Thoughts Of A Feminist Gamer, Adult Content: No Sex Please, We’re Video Game Critics

WARNING! This post contains video game images that some might consider graphic but, let’s face it, are mostly just hilarious.

nosexplease

 

Sex and Violence are two of the most commonly presented, intertwined and controversial concepts presented in fiction. Yet while violence is seen as pretty much the bread and butter of video games the exploration of sex and sexual themes is not something that video games are largely associated with. Adult content in video games has always been a subject of much scrutiny and a great deal of criticism. Perhaps this is because as a medium video games are still struggling to break free from the perception that they are childrens toys, an idea still reinforced among the wider media.

However the truth is that sex has always been a part of mainstream video games. You only have to look back at the release of games such as Softporn Adventure, Leisure Suit Larry and Wet: The Sexy Empire in the 80s and 90s to know that.

sexy game

It is true that sex is nowhere near as prevalent in video games as violence, mostly because in the US while violence can usually scrape an M (Mature) rating explicit sexual content will usually mean an AO (Adult Only) rating. This can be a death sentence for a game’s commercial potential because it drastically affects publishers ability to market and distribute a game. Neither Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft will allow AO rated games to be published for their consoles and even Steam has only recently allowed an AO rated game, Hatred, to be sold on site. While Steam did offer games containing sexual content before, these were often censored.


mariomodgtahot

The infamous ‘Hot Coffee’ mini game hidden in the code of GTA San Andreas. It was only accessible through modding or hacking but the controversy caused by it’s discovery caused the game to be re-rated as AO. The game was recalled and a new version was released without the mini game, allowing  GTA San Andreas to remain M rated.

Video game journalists and critics have never been particularly positive about depictions of sex in video games and perhaps with some good reason. Criticisms of dead, doll-like eyes, terribly written dialogue or ridiculous background music are not without some degree of merit.

Dead-eyed sex scene from Farenheit/Indigo Prophecy

indigoprophecy

 

far cry 3

                      Sex scene from Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon which begins with                  the rather questionable line ““I wanna be blinded with your cyber love”

However the current crop of game journalists, critics and bloggers seem to be particularly sex negative when it comes to talking about sex in video games. Look up ‘sex in video games’ and the articles on mainstream gaming sites readily throw up descriptions such as as tasteless, unsexy, graphic, and meaningless.

Sex in games is almost exclusively used to give players, who are assumed to be male, something to ogle at between blood baths.

Ben Kuchera

 

There seems to be slightly immature or even puritan aspects to the ways in which video game critics deal with the idea of sexual imagery or themes being presented in video games, with some writers seeming slightly grossed out that sex is in video games in the first place. Video game writers lament that sex is presented in games as a cheap laugh, thrill or as a mindless titillation reward for the player. But is that really fair?

mario1mariomurder

In the world of video game journalism Mario murders innocent Goombas before retiring to have tender, meaningful sex with Princess Peach…

mario2

…or not

So, let’s break down these criticisms in as direct and frank way as possible, the first being that sex in video games is often silly looking and unsexy. Well, I hate to break it to them, but sex does not look like it does in the movies, even the pornographic ones. Professional pornography performers require a very specific skill set and a great deal of knowledge and experience to make sex look sexy, as anyone who has ever watched amateur porn will tell you. Sex in video games looking unsexy or funny comes down to a fundamental distinction between realism and aesthetic. Video game designers are trying to make animated figures look like they’re really having sex and REAL sex?  With it’s movement, facial expressions and sound effects, most of the time doesn’t actually look very sexy.

kenlevinenudity

ride to hellRidetohelloface

Ride To Hell : Retribution and the ‘She just bit my balls’ orgasm face

Which brings me to my next point, why shouldn’t sex in a video game be funny or used as a comedic element?  I’m British, often stereotyped as sexually repressed but a nationality that has a proud tradition of sex based comedy including Carry On films, saucy postcards and Monty Python sketches. Sex is often pretty funny to me and I don’t see why that shouldn’t be the case in video games. The idea that funny or silly video game sex somehow cheapens sex seems pretty old fashioned, uptight and prudish, like complaining that those having the sex are not married or that no-ones father was asked for permission beforehand. Nearly everyone in the world will have sex at some point in their life and everyone that has had sex will have had funny or awkward moments while doing so. Many people still find sex difficult to talk about, finding humour can make it easier and break down those kinds of taboos. Sex can be funny, and it’s ok to laugh at it.

7 sins

    Sex puzzle from the life simulator game 7 Sins

Another description thrown at depictions of sex in video games is the word ‘meaningless’. This adjective is a little more tricky to dissect because it measures how we as individuals perceive meaning in sex against how sex is used as a plot device in storytelling. While sex in a video game can be used as part of a puzzle or for amusement it can also be part of what drives the story of a video game forward. In recent years many video games have tried to  make storylines more complex in an attempt to seem more cinematic. In doing so they have taken their cue from movies in regard to the way that sex is incorporated into the plot. However while audiences view sex in movies from a fourth wall bystander perspective video games is an interactive medium and so it is possible for the audience to not just observe, but participate in the sexual exploits of those on the screen. In games and series such as the Mass Effect, Dragon Age and anything from David Cage’s body of work (Heavy Rain, Beyond : Two Souls etc) players can actively make decisions regarding the sexual behavior of characters. But when you make sex a part of the game does it remove meaning? Does making sexual elements a mechanic of the game damage player perceptions of the intimacy and connection between those engaged in the sexual act itself? Well I suppose that is down to personal tastes and ideas regarding sex as an individual. Perhaps a better question would be SHOULD it mean that meaning or intimacy is removed? And here’s the thing, I don’t think it should.

dragon age collage

Various scenes from Dragon Age : Origins and Dragon Age : Inquisition

      Sex is a natural act, something we as a species engage in as a matter of instinct. Sex can connect people in a incredibly deep and powerful way. However, let’s be realistic. There are many reasons why people have sex and not all of them are deep and meaningful, in fact some are quite base or even flippant. We can have sex because we wish to physically express an intimate connection or we can have sex simply because it’s fun and it feels good. So it is with video games. Not all of the sex depicted needs to express any kind of deeper meaning or evoke an emotional response, either from the characters or from the player, it can just be there because people like to fuck so let the characters have some sexy time. As for involving gamers, because of the varied way in which players experience video games the choice to make sex a part of the game mechanic can actually strengthen meaning. Gamers that favour gameplay over plot can experience meaning from mastering the complexities of sex and relationships as a physical mechanic. Meanwhile gamers that care more about story than gameplay gain meaning from seeing the way that their choices regarding sex and relationships affect the plot thread of their character. A lot of this particular problem comes down to the difference between legitimate criticisms of developer design choices and the personal preferences and moral/ideological standpoints of the critic. If you believe that sex scenes in certain video games are meaningless then you have to be aware that that is a personal distinction and that others may have the complete opposite view. Another aspect is that once again we have to consider the current limitations of the medium. You want video game sex to give a true and accurate portrayal of some of the physical intimacy and potential/realised emotional connection between those engaged in sexual acts? Yeah, remember the part where we’re talking animated puppets made to look like they’re having sex?

