Crash Override, by Zoe Quinn
Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate by Zoe Quinn (Hardcover, PublicAffairs)

In response to a recent Buz­zfeed arti­cle about behind-the-scenes goings-on of Milo Yian­napoulus’ and Bre­it­bart’s prop­a­ga­tion of racist, white nation­al­ist thought, Wash­ing­ton Post jour­nal­ist Philip Bump declared, “An ear­ly chap­ter of every book doc­u­ment­ing the Don­ald Trump era will be about Gamergate.”

Crash Override, by Zoe Quinn
Crash Over­ride: How Gamer­gate (Near­ly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate by Zoe Quinn (Hard­cov­er, PublicAffairs)

If Bump’s pre­dic­tion comes to pass, Zoë Quin­n’s book Crash Over­ride will be cit­ed by schol­ars for decades to come as an essen­tial text to under­stand­ing the Trump error.

In Crash Over­ride, which is part­ly an auto­bi­og­ra­phy, Quinn tells the sto­ry of Gamer­gate and how she’s worked to defend every­one against vicious online mobs since.

Quinn had first got­ten wide­spread atten­tion as a video game devel­op­er in 2013 for her text-based “Depres­sion Quest”, an inter­ac­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion of what it’s like to expe­ri­ence depres­sion when you seem capa­ble of mak­ing only the worst and most unhealthy deci­sions instead of any good ones.

Depres­sion Quest was unique and cre­ative and earned many pos­i­tive reviews.

Then, in 2014, Quin­n’s abu­sive ex-boyfriend went online to smear her rep­u­ta­tion and accuse her of sleep­ing her way into get­ting good reviews.

A group of peo­ple — most­ly angry young white men — began a sus­tained cam­paign of harass­ment, threats, and stalk­ing that prin­ci­pal­ly tar­get­ed Quinn and oth­er women in a series of dis­turb­ing inci­dents that became known as Gamergate.

Quin­n’s Crash Over­ride: How Gamer­gate [Near­ly] Destroyed My Life and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate is real­ly more like four or five books, and it’s not exact­ly a crit­i­cism to say that each might have been a full work in their own right instead of por­tions of this fair­ly brief two hun­dred and thir­ty-eight page one.

Quinn believes the larg­er under­ly­ing prob­lem involves peo­ple inside of tech com­pa­nies being them­selves unwill­ing to solve emi­nent­ly solv­able problems.

Face­book, Red­dit, and Twit­ter are staffed (in part) by the same sort of angry white males who are entire­ly capa­ble of automat­ing copy­right infringe­ment take­downs or vis­i­ble nip­ples, but claim noth­ing can be done about spe­cif­ic, detailed rape threats or exhor­ta­tions of geno­cide because free speech is sacrosanct.

Toward the end of the book, Quinn also exam­ines the con­se­quences of soci­ety’s fail­ure to con­front and coun­ter­act abu­sive behav­iors in their ear­ly stages.

Peo­ple have to grad­u­al­ly build their courage for dra­mat­ic action. Domes­tic vio­lence is one of the few com­mon threads con­nect­ing men involved in mass mur­der, even when ide­ol­o­gy and means of accom­plish­ing a destruc­tive end differ.

Steve Ban­non saw the poten­tial of exploit­ing such peo­ple, but most­ly angry young white men (in his words, root­less white men) who could be brought into a move­ment by first attack­ing vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple on the Inter­net over video games and sci-fi cul­ture. He rec­og­nized Quin­n’s tor­menters and peo­ple like them could be orga­nized into a polit­i­cal force and har­nessed to achieve even more cor­ro­sive ends.

Quinn writes that she was­n’t sur­prised by Don­ald Trump’s vic­to­ry in the Elec­toral Col­lege because she had already felt the speartip of a move­ment dri­ven by noth­ing more than the hatred of any­one expect­ing to be treat­ed with equality.

There aren’t more of those peo­ple than decent peo­ple, but there are enough of them, and they’ve been prop­er­ly acti­vat­ed and moti­vat­ed to be harmful.

Hav­ing been at the receiv­ing end of the fury of white nation­al­ists and their enablers, Zoë Quinn under­stands Gamer­gate bet­ter than any­one. Read “Crash Over­ride” if you want to bet­ter under­stand the pri­mor­dial pools that nur­tured juve­nile, pet­ty misog­y­ny and racism until it could be brave enough to enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly spread Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da on behalf of the Trump cam­paign and demon­strate in public.

They were a fig­u­ra­tive torch-wield­ing mob light­ing up their key­boards with “iron­ic” hatred and dox­ing before they were a lit­er­al torch-wield­ing mob, actu­al­ly chant­i­ng Nazi slo­gans and assault­ing peo­ple in com­mu­ni­ties like Char­lottesville, Virginia.

But don’t just read Crash Over­ride to under­stand how we got to this sad junc­ture in our nation’s his­to­ry. Read Crash Over­ride to under­stand what can be done now as we live with forms of intim­i­da­tion and harass­ment that nev­er could have exist­ed pri­or to the advent of an always on, Inter­net-con­nect­ed cul­ture — and what we still need to do as a soci­ety to con­front and stamp out these tox­ic behaviors.

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