Welcome! This blog is written by author J.L. Metcalf and will chat about comics, movies, garden gnomes, ghosts or even books and daily life. It is a place where I offer my ladylike perspective on anything and everything my brain can think of.
Here’s the thing, from what I can tell in reading various articles on Gamergate, it’s a big ole mess. It started because people (aka a bunch of angry internet folks/gamers) were angry that an indie gamer released a game to great success. Then, her ex-boyfriend began spouting lies about her using her feminine wiles to get good reviews. He has since retracted what he said, saying that Quinn did not sleep with the journalist for reviews but the damage has already been done. The information was out there and people began to choose sides. Things began to quickly spiral out of control (which is what often happens on the internet) when Quinn became the recipient of death threats and multiple hacks to her various social media accounts.
What Gamergate reveals is the rampant and violent misogyny that runs throughout the gamer community. In industries such as video games and even comics, women are simply not given a fair shake. Women are treated differently and are often treated badly. And by badly, I mean, women are in fear for their lives. Let me repeat the fact that Quinn had to leave her home because she was in danger of being attacked. One of the many problems with Gamergate is that there was no organization to it, no clear leader. Therefore, the attacks ranged from condemning the lack of ethics in journalism to outright hatred against women in the gaming industry. So what was the “real” issue here?
Carolyn Cox from The Mary Sue puts it well when she says,
“This ongoing uproar in the gaming community is not about journalistic ethics, it’s about systematic misogyny and abuse, the ease with which harassment occurs online, and the fact that publishing an article calling for empathy could engender enough hate to make you want to quit writing forever.”
Technology is great but one of the downfalls is that hate is spewed towards women (amongst others) every day on the internet. Being able to hide behind a computer screen/keyboard makes people (aka trolls, bullies, bigots, sexists, etc) feel invincible and untouchable. The fact is, they mostly are. The video game world has seen the rise of females in their male dominated world for years now, in a blog from 2011 I found that women made up 12% of the people working in creating games, not to mention, women have been influential in some of the biggest games around such as “Gears of War 3” and “Deus Ex: Human Revolution”.
According to an article in The Washington Post,
“America’s 190 million gamers, 48 percent of whom are women, still play in a harsh frontier. About 70 percent of female gamers said they played as male characters online in hopes of sidestepping sexual harassment, according to a study cited by “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace” author and law professor Danielle Keats Citron.”
Intermingled with this feeling of technological invincibility is the gamer world. It is a male dominated one and if anything is clear from Gamergate, it is an industry that is unwilling to accept women into the fold. (I want to make it clear that I, by no means, speak of the entire gaming industry. I am well aware that there are many who support women). To try and keep women out, the men establish a culture of hatred, violence, sexism and threats. I know that even though I am not a gamer, I see the commercials for games like “Grand Theft Auto”, I am often horrified at the way women are portrayed in those games. I have read numerous stories about how the female characters are often sex workers who are attacked and murdered for fun. Yeah, for FUN. If you’ll allow me an “old lady” moment, I honestly don’t know when video games became this way. I remember a time when you very simply had to get Link through various trials to rescue Zelda or you bounced Mario along some toadstools to rescue Princess Peach. Maybe I’m old but it saddens me that there are now video games that are all about killing and assault.
When journalist Anita Sarkeesian (no stranger to online harassment for her feminist views) mentioned that maybe in video games women don’t have to be nameless sex workers nor do they need to be murdered and/or attacked in every video game, she received so many threats she had to leave her home for a safer location.
Let me say this pretty clearly so everyone understands, no one should have to leave their homes for fear of their safety for speaking their mind. Last time I checked, we lived in a country founded on the principles of free speech. When did that change to ‘free speech, except when it’s women denouncing female abuse in video games and/or receiving praise for a well-done video game?’ For sure, I am a bit confused that the only argument being made is to try and frighten the women who are speaking their minds. Where is the logical, open discourse? Where is the intelligence? We live in a culture of bullies and I, for one, want it to stop.
What has come out of Gamergate for many is a need to address the misogyny and violence against women (and their supporters) in the gaming industry. For something like this to reach a level of violence where women are fearing for their own well-being means that there is a huge flaw in the system. Actually, it means the system is broken. Everyone should be able to do what they love. Everyone should be able to speak their mind (unless, obviously, it’s harmful).
I realize that this may sound somewhat unclear, but here’s the thing. The people making threats or hacking accounts to “get back at” these women are the problem. They are abusing the right of free speech by trying to shut down those who are fighting for it. By abusing it to this degree they no longer deserve that right (in my humble opinion) because once we descend to threats of bodily harm, who are we? Barbarians? Monsters?
I, for one, want to live in a world where I can speak my mind without fear of being harmed or threatened.
There is an upside. There are organizations like WIGI (Women In Games International) that is made up of both male and female members whose sole purpose is to work to include women in the gaming industry as both players and developers. Make sure to check them out!
Tell me, did I miss something about Gamergate?
Not being a gamer, I would love to hear some feedback!