New Media Makes Communication Old News

Gamergate in many ways represents the epitome of the culture wars within the united states that highlights the polarized nature of our current political discourse. What makes it so interesting is how it neatly encapsulates the impact new media has had on the sphere of legitimate debate. In particular what one can observe is that new media has clearly enabled greater polarization so as to turn productive political discourse into impassioned rabble rousing. Where television brought us Buckly v Vidal and educated a nation the internet has brought us Pepe v Sarkisian and stultified a nation.screen_shot_2015-09-09_at_5-44-07_pm_850_513

What one can observe on the Gamergate side of the fence is a trend consistent with the phenomenon of the alt right movement itself. The overlap in movements is by no means a coincidence.  They gather in male dominated forums like reddit or 8chan bemoaning ethics in journalism and their victimization by a vast liberal conspiracy while citing sources, and rally behind those, that lack any integrity. The irony here is that they apply a critical, and often derogatory eye, towards the work of gaming journalists, or journalists covering the movement, while demonstrating a unique selective blindness when it comes to the plethora of conspiracy theories that emit from their members. The claim masculine rationality as the basis for their beliefs declaring themselves the bearers of truth and representatives of the silent moral majority. The keyword here is silent as it became glaringly obvious to anyone who bothered to google it that #notyoursheild is a sockpuppet campaign. Making something like this about as valid as a permanent coma patient. Of course you could also note issues with self reporting and sample size as well. Apparently concern with ethics in journalism does not extend to a concern with ethics in general.

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On the other side of the fence is the actual majority. Unless of course trump is right about winning the popular vote as well. He isn’t but it does answer the age-old question of if there can be a sore winner. It does neatly indicate the sore spot for these recidivist and reactionary elements that comprise the alt-right movement or in our case gamergate. They feel they are constantly under assault by news media and the ‘liberal agenda’. When we observe articles about gamergate in news media like The Guardian, CNN or BBC what becomes apparent is that covering and condemning gamergate’s misogyny and other deplorable acts is what mainstream media consumers desire. In this way these outlets are able to reliably garner clicks including on facebook the new frontier of news media. One further unique thing about facebook is due to the fact that theoretically each account is attached to a real identity it is an imminently hostile place to the gamergate movement hence when outed they quickly fled the platform. Gamergate is hardly skulking in the shadows but they certainly aren’t welcome in the city square either.

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What they Believe

What this highlights then is that not only does gamergate lack of diversity among its supporters and views but it also has an odd obsession with pretending it does not. It seems the movement wants to see itself as representing all gamers regardless of creed on the issue of gaming journalism. In particular they are aware that gamers, especially thanks to the advent of mobile gaming, are an incredibly diverse group. Thus in order to speak for them they must reflect this. Here a cardinal difference exists between gamergate and the alt-right movement which is pretty blatantly a white nationalist movement. Whether this conceit is primarily aimed at the fragile egos of its own supporters or simply muddy the waters for the outside observe is unclear. What is shown though is that anti-gamergate and gamergate don’t often explicitly talk about the same issues and even less often do it through the same platforms and media. Rather each is more aimed at invigorating their base rather than trying to critically analyze both theirs and others positions to come up with an optimal solution. In this way new media has assisted in people talking past each other rather than with each other.

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