Whew. So it’s been an incredibly rough couple of weeks to be a lady in video games. Like, some of the events of this week make me want to throw my Playstation out the window and just give up on the community completely. Since my emotions have been interfering my my eloquence, I thought I’d round up some articles from some other games critics so you can get informed regarding the various situations.
This article by Chris Plante of Polygon does a great job of explaining the harassment of Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian, Phil Fish and even Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley that have happened in the past week (or so). He also makes a good point about where games currently stand, and closes with the following paragraph:
This week, the obstinate child threw a temper tantrum, and the industry was stuck in the metaphorical grocery store as everyone was forced to suffer through it together. But unlike a child, the people behind these temper tantrums are hurting others. It’s time to grow up. Let’s not wait until next week to start.
I would urge everyone to read the article just to get up to speed on current gaming events, but also to truly heed his call to action. Hurting people isn’t fun, and it isn’t productive, and it should be happening. If you’re contributing to the problem, please please grow up.
When Zoe Quinn’s ex-boyfriend posted an expose of their break-up, he probably had no idea that how large the issue might become. Or maybe he did, and that’s why he told the internet that his ex-girlfriend cheated on him repeatedly. Regardless, what came of this has been some bizarre accusations of breach of ethics that have continued to rock gaming journalism.
Emma Wooley takes a hard look at these cries of “corruption” and quickly gets to the heart of the matter:
Gaming’s most pervasive issue isn’t corruption, but the people who’ve taken ownership of something that isn’t solely theirs to begin with. In trying their damnedest to limit the appeal of the medium and use online harassment to achieve their goals, this group of toxic trolls are proving themselves to be gaming’s biggest problem.
It’s great when women step up to defend themselves online, but sometimes it’s just as great to watch a key demographic of gaming (white men) take on all the trolls. Andrew Todd takes the week’s events and goes after the people perpetrating them.
But it doesn’t matter if you’re the funniest or cleverest abusive dick on a server – you’re still being an abusive dick, and you’re still perpetuating a problem that has visibly grown way past that comparatively innocent context and into actual terrorism.
The piece does a good job at picking apart various elements that have built to self-identified gamers perpetuating acts of terrorism, but the best part is watching the author’s anger shine through. I don’t usually root for people to get angry, but sometimes it’s really great to know other people are just as upset about an issue as you are.
While Tauriq Moosa is yet again looking at the threats and attacks that have been perpetuated against Anita Sarkeesian, he takes a look at the problem from a different angle. In this piece Moosa picks apart the different ways men and women are threatened online, and demonstrates how easy it is to discredit male allies with the phrase “white knighting”.
It’s the one thread directly aimed at heterosexual men, while the others are all about silencing women. It’s a machine of antagonism, a tentacled, hairy creature wanting to wind its way into dominance. Men who are not targets of rape and death threats can use this immunity to the benefit of targets who are by showing support, as Whedon and Schafer demonstrated, but bigots use terms like “white knighting” to try curb even this.
Yet again, we see an article ending with a call for men to stand with women and not silently ride out these attacks. Join the fray! We’ll give you cookies!
I love this post by Leigh Alexander for so many reasons, but this paragraph really cuts to the heart of some of gaming’s ongoing problems:
When you decline to create or to curate a culture in your spaces, you’re responsible for what spawns in the vacuum. That’s what’s been happening to games.
“Gamer” isn’t just a dated demographic label that most people increasingly prefer not to use. Gamers are over. That’s why they’re so mad.
These obtuse shitslingers, these wailing hyper-consumers, these childish internet-arguers — they are not my audience. They don’t have to be yours. There is no ‘side’ to be on, there is no ‘debate’ to be had.
You should really just go read the article before I copy and paste it in its entirety here.
Golding’s piece is an excellent follow-up to Alexander’s, further explaining how gamer identity has formed over the years and how it’s been stretched so thin it’s finally breaking apart.
When, over the last decade, the playing of videogames moved beyond the niche, the gamer identity remained fairly uniformly stagnant and immobile. Gamer identity was simply not fluid enough to apply to a broad spectrum of people. It could not meaningfully contain, for example, Candy Crush players, Proteus players, and Call of Duty players simultaneously. When videogames changed, the gamer identity did not stretch, and so it has been broken.
With all of these pieces about the death of “gamers” I’ve been searching for a word to call myself. Golding hits upon a new one: players.
Elizabeth Sampat’s defense of her friend, Zoe Quinn, and the grief she’s experienced during the last week brought me to tears.
I could tell you stories about the voices we’ve lost, the women we’ve scarred, the people we’ve left behind. I want to, but I’m not sure you’d get it. I tweeted earlier today, We should have a war memorial for all of the women we have lost to this. We should lay flowers and grieve and see our reflections in stone. And I meant it. I wish there were a way to honor the people our industry has wronged, and a way to visualize the enormity of what we have lost because of it— some representation of the gap between what games are and what they can be, and the pieces of the bridge between that have fallen away.
Poetic, beautiful, and fierce, this is the piece that you need to read above all others.
Those are the most important pieces to read to get caught up and informed of the situation, but here are a few more just in case you’re really into research:
- The Problem With the Casual Cruelty Against Women in Video Games
- Tropes vs. Aniat Sarkeessian: Passing Anti-feminist Nonsense as Critique
- Let’s Talk about Ethics in Games Journalism
If there are more links you think you make the list, let me know! I’ll continue rounding them up over the weekend and next week.