Not satisfied with driving women in the video games industry, and their families, from their homes with their repeated threats, the “GamerGate” movement sank to a new low this week when they forced Anita Sarkeesian to cancel a talk at Utah State by threat of shooting spree this week. I won’t attempt to give a summary of the ongoing shitstorm, instead here’s Gawker’s take.
My take? Maybe there’s a problem with journalistic ethics in video games, but it has far more to do with the possibility of AAA game reviews being largely bought by publishers rather than hypothetical scenarios of women using their sexuality to secure promotion for their indie games. And the rampant sexism, misogyny, racism, etc. in the field need to be dealt with before we deal with reviews. We can’t even have a civil discourse right now because of the shrieking mass of hate that is the vocal minority.
Guess what, gamers? Video games become more and more mainstream every day. Enjoying video games is now socially acceptable. Women play video games. Real, flesh and blood women, not the pinup caricatures of them overwhelmingly featured in games. In my mind, this is a good thing. Most women, like most men, are decent people and not out to manipulate others for their own gain. I think it’s great that more and more of them are sharing my hobbies. Just because more women are playing video games now, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them yourself.
Furthermore, show me one good reason why discussion on the representation of women (or any other group that is not white men) in video games is a bad thing. Nobody’s going to come and take away your Dead or Alive. Those kinds of games will probably always be made so long as there’s a market. Critiquing games, discussing areas where they can improve, is critical for the industry to grow as an art form. Yes, an art form.
Having more variety of content, and even content with better representations of not-white-dudes, isn’t going to hurt you. You don’t have to play it if you don’t want to. You can stay in your cave with your jiggle physics.
Gamer culture should be a culture of inclusion. I know I’m not the only person who was bullied as a kid for being a nerd/gamer/geek/etc, and I for one cherish my friendships, both with men and women. Why can’t we welcome newcomers to our hobby with open arms? Why all the “fake geek girl” bullshit? The stereotypical nerd, despite what we might wish to believe, is not so desirable a mate that women will go out of their way to fake being nerdy just to draw our attention. We need to get off our collective high horse about this. If a woman is participating in nerdy hobbies, more likely than not she’s doing it because she wants to, not because it’s advantageous for her to do so.
What really boggles me, though, is how these people think they’re going to get away with their hate crimes. Just because some social websites have a poor track record of responding to abuse reports doesn’t mean they won’t comply when law enforcement shows up with a subpoena for the IP addresses that sent rape threats, bomb threats, shooting spree threats, etc. And it’s going to happen soon. The FBI are already involved.
Free speech does not mean you are protected from the consequences of your actions. You’re not as anonymous on the Internet as you think you are. People who make these threats should be identified, tried, hopefully convicted, and punished. Ideally treated for whatever deficiency they have that causes them to behave like this.
Maybe after that, we can get back to calling shenanigans on blue shells, or saving the world from aliens, or exploring new planets. Video games are supposed to be fun after all.
TL;DR: The hate in the video games community needs to stop. Yesterday.