Mainstreaming Misogyny: The Beginning of the End and the End of the Beginning in Gamergate Coverage



Nieborg and Foxman discuss the event known as Gamergate, a niche misogynistic online movement primarily targeting female game developers and critics. Drawing on both discourse and content analyses of a corpus of U.S. news publications, this chapter focuses on how Gamergate events were “mainstreamed,” or normalized and subsequently cited by mainstream outlets. Analysis shows that such coverage breaks down into two phases. First, Gamergate can be considered “the beginning of the end” of an era in game culture, during which an industry, developing and publishing games by and for young men, heavily favored masculine themes and marketing approaches. Second, Gamergate signals “the end of the beginning:” a new era in which online misogyny is increasingly recognized, scrutinized, and criticized by leading news organizations.


  1. Braithwaite, A. (2016). It’s about ethics in games journalism? Gamergaters and Geek masculinity. Social Media + Society, 2(4), 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Burgess, J., & Matamoros-Fernández, A. (2016). Mapping sociocultural controversies across digital media platforms: One week of #gamergate on Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr. Communication Research and Practice, 2(1), 79–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chess, S., & Shaw, A. (2015). A conspiracy of fishes, or, how we learned to stop worrying about #GamerGate and embrace hegemonic masculinity. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 59(1), 208–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Consalvo, M. (2012). Confronting toxic gamer culture: A challenge for feminist game studies scholars. Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, 1(1).
  5. Digital: Top 50 Online News Entities. (2015, February). Pew Research Center. Pew Research. Retrieved from
  6. Dockterman, E. (2014, October 15). The comic book world is getting safer for women, but the gaming world isn’t. Time. Retrieved from
  7. Dougherty, C., & Isaac, M. (2016, March 13). SXSW addresses online harassment of women in gaming. The New York Times. Retrieved from
  8. Entman, R. M. (2007). Framing bias: Media in the distribution of power. Journal of Communication, 57(1), 163–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gieryn, T. F. (1983). Boundarywork and the demarcation of science from nonscience: Strains and interests in professional ideologies of scientists. American Sociological Review, 48(6), 781–795.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gitlin, T. (2003). The whole world is watching: Mass media in the making and unmaking of the new left, with a new preface (2nd ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  11. Kirkpatrick, G. (2013). Computer games and the social imaginary. Malden: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  12. LaFrance, A. (2016, May 20). When will the internet be safe for women? The Atlantic. Retrieved from
  13. Mantilla, K. (2013). Gendertrolling: Misogyny adapts to new media. Feminist Studies, 39(2), 563–570.Google Scholar
  14. Massanari, A. (2015). #Gamergate and the Fappening: How Reddit’s algorithm, governance, and culture support toxic technocultures. New Media & Society, 1–18. doi:
  15. McPhate, M. (2015, December 16). Women who play games Shun “Gamer” label. The New York Times. Retrieved from
  16. Mortensen, T. E. (2016). Anger, fear, and games: The long event of #GamerGate. Games and Culture, 1–20. doi:
  17. Perreault, G. P., & Vos, T. P. (2016, September). The GamerGate controversy and journalistic paradigm maintenance. Journalism, doi:
  18. Phillips, W. (2015). This is why we can’t have nice things: Mapping the relationship between online trolling and mainstream culture. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  19. Romano, A. (2016, August 26). The Leslie Jones hack is the flashpoint of the altright’s escalating culture war. Vox. Retrieved from
  20. Schudson, M. (2008). Why democracies need an unlovable press. Cambridge/Malden: Polity.Google Scholar
  21. Sims, D. (2016, May 18). The ongoing outcry against the ghostbusters remake. The Atlantic. Retrieved from
  22. Snider, M. (2016, March 10). After Furor, SXSW prepares to talk online harassment. USA TODAY. Retrieved from
  23. Suellentrop, C. (2014, October 25). The disheartening GamerGate campaign. The New York Times. Retrieved from
  24. Taylor, T. L. (2008). Becoming a player: Networks, structures, and imagined futures. In Y. Kafai, C. Heeter, J. Denner, & J. Sun (Eds.), Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat: New perspectives on gender, games, and computing (pp. 50–65). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  25. Trump, D. J. (2015, January 28). Indiana Jones and Ghostbusters—what’s wrong???#TrumpVlog. [Facebook] Retrieved from
  26. VanDerWerff, T. (2014, September 6). Why is everybody in the video game world fighting? #Gamergate. Vox. Retrieved from
  27. Waldman, K, & Newell, J. (2014, October 21). Planet money uncovers one surprising reason the internet is sexist. Slate. Retrieved from
  28. Williams, D. (2003). The video game lightning rod. Constructions of a new media technology, 1970–2000. Information, Communication & Society, 6(4), 523–550.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Arts, Culture and MediaUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.CommunicationsColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations