I have been apprehensive about ranting about this -mostly because previous supporters of the people in question have had their personal information released on the internet, and let’s face it, I’m not exactly one with a squeaky-clean paper trail. But fuck it. I’ll rant, and hopefully I’m not important enough to doxx.
A bit of backstory before we begin: I have been playing video games for a long-ass time. It all started with “Boulder Dash” on this old Amstrad that took tapes (we weren’t cool enough for a Commodore 64), from there, we moved onto a 286 which needed a boot-disk upon startup and could play little more than “The Secret of Monkey Island” and “Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego” (the latter of which I proved to be fucking terrible at), then onto a few generations of Sega consoles, and (skipping to the end here) I now currently own a Playstation, Playstation 2, Xbox 360, PC, Gameboy Advanced, Nintendo DS, and a whole bunch of emulated games on my tablet when I get a little bored of all of those.
Basically, to say “gaming was a long-term hobby” for me is an understatement. It has been my fucking life for the last 20 years. I have seen consoles come and go, sequel and reboot after sequel and reboot pumped out to younger gamers, shit, I even drafted an application to Blizzard to become a games tester in their California offices (my girlfriend at the time said this was a phenomenally stupid idea and I reluctantly didn’t send it. A move I regret to this day).
But as of a few days ago, I no longer consider myself a “gamer”. Merely, a guy who plays video games. “Gamer” is a badge I no longer like associated with myself, nor is it one I’m especially fond of. In fact, I’m downright disgusted to consider myself a “gamer” right now.
“Why?” I imagine you ask, because let’s face it, two people read this blog and they’re probably not the inquisitive sort.
A myriad of reasons. Nintendo are basically telling their customers to go fuck themselves, the current generation of consoles don’t interest me in the slightest and I’d rather pony up the cash to upgrade my film gear, AAA developers these days are just pumping out the same shit year after year, Gamers are a fickle sort and if they’re not calling you a “fagnoobdick” through their headset or calling out “fake gamer girls” (whatever that is) for “only doing it for the attention”, they’re telling you to “go play a real game”, because Angry Birds -as mundane as it is- doesn’t merit the term “game” apparently, it’s no longer something which I can sink a hell of a lot of time into without it affecting my work, and so on.
But the main reasons are the treatment and continual harassment of two people: Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn.
For those who haven’t been keeping up with the shitstorm, Anita Sarkeesian is the creator and co-writer for the web-show “Feminist Frequency”, who recently have put together a series called “Tropes vs Women in Video Games”, which shine a light on some of the shittier aspects of interactive storytelling when it comes to the treatment and portrayal of women. While I don’t agree with all of her points, the series is very well put together, informative, and got me thinking a lot more about something I enjoy passively, sitting on a beanbag and drinking sugary drinks.
When the crowdfunding campaign for “Tropes” launched, Sarkeesian was inundated with harassment, death threats, trolling and a shitload of other things because she dared to set her sights on their precious little hobby, which should remain untouched by “dem evil feminazis and their anti-men agenda” or somesuch shit. That eventually died down (read: I stopped hearing about it), and proceeded to flare up again recently due to (from what I gather) the launch of the TvWVG miniseries “Women as Background Decoration”, along with a push for a crowdfunding campaign for “The Sarkeesian Effect”, a documentary on “how Social Justice Warriors are ruining media” that has nothing to do with Sarkeesian, aside from you know, her name being in the title.
Zoe Quinn is a games developer, creator of “Depression Quest”, and -depending on which dark cesspool of the internet you ask- “an evil manipulative cunt with a victim complex who fucked her way into the industry”. Like Sarkeesian, she has received hate mail, death threats, had her personal information posted on the internet, people calling her phone and so on all because of a review that didn’t exist, a sabotage of The Fine Young Capitalists that didn’t quite happen, and she apparently slept with a bunch of guys. In the past, Quinn has received prior harassment for the dastardly crime of trying to get her game up on Steam.
In both cases, I don’t see what the big deal is. At least, I don’t see it as a big enough deal to cause emotional harm to someone who isn’t affecting you and yours personally. If Sarkeesian and Quinn both double-teamed your grandmother and pissed on your car? Fine. I don’t know why they’d do that, but fine. I can sorta see the need for justice and bloody vengeance. But hypothetical (and vomit-inducing) situations aside, one made a bunch of informative videos about the shitty treatment of women in interactive media, and the other got her game on Steam and was caught up in a nonexistant shitstorm. Even if I outright hated the idea of a the “feminist agenda” infecting my precious, precious vidya gaymes, Harassment wouldn’t be the first thing that came to mind.
In the words of Cliffy B:
“How much of a bored, hateful loser must you be to even consider doing something like that?!”
and when Cliff Bleszinski, creator of arguably the dude-broiest games in the industry has a problem with some of the backlash these women are facing, then you know, time to shut the fuck up and listen.
Ask yourselves: What have either of these women done to you, personally? Has the release of “Feminist Frequency”, “Depression Quest” or anything else these women have done affected your way of life? the games industry as a whole? If you have an actual answer to this in the affirmative, I’d like to fucking hear it.
This isn’t an isolated incident, either. I’ve had a friend of mine harassed online for the sole crime of being a woman who plays video games. Other women prefer to play as male characters in MMO’s because it’s just less of a hassle and a myriad of others. Fact of the matter is, gaming is no longer a realm for the guys, the nerds, the social outcasts. It’s no longer a niche hobby catering to hardcore enthusiasts. Or as Tim Colwill over at Games.on.net put it:
This is ludicrous and immature on so many levels. Gaming isn’t for you, anymore. Gaming is for everyone. Everyone gets to have their say, to make their criticism, and gaming doesn’t need you to defend it.
It’s not even the harassment of women that entirely shits me off. As I said before, the gaming subculture is heinously exclusionary and apparently if you’re not a super-hardcore gamer, then get the fuck out. You’re no longer part of the club. go back to your Nintendo Wii, you faker, you poser, you attention whore.
This doesn’t happen in any other scene or subculture. You don’t see someone give a guy who plays sports on the weekends shit about being a “fucking casual” and “ruining sportsball for everyone else”. In fact, the only other equivalent I could loosely link this with is the occasional music fan who gets all shitty when someone isn’t a hardcore as they are, or accuse others of not listening to “real music”. Or maybe Goths. Man, fuck goths. Buncha elitist douchebags.
So if this is what a subculture which I previously defined myself by has devolved to and harassment of women is just “par for the course”, I’d like to return my badge, hang the assault rifle up, and hock off my robe and wizard hat, thanks. I still love video games, don’t get me wrong. I doubt I’ll sell my Xbox 360, stop doing playthroughs and entirely swear off of one of my favourite passtimes forever (besides, there’s plenty of games in my various libraries I’ve yet to finish). But the subculture itself is one I no longer wish to partake in or support because frankly, it’s embarrassing, disgusting and insulting to be associated with it these days.
And if that makes me a “Social Justice Warrior”, then I’ll staple that shit to my chest and wear that goddamn badge with pride.
Till next time.