A response to Law Street Media #GamerGate http://lawstreetmedia.com/issues/technology/gaming-industry-misogynistic-living-past/

The following is an opinion response to an article written by Law Street Media regarding video games and their ‘misogynistic’ past. This is not an attack of any kind, nor is it intended as an academic paper.

I will, however, be a mocking and snarky bastard.

(Original article: http://lawstreetmedia.com/issues/technology/gaming-industry-misogynistic-living-past/ )

“The Gaming Industry: Misogynistic and Living in the Past”

Oh, THIS oughta be good -.-

“The gaming industry is massive, raking in $100 billion worldwide. The industry has come a long way since Tetris and Pac-man. Video games are on cellphones–think Candy Crush. Gamers can use a headset to talk to one another half way across the globe while playing out a visually realistic battle scene. The technology is impressive and has lured people in from all different backgrounds and ages.”

I would normally dispute the ‘realistic’ aspect, but in this context it’s largely a matter of opinion. Jessica’s right that games have gotten more visually impressive.

“One would think that the diversity of the games would be mirrored in the industry itself; however, critics of the industry frequently lob accusations of misogyny and the perpetuation of rape culture, which is ironic since 48 percent of gamers are women.”

The last number I saw for this was actually 44%, but that’s nitpicking. (also, a quick google search shows it as 48% anyway)

This opening paragraph is at least solid enough not to scream at so far. I mean, there’s no actual opinion yet, but that’s not really a crime. It’s true that accusations of misogyny get lobbed at games all the time, as does the accusation that games perpetuate rape culture (despite the utter lack of evidence either for that OR for a genuine rape culture in the west).

Maybe this won’t be so bad.

“Is this merely the market responding to the demand of its consumers or is this the industry actively demeaning a large section of its customer base?”

And here we have our first genuine problem: you’re assuming that accusations of misogyny and perpetuation of rape culture are automatically true. I have yet to hear an actually good argument that games perpetuate rape culture and misogyny. In fact, my experiences state the exact opposite: being a gamer makes you care about someone’s sex LESS. And women in games are often treated better by their male counterparts: given items from raids, offered help, some gold, etc etc.

This is a very serious problem, since judging from the title, that’s the basis for your article. You’re starting out with a shaky premise that you haven’t bothered to back up.

“A female presence has always been in the gaming industry, but it has skyrocketed in the last few years. In 2011, 1.2 million girls and women played on their consoles more than five days a week. Today that number is more than 5 million.”

Oh goody, cited sources! I doubt the impartiality of the source given it opens by stating #GamerGate is harassment, etc, but whatever. It’s more than I usually see with articles like this. Kudos!

“It is time to change the face of the stereotypical gamer.”

I agree. The stereotype of gamers being misogynistic white cishitlords that want nothing more than to drive women out of the industry needs to die. Stereotypes in general need to die, really, but that one would be a good start.

“In reality, males between the ages of 10-25 only account for 15 percent of the market. ”

The highest number given for any group on the chart in the article you linked is 18% >.> 15% is still a significant portion of the demographic. What’s your point?

“Puzzle-oriented games on cell phones, like Words With Friends, have created a more diverse marketplace.”

You say this like puzzle games are a new phenomenon >.>

“For example, according to the Entertainment Software Association, from 2012-2013, female gamers over the age of 50 increased by 32 percent.”

This number is a little unclear. How many of those women were playing games before they hit 50, and how many actual people is that?

“With cell phones and social media, games are much more user-friendly. Game developers took notice and started creating games specifically aimed at women.”

I’m confused. You’re saying that games are much more user-friendly, game developers took notice and started making games for women? Suggesting women needed things to be more user-friendly than men did? And are you under the impression that games made specifically for girls never existed before the smartphone? What?

““Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” amassed $51 million since its launch, making it one of the highest grossing apps on iPhones and Androids.”

1) You say that like it’s a good thing.
2) She has a GAME?!?! WHY?! HOW?!?! WH-WHAT?!?!

“But these types of games cannot take all the credit.”

You just gave them all the credit by saying that games like this were the START of games targeted at women.

“Many females play more stereotypical games like “Call of Duty” and want to be treated fairly.”

Oh for the love of… Look, I’ll admit that many gamers take their potshots at CoD whenever they can, but- Oh wait, you’re implying that these women are afraid of misogyny, not elitist snobs who hate CoD.

They ARE treated fairly. Gamers don’t care if you have a vagina, just whether or not you can call in a helicopter (or attack dogs, or artillery strikes, or…)

“According to a study conducted by Danielle Keats Citron, author of “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace,” 70 percent of female gamers play as a male character in order to avoid sexual harassment and ridicule.”

The article (the same one you’ve been linking all page so far) doesn’t link to the study itself, nor does the page that the article links to. Eventually I got to a store, but I’m not spending 30 dollars on the book I eventually found just to refute a single article.How exactly was this number counted? Gamers usually don’t just play a single game with a single character. Did it count by players or by characters? Did the woman only need to do one character male to count as part of the 70%? Did she need to make a male character for a specific reason? How large was the sample size? etc etc.Let’s ignore the possibility of a poor research method and just point out a different problem here that I can actually address: It’s not proof of what you’re saying. 70% of female gamers hiding their identity does not prove that there is actually harassment to be found on the net, just that women are afraid of it. Ya think the persistent stereotype that all gamers are rapists might have something to do with that?

“Apparently, playing as a male character ensures equal treatment.”

Not even close, lady >.> Oh, the stories I could tell you…

“Female characters inside more stereotypical video games like “Assassins Creed” or “World of Warcraft” are sexually objectified and hyper-sexualized. Female protagonists look more like porn stars than badass warriors.”

