Gaming Masculinity: Trolls, Fake Geeks, and the Gendered Battle for Online Culture


book coverIn 2016, a female videogame programmer and a female journalist were harassed viciously by anonymous male online users in what became known as GamerGate. Male gamers threatened to rape and kill both women, and the news soon made international headlines, exposing the level of abuse that many women and minorities face when participating in the predominantly male online culture.

Gaming Masculinity explains how the term “gamer” has been constructed in the popular imagination by a core group of male online users in an attempt to shore up an embattled form of geeky masculinity. This latest form of toxicity comes at a moment of upheaval in gaming culture, as women, people of color, and LGBTQ individuals demand broader access and representation online. Paying close attention to the online practices of trolling and making memes, author Megan Condis demonstrates that, despite the supposedly disembodied nature of life online, performances of masculinity are still afforded privileged status in gamer culture. Even worse, she finds that these competing discourses are not just relegated to the gaming world but are creating rifts within the culture at large, as witnessed by the direct links between the GamerGate movement and the recent rise of the alt-right during the last presidential election.

Condis asks what this moment can teach us about the performative, collaborative, and sometimes combative ways that American culture enacts race, gender, and sexuality. She concludes by encouraging designers and those who work in the tech industry to think about how their work might have, purposefully or not, been developed in ways that are marked by gender.

Published in 2018 by the University of Iowa Press

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Early Reviews

“Megan Condis addresses the most important and contentious controversies in gaming culture at present. Her writing argues strongly against the groups who have tried to undermine the diversity arising in games and provides a passionate insight into these events, linking them with wider cultural shifts in Western society.”—Esther MacCallum-Stewart, Staffordshire University

“Fierce, fun, and fascinating. Condis writes with a journalist’s ear and an academic’s eye, getting to the core of what drives men’s behavior online, in games, and throughout digital culture.”—Derek A. Burrill, author, Die Tryin’: Videogames, Masculinity, Culture


“This is such a fantastic book. As a gamer and a feminist, I found so much to relate to. I used to play an MMORPG and let me tell you, men can be so creepy online. I was seventeen when I first started playing, and I’d have men soliciting online sex, or “cybering,” stalking me from world to world, calling me names (especially if I kicked their butts), and just in general being total trash people. People are so quick to condemn women as casual gamers or attention seekers, and even with women who play with their boyfriends, there’s an expectation that the woman isn’t supposed to play more or better than the guy she’s playing with: she’s just a cool add-on, no more, no less.”—Nenia Campbell, Readasaurus Reviews

Gaming Masculinity is a very dense book. It is packed with case studies, observations and reflections but it also suggests paths to undertake if we want improve gaming culture. It’s also very entertaining. I highly recommend you get your hands on a copy!”—Régine Debatty, We Make Money Not Art

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7 thoughts on “Book

  1. Pingback: Video Games and Adaptation: Call for Submissions to The Lost Worlds of Power | Megan Condis

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