All About ggregd
There was a news post on Gamespot recently entitled "Documentary on industry sexism fully funded." (http://www.gamespot.com/news/documentary-on-industry-sexism-fully-funded-6407948) And to the surprise of no one, like all posts related to the subject of sexism in the games industry, the comments section was flooded with disgruntled male gamers decrying and denying the need for such an expose. I'm roughly estimating 90% of the commenters were opposed to the documentary, women in gaming, women in general, feminism or any combination of these things. It's difficult to understand how anyone could look at the fear, anger and outright misogyny in those comments and not come to the conclusion that the gaming community has a problem with sexism.
I've been trying to understand the root of all this anti-female sentiment think I may have finally figured it out. It has to do with peripheries of the man-boy mentality that's so common with men in the gaming community. I think what we're seeing is a large portion of the males in gaming basically don't understand women, are ultimately afraid of them. Some of it has to do with resentment at the way they've been treated by women in their own lives, or at least their perception of the way they've been treated.
I've taken a sampling of the comments this article elicited to show where I'm coming from. I think everyone can agree these reactions are not unique. If you've read any of the comments sections related to gaming and sexism you've heard all these things before, many times. The comments are attributed to the Gamespot members who made them. I don't suppose anyone can justifiably get mad at me for using their comment, after all it was made in a public forum and the members are relatively anonymous. I'm thinking I get to claim fair use. I'll try to make arguments against the general mindsets on display in the interest of enlightenment, but I don't think it's strictly necessary. The comments themselves more than support my basic premise.
First of all we see the comments that lead me to believe these guys have issues with their personal romantic lives:
Gamers are the nerdy kids who treat women nicely and therefore don't get girlfriends since girls like asshole sports jocks. - Saketume
The games industry shouldn't bend over backwards to accommodate a group that has traditionally laughed at it. - Pulfasonic
Generalizations to be sure. There are as many different women as there are men and we're not all looking for the same thing in a partner. If one has been been rejected and laughed at by one woman or even a few of them, and said woman went on to date "asshole sports jocks" that's a reflection on her, for better or worse, not an indication of what all women want.
Then we have the lack of general understanding of women that either puts them on a pedestal:
Ideally we expect women to be these sweet innocent people. - Gen007
Or attempts to knock them off the pedestal the commenter thinks women have put themselves upon:
Femi-Bushido (the Way of the Woman) - you can make mistakes, you can ruin the whole dev project, you can bitch about anything without any particular reason, you can make films about mistreatment of your kind. And nobody has the right to criticize you - shuwar
Female gamer, on the other hand, is used as a cry for attention. Like "Look at me!! I am girl who plays games. Tee hee!" - underoath83
Remember the good old arcade days where you had to EARN the respect by proving yourself amongst other gamers, females apparently just want that respect like its their God given right... - musalala
Women in 2013 don't want to be idealized, put on a pedestal, put in an ivory tower or anything of the sort. Nor do they expect to be given a pass in the face of a lack of aptitude because they're female. They want to be treated as an equal in their professional lives and in their personal lives, not instantly thought less of simply because they're a woman. Of course there are some misguided people who think women are inherently better than men but they're in the minority. Just as he-man woman haters (whether the hate arises from fear or something else) are in the minority. The problem with the games industry is many of these guys seem to have been attracted to it and they're in wildly disproportionate representation.
And then there's the false comparisons:
"And what about MEN getting harrassed online? There are 2 sides to each coin but feminists only want to see one -,-" - hella_epic
"nobody gives a shit about every single man being built like a tank" - Pulfasonic
The simplest way to dismiss these arguments is to point out that two wrongs don't make a right. That's elementary school logic most of us should understand. In this case I'll go beyond that to say that men are not harrassed online simply because they're men and men generally like to be presented as the ultra-buff strongman. Sorry guys, it's just the truth.
Then finally we get to the outright fear some of the comments aren't afraid to put to words:
I cant wait to listen to these steps to (emasculate) change the environment for the better. - zombielandv
Games are mostly for a male audience and we like seeing some skin. What's so wrong in that? God why do All groups now start to hate on games??? - amvivin
Yes, that's what we have here. The scary, indecipherable women are coming to destroy gaming. I think that's the root of all the hateful comments that are provoked by the issue of sexism in the gaming industry whenever it comes up on Gamespot or elsewhere in the online gaming world. Fear is the at the root of, and the basis of the rhetoric that always shows up when one group is afraid that another group is going to step in and uproot their way of life. Arguments that are made in situations regarding serious things like segregation, universal sufferage and immigration and with more trivial things like video games. But if history tells us anything it's that these fears are never realized when the new group is ultimately fully included. What generally happens is benefits are granted to everyone involved. Yes there are changes but nothing of value is lost, the world is usually enhanced by the expansion of the community.
It's even less of a cause for anxiety in the world of gaming. For better or worse, games aimed at men that include all the things that attract men aren't going anywhere. The appeal to masculine sensibilities is still present in movies and any other entertainment you can point to and it will always be present in gaming as long as men want it. The benefits we'll see by welcoming women to gaming as both developers and players are a more diverse selection of gaming themes and mechanics, expansion of the audience and growth of the industry that benefits everyone involved.
