overwhelming — in one conversation I was receiving so many overlapping notifications of replies to a tweet that I started feeling anxious, had that “tight in my chest” sensation, about being able to keep up with everything being said and not offending anyone.

Some of these conversations were short, lasting only a couple hours. Some were long, with hundreds of tweets and spanning an entire day or even spilling over into another day.

Because I found each and every one of these conversations informative, in that they helped me understand how people were making sense of the issues of GamerGate and the sociocultural tensions related to it, I took the additional step of recording these conversations via the online tool Storify. I wanted to keep these conversations so that I could return to them, to gain more understanding of what was going on in these fractures, but also to share what I have been told so that perhaps others could gain understanding as well.

The following are those conversations.

In this first conversation, we discussed the nature of being a “gamer” and who has the “power” to legitimize what is or is not the requirements to be a true gamer. I was interested in this topic because I have seen before how people try to define the legitimacy of the “gamer” identity, and because part of what lead to GamerGate was the sense of this identity being attacked by people perceived as outsiders, as not “true gamers.” You can read how those involved in GamerGate positioned this identity here: https://storify.com/CarrieLynn/what-is-a-gamer

The following are the conversations that focus specifically on trying to understand what is happening in GamerGate, and how people make sense of it all. Each one is a unique conversation, on a unique point, but some represent a span of days over which a conversation occurred and delved into these different points. All of these conversations are presented here:

This last conversation is not directly linked with GamerGate, although I believe, in looking at the Twitter profile of the person I was conversing with, that indeed some of the sociocultural tensions discussed in this conversation also relate to the issue of GamerGate. There appears to be much upheaval and uncertainty in the matters of identity in contemporary, post-industrial societies, and this conversation, as well as the tensions involved in GamerGate, reflects this unsettled period, as people try to determine what will work best for them in their own lives and what people should do/be for the betterment of our society.

In particular, this conversation is about the issue of the Men’s Rights Movement and Men’s Rights Activists. As a feminist, I completely support a better investigation and understanding of how men are just as impacted as women by sociocultural structures, but I am not certain we in this conversation ever truly reached that common ground: https://storify.com/CarrieLynn/on-the-topic-of-mrm-mra

If I have any more such conversations (such as with the anti-GG side, which I started to do here: https://storify.com/CarrieLynn/speaking-with-the-other-side), then I will make certain to share them in this space, because, as I mentioned, I find recording these conversations useful for my own reflection on the nature of fractured fandom — and perhaps you will also find them helpful in understanding what is happening in the world around us, both online and offline.

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