Yes, there are dick-free places on the internet

August 27, 2012 Leading Lady Links Comments (0) 39

Weekly Roundup is the feature where I gather up all the interesting articles pertaining to gender and gaming from the previous week. This week I look at the game “Dungeons of Dreadmoor” and the kick-ass people who created it, and moderate the forums.

Last week a friend posted a link on my wall. The blurb said

“I’m about to tell you a story about videogames, kitchens, and internet forums that has a happy ending. Stop laughing, I’m serious.”

When I read those two sentences, I cautiously clicked on the link, fully expecting something terrible and misogynistic despite the intro.  It’s hard for me to imagine any story about videogames, kitchens, and forums that has any sort of ending that doesn’t end in tragedy for a woman participating. However, cakepie relates an astounding story sans tragedy. After participating on the Dungeons of Dredmoor forums for less than 24 hours, cakepie encountered the “make me a sanwhich” comment. If you’re a woman on the internet/gaming community, you know what I mean. The instant someone identifies you as a woman, it takes maybe thirty seconds for someone to tell you to “go make me a sandwhich” (“like a good woman” is typically implied) The first time I ever played Halo online when I was 12, I immediately got told to go back to the kitchen the minute the players heard my voice (As I learned later in life, I was lucky that the comment was so mild). On forums you’ll often encounter images like this one:


If you type in the phrase “Make me a sandwich” into a Google search, the third suggested search is “Make me a sandwhich comeback”. There are many good comebacks, and cakepie makes good use of these in her response to the troll (Read her full article for a good discussion on how moderators should respond to these comments). Here is one of my favorite images for combating the sandwich comment:

Amazingly, another forum member joins the fray: the freakin’ GAME DEVELOPER David Baumgart.   He says:

I won’t stand for this bloody stupid sandwhich “jokes” that marginalizes female players involvement in this community (and like, life in general). It’s precisely the opposite of the kind of environment that we here at Gaslamp want to create.

I’m honestly not sure of the last time I read something so awesome on an internet forum. But wait! It gets even better:

Now that I’ve, weirdly, been part of making a game and it’s got a forum, I’m not going to tolerate a tone that alienates anyone traditionally disempowered by gaming communities, be it women, GLBT folk, etc, – even unconsciously. Hence my insta-rage and banning

If you want to see Baumgart’s full response: click here. It’s worth reading. Really. Like, go read it now. It is the first thing I’ve read in awhile that has give me hope that a bit of humanity and decency is finally making its way into the gaming community.

This isn’t the first time that Dungeons of Dredmoor has done something awesome for gamers! In this article from the Borderhouse, rho describes how Gaslamp added a female playable character to Dungeons of Dredmoor. Even better? One of the game’s developers joins in the discussion of the need to include both sexes and more races as playable options in games. So, in this spirit of putting money where my mouth is, this game is definitely now in my Steam library. I can’t wait to play it, and I’m totally stoked that I can play as a woman, be part of the forums, and have developer/moderator support throughout!

0 Responses to :
Yes, there are dick-free places on the internet

  1. This is great news. I think the problem with these types of comments are that they are sometimes said “lightly,” without much thought (or creativity). I read the apology on the other site, which was lovely, yet the person who made the kitchen joke said it was lighthearted and that he hadn’t meant any offense. I believe him… and that’s the problem within the community. The fact that these jokes float around so much that people can whip them out without any sensitivity shows how deep the sexism is. Especially if you’re a young male teen on gaming forums, etc., you’re sort of “brainwashed” into the sexism (or desensitized to it) by reading and hearing these types of jokes and thinking they’re all right.

    Obviously most male gamers don’t think like this, which is fantastic. But having that very vocal minority of gamers making sexist jokes — whether they say them lightheartedly or with teeth — is poisonous to the gaming community. So I love that moderator David Baumgart, for one, is taking it seriously and doing something about it, so that others will take this type of language seriously too!

    Okay. Rant over. Lovely post as usual! =)

    1. I would agree, they are often said lightly but the sheer number of people saying “go make me a sandwhich” is staggering and creates a group problem, even if said in a light manner. Like you said, it shows how deep sexism is.

      Yeh, I really like this example because it shows that oftentimes, people don’t realize they are being insensitive and they do respond well to being criticized. Most people don’t want to be assholes, so all it takes is one person making a polite and well-reasoned argument to point out a problem. Hopefully this incident can inspire more people to stand up in the future!

  2. xandurse says:

    Excellent post. I follow and enjoy your blog because I appreciate the importance of getting such a perspective on what is not only my favorite pastime but also a large industry. Though perhaps “enjoy” isn’t always the most appropriate word, as you often shed light on some of the more shameful practices in male gaming. Ones that need rectifying.

    Please don’t think I’m pandering – always my fear when broaching subjects such these – but equality in gaming is something that has bothered me for a few years. I suppose it may have first hit me, to my chagrin, with Mass Effect. Even as a heterosexual, it just seemed *wrong* that you could engage in any other type of relationship BUT gay. Yet in Dragon Age, all is fair game. Why? Mass Effect is decidedly more mainstream. The absence was just so glaringly obvious; it was embarrassing to imagine the message of exclusion it was sending to gay gamers…

    More to the point. I worked for several years in video game retail and I can tell you that as frustrating as it is hearing a foolish teenage boy hurling insults at a female gamer (I tend to try to kill that player repeatedly *cough*), it is nowhere near as depressing as being told by an adult male customer that he was “waiting for me to help him”… As opposed to being served by one of several of my female coworkers. (I’m not just expressing my perspective, one of my more vocal female friends at the store expressed as much several times over several years…)

    Hearing an annoying kid spew such sexist garbage over my headset inspires a sigh and a frown on the best of days, but staring into the face of a grown man who has REFUSED the help of my teammate on the implicit assumption that she is unqualified due to her gender makes something inside me shrivel up and go cold; it’s like realizing the person before you is some sort of virulent, diseased bigot. 