The biggest problem behind incidents like the Newtown shootings isn't video game violence or guns, althought I currently think they can both contribute negatively to an individual situation. The main issue is mental health is mostly ignored in the US and when it comes up the person with the problems is a "psycho nut-case freak". The American public needs to be educated about mental health, the diseases and conditions need to be de-stigmatized and people who seek treatment should be encouraged, not demonized or ridiculed. Most importantly there needs to be somewhere to go when a problem is reaching crisis proportions. A mental disorder should be seen and treated no differently than asthma or any other disease.
From what we know, the Sandy Hook shooter's mother tried to treat his mental issues herself. (http://soa.li/YkqZPGl) She apparently avoided getting him any sort of professional treatment. His issues obviously just kept getting worse. She bought him dozens of the most violent games available. Bought him multiple guns (legally...). No one knows if she was worried when his obsession with mass-murderers was organized into a spreadsheet that took a 4 foot wide printer to produce in something like a 9 point font. By all accounts she tried to do right by her son, but it seems like she didn't know how to go about it right and didn't ask for help from people who do. Rather she isolated her son and herself into an insular little world. Why? As far as I can see, either because she didn't want the stigma associated with a serious diagnosis or ( more likely) people here in the US have no idea where to go with a problem that's getting bad like this one.
To which I would add mostly unassisted.
As someone who has dealt with mental issues with a loved one I know how difficult it is and how long it takes to realize it's impossible to help an irrational person by dealing with them rationally. You can't have someone committed to an institution because there are no institutions, even when you finally admit the sick individual is a threat to themself and/or others. Law enforcement won't do anything until after a violent act has been committed. In this situation, you're left with virtually no choices to help someone and prevent a tragedy.
America really needs to step up it's efforts to educate and provide resources for people with severe mental/emotional problems and those around them so they don't end up doing something like this, or much more commonly, hurting themselves or detaching from society, living on the streets, and on the fringe.
In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy we've seen numerous people jumping to blame video games as contributing to violent behavior. People familiar with gaming know the criticisms are unfair and unfounded, so why do they continue to be leveled against our hobby? The answer is the video game industry has an image problem and so far it seems to be almost completely unmotivated to work on changing it. A big part of the problem is misinformation and myth propagation on the part of people who are either uninformed or using the image to promote their own agenda. The latter group includes politicians and the NRA, the former includes almost anyone who doesn't play "core" video games.
However, the other large part of the problem is the immature and counterproductive attitudes that go into making and promoting violent games. It seems like a large contingent of decision makers are motivated to up the ante on over the top violence because they think it's cool and a good number of their customers think so as well. You end up with marketing like the "your mom hates Dead Space 2" where the key point is if the violence repulses someone, it must be cool.
Then there's the bloody limbless torso promoting Dead Island 2 that was apologized for within a day of it's announcement. You have Mortal Kombat devs focusing on how extreme their fatalities are in previews. And of course we have countless games touting how cool it is to kill enemies because you get a slow motion close-up, blood sprays everywhere, limbs and heads come off and rag doll physics send corpses and parts splaying all over. We've all read and seen previews thay play up these things and I'm guessing I'm not the only one who thinks 'Seriuosly? Are you deliberately TRYING to make games look worse than they do and invite backlash?'
"As it turns out the brothel is a fine playground to show off Manhunt 2's new environmental executions, which as the name suggests has you using the environment to send badguys towards a very bloody end.
Not wasting any time the death toll begins with the receptionist, who is easy work thanks to a carefully placed telephone, now smashed through his face with scattered pieces of flesh littered on the floor."
Manhunt 2 Preview,
I'm not saying violence is evil nor that it should be eliminated from gaming, but gaming industry leaders need to stop pushing it as if it were the best part of their games. I honestly think there is a strong element of man-boy immaturity motivating too many people in their design and marketing decisions. I'm surprised no one has yet done a research piece for some news outlet pulling the worst of these marketing attempts to show the public how warped game developers are.
On the positive side, the games industry needs to actively promote what's good about games. They teach all sorts of things to players other then death and destruction. Action games develop hand-eye coordination, strategy games develop logic and planning, RPG's and The Sims teach a bit about social interactions and multiplayer games feature actual social interaction. Most games feature some kind of problem solving, the basics of which can translate and aid in real world situations. Most importantly the deep stories that are integral to gaming now that can reach people with all kinds of ideas on a level that simply watching or reading a story cannot - there are still too many people who dismiss gaming as mindless button mashing. Almost everyone alive has played some sort of video game, and before anyone shouts that mobile games aren't real games, I would say that if Pong, Mainframe Star Trek, Pac Man and Space Invaders are games, then mobile games that are far more complicated qualify as well. The industry can point to the fact that the vast majority of people enjoy video games and somehow resist the urge to do violence.
It should also stress the fact that the games rating system was set up by the industry itself, it fairly and accurately indicates what sort of content a game has. It allows consumers to make educated decisions on what kind of games they're buying, especially when buying them for children.
If the industry continues to ignore it's image things will only get worse from here. There is no sense feeding the bad publicity and making gaming an easy target for people who want to deflect blame like the NRA or promote themselves as crusaders against violence "for the kids." Gamers have a role to play as well. Too many people have a knee jerk reaction to criticisms against violent content where they will simply vilify the complainer as an ignorant fool. Much as it may be justified, we should consider the message glorifying over the top violence sends about our hobby. We can't ignore the damage that is done by promoting graphic violence as the main appeal of gaming.