I haven’t played AC since 3 and skipped most of the games made after 2, but I distinctly recall several female characters, none of whom were objectified (and for several of them, that would have been creepy for a whole other reason). World of Warcraft is fond of its cheesecake, to be sure, but they women in those games are badasses with agency, strength, honor, moral fiber, and about a thousand other things I could name if I were completely sure which female characters you’re referring to. The women in those games are not ‘objectified’, they’re ‘idealized’. Big difference.

Also, I never understood the argument that making a character attractive or scantily clad is inherently misogynist.

“Of course, this is only true when female protagonists are even allowed in the games.”

E3 2015 had over half of its games feature playable female characters. 2014 had even more than that.

“And female extras are even worse off, some experiencing extreme sexual violence.”

The fact that ‘some characters’ recieve extreme sexual violence is not proof of a problem in the industry. By this logic, Game of Thrones proves that the entirety of TV is misogynistic.

Also, I notice you didn’t actually name anyone.

“The latest installment of “Assassin’s Creed,” for example, offered no female protagonists. Ubisoft technical director James Therien claimed adding a female character would have “doubled the work” for the animation team.”

You don’t link directly to the quote (I had to dig through three links to find it), but this is a misquote. What he said was that it would double the work for the DEVELOPMENT team. There’s a difference. Granted, he does cite animation as one of the problems, but it’s not the only one and he DOES list it as a problem for the whole team.

Not that I’m excusing him, or Unity – Unity sucked.

Also, when Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate (the ACTUAL latest installment, albeit not out yet) said it had female protagonists feminists called THAT sexist for pandering to feminists

“Game designer Jonathon Cooper, a lead developer for earlier installments of the game, denied this, estimating it would have only taken days. So what’s the real reason?”

Easy. Nobody cares when a man gets shot, raped, mutilated or murdered but doing so to a woman is proof of an inherent problem in all of gaming.

Either that, or creating a female protagonist would have required creating an entirely new story for that female character, which WOULD have doubled the work for the development team. A lot goes on behind the scenes at a game development company.

“When female protagonists are offered, they are hyper-sexualized. Most “women in drawn art, comics, and animation must and show, look and move with flowy, exaggerated gestures, graceful movements, and hip, chest, and ass thrust forward.”

You give no actual examples, so I can’t refute you. But that’s okay – an assertion made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

The examples given in the linked article are weak as f#@$. Lara Croft’s two mirror scenes are in entirely different contexts and intentionally elicit different moods – you can’t compare the two as if they’re somehow equal. Lightning is a piece of cardboard from a terrible game (according to most FF fans I’ve asked about her, anyway) we should NOT be using her as a template for future characters. Bayonetta’s hypersexualization is the POINT of the character, and she’s an extremely empowered example.

(also, ‘must and show’? I ctrl+ved this, didn’t I?)

(also also, stop linking to the exact same opinion piece as if it’s fact)

“These women perpetuate completely unrealistic ideals of women.”

And? An ideal is usually unrealistic anyway.

“Skimpy clothing, skirts, bows, and makeup don’t create an advantage in combat.”

Neither does fighting with a shirt off, like most men do in these same fighting games. Your point?

“Then of course there is the damsel-in-distress stereotype.”Yes yes, this storyline is trite and boring. Move on.”The female character is at a loss until her knight in shining armor type comes to rescue her.”

How DARE a character ever be vulnerable and helpless!”

For example, there is Princess Peach who “wears a gown, dainty gloves, and a clueless expression, which imply nothing as far as skill and ability, unless you consider her special attack: a dimpled, smiling heart that protects her cart.””

Way to judge a woman solely by her appearance.

“Her character is indeed less capable than her male counterparts.”

Said like a woman who’s never even heard of Super Smash Brothers, Paper Mario, Mario Tennis, or indeed any game where Princess Peach is a badass with numerous powers, skills, and strength to overcome any obstacle put in her way. (also, having less power than another character doesn’t say anything about the character themselves)

“Grand Theft Auto V” promotes extreme sexual violence.”

IT’S A GAME ABOUT BEING A CRIMINAL. ONE OF YOUR PLAYABLE CHARACTERS IS LITERALLY A DERANGED SOCIOPATH. NOTHING YOU DO IN THE GAME IS BEING ‘PROMOTED’.

“Even more exaggerated by a first-person view option, a gamer can watch as a prostitute services the character. All you need to do is drive or walk up close to a prostitute.”

1) As far as I’m aware, you never need to walk up to a prostitute to advance the game, meaning that this is only in there if you want it to be. Like porn.

2) What exactly is the problem here? A prostitute on the job is probably going to give you a blowjob if you pay her to do it, and then you’ll walk away without a care. That’s not unrealistic, or hypersexualized, or objectification. And again, GTA’s characters are criminals.

“It can even boost character health to more than 100 percent.”

Admittedly a little weird, but not misogynist >.>

“And in the end, you can kill the prostitute and take your money back. Strauss Zelnick, the CEO of GTA’s publisher Take-Two, called this type of scene “beautiful art.””

If you kill a prostitute just to steal money from her, SHE’S not the one with the problem, nor is the game company that left that option in.

Also, he called the GAME beautiful art.

“LGBTQ issues”

-are not the same thing as misogyny (no, I don’t give a shit what intersectional feminism says, misogyny means hatred of women).

I’m gonna have to ask someone else to respond to this paragraph, I’m sorely underequipped to answer this particular bit. I’ll link your response here. For now I’ll simply say that most game characters never reveal a character’s sexuality in the first place, and those that do usually overplay it to make a point about sexuality. Which is usually just distracting.

“As proved, the number of women playing video games is only on the rise. This is cannot be said, however,  for the number of women taking on professional roles in the gaming industry. Only 11 percent of