GamerGate has not bottomed out quite yet. The pent-up rage of a group of disenfranchised misogynists has found a new digital outlet for harassing one of their targets, games developer Zoe Quinn, in the form of Amazon Kindle e-books.
If you are one of the handful of people still bleating that GamerGate is about ‘ethics in games journalism’, then a 3,000+ word e-book [which now looks to have been taken down] about five men raping a “controversial video game designer” — with the thinly veiled fictional name of Zada Quinby — really isn’t going to help your cause.
The real life Quinn is the developer of an interactive game about depression, called Depression Quest.
This e-book is just another example of the highly unpleasant trolling that has characterized GamerGame, much of it playing out on Twitter, where hate speech has been allowed to flow free. And where rape and death threats have driven multiple women in the games industry out of their homes, or forced them to cancel speaking engagements.
The underlying agenda of GamerGate has always been an attempt to intimidate and drive women out of the games industry. While the threats of violence have been exceptionally crude, the tactics have been relatively sophisticated, with co-ordinated online attacks aimed at amplifying the impact and noise, and exerting commercial pressure on digital advertisers.
Tactics that I and others have argued requires mainstream social platforms to up their own game when it comes to combating co-ordinated hate mobs by giving users more granular controls for filtering their feeds. Bottom line: this is an online bullying issue, not a free speech issue. And indeed, earlier this month, Twitter launched a suite of new anti-harassment tools to make it easier for users to block or report bullies on the network.
Penning 11-pages of hate speech and publishing it as an e-book on a mainstream ecommerce platform is just the latest GamerGate attempt to bully Quinn and amplify minority views. Albeit, in this instance, the harassment might well be the work of a lone supporter with too much time on their hands, rather than another orchestrated attack.
The book is also priced at $3.08 so an even more cynical take is this is an opportunistic GamerGater attempting to cash in on fellow GGer’s hate.
Truly trolling has reached a new low. But has my TC colleague John Biggs has noted, the goal of the troll isn’t to make a point. The goal is to bother someone and watch them squirm.
We’ve reached out to Amazon to ask if it is comfortable being the ecommerce outlet for a work of ‘rape fan fiction’ designed to intimidate and bully an individual, and will update this post with any response.
Update: During the writing of the post the e-book appears to have been removed from Amazon.com. It’s not clear whether Amazon took it down, albeit the company has previously pulled incest fiction from its digital shelves followed media criticism.