    Your blog, and this sort of analysis / commentary, are necessary to counter such sexist thinking.

    The only “silver lining”, if there was any, was the satisfaction of putting such men in their place when I found myself guiding them straight back to one of my female peers for an answer; we all had our various areas of expertise – consoles, game types, etc. – and it was satisfying to watch them wrestle with their prejudice as a girl schooled them with her gaming knowledge…

    Anyway, I’m not trying to jump on the bandwagon or anything; this is just the best forum I’ve ever come across to share such thoughts. Didn’t intend to write so much, lol! Sorry!

    1. I don’t always “enjoy” writing my blog, but I’m glad you appreciate reading it! I actually have a few problems with Dragon Age as well, mainly because the only relationships you can be married in are heterosexual. But that’s a story for another day!

      Working in game retail sounds rough (although working in retail in general is terrible). My experiences as a customer in gaming stores can be interesting at times. I really get sick of being asked “Can I help you pick out a game for your boyfriend?” or some variation of that. Although, typically gaming stores are waaayyy better than comic stores.

      I honestly don’t play online games very much anymore, and almost never with a headset. If people can hear my voice it’s because I’m playing with friends who I know will support me. It is always very vindicating to destroy a team filled with people spewing sexist insults.

      It is pretty awesome that there are so many kick-ass female gamers out there! I’ve met a ton, and it always makes me smile to watch videos of girl gamers kicking ass on youtube. It’s still a bit depressing that to be accepted as female and a gamer you have to be more knowledgeable/skilled than the average male player, but that’s more of a whole world problem than one specifically related to gaming (and another tangent).

      I’m glad you shared! I love talking about this sort of stuff with new people. It always gives me new things to think about. Hopefully my blog can continue to be a forum like this for you 🙂

  3. “It is the first thing I’ve read in awhile that has give me hope that a bit of humanity and decency is finally making its way into the gaming community.”

    Wow, is it really that bad? I’m mostly a single player gamer, so I’m really out of the loop. It’s glaringly obvious how much sexism permeates every aspect of our lives, but I didn’t know it was that bad in online gaming.

    Which brings me to my question. Like cakepie, what other adult, mature gaming communities do you know about?

    1. Eh. Some days its not that bad. I primarily play single player games as well, so I avoid a lot of it. If you really want to dig in and see how bad it is, read the comments on some Kotaku articles sometimes. They get especially nasty if the topic relates to gender somehow. Or visit fatuglyorslutty.com. That website is full of submissions of comments that female gamers receive in online matches. Fair warning, it’s a bit depressing (at least for me it is).

      Since I’m don’t play multiplayer games that often, I don’t know of too many supportive communities. I know the http://borderhouseblog.com/ is one place. It’s a blog, but they also have guilds and groups for some online games. The moderators there won’t allow any sort of sexism/I /racism etc. on the website. I don’t participate in very many game forums, so I can’t speak to many other specific forums. Since standing up to sexism is the exception rather than the rule, I tend to think that any forum I haven’t heard news about probably has some sort of sexism going on. That may not be a true or fair assumption, but it is one that my personal experiences have led me to.

    1. Hey thanks! Apparently it’s that time of year? Also, I alway wondered who was following me from Ireland.

      1. We’re a far off, and elusive community alright 🙂

        It’s well deserved.

  4. Hi there, thanks for reading my posts, I was hoping others would see this as a positive example. I enjoyed reading!

    Just a couple of slight notes, David Baumgart is not a moderator, instead he’s one of three developers of Gaslamp Games… WOW, right? He really went to bat!

    The game is also spelled strangely, it’s Dungeons of Dredmor, I used to spell it more like you did here and I’ve had to correct myself many times.

    What else is great about DoD is if you play as a woman you’re not just an alternative to the “normal male character”, instead the game’s artwork features both the male and the female in equal amounts, and the in-game art for the skills also features a blended mix of male and female. I love that, and personally being included for once feels pretty nice. It leaves us able to relax and just play games, something female gamers have wanted to do since always ^_^

  5. cakepi says:

    Hi there, thanks for reading my posts, I was hoping others would see this as a positive example. I enjoyed reading!

    Just a couple of slight notes, David Baumgart is not a moderator, instead he’s one of three developers of Gaslamp Games… WOW, right? He really went to bat!

    The game is also spelled strangely, it’s Dungeons of Dredmor, I used to spell it more like you did here and I’ve had to correct myself many times.

    What else is great about DoD is if you play as a woman you’re not just an alternative to the ”normal male character”, instead the game’s artwork features both the male and the female in equal amounts, and the in-game art for the skills also features a blended mix of male and female. I love that, and personally being included for once feels pretty nice. It leaves us able to relax and just play games, something female gamers have wanted to do since always ^_^

    1. Hey thanks for reading…and setting my facts straight! I’m completely embarrassed that I downgraded David Baumgart to moderator instead of developer. Especially considering how he hit this one out of the park!

      I can’t wait to play the game. Sadly, I’m waiting on a paycheck to be able to buy it and play. The beginning of the school year always wipes out my account ><.

      I loved reading your blog and I really liked the design! One of these days when I have some free time I'm going to have to update my image and brush up on my html. Again, thanks for visiting 🙂

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