vgsex  Sex scene from a Pac-Man style game called X-Man 

 So I imagine that by now some of you are thinking “No-one ever said we wanted to end silly or funny sex scenes in video games, we just want more depictions that are serious and worthwhile” and you’d be right, no-one is saying outright that they want these kind of depictions to end. However what they are saying is that they are a problem, by definition that means they are seen as something to be fixed or remedied

a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.

 Sex in video games is just one part of a larger discussion in gaming at the moment, connecting with issues such as sexualisation, objectification and how games portray the sexuality of, particularly female, characters. This discussion often takes place in the context of perceived wider social ramifications of the use of particular depictions/tropes. Of course the critics that believe these representations are a problem and should be ended will not come out and say so directly, they would be dismissed as a fringe view or as advocating censorship. However it comes down to this, if these critics truly believe that depictions of sex, sexuality or sex based imagery in video games contribute to negative treatment of particular groups of people within our society then why wouldn’t they be trying to stop those kinds of depictions from occurring? It is a perfectly valid opinion to want to see more instances of sex used as part of evocative storytelling in video games, but you know, that doesn’t need to mean less funny, silly or superficial sexual shenanigans in video games either. When those that talk about video games choose to use their platform to tear down what they believe to be bad, rather than to raise up what they believe to be good, then is it any wonder the assumption is that they want to censor?

GTA sex scene

Sex scene from GTA V

 Sex has always been a part of video games and as the medium continues to grow, not just as a industry but as an art form, it is likely that we will continue to see depictions of sex and sexual themes in future releases. It is my sincerest hope that video game writers and critics will learn to be a bit less…well…frigid about it. By all means discuss whatever deep, meaningful or ideological perspective that you wish but remember video games, and sex, is supposed to about having a good time.

Seriously, there’s no need to take sex in video games quite so seriously.

Thanks for reading

Angela

Feel free to leave a comment and/or follow me on Twitter @angelheartnight

Also in case anyone missed it I was interviewed about #Gamergate by Metaleater.com

Thoughts Of A Feminist Gamer, Thoughts On #Gamergate and #SPJAirplay Part 2

Ok just a short update on my thought on SPJ Airplay.

So last night I was on a stream discussion with Michael Koretzky and many others to discuss SPJ Airplay. A huge thank you to Oliver Campbell and John Smith for setting it up, to Michael Koretzky for his time and to all the other people that were on the stream and made some excellent points. It’s a serious slog at over 6 hours but if you fancy a listen it can be found here.
A while ago I wrote this twitlonger on why I was skeptical about Airplay, last night’s stream seemed a good opportunity to address some of the concerns that I had with Michael Koretzky. So the first point I made in the twitlonger was that Koretzky did not seem to be supported by the rest of the SPJ when it comes to talking about Gamergate. As far as that is concerned it has become clear as time has gone on and speakers/panelists have been announced that this is not the case. The SPJ are supporting Koretzky in this endeavor and they do indeed seem to be taking the whole thing very seriously. It still strikes me as odd that they were so afraid to talk about it in the first place but there you go, it’s a non issue now.
However, and those of you who listened to the stream won’t be surprised to hear this, I’m still skeptical about Airplay. Now I don’t want to be the one that’s negative about everything, I don’t want to be the grumpy old git at the party pointing out everything not quite right about it. After I wrote the first twitlonger people were very quick to jump on me, saying that Airplay would fix things in game journalism and that I don’t care about Gamergate. That’s ok, people are welcome to disagree with me. When I made the point that the SPJ as an organisation exists to support journalists, that journalists pay money to be it’s members, and that the SPJ was never going to vindicate Gamergate or declare them to be heroes. Koretzky agreed with me on this
 The SPJ is not around to support gamers, it’s around to support journalism
One of the main reasons why people seemed to be upset and concerned by the latest Airplay update was that in it Koretzky said he didn’t care about some of the evidence being presented to him by supporters of Gamergate as far as harassment is concerned, a position that he defended on the stream saying that this evidence was irrelevant. However as the stream went on it became clear that there are still many aspects of Gamergate that Koretzky is unfamiliar with, such as the harassment patrol. Therefore I don’t see how Koretzky can be dismissing any evidence as irrelevant at this point. Like pieces in a puzzle the evidence may seem irrelevant now but may become so when Koretzky becomes more familiar with things, to dismiss things now seems premature to say the least.
If you all had condemned harassment, the journalism around GG would have been different.
As many pointed out on the stream, we’ve condemned harassment for the last ten months Koretzky. We’ve condemned it till we’re blue in the face. What difference did it make?  None whatsoever as to the way that Gamergate supporters have been portrayed by the media. The other point that I made is that Gamergate is a hashtag, not a group. The only behaviour supporters of Gamergate need to be responsible for is their own. I don’t need to condemn harasssment, unless anyone can find some instance of me harassing anyone it should be a given that I don’t support it. To use the analogy I used on stream, unless you see me out in the street kicking puppies you can take it as a given that I don’t support puppy kicking. Gamergate is still being treated as a group, with every member responsible for the actions of the whole. This while aGG is treated as individuals only responsible for their own words and deeds. This is unfair, all parties should be being treated the same and they’re not. I said as much on the stream and did not get a satisfactory answer.
As I said I don’t want to be the one ruining this for everyone else but Airplay needs someone to be critical, someone to ask questions. If that someone has to be me then so be it. I’m willing to take that role precisely because I DO care about Gamergate. I care that Gamergate gets their chance to discuss journalistic ethics, I care that Airplay is not merely Gamergate being put on trial and forced to defend itself as a guilty party. They say at the heart of every cynic lies a disappointed idealist, nothing would make me happier than for Airplay to be a huge success and fix things for everyone. But that will not happen, we will not be hailed as heroes, we may not even get the fair treatment we want. At best it will be an interesting exercise.
Oliver says that just because Koretzky is not a friend it does not make him an enemy. I say that journalists up until this point have proven themselves to be untrustworthy, and just because you cannot see the knife it doesn’t mean one isn’t there.
bastards
Thanks for reading
Angela

Thoughts Of A Feminist Gamer, Why I Don’t Want To Talk About Street Harassment And Why I Need To

Urgh, give me strength.

