Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

Crash Override, by Zoe Quinn

Second paragraph of third chapter:
Even if you stick mainly to mainstream sites, you’ve probably seen glimpses of the internet’s underbelly in the notorious comments sections at the bottom of news articles. The article could be about a local man saving a box of kittens from a burning building, but no matter: the comments will accuse him of hating dogs, setting the building on fire in the first place, and secretly being Barack Obama’s Kenyan uncle.
This is a crucial book, a finalist for this year's Hugo in the Best Related Work category; its author was the first victim of the appalling #Gamergate affair, in which the forces of the dark side of the Internet were unleashed upon her for supposedly securing a positive review of a game she had written by having sex with the journalist (who in fact did not write or publish any such review). Being white, male and cishet, I've faced very little of this myself. (There was one Brexiter who argued with me on Facebook and eventually resorted to sending me obscene messages from sockpuppet accounts and emailing cartooney threats of legal action when I gave him the silent treatment, but at least he involved only his imaginary friends rather than any real ones.) I've seen quite enough of it both online and offline, though; it's very chilling indeed to read what it's like to be at ground zero of one of the Internet's most notorious and vicious attacks. (And I am not interested in hearing from any Gamergate supporters who do not start their contribution by admitting that Gamergate's treatment of Zoe Quinn was inexcusably evil.)

Zoe Quinn also writes about what can be done to fix the problem. It's clearly been a very wearing and learning political process for her and her allies. She has tried to take the issue to the US government, the UN, the titans of the private sector; she has set up her own organisation to help people mitigate similar situations when it happens to them. Good for her to take this dreadful experience and turn it into something positive.

The other point I took from it is that it doesn't cost you to be nice. The waves of harassment diminished every time a celebrity spoke in public against Gamergate. Even on the micro-level, if we see an internet pile-on among our own social circles, it costs nothing to say "this isn't cool" - particularly if the object of the pile-on is not white, male and cishet. Often the harassers are motivated by the low-hanging fruit of an easy target. Telling our friends to calm down can sometimes make the world a better place.

The book is only distantly related to sf literature, but games are definitely part of the genre (so far not much recognised by the Hugos) and as Gamergate fed into the Puppies, it became relevant to the wider discourse around the Hugos themselves. So I have no hesitation in finding this a suitable candidate for Best Related Work, and of the three finalists I've read so far, it's getting my top vote. You can get it here.

Tags: #gamergate, bookblog 2018, gamergate, hugos 2018

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