Yep. That’s the reality for women who criticize video games. Just ask Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist and a media critic who is the author of Feminist Frequency, as well as the series Tropes vs Women and Tropes vs Women in Video Games. On the latter series, Feminist Frequency has this to say:
The Tropes vs Women in Video Games project aims to examine the plot devices and patterns most often associated with female characters in gaming from a systemic, big picture perspective. This series will include critical analysis of many beloved games and characters, but remember that it is both possible (and even necessary) to simultaneously enjoy media while also being critical of it’s more problematic or pernicious aspects. This video series is created by Anita Sarkeesian and the project was funded by 6968 awesome backers on Kickstarter.com
Earlier this week, she was forced to leave her home after receiving death and rape threats, for the “crime” of making a video that encourages video game makers to treat women better. In what world is “I’m going to come to your house and rape you” or “I’m gonna slice you up” a reasonable response to someone requesting that video games treat women better? First off, those responses are completely and unequivocally fucked up. I do not support violence against anyone because I value the right to life of other humans. I don’t think violent rhetoric should be espoused either, as it can help create an environment where extremists might act on said rhetoric. Even if I *did* think violent rhetoric was sometimes justifiable, it is not in this case. Sarkeesian isn’t seeking to destroy countries and enslave populations. She’s not trying bring the down the economies of entire countries. She isn’t a comic book villain bent on world domination. She’s a woman who wants video game producers to treat women better. That’s it. As Games.On.Net said:
Literally the worst possible thing that can happen here is equality. That’s the worst outcome, that’s the nightmare scenario. If, today, every AAA publisher said “We will start to include women more in our games and represent them better”, the only actual difference this would make to anybody shrieking about how feminists are destroying games is that they might have to pick their gender in the next Call of Duty game. Terrifying, isn’t it. Stuff of nightmares.
Yep. That’s about the it.
Yet that right there causes a segment of the gaming population to get in a tizzy. They rant and rage, spewing hateful bile, filled with violent, and often misogynistic imagery. Another woman, indie game developer Zoe Quinn has become the target of harassment in the wake of details of her life being spilled onto the net by an ex-boyfriend. I’m not a huge gamer, but even I’m aware that these are not a couple of isolated incidents. Harassment of women in video games has been an ongoing problem.
Dealing with harassment and hatred is all too common for the everyday gamer. One moment you’re enjoying your favorite MMO and the next you’re being bullied.
Maybe you’re an LGBT gamer, or you’re a woman who commented in a forum that maybe it’d be nice to have more female characters to play. Then suddenly you’re faced with mean and bigoted comments from fellow players. The amount of bile in game culture is unfortunately almost equal to the amount of support found in the video game community. It has inspired numerous calls for change, especially at gaming conferences where panelists attempt to address the issue.
Greg Tito, editor-in-chief of The Escapist, moderated a panel at this year’s PAX East titled “What You Can Do to End Bile and Hatred in Games Culture.” To Tito, this year has especially hard, with story after story hurting the image of gamer culture.
“Back when PAX was a new experience, it was this kind of get together where we could be ourselves and we didn’t have to feel embarrassed. We found people like us and there was this great togetherness and I feel over the last year that’s kind of eroded away, even at PAX itself…” he said.
Tito and others have written about bullying in gaming and found it’s an issue some just don’t want to hear about. Commenters remark on their stories that they’d rather just read about games.
That’s one of the big problems in gaming (and other areas, such as movies, comic books, television and more): a segment of the population is perfectly fine the way things are and do not want the status quo to change. Unfortunately for them, another segment of the population also enjoys the same things and want those things to become better. Yes, there are gamers who are LGBT, PoC, women, and people with disabilities. They would like to see better representation of themselves in video games (and I’m sure they’d like to see a reduction or elimination in the vitriol directed their way). Those who are kicking and screaming the loudest are like petulant children who want everything to cater to them and their needs, not realizing that the world doesn’t revolve around them. They need to fucking wake up and become better people.