Hey, remember #GamerGate? If you thought that the ridiculous kerfuffle over nasty feminists saying mean things about the poor innocent people on 4chan was over and done with, you might be unpleasantly surprised to know that the gamers in question have been harassing advertisers on sites that publish those journalists whose views they find offensive. Striking a blow for free speech, y’all! This campaign boasts at least one unfeasible success: #GamerGate has managed to gaslight Intel into pulling an advertising campaign from the video-game criticism site Gamasutra. High five, Internet bros!
I don’t expect a company like Intel (well, especially not Intel) to base their decisions on principle, but as much as anything else, this is a bad commercial decision. There’s been much crowing in the #GamerGate fraternity this morning that Intel has learned a lesson about alienating its core audience, but despite what they might like to believe, these people are not Intel’s core audience. Intel sells a lot of chips, and only a small minority of those go to #gamers. And even among this audience, the people kicking up a stink about feminist conspiracies are not representative of the larger cohort of people who buy and enjoy video games.
And no, I’m not just making this up. The Entertainment Software Association’s demographic survey for 2014 suggests that in the US, gamers are 52% male and 48% female. A couple of other relevant facts, straight from the survey: “Women age 18 or older represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (36%) than boys age 18 or younger (17%)” and “The number of female gamers age 50 and older increased by 32% from 2012 to 2013.”
The trend here is clear, and indeed, it’s a piece by Leigh Alexander pointing out exactly this that’s one of the things that sent the #GamerGate people into a frenzy — it’s this article that has led to Gamasutra being targeted. It’s kind of hilarious that a movement that claims to be against bias in journalism is actively trying to influence what journalists are and aren’t allowed to write about, but the irony is doubtless lost on people who really think that they’re somehow fighting for an honorable cause. (Proselytizers are not widely renowned for their senses of humor, sadly.)
Still, you’d think that Intel and other companies might realize that in pandering to the views of a minority, they risk being on the wrong side of history. The #GamerGate people are a vocal minority in the same way that the Tea Party are a vocal minority: they’re a fringe group with an agenda to push, one that’s representative of the views of an ever-diminishing minority. They’re a bewildered group of assholes raging against the inevitable end of their hegemony, a mouse roaring into the void. And just like the Tea Party, for all that they’re big on “free speech,” they’re also big on trying to silence people whose opinions they don’t agree with, which explains the fact that there’s an organized campaign to target sites who publish opinions that offend their tender anti-feminist sensibilities.
But their “influence,” such as it is, is a confidence trick — they only get to dictate the narrative of gaming if people like Intel credit their views with anything more than the respect one might give to any other bunch of petition-signing assclowns on the Internet. (Also, let’s not kid ourselves that your average 4chan gamer’s decision between Intel and AMD for their next gaming box is going to depend on anything apart from which gives them the better frame rate on Call of Duty.)
Still, if Intel is so pusillanimous as to bend to pressure like this, then I urge anyone who cares about the plurality of voices on the Internet and the fact that there’s an organized campaign to intimidate and financially damage sites who run feminist critiques of video games — video games, for fuck’s sake — to contact Intel and let them know what you think about their decision to pull their Gamasutra advertising.
Here are the details, straight from the #GamerGate crew:
Go on, it only takes two minutes. Clicktivism never felt so good, right?