Female gamers continue to experience sexist backlash

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Giovanni Solano

 

In 2006 Joss Whedon (director and writer of The Avengers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc.) during his Equality Now Speech said “Equality is not a concept. It is not something that we should be striving for. It is a necessity. Equality is like gravity, we need it to stand on this earth as men and women. And the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance…We need equality, kinda now.” So why bring up this eight-year-old quote? GamerGate.

What started off as the blog posts of a jealous ex-boyfriend quickly developed into the massive online argument and harassment that is GamerGate. This argument has resulted in numerous hacking attempts, death threats, rape threats and bomb threats to two women in particular— Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian—as well as verbal backlash at any man or woman who tries to defend them.

Quinn is an independent video game developer responsible for quirky nontraditional games. Shortly after the full release of her game, Depression Quest, Quinn’s ex-boyfriend, Eron Gjoni, wrote in a blog post that Quinn had cheated on him with a videogame journalist. NPR stated “Some people used the allegations against Quinn as proof that there’s corruption in video game journalism… Others attacked Quinn based on her gender, calling her a ‘social justice warrior’— an insulting term for people who are deemed to be uninterested in games themselves, just in using those games as a platform to promote themselves or their ideals.”

In that same NPR article Quinn has been quoted as saying “I don’t think I’ve ever released a game without getting some sort of rape threat.”

This shouldn’t be happening. It’s like threatening the creators of Candy Crush or Flappy Bird. I’m willing to bet if a man made those games, there wouldn’t be any (or as much of a) violent backlash. But because they were made by a woman, there was, and it’s not fair. It’s sickening, and it has to stop.

Next there is Anita Sarkeesian, a video game critic who looks at how video games portray women, in an online blog called Feminist Frequency. In one video she talks about how women are often relegated to the role of damsel in distress — a prize to be won or a goal to be achieved.  In other blogs, Sarkeesian talks about some of the darker, secondary roles women play. Sarkeesian has been getting angry backlash for her critiques since she’s been doing them (she’s not wrong), but during GamerGate, that backlash got so bad that she had to leave her home after calling the police.

As video games expand in popularity and continue to receive recognition as an art form, gamer culture has diversified. And this diversification has led to more diverse games that don’t conform to the male oriented gamer identity, and this pissed them off. Self-described “gamers” claim that it’s because the gaming industry is under attack. Go through some of their comments and it becomes pretty clear that they want a games industry where you have to be a man to continue.

Liana Kerzer, from MetalEater.com, said it best after urging the gamer community to challenge and reject the small subgroups of gamers: “The misogyny within our ranks is real. The racism is real. The homophobia and transgendered stigma is real. The stigma against mental illness is real. Our juvenile relationship with sexualized violence is real.”