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“Gamergate”

2014/10/20 No Comments »

OK, this whole thing has really baffled me. I’m not really deeply into gaming or gaming culture at all, but I’ve been following Anita Sarkeesian’s wonderful Tropes Against Women series for a while. The so-called “Gamergate” is a poor excuse for a massive attack on women in gaming, and just to illustrate, I made this little infographic.

gamergate

The “response” from a very vocal group within gaming society has been a shock to me and most of the sane part of gaming culture. It started as misogynistic and hateful comments around the internet – a phenomenon that’s sadly all too common, but the dimensions it has taken on now, with full-on death and rape threats that cause people to fear for their life and retreat from public events are truly scary. The amount of hate women who speak up on this issue receive is insane, and reveals a deeply rooted anger against women (who would’ve thunk it, huh – and in the west, too!). There are two factions of these “Gamergaters” – one which is simply spreading hate in comment sections and on Twitter, etc., and one which obviously hides behind some bullshit excuse of bias in gaming journalism – which, surprise, surprise, is also targeted at women; the whole thing started because of a rambling blog post by an angry ex-boyfriend (actually very closely related to so-called “revenge-porn”). Sure, gaming journalism has probably been flying under the radar for all these years, because only recently has it become a part of mainstream media, and sure, there are probably some less fortunate ties between journalists and developers, but this whole thing basically boils down to accusations that women are exchanging sexual favours for good press. Riiiight, this is about press ethics, not at all about misogyny.

In a way, I’m glad we’re getting this disgusting sub-culture out in the open. The debate widens, and has also exposed how threats on the internet are being downplayed by the authorities; women commentators are apparently encouraged to simply “don’t do that, then” when stating what they do and which threats they are receiving. Anita Sarkeesian’s (and others’) insightful coverage and disclosure of how women are represented in video games is a very important voice in the discourse on gaming, and the vile response really just shows how boys and men that are completely out of touch with reality – a reality where gaming is no longer their domain and refuge – clearly just want to be left alone to beat up prostitutes in one-dimensional depictions of women in video games. The line between these fictional universes and real life is obviously non-existent when they turn to attack women in the outside world as well.

It should be clear by now that the way the world is portrayed in entertainment cannot completely be separated from how the world actually functions. The entertainment industry and the real world shape one another and are both part of the same bigger picture. It’s obvious that a certain fraction of gamers – or any consumers of pop culture – is more susceptible than others, but no-one can be completely free from influence. Calling for a more responsible representation of women – or any group – in video games is an effort I applaud wholeheartedly, and the amount of coverage the issue has now gotten tells me that we have reached a point where developers can no longer ignore this issue. Games are now a wonderful platform for storytelling – let’s hope it can be used that way from now on.

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