“I find myself having to frequently explain completely incomprehensible nonsense,” game maker Zoe Quinn writes in her new book Crash Override. “And it’s hard to bond with someone when they can’t understand you.”
This sentence sums up Quinn’s memoir-length attempt to grapple with her Internet experience, which has become too common: as Gamergate’s “patient zero” as she puts it, she was a highly visible target in an Internet harassment, abuse, and threat campaign. To give us a sense of what that was like, she writes about her early life growing up poor, offers a primer on the hate-filled corners of the Internet, guides us through how the judicial and police systems view the online world, and tries to deliver a comprehensive look at the ways marginalized people face abuse on online platforms. That’s a pretty tall order for 238 pages.
Quinn hasn’t necessarily written a guide to online hate that can be handed to Internet-culture outsiders, and she sometimes struggles to connect larger social issues to her complicated personal history. But she doesn’t fumble this effort, either. Crash Override combines a brisk pace, candid stories, and embedded insight. Quinn’s first book has its uneven moments, but it’s important stuff for anybody interested in how online discourse has shifted over the past two decades.