So it seems to be that time. I had thought that at some point it might come to this, although to be honest I had hoped that it wouldn’t. It is time for me to talk about Street Harassment, an issue that up until this point I had managed to avoid (on purpose I might add)

So why have I been so keen not to talk about it? Well because it is an issue so contentious, so debatable and so provocative that I’m aware that even the presence of the phrase ‘Street Harassment’ in the title of this post may make even my most loyal readers roll their eyes and hit the corner X. An issue that fully splits people down the middle and that a great many people are very keen to have raging disputes about. That in itself is not the problem, I don’t shy away from a good argument. However street harassment is an issue that deals with human interaction, the way that we connect, communicate and influence through mutual or reciprocal action. Human interaction as a subject is complicated and dependent upon a myriad of variables. Any debate on elements of human interaction needs to be thoroughly researched, complex, rational, and deeply nuanced, ideas which are usually the first things to go out of the window in any online discussion. It has been my experience that any conversation on street harassment usually finds people so entrenched in their ideas on the subject that it rapidly becomes a collective of individuals talking and shouting AT each other rather than TO each other since the only opinion anyone seems to be interested in is their own.

So why is this? Well part of it is the use of the word ‘Harassment’ a word which has in itself become a subject of debate, particularly in online spaces. Harassment as a concept appears to mean many different things to many different people and so behaviour that is considered harassment by some is not considered so by others. Online the word is so often used to mean trivial things, such as replying to public tweets or disagreeing with someone even respectfully, that for some the word ‘harassment’ has become largely meaningless.

hiharassmentgrilled-sexual-harassment funnyharassment

harassment tweet1

So instead of getting into a protracted discussion on what may or may not be harassment I’m just going to provide some legal definitions of the word ‘harassment’ from the US (though of course there may be minor differences depending on the state) and UK and then explain what is defined as street harassment by street harassment organisations.

Now as far as the definition of street harassment goes, according to Stop Street Harassment, an organisation that campaigns against street harassment

There is no standardized definition for street harassment (yet). Our working definition (updated March 2015) is:

Gender-based street harassment is unwanted comments, gestures, and actions forced on a stranger in a public place without their consent and is directed at them because of their actual or perceived sex, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation.

Street harassment includes unwanted whistling, leering, sexist, homophobic or transphobic slurs, persistent requests for someone’s name, number or destination after they’ve said no, sexual names, comments and demands, following, flashing, public masturbation, groping, sexual assault, and rape.

So while the legal definition of harassment seems to be continual or repeated unwanted attentions from an individual or group the definition of street harassment does not necessarily make that distinction, so a single incident of unwanted attention is enough to be defined as street harassment. This is where the waters start to get muddy.

Catcalling, while not the only aspect, is one of the most common forms of street harassment. However, it is an unfortunate fact of life that being shouted at or stopped in the street by strangers happens to everyone for one reason or another. Recently there seems to be this idea that every time this happens it is an instance of being harassed, because we’re all entitled to go about our day without being hassled by a stranger. However, when you think about it, this isn’t really true is it? If mankind truly felt that it was a fundamental human right to go about our lives without ever being hassled by strangers then such things as telephone cold calling or door to door sales would not exist, and the fact is they do, and a great many people make their living from such jobs. In the UK, where I live, we have people with coloured vests and clipboards that randomly stop you in the street and try to convince you to give them your bank details in order to make a regular donation to good causes. In my area they are not so affectionately known as Chuggers (Charity Muggers)

chugger1An unsuspecting victim is caught and mercilessly guilt tripped by a predatory Chugger

 

Let us not also forgot that many of the fundamentally instinctive patterns of our mating behaviour involve interacting with strangers in order to seek potential partners, whether it be at work, in a social area such as a bar, or through mutual acquaintances. Talking to strangers is pretty inevitable. So how then do we make the decision regarding what is acceptable street harassment and what is not? Because, from what I have seen, street harassment discussions and organisations rarely make any distinctions regarding severity, preferring to leave that to the one who feels that they were harassed. This leaves us with the frankly ridiculous premise that a stranger calling a woman “Sweetheart” or saying “Good Morning” uninvited is perceived by some with the same graveness as being groped, propositioned, or threatened with violence. On Twitter there have been various hashtags, such as #YesAllWomen and #FirstHarassed, that were designed to encourage women to share the stories of their experiences of street harassment. These tags have usually started out with good intentions and great earnestness before descending into mud slinging, accusations, and defensiveness as those that do not agree that street harassment is a huge problem put forth their perspectives. Certainly there are plenty of people that believe that street harassment is very much a non issue or a first world problem.

So why do I need to talk about street harassment? I suppose you’re expecting this to be the moment where I share my personal experiences of street harassment with you right? Well I’m not going to go into details, the purpose of this is not to shame anyone or to claim victimhood. The only detail that is relevant to this is that when it first started happening to me? I was still a child, and I am far from alone in that being the case. According to this survey from Hollaback! and Cornell University from 2014 the majority of women that they surveyed first experienced street harassment between the ages of 11 and 17, most commonly at 13-14.

One of the most common responses when someone says they were catcalled is “Take it as a compliment” however it’s hard to do that when you’re at an age where you aren’t sure what’s happening and may not know how to deal with it, you just know that it makes you deeply uncomfortable and perhaps a little afraid. Now, to be clear, this is not an attempt to demonise anyone, there are many reasons why people catcall and sometimes young people look older than they really are. If you’re reading this blog post and you just happen to be the kind of person that enjoys paying compliments to young people that you don’t know then you might want to be advised, they may not be as old as you think. When arguments about street harassment happen online there are invariably criticisms that those talking about their experiences are living in the past or allowing those experiences to rule them. I can’t speak for everyone but I can say that because it happened to me when I was young it was part of what shaped my perceptions of people at that time. I was sexually assaulted and I was just told that it happens to everyone, that there are bad people around and sometimes you’re unlucky enough to encounter one. I was young and I wasn’t even sure that it was assault until much later, I didn’t report it. I was taught that you only called the police if it was an emergency and the only context I had for what constituted an ’emergency’ was what I had seen on television. What happened to me didn’t look like it did in the soap operas, it seemed much less dramatic. From my perspective the conversation about adult to adult street harassment needs to be handled differently from the kind of street harassment that occurs adult to child. We can teach our children that sometimes people do things we don’t like, that sometimes people are mean or say things because they want to get a reaction from us, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t say that that shouldn’t happen. We should be able to say that children should not have to deal with this.

