Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Nancy Naples, Christin Munsch

Field of Study



Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access


In February, 2014, video game developer Zoe Quinn released Depression Quest, a browser game centered on the subjective experience of depression, which met with critical success. In August of the same year, an ex-boyfriend published a vitriolic blog post accusing Quinn of having sex with a reviewer from the gaming website Kotaku in exchange for a favorable review. Users of the site 4chan seized on these accusations and subsequently subjected her to intense harassment, including death and rape threats.

These attacks, later labeled “GamerGate,” are only the latest in a series of attacks on women in the video game industry. In 2007 game developer Kathy Sierra was subjected to death threats, and in 2012 feminist video blogger Anita Sarkeesian proposed a web series about sexist tropes in video games that was met with an equally hostile response. This hostility is due in no small part to the fact that while video games—as both an industry and pastime—have historically been dominated by men, women now represent a growing proportion of video game consumers. This demographic shift threatens the privileged position hitherto occupied by men in the video game industry. Using critical discourse analysis of an Internet Relay Chat log closely linked to the site 4chan, I explore how identities were strategically deployed by Quinn’s detractors to justify hostility towards perceived cultural change and to reify privilege. In doing so I shed light on how identities function to perpetuate inequality.

Major Advisor

Mary Bernstein