During my final semester at university, my friend and I created a Twine game about the consequences of being a gamer girl for a project. Most of my information came from research articles about GamerGate, studies on female gamers, chat audio clips and screenshots of hateful comments.
I was ecstatic when I found out about Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate by Zoe Quinn. I admire her for her game Depression Quest and for her strength during the absurd GamerGate situation.
You do not need to have prior knowledge of GamerGate to understand Quinn’s story, since she explains her situation quite thoroughly. If you do have prior knowledge, there is a chance that you may have been misinformed, as it was a topic of some contention. Quinn demonstrates clearly what happened during GamerGate, and how her ex’s fabricated story fueled misogyny. Her overview of GamerGate is more valuable than any article or news clip since she has firsthand knowledge. While GamerGate was disguised as being all about ethics in video game journalism, it was really a gateway for hate speech and giving ground to the so-called “Far Right”, who’s goal seemed to be going after women in the gaming industry.
Although Quinn discusses disturbing topics, the overall tone of the book is inspirational. She hopes for a better protected internet and proper consequences for harassers. I call this book an eye opener because it reveals the potential of the internet for hatred, and the lack of resources available to victims of online abuse. Quinn found a home on the internet; she found people like her. Yet years later her home became inhospitable, and without anyone to turn to, her career and personal life suffered as a result.
Unfortunately, those who tried to tear her life apart gained the spotlight. Social media helped escalate the false accusations against Quinn and even allowed people to send her death threats. This failing of social media is highlighted by Quinn, and it’s a subject that should be given much more attention, seeing as we should be able to feel safe online. This is something that can happen to anyone using social media.
Quinn’s advocacy group and online crisis hotline called the Crash Override Network helps people that have been victims of online abuse and need help taking action against perpetrators. It is also meant to inform why online abuse occurs, how to prevent it, and what to do about it.
During GamerGate when Quinn faced disgusting accusations and was harassed in distressing ways by many, there were still some people who supported her. However, she did not get the support she deserved from legal institutions. Those who stood up for Quinn were targeted, her family and friends where doxed or even threatened. She mentions throughout the book that harassment can reach anyone online; no one with an internet connection is completely safe from it.
Above is an interview between Anita Sarkeesian and ABC News where she explains how dehumanizing it is to be a GamerGate target. Sarkeesian is a feminist critic of the gaming industry and a friend of Quinn. In 2015, Quinn and Sarkeesian had testified to the United Nations about combating online abuse.
Throughout the book, Quinn gives examples of others in the gaming industry that were also targeted because they showed support for Quinn. Apart from the gaming industry, she spends time on the subject of online harassment towards marginalized people. The Crash Override Network is not just video game related, but for anyone dealing with harassment online.
The last few chapters highlight precautions you can take to combat abusive behavior online. I suggest giving this section of the book extra attention since it goes over everyday steps you can take to make yourselves safer and how to gather evidence.
For a book that is a bit over 200 pages, it’s jam-packed with information: Quinn’s point of view on GamerGate, a clarification of events, and a clear stance on online abuse and her demand for change. Her humor adds bundles of character to the book. She even mentions “If I wasn’t able to laugh at the absurdity of what has been done to me, I would have lost my mind to the horror of it a long time ago.”
Remember, be cautious with social media and be respectful of others. It is easy to sit behind a screen and say something hurtful, but you are not doing anything good for society that way. In our social media age, it is easy to believe any news people post so check to make sure the information is true. If you are someone who does deal with online harassment, document what happens and reach out.