Now I am fully aware that there are problems with the Hollaback! research, it’s overall sample sizes are small for something claiming to represent entire countries. It also doesn’t appear to have included any men in it’s research, ignoring and erasing any experiences that men may have had with street harassment. Part of the problem with the way that street harassment as whole is dealt with us that it is very much painted as a crime that only women endure as victims and only men commit as perpetrators. Is it then any wonder that when discussions about street harassment occur that some men can get defensive? No one cares that it may have happened to them, they are expected to ‘man up’ and get on with it while being judged as a harasser or potential harasser themselves. How is that fair? So much of the discussion on street harassment is focused on women. So much that it seems to be designed to make women terrified, of life, of men, of stepping out of their front doors. Now while there are places in the world where what is perceived as the wrong response to street harassment can place the recipient in real danger of physical harm. Does that mean that every single woman is in danger of rape every time a man says “Good Morning”? No. That is why I must talk about street harassment, however much I may not want to. Because women are NOT the only ones that are catcalled or assaulted while out in public, men and children are too. Yet they are completely ignored while women are told that they constantly have to be afraid, that men will abuse them if only given the chance. The balance of this discussion is all wrong, it only takes into account the perspectives that women are victims and men are aggressors or that there is no issue to deal with and people need to be a little more thick skinned about catcalling and report more severe behaviour to the authorities.

And so that’s where I sit, right in the space between those who say “Street harassment is not a problem” and those that say “Street harassment is a HUGE problem for women” Human beings are complicated, and the discussion of street harassment should be equally complicated. As for myself, as I have gotten older occurrences of catcalling have lessened and I have tended to take them less seriously. In fact, the last time I was catcalled I was thinking about writing this very blog post. So I’d just like to say, to the man on the bicycle with the gap in his teeth who said “Hello baby” as he rode towards me when I was on my way to work the other day? That’s why I laughed in your face, hope you weren’t too miffed.

Thank you for reading

Find me on Twitter @angelheartnight

Thoughts Of A Feminist Gamer, The Growing Pains Of Game Journalism

Gaming journalism has had what can only be described as a difficult year. The undercurrent of unhappiness that has simmered for years in the gaming community about the way that news stories in gaming are covered and the way that gaming publications operate regarding potential conflicts of interest boiled over and spilled into public consciousness in the scandal known as #Gamergate. Whether you support the Gamergate hashtag or not it cannot be denied that it has raised several questions about the way that video game journalists conduct themselves and whether video game publications have a responsibility to enforce a high ethical standard in the behaviour of their employees.

truth

A recent development in this saga has been the involvement of Michael Koretzky of the Society of Professional Journalists, an organisation representing journalists across the USA that promotes and encourages high journalism standards while supporting freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The SPJ has a Code Of Ethics that it believes journalists should endeavor to abide by. This code thoroughly details what the SPJ considers to be the basic principles and responsibilities that journalists should consider in order to report the truth with maximum integrity and minimal harm. In essence to ensure that all those who find themselves under the scrutiny of the press are treated fairly. At this time Koretzky is attempting to explore the Gamergate debate by recruiting various people on all sides of the argument to take part in a discussion panel, called Airplay, to analyse the current state of gaming journalism.

I believe that video game journalism as a medium has always seemed somewhat confused about what it wanted to be, an enthusiast press, an investigative press or a marketing press. Gaming news media is still relatively young and it’s reaction to those that have questioned it’s ethical conduct has been just that, young and immature. The gaming press seems to have had little to no idea how to address the concerns of it’s readers, veering wildly between denying that a problem even exists and throwing blame and accusations at ‘entitled’ gamers.

Gaming journalism has reacted to the discussion of journalism ethics like a stroppy teenager.

kevintheteenmeme

         To understand what I mean by this let’s look at a little of the history of video game journalism. What started out in the 70s and 80s as magazines that were part enthusiast writing and part game company public relations has grown into a multi-million dollar industry, now situated more online than in print (in part because the game market crash of 1983 put many video game magazines out of business) In the early days game developers had little choice but to deal directly with journalists, since few game companies could afford a PR department. At this point game journalists were coming into the medium through traditional journalism means, studying journalism at college/university.

Through the late 80s and early 90s video game PR increasingly became the domain of publishing companies and magazines began to re-emerge. The 90s saw the introduction of the internet and game publications tentatively began launching online, with no clue how big the internet would become. A consequence of this was that writers had to work faster to keep the site updated with new content, rather than having stories and articles collated in a monthly publication. Unfortunately this meant that stories were often rushed and sometimes contained mistakes. Around the same time the paradigm of where game writers emerged from shifted. Game journalists, while enthusiastic about the medium, lacked the gaming knowledge that the readers expected and so publications began to expand to include hiring writers that, while being avid gamers, lacked formal journalism qualifications. It was the 90s that first saw questions about the ethical conduct of game journalists emerge. By this point video game publishers had begun to promote video games with larger and larger PR events, enticing journalists with free promotional swag. By the years of the new millennium video game publications had begun to crackdown on this behaviour, establishing rules about what journalists could and could not accept. Online publishing of video game writing continued to grow more popular, rapidly establishing itself as the norm for gaming journalism.

So having very briefly chronicled origins and formative development we now begin to look at where we are now, in what is essentially the adolescent years of gaming journalism. In order to examine this I think it might be helpful to understand how people become video game journalists using this FAQ from a video game journalism job site.

vgj3

 

So from this we can see that very little has changed in terms of gaming publications not expecting potential writers to have any academic qualification in journalism. Realistically there’s nothing wrong with that provided candidates have an understanding of what journalism is, including the ethical responsibilities. The FAQ right away refers to video game journalism as not being journalism “in the traditional sense” and in a way it is correct, for example traditionally journalists don’t usually write product reviews. However where news articles are concerned there’s an expectation that stories are covered without conjecture or personal opinion unless it is clearly defined as such. As the SPJ code of ethics puts it “Label advocacy and commentary” Gaming journalism has become rife with personal opinion and ideological influence. It seems almost impossible for game journalists to write a story without injecting their own personal biases, all under the umbrella of of being ‘progressive’ In this open letter to Gamergate by Polygon from October 2014  Polygon uses the SPJ Ethics Code to justify it’s ethical behaviour and attacks supporters of Gamergate for wanting to remove politics from video game news coverage.

progressive

If, as a news outlet, you want to write opinion pieces about any type of political or social ideology in the context of video games then that’s fine, go right ahead. Gaming publications have been known to give the opinion that they think video games and video game audiences should ‘grow up’ and that’s fine too. However when news stories, which exist to inform the public of events and should contain a minimal amount of bias, are tainted with personal politics? Even affecting decisions of which stories are covered and which ones are not? That is a problem. Inability to report news objectively because of some misguided attempt to affect change in video games based on personal prejudice? That is a problem. Gaming Journalism is not only a teenager, it is a teenager attempting to look grown up while entering it’s post adolescent idealistic phase.

