Why #GamerGate Caused Intel's CES Announcement to Backfire

The hot topic within the game industry is #GamerGate and how it has now affected Intel’s brand new, $300 million initiative. The new campaign was announced earlier last week during the company’s keynote speech at CES 2015, and its goal is to improve diversity – for both women and minorities – within its workplace and the tech industry in general.
The foundation of the GamerGate movement is rooted in a controversy of corruption in game journalism, however, its purpose has since been muddled and turned mainly into a controversy regarding female portrayal in video games and the treatment of women in the game development industry.
I’m not here to take a side on the issue, nor am I here to lecture on the topic; the social analytics angle of this piece looks at Intel and how this company would have benefitted from social monitoring tools. Until now, there have been two incidents where Intel has received negative criticism from the GamerGate community regarding their actions.
The company was first drawn into the GamerGate controversy when it pulled an ad campaign from the popular gaming site Gamasutra. Many claim this move was due to an article published on the site by Leigh Alexander, titled, “’Gamers’ don’t have to be your audience. ‘Gamers’ are over.” When questioned about this move, Intel stated it had no knowledge of the GamerGate controversy. However, it was also reported that there was a mass-messaging campaign targeted at Intel, which was coordinated by Twitter users involved in GamerGate who were unhappy with the op-ed piece written by Alexander. Did users believe Intel was unaware of everything that had been going on with GamerGate? We decided to take a look at the social data and see how the conversation played out for this tech giant.
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Looking at ForSight’s Topic Waves monitor, we can see that mentions of Intel in relation to GamerGate were first introduced and spiked the night of October 1st, as news began to spread of the company pulling its ad campaign on Gamasutra’s site. Because of its actions, it seemed to many that Intel was showing support towards GamerGate by pulling its ads from a website that posted negatively towards many involved in GamerGate, leading to criticism from the anti-GamerGate community.
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Fast forward to January 7th, 2015. Intel is running through its keynote speech at CES 2015 and has just presented its new initiative, with plans to partner with Anita Sarkeesian’s Feminist Frequency. Shortly after the company made this announcement, GamerGate conversation with mentions of Intel erupted on Twitter, and it wasn’t pretty. What was meant to be (and is) a positive mission towards gender and race equality in the workplace, had been turned into a crucifixion of Intel for partnering with such a hated organization by the anti-Feminist Frequency GamerGate community.


Having already been negatively involved once with GamerGate, Intel would have known to track conversation around the controversy. Doing so would have led them to realize that a partnership with Feminist Frequency would only spark an outlash from the community, which is exactly what happened across social media. Tracking the conversation around Feminist Frequency and Anita Sarkeesian on social media, Intel would have been able to gather crucial information that would have led to a more informed decision-making process.
In today’s society, people are adopting social media at a rapid pace to communicate about brands and many other topics; it’s crucial that these brands adopt proper tools to monitor relevant discussion. In doing so, brands will be able to effectively tailor campaigns and build informed decisions that will benefit the brand. Would Intel have benefitted from Crimson Hexagon’s ForSight platform? I think so.

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