A new contribution by Gioacchino Toni published in Carmilla Online concludes an in-depth analysis of video game-based online radicalization that in three exciting instllaments illustrates the complex web of relationships between video games and U.S. Alt-right. The author cites several studies that point to a partial overlap between the extreme right target audience and that of the video game industry. Toni dwells in particular on the case of GamerGate, which dates back to 2014 as a coordinated and multi-pronged online harassment campaign against several women in the video game industry, involving several figures who later became prominent in the Alt-right context. GamerGate can be defined as a troubling exercise in online multiplayer harassment with far-reaching social, political, and cultural consequences, including the election of Trump and the advent of QAnon.
Quoting American scholar Michael Salter, Toni points out how in Western culture the equating of masculinity and technology has led to the increasing spread as well as normalization of 'geek masculinity' that claims technological mastery as a central element of masculine identity, a phenomenon particularly prevalent in the so-called advanced First World. In this sense, GamerGate could be interpreted hostile and aggressive reaction against the entry of women and a more diverse set of players (racially, sexually and so on) into an environment previously dominated heterosexual white men. Game culture can therefore be legitimately compared to the proverbial canary in the coalmine (T.L. Taylor), a microcosm of deeper tensions within society, a preview of things to come. Paraphrasing Bruce Sterling, what happens in the gamer milieu, will happen to all, and will happen everywhere.
Toni writes how provocative and counter-cultural practices are not the prerogative of the Left alone but are also used effectively by the Alt-right, criticizing the tendency to uncritically celebrate the transgressive value of subcultures, a central theme in Angela Nagle's essential Kill All Normies. Toni concludes by affirming the inadequacy of online technologies to develop truly transformative experiences, and the need to avoid easy solutions or alliances with unacceptable political positions, which has now become the standard modus operandi of the Right in the US, but also Italy, Spain, and elsewhere.
I personally believe that a) the collusion between politics and video games is largely overlooked and underestimated; b) it is global in scope and not limited to the United States, and c) the most deleterious effects of the link between gamer culture and politics are bound to grow in the coming years. I completely agree with Julia Ebner's assessment that extremism is going mainstream.
Previous episodes (in Italian)