Let’s tell a story, potentially put ourselves in the shoes of a modern video game journalist, albeit it with a fair bit of generalisation. You love video games, you love them so much you regularly write a blog about them. You don’t have a journalism degree but you have some talent as a writer and over time have managed to build an audience, you decide to try and make a living out of it. You start out with freelance work, sending content pitch emails to video game publications and seeing if any of them are accepted, you also apply through any site that says it’s in need of writers. When pitches are accepted you sit in your home and write whatever assignment you have. As time passes you start getting work published, you keep on sending out applications and pitches and eventually you land a job at a video game publication. It doesn’t pay well but it’s what you love and you still write from home. Only now it’s more serious, the site constantly needs new content so you’re given assignments and have very little time to complete them. You may be asked to write news articles, stepping outside the comfort zone of the personal blogs and opinion pieces that form your current repertoire. The speed required may mean that you have to write items based on secondary sources. Instead of going directly to the source of a story you’re writing news articles sourced from other news articles. If you’re lucky and you live in a major city you may be called upon to cover a gaming event, maybe something big like E3. Suddenly you’re there with your press pass surrounded by game developers, potentially heroes of yours that created all your favourite video games. There’s PR people too and they talk to you, smile at you, maybe offer you free stuff. People want to talk to you and be your friend. You may suddenly feel like the coolest person in the world.

almost_famous

You may meet new people, including up and coming independent developers that you find things in common with. You may even share certain ideological stances with some of them, forming a circle of friendships and close knit relationships. Some of them may eventually put games out and you may write positively about them, a mention here or there, after all you want them to succeed and there’s no harm in helping out people you care about right? After all it’s only video games, it’s not like it means a great deal in the real world, you’re not harming anybody right?

Wrong

The reason any kind of journalism exists is to serve the best interests of the public, this is true whether it be worldwide journalism that covers social or political issues or a niche journalism that covers a specific hobby or interest. What is harmed is the public trust that game publications are acting with the concerns of the consumer in mind. One of the most important responsibilities of any journalist is to keep themselves free of, or disclose, any potential conflicts of interest.

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From the SPJ Code of Ethics

     I don’t agree that it doesn’t matter because it’s only game journalism. This whole mess is symptomatic of a problem in internet news media as a whole. News sites, as businesses competing with each other to make money, believing that they must constantly update with new content has led to a severe decline in the quality of news articles. Journalism sites have become filled with poorly researched news items that lack any real depth or nuance and click-bait opinion pieces designed to feed the internet outrage machine.

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    As far as game journalism is concerned it remains to be seen as to whether the Airplay discussion will really achieve anything and there is a great deal of skepticism. After all, those that questioned the ethical conduct of gaming sites have for the most part got what what they asked for. Gaming publications have updated their ethics policies and are, appearing at least, to be disclosing more. At this point it seems more for vindication or posterity than anything else. However that increase in concern for ethics has come so begrudgingly and sitting down with gamers to discuss their concerns would mean having to admit there was a problem in the first place, something game journalists are still refusing to do.

    So it comes to this, game journalism says that gaming needs to grow up, I say that it is game journalism that needs to grow up. The last nine months could have easily been avoided if gaming publications had been willing to accept that mistakes were made and that the game journalists writing for them need better training and guidance on how to cover news stories responsibly. That is the key word here, responsibility. Whether it likes it or not gaming journalism has a duty, not just to it’s readers but to those they would seek to scrutinise. The reason that ethics in any kind of journalism exist is to ensure that the great power of the press is wielded in a mature and rational way. It is not enough to have established rules of conduct for game journalists if those journalists do not fully understand the implications of those rules and why they are necessary. The press has the ability to be judge, jury and executioner in the court of public opinion. We’re talking the potential to make and ruin lives, make or break governments, exalt those they deem worthy to the greatest of heights and just as quickly bring them low. When questions are raised about the ethical behaviour of journalists the publications that they work for cannot afford to throw a tantrum. Refusing to admit accountability while screaming that it is gamers that are childish has failed to make any of this go away. The contempt for video games and gamers in the name of progressiveness has all the hallmarks of an immature teenager that wants to look grown up, afraid that the things they once loved will make them seem childish.

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 It is no longer enough to say that game journalism is not really journalism. Journalists of any kind HAVE to take what they do seriously and that means owning their mistakes and paying for them. When all is said and done that is what being a responsible journalist, and a responsible adult, really means.

Thanks For Reading

Angela

Feel free to leave a comment below or find me on Twitter under Angela Night @angelheartnight

Thoughts Of A Feminist Gamer. The Choice Not To Choose Choice Feminism

Feminism as a word and a movement has always had a primary meaning and purpose, to advocate for women’s rights in order to secure equality of the sexes. However not everyone is aware that Feminism has a many subsets, such as Gender Feminism, Radical Feminism, Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminism and Choice Feminism. These subsets all have the same goal as Feminism but that goal is filtered through, and skewed in favour of, a particular perspective or philosophy. Choice Feminism is a Feminism that advocates the idea that women are empowered and liberated through their ability to make choices for themselves and that men and women should have equal freedom of choice. I am a Choice Feminist.

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It’s come to my attention that Choice Feminism is an unpopular Feminism among today’s Feminist media, a media which is mainly populated with Gender Feminists. Gender Feminist writers are writing articles that criticise Choice Feminism as damaging to the wider Feminist movement, saying that Choice Feminism does not address what they regard as the inherently unfair conditions and constraints upon women created by the Patriarchy, what they believe are the male created and dominated systems that control every aspect of our society. Recently Choice Feminism has been criticised in this article, written by Meagan Tyler to promote the book she co-edited Freedom Fallacy: The limits of liberal feminism and this article from The Guardian written by Finn Mackay.

feminismchoice“In privileging individual choice above all else, it doesn’t challenge the status quo.

