Friday, September 26, 2014

Social Capital or: How I Learned to Stop Being a Jerkass and Love the Gaming Industry

Ronald Coase's great contribution to the theory of exchange is that bargaining over conflicts produces results consistent with the First Welfare Theorem: with a non-null bargaining set, disputants should be able to settle on a mutually-satisfying outcome with no Pareto-improving offers to be made.


In practice, what typically gets in the way is pigheadedness, pride, churlishness, grudges... politics if you will. Or sometimes, there really is no mutually-satisfying resolution available.

Politics is a skill. And like any skill, it requires practice. So when I read this overview of (can we please stop with the tired suffix already?) GamerGate, I couldn't help but think of Wednesday's post. What should have been a minor tiff over something as insignificant as video game journalism and inclusiveness in a hobby that is chiefly enjoyed in the privacy of one's own home has bafflingly erupted into a full-blown row including rape and death threats. It is difficult to reject the hypothesis that some elementary conflict resolution skills would greatly improve the conduct of this melee.

Video games are stereotypically a pursuit of the young. I don't see too many graybeards embroiled in the gnashing of the teeth on display here. If this is a cohort problem rather than a problem of excessive callowness, then the zero-tolerance authoritarianism ascendant these two decades or so hence have done our politics no favors.

#GamerGate is merely the vanguard. Winter is coming.

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?