Like a number of people who pay attention to video games culture, I’ve been watching the whole awful GamerGate versus Zoe Quinn thing roll onwards with a growing sense of nausea. I’ve been looking for something to cover that hasn’t been addressed elsewhere already. In short, let’s look at how things trended using Google Trends (for search terms) and Topsy (for Twitter).
An important note up front: I’m not doing any kind of sentiment analysis here, so I can’t tell if the mentions in these analyses are positive or negative. This is just looking at volume.
In A Fight For Video Game Journalistic Ethics, Surely the Journalists Should Be The Target?
If GamerGate is all about improving video game journalistic ethics, then shouldn’t the attention be on the journalists themselves? After all, in Eron Gonji’s original claims (released August 16 2014), he clearly names Nathan Grayson as someone who should have known better and stayed away from Zoe Quinn. Given that Grayson is the one who is named as having a potential ethics violation and the person who is an experienced game journalist, he’d be a person of major interest in this event, right?
Even poor old Eron – the source of the claims – isn’t really that interesting a topic. It’s all about Zoe Quinn. The actual gaming journalists involved barely rate a mention in comparison.
Which isn’t to say that Nathan Grayson escaped unscathed, but there’s quite a difference in scale going on here.
(I also looked for the trend in terms like “journalism ethics” and “journalist corruption” and they are basically flat zero-point lines as well, but arguably those terms might be diluted by the variability of how they can be expressed.)
As a point of comparison, I was also curious to see how the term ‘GamerGate’ – a catch-all banner for gamers commenting about bias in game journalism – compared to Zoe Quinn. GamerGate was coined by Adam Baldwin on August 27 2014 in a tweet. Although search trends for GamerGate and Zoe Quinn are starting to cross over, GamerGate has a long way to go to catch up with the interest in Quinn.
For a bit of context, I also looked to see how search trends were going around actual gaming titles.
A Little Birdy Told Me
That’s not the entire picture though. Given how prominantly Twitter has figured in this event, it was also worth looking at.
Looking at mentions of Zoe Quinn, Nathan Grayson or Journalism Ethics in tweets again shows that Quinn has been the most mentioned term. (Again, I tried a few variations of “journalism ethics” but the results were very similar and results dropped to almost zero if I was too specific about video gaming journalism.)
Just in case I thought I should also check Twitter handles and hashtags to see if that made a difference. It did.
This shows that where Zoe Quinn’s @The Quinnspiracy and Nathan Grayson’s @Vahn16 twitter handle mentions followed the same kind of trends seen in other searches, #GamerGate really takes off in hashtag form. The top tweets for a number of those #GamerGate data points were made by Adam Baldwin.
So while #GamerGate might be making waves on Twitter, it isn’t being looked for via Google.
In Any Case…
Video game “journalism” certainly has issues, but it’s not going to be GamerGate that is going to solve them. That’s really a separate topic, so I’ll address that in a separate post, but the TL;DR version of it is “video games gets exactly the journalism quality it directly pays for”.