It doesn’t demand significant social change, and it effectively undermines calls for collective action. Basically, it asks nothing of you and delivers nothing in return.
Instead of resistance, we now have activities that were once held up as archetypes of women’s subordinate status being presented as liberating personal choices. Sexual harassment has been reframed as harmless banter that women can enjoy. Marriage is reconstructed as a pro-feminist love-in.
Labiaplasty is seen as helpful cosmetic enhancement. Pornography is rebranded as sexual emancipation. Objectification is the new empowerment.”
This article has been highly lauded by Gender Feminists such as Anita Sarkeesian.
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 ” There is an attempt, unfortunately fairly successful, to reduce feminism to simply being the right for women to make choices. Not choices about whether to stand for parliament, or instigate pay transparency in the office or lead an unemployed worker’s union, or form a women-only consciousness-raising group in their town; far from it. 
Instead, there are choices about what amount of makeup to wear, whether to go “natural” or try mascara that makes your eyelashes look like false eyelashes, or what diet drink to buy, or whether or not to make the first move with a man – or other such modern and edgy decisions of the sort which face the feisty, sassy, pull-no-punches liberated woman of today. Excuse me while I am sick.”
          First things first, they are right, Feminism is not about personal choice. What Feminism is about is equality of the sexes, that is women and men having the same rights and level of opportunity, and liberation.
                       Both of the writers of these articles talk about how Choice Feminism, while encouraging women to make free choices, does not address what they regard as the patriarchal constraints that affect those choices. I have news for them, the view that the world is ruled by systems of patriarchal oppression that keep women at a disadvantage is just that, a view. This is not a fact, not a scientific hypothesis, it is a perspective. As such it is not shared by everyone. Patriarchy has become a kind of archenemy for Gender Feminism, an evil upon which seemingly every single thing they perceive as wrong in society can be blamed. Hence this idea that women can only make choices but only within the constraints of that villainous patriarchal framework.
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                               Rare photo of the evil supervillain known as “Patriarchy”
                      However what this seems to forget is that men also have constraints upon their choices. Most men have no choice but to work for a living rather than chase a dream or pursue a hobby, exactly the same as women. It is a myth that men have all choice in the world while women’s choices are limited, unless a man has the wealth to pursue his every whim the chances are his choices are also constrained Why? Because life is unfair, not just for for women but for EVERYONE. Some will try to tell me that this is because Patriarchy is bad for men too but if this is the case then it is not a system of male dominated systems lording it over women but rather the imbalances in life that we all face, some will always have more than others and they are not always men. Yes, as a caring society I believe it is right that we do all that we can to right wrongs, fix imbalances and remove injustice but to constantly lay blame upon the evil Patriarchy monster diverts attention away from other, more measurable issues, such as education, economics and distribution of wealth/resources. However you spin Patriarchy a wealthy woman will ALWAYS have infinitely more options than a homeless man.
                  Which brings me to my next point, both articles talk about how collective action is necessary in order to bring about the collective liberation of women. However women are not a collective, we are individuals. There is no collective, shared experience of womanhood, every woman’s needs and perspectives are different. This is equally true for men and to complain that men are well represented because “Westminster politics, for example, is nearly 80% male, and overwhelmingly white…” is disingenuous to say the least. What does the privately educated, born wealthy, career politician have in common with the 20 something young male in a hoodie that works on a building site? Not much apart from being male and maybe white.To make an issue as complex as representation as simple as “male” or “female” or “white” is blatant dishonesty. A 50/50 gender equal government would not somehow magically mean that every male or female perspective is represented.  A single man cannot speak for all men and a single woman cannot speak for all women. I find this idea that Choice Feminism is bad because women must always consider the wider implications of their choices for other women to be quite disturbing. Why? Well really it goes back to the definition of liberation from above.
LIBERATION, that is FREEDOM FROM LIMIT ON THOUGHT OR BEHAVIOUR.
                           Men are not expected to curtail their choices any more than the expected social standard of basic courtesy and consideration for others because they are somehow liable for their collective gender. Why should women be? To say to women that they have the responsibility for the advancement of the entirety of their gender while men do not is not equality. Frankly it just seems to be a way of legitimising the bullying of individual women when they are perceived by the Gender Feminist Hive Mind to have made the wrong choice or disobeyed the collective.
collective                                           The Gender Feminist Hive Mind
                                                     “Resistance Is Futile”
                          To devalue individual choice and make every woman responsible for the collective of ‘Womanhood’ beyond the understanding that our actions have consequences for others is in essence Gender Feminists saying
“Stop letting men tell you what to do! That’s Patriarchy! We need to be the ones to tell you what to do for the good of all womankind!”
                                   This is an idea I cannot get behind. I am a woman but I am also many other things, I am a wife, a mother, and I am an individual. Don’t expect me to do what I’m told for the betterment of my gender and then tell me that makes me liberated. Don’t tell me that because I want to make choices for myself without being condemned as a gender traitor heretic that I have ‘internalised misogyny’ and that I should educate i.e indoctrinate myself to your point of view. You can hand me a piece of shit topped with cheese in a sesame seed bun all you like but I still don’t have to taste it to know it’s not a cheeseburger. Many that came before me, not just women but men as well, fought hard and died for the right to make their own choices. The ideals of liberation and freedom are ones that are held to be sacred by all of humanity. We are talking the salvation not just of one gender but of anyone unable to choose how to live their own life. No, Feminism is not about choice, it’s about freedom.

Thoughts Of A Feminist Gamer, Anita Sarkeesian At The “How To Be A Feminist” Panel, Was It All About Women?

I feel I should make it clear that this post is very much centered on feminism and has very little to do with gaming, aside from connecting with Anita Sarkeesian’s self imposed role as pop culture and gaming’s feminist critic.

All this month, March 2015, the All About Women Festival has been taking place at the Sydney Opera House. The festival is a series of panels and events with guest speakers designed to, as the website puts it, “invigorate discussion on important issues and ideas that matter to women, and to bring global and Australian perspectives to the stages of the Sydney Opera House.”

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On Sunday 8th March the ‘How To Be A Feminist‘ panel took place, a discussion of feminist guest speakers Clementine Ford, Roxane Gay, Germaine Greer, Celeste Liddle, Tara Moss, and Anita Sarkeesian on “what feminism can be and achieve in 2015 and beyond”

I hadn’t really meant to pay attention to this but I stumbled across Anita Sarkeesian’s contribution to the panel, a written treatise that she read out loud on her discovery of feminism and what she believes is the correct way to be a feminist. The video of her speech is available here but it is this particular section that caught my attention

anita (600x305)                                                    Wait…what?

