I’m going to step away from talking about writing and RPGs for a moment to talk here about sexism in gaming.
In RPGs, sexism is pretty rampant – I think we all remember the filmy rubber swimsuits on the cover of Rifts in the 90s, and similar artwork on the cover of Exalted within this past decade. Boob plate has appeared everywhere from the inside of indie press RPG manuals to big-screen movies (much as we hate to admit it, 2000’s Dungeons & Dragons did, in fact, appear in theatres).
RPGs, however, have known for a long, long time (at LEAST since the mid-1990s, which are now 20 years ago) that women are a substantial portion of their market segment and as a result have taken steps – halting at first but with greater confidence and even some grace and skill of late – at approaching women, people of color, and LGBT people.
Video games, however, have suffered from listening to their own press – they assume that their core audience are still adolescent boys, and continue the same set of assumptions in their fiction: Most video game heroes are men in their 30s, usually white, with the manly features that teenage boys often wish to have. Their adventures often prominently include the embarrassingly juvenile “rescue the girl” type plot construction that other forms of media have long outgrown (Mario and Link have gotten by on this plot for 30 years with no sign of slowing).
The GamerGate crowd seems to be following the example of Republican politicians in the United States Congress: Behave badly in ways that are so over-the-top that the audience’s instinct will be to disbelieve that it even happened because they can’t accept that anybody would be that infantile.
Any excuse of “ethics in journalism” should be long-dismissed – the disgusted response of actual journalists to the antics of GamerGate is diagnostic in that regard. But of course, with typically lacking self-awareness, GamerGaters refuse to take “Journalism ethics do not work that way!” from people whose job it is to actually KNOW the ethical standards and charges of their profession, accusing all manner of journalists of collusion in their faux-scandal. Seriously, actual journalists from students to the highest levels of professionalism are uniformly disgusted by GamerGate.
The backlash to Sarkeesian’s “Feminist Frequency” web series (which pretty much surrounds the fact that she disabled comments on her videos – something that many people discussing serious subjects on YouTube do because of the phenomenally awful ratio of abuse to useful content in those comments) counts as the beginning of organized resistance to any form of feminist thought in video gaming. (though calling it “organized” – or indeed, “resistance” is giving it too much credit; given the brazenly horrific behavior of GamerGaters and others in the reaction camp, it’s more like “mob blowback”).
This is actually a pretty serious problem. Anita and the other women targeted by GamerGate are just the latest in a series of feminist betes noir for less-than-ethical people calling themselves “gamers,” because they’re women who have expressed mild reproach for the tendency of the video game industry to consider itself an industry that caters to men first and women only incidentally. This despite the fact that an absolute majority of people now playing video games is women, AND a substantial amount of the hardcore gaming crowd IN SPITE of the aggressive misogyny faced against said “gamers.”
Evidence that 4chan fabricated GamerGate to help an angry ex abuse the woman who dumped him:
(not that it’s necessary, no one observing GamerGate could fail to notice the obsessive hatred for women in general and Ms. Quinn specifically)
There are two possible ways to interpret these factually incorrect statements: either they’re an outright, direct lie or they are reckless misinformation being forwarded as fact without fact checking. In either case, they’re guilty of slander. There’s a reason actual journalistic outlets fact check and offer retractions.
- Zoe Quinn slept with people for reviews: never happened, no one she had a sexual relationship with ever reviewed anything she made.
- … Well, then, she slept with people for positive press: Still no. This was investigated and debunked by Kotaku. This was also confirmed to be impossible even by Zoe’s ex.
- Zoe Quinn launched a DDoS attack on The Fine Young Capitalists. The Fine Young Capitalists admits this never happened. Their website did accidentally go down after Zoe tweeted about it (via what is known as the Slashdot effect) but this is not the same as…
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