Tuesday, September 2, 2014

GamerGate Goes Gaga

The issue of women in video gaming doesn't get addressed nearly as much as it should, despite 48% of gamers being women and 36% are women over 18.  Women who point out that the industry is terribly unkind to the image of women as a whole are not treated well, and in fact recently such treatment has erupted into a full-blown rift in the gaming industry press.

Some good background on this story comes from The Escapist, but it boils down to this:  gaming critic Anita Sarkeesian, who has made a series of YouTube videos pointing out the ridiculously sexist tropes in gaming over the last two years, released her latest video late last month in the center of a controversy over game designer Zoe Quinn, who was accused of sleeping with a game reviewer in order to secure a favorable review for her game.  The reaction from a bunch of snot-nosed frat boy Dudebros with computer skills was precisely what you'd expect:  Sarkeesian was harassed and her life threatened to the point where she no longer felt safe in her own home.  Adi Robertson at The Verge:

This is an unusual low in the Anita Sarkeesian saga, but death threats in general are more or less par for the course for many women (and men) online. They can easily cross the line from bluster to menace — UK journalist Laurie Penny, for instance, contacted police in 2013 after being sent a very specific bomb threat. In this case, the vitriol might have been compounded by the support her latest video received from popular developers and media figures. Joss Whedon and William Gibson, among others, mentioned it, and Tim Schafer of Double Fine — known for Psychonauts and the Kickstarter-funded Broken Age — spent several hours fielding responses after urging everyone in game development to watch it "from start to finish."

It's also coming on the heels of another woman-focused gaming community tempest regardingDepression Quest developer Zoe Quinn, who internet denizens have accused of starting an affair with a games journalist (who never reviewed her game and, as far as I can tell, mentioned her in precisely one piece, which was written before they're supposed to have started dating) in order to secure favorable press for her non-traditional text game. The "corruption" allegations Quinn's critics put forward have started a discussion about how to handle friendships and crowdfunding support within a relatively small community of writers and developers. Our sister site Polygon updated its guidelines and now asks reporters to state if they have given crowdfunded support to developers through the Patreon service, and Kotaku banned such contributions outright. Intriguingly, the harassment and threats sent as part of this anti-corruption campaign seem to have focused mostly on Quinn herself, not the male journalist whose integrity would actually have been compromised by said corruption.

I would have sided with Quinn and Sarkeesian beforehand, because they both have been treated like inhuman trash despite the fact that they have dared to point out the industry caters to and is built on the fantasies of horny dudebros, despite basically half of people who buy and play games being women, but then the jackasses over at Bretbart decided this was something they had to weigh in on.

So this is where the state of the industry is:  somehow, demanding that women aren't treated like walking bags of endless sex and delicious candy makes you a "politically correct lying bully".  If the dudebro signal on this has gone up to the point where Team Dead Guy has gotten on board, it's bad.  Extremely bad.

And the people who said "Hey, we should have never let it get this bad to begin with" are being victimized the most.  This is wrong, dead wrong, and what voice I have I'm using to say it's wrong.

Getting the industry to change starts with admitting that.


Kitty Smith said...

This shit makes me ashamed to be a gamer and leaves me wondering if Jack Thompson had a point.

Man, fuck the motherfucking dudebros.

tomstickler said...

I'm shocked; SHOCKED! that there are violent people in an industry that glorifies violence.

Scopedog said...

Yep. I've loved and played videogames most of my life, but over the past few years....the crap that's playing out now has made me also ashamed to be a gamer.

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