Women having choice is a bad thing because it could be bad for other women?

I have been a feminist for some years now. As much as I have critisised some of the tenets and priorities of modern feminism I have always very much believed in the first basic principle of feminism, that is is first and foremost about equality.

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When Anita speaks in the context of ‘How To Be A Feminist’ about how the concept of women empowering themselves as individuals through personal choice could be a bad thing for women in general I can’t help but be concerned. It particularly worries me that she made this speech at an event concerned not with gaming or pop culture but with mainstream feminism. Anita’s area of influence is moving outside of her niche of entertainment and into the sphere of modern mainstream feminist consciousness. When I listen to her speech in it’s entirety she seems to be saying that women must think about the choices they make, and be careful not to support systems considered to be patriarchal even if it is to her benefit to do so, because other women may not like or agree with those choices. This fits in with the modern feminist theory of patriarchy, the assertion that male created systems dominate society and oppress women. A common misconception of patriarchy is that it is all about men subjugating women but though the systems we have based our society on were created by men they are currently maintained by men AND women. In essence Anita’s assertion connects with the concept of patriarchal gate-keeping, the sense that if you are happy for the most part with the staus quo of society as a meritocracy based upon capitalist structures then, no matter your gender, you are perpetuating patriarchy.

How does that fit in with equality?

The term ‘Sisterhood’ is used by some feminists to express solidarity among women, expressing what they see as a unique bond between them. This can be especially true of women that participate in the feminist movement. My interpretation of Anita’s speech is that she is trying appeal to women, in particular those that are not inclined to call themselves feminist, to consider how the choice not to support feminism affects other women. This puts me in direct odds with Anita since I believe one of the most important aspects of intersectional feminism is that women should have the same freedom of choice as men.

Do men have to worry about whether or not their choices affect every other man? No

Now some feminists would argue that that is a privilege that men have as a result of patriarchy, yet if this so then why are feminists such as Anita not striving to offer women that same freedom? That same privilege? Doesn’t trying to end what these feminists see as the patriarchal gate-keeping of society mean leveling the playing field for men and women, granting freedom both of choice and expression? I don’t believe it is liberating or empowering to women to tell them that they are responsible for what happens to every single other women in existence, in fact I think that idea is oppressive and an ideological imprisonment.

I have seen this recently with feminist anti-porn campaigners. Feminists that sell the idea that, in order to be true feminists, women are expected to limit themselves and their ability to make free choices for fear of upsetting other women. Yet isn’t that just ending one system of oppression and replacing with one that they are comfortable with? Isn’t that substituting perceived patriarchal gate-keeping for a matriarchal system of societal gate-keeping instead? In my opinion this is taking authoritarianism and disguising it as feminism, trying to convince women that limiting the choices that they have is necessary, and for their own good.

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As a feminist I have never really had much time for patriarchal theory, I detail why in this twitlonger. Forgive me if I don’t feel the bonds of ‘sisterhood’ with women that would curtail my choices and silence me. This is especially true of Anita since her response to me and women like me, those that disagree with or even question her assertions about gaming, is to pretend that we do not exist and remove any avenue to discuss or engage with her about her ideas. If Anita believes that, as a feminist, she should consider what consequences her choices have for other women then perhaps she should talk to female gamers that are now experiencing men refusing to game with them because those men fear being labelled as sexist if they win. Maybe Anita should speak to developers that are now afraid to include female characters in their games for fear of being branded misogynists.

Anita’s appearance at the ‘How To Be A Feminist’ Panel was followed almost immediately by this speech at the ‘What I Couldn’t Say’ segment. The thing is Anita, if you have your way there will be MORE women with things that they couldn’t say. This is because the supporting of patriarchal systems will almost immediately include disagreeing with and criticising areas of modern feminism. This is something that we are already seeing in gaming, you disagree with a woman? You’re sexist and a misogynist. Anita’s principles for ‘How To Be A Feminist’ come off more as method of shielding herself from criticism, not just from men but from women that support equality while not supporting feminism.

Now it is worth remembering that this is only Anita’s segment of the panel. Hence it is, for the most part, her opinion alone. I have not yet watched the panel in full to hear what the other feminists have to say. However if Anita and those like her are successful in making the stifling of women’s freedom and poorly disguised authoritarianism the criteria for modern feminism then myself, and no doubt many other feminists, will be handing in our feminist cards for good. Yes, that would mean me having to change the name of this blog. No matter how you try to sell it to me I’m just not buying the brand of feminism that you’re selling, you see Anita, I’m still in it for the equality #SorryNotSorry

Thanks for reading

Angela

Find me on Twitter at @Angelheartnight

Thoughts Of A Feminist Gamer, Is It Right To Label Women In Gaming As ‘Women In Gaming’?

As someone that writes about feminism and gaming there is a certain expectation that I have particular interest in women that work in gaming. Recently the idea had occurred that I could do a list of profiles of successful women that currently work in gaming, developers, writers and journalists. A whole blog post celebrating the lives of women already making a success of themselves in the industry. But something stopped me, one thought…

If I were a women that worked in gaming I would be annoyed to be on that kind of list. Why? Because I would want everyone to focus on my work rather my gender.

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That thought made me pause and wonder, is there too much focus on the gender of women that work in gaming rather than on their work itself?

Those that claim to want gaming to be more progressive are quick to point out that there are not as many women that work in gaming as there are men. Some claim that gaming as a hobby needs to be a more welcoming space for women to come and work, citing harassment and sexism as the reason women may avoid choosing a career in gaming. I have made it clear in past entries that I believe the gaming media has made gaming seem like a scary and exclusionary place for women, focusing on stories of sexism and fear rather than positive stories of success. As someone that would wish to support women in gaming it may be a natural thing for me to want to highlight examples of successful women in gaming, yet is this actually helpful? Does ignoring the individuality of women that are forging career paths in gaming and characterising them with the blanket label of ‘Women In Gaming’ do anything but give them an air of novelty, of ‘other’?

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 “Ah look! Here we have a prime example of the rare and elusive ‘Woman In Gaming’ a species known for their shyness, their scarcity and of course their boobies…”

I wanted to get some more opinions from women that actually work in gaming on whether they thought being labelled as ‘Women In Gaming’ is unhelpful. I was curious if they thought there is too much focus on gender, particularly by the gaming media, and whether that focus should be concentrated more on their work. I asked a game developer and a game journalist for their thoughts. The authors of these comments will remain anonymous, quotes are unedited except for spelling and grammar.

The first woman that I spoke to is a game developer, when I asked her if women are being held back by their characterisation as ‘Women In Gaming’ and whether there is too much focus on gender she said

“Absolutely, because when you focus on gender, the discussion stops being about games. When you interview a woman what makes her different from any other game dev? They have to find a “Hook” to promote the women and they always use harassment sadly. It’s very hard to get an interview published if you’re not offering juicy harassment stories. The journalists are very irresponsible as they know this person will get attacked because they have no merit and it proves their narrative. I refer to it as clickmeat or virtual punching bag articles”

I asked her to clarify whether she meant that the developer had no merit or the media, she replied

“The developer, the journalists don’t care if they have merit, they just want a piece of meat to dangle in front of the audience and they tend to pick mediocre people as they get attacked the most, and they blame it on gender. For example nobody says a peep about Nix Hydra, they are rich successful business ladies”

Nix Hydra is an LA based entertainment studio, founded by two female Yale students, that makes games and apps specifically aimed at young women. Last year Nix Hydra obtained over $5 million in funding.

The second woman I asked is a freelance games journalist and writer for gaming publications. Her comments were as follows

“Hmm. Well. “Women in gaming” certainly strips us of our individuality. I’m not sure if that holds us back per se, but it may impact our ability to be taken seriously as unique and important thinkers regarding games. That’s what Othering does. Is there too much focus on my gender? Yes. Is there too much speculation regarding my sexuality, political beliefs, and appearance? Yes, yes and yes. If one more person calls me a “polarizing figure” I’m going to scream. My ideas aren’t that radical. I don’t think you can paint all gamers with the same brush though. For some people, gender is very important. Other people don’t care. Regarding the industry at large? My concern is that companies may be afraid to hire outspoken women because we’re seen as “trouble” Then again, my own situation proves that false, so I don’t know, you know?”

When I replied that the idea of companies being afraid to hire outspoken women had not occurred to me, she responded

“Well if the perception is that women need special treatment, a company looking for profits is going to avoid that. Of course they’ll never admit that, but companies already avoid women who may go on maternity leave, so it’s a concern. I think that those who truly believe there’s gender stereotyping in the industry need to be extremely careful about how they proceed. Real sexism is insidious, and this call out crap may hurt every woman currently looking for work since it claims to speak for all women”

I asked her if she thought that the media is partly to blame for the focus on gender rather than work, she responded

“Of course. We KNOW the media does, in fact, cultivate a perception that the world is scarier than it really is. One could even say the narrative about women in gaming is an extension of rape culture: normalizing abuse of women instead of stopping it”

The focus of the media on industry sexism against women that work in gaming is almost certainly doing more harm than good, creating a climate of fear that leaves them feeling that gaming is openly hostile towards them. Not every woman that works in gaming experiences sexism or harassment, though of course it is terrible for the ones that do. However it seems that the gaming media would have us believe that experiences of harassment and sexism are almost certain to occur to every woman that puts her head above the parapet as a ‘Woman In Gaming’,  purely for being a woman. Perhaps is it worth looking at some of the treatment that some women have received in the gaming industry.

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Roberta Williams is widely considered to be a pioneer of gaming, she co-founded the company that would later become Sierra Entertainment. You’ll often find her name on lists of the most influential or important people in gaming of all time, not women but people. The full interview that this comes from can be found here. Now it is worth pointing out that this interview was conducted in 2006 and by that point Roberta Williams had already been retired for seven years. During Roberta’s twenty year career the internet was in it’s infancy and there was no such thing as social media. However Williams makes it clear that her experience of working in the game industry was a positive one.

Other women that have worked in the industry have also spoken of their positive experience of working in the gaming industry. Another woman that has made an incredible career in the video game industry is Amy Hennig, formerly creative director for Naughty Dog and currently working on Visceral Games as yet untitled Star Wars project. Hennig has worked on titles such as the Uncharted series and Legacy Of Kain.

Hennig                                     Taken from this 2007 LA Times article  

This year at the Game Developers Conference 2015 Hennig made it clear that in her twenty years of working in gaming she has never received harassment. She blamed the media for fueling fear, saying that during the past year the game media had falsely painted gaming as a hostile place for women. She stated

“This industry is a haven for me. The Internet is a toxic place. Gamer culture can be noxious. The media can elevate negativity….We need to turn that around, Come on in. The water is fine.”

I could continue to name examples but then this would become the list of awesome women that work in gaming that I wanted to avoid writing. Here’s the thing, when Hennig and Williams were starting to make their careers in gaming they really were unusual, there were very few women choosing making video games as a career path at that point. In their time? These women were novelties.

However times have changed, there are now more women working in the gaming industry than ever before, again maybe not as many as some would like, but still the days of being a rarity are long gone.

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“If women don’t join this industry because they believe sexism will limit them, they’re missing out.” Gabrielle Toledano Executive Vice President and Chief Talent Officer at EA

Recent picture from Ubisoft Montreal

So why does the gaming press still treat these women like some oddity? Yes sexism does exist in gaming, as it exists everywhere else, and conversations about experiences of sexism are important ones to have. However, do they have to ask every woman if she has experienced sexism like it’s a given instead of letting her volunteer the information if she feels it is relevant or warranted? Do they have to make mention of each woman as a ‘Woman In Gaming’ in every single article rather than on making it about her work as an individual? Must they seemingly expect individual women to speak for every woman that has even even thought about video games? By focusing on the gender of women rather than the work they do gaming journalists are inadvertently reinforcing the idea that these women are special and should be treated differently from the men, this is detrimental to the cause for equality. Holding big signs with arrows on them saying “LOOK! WE HAVE WOMEN!” above the heads of women working in gaming creates a sense that they are alien, that they do not belong.

And it isn’t true, women have always been there, both as creators and as players. If the gaming press truly wants to be an ally to women? Maybe instead of zeroing in on their gender it could redirect that attention to their achievements. Maybe instead of being a ‘Woman In Gaming’ we can all just be in gaming, no capitals, no air quotes, no gender politics and no assumptions, just people all working together equally in an industry that we love. Then maybe one day if I do decide to write a list, it can be of awesome people that design and create fantastic video gaming experiences, with their gender as little more than a barely relevant footnote.

Thanks For Reading

Angela

 

Find me on Twitter on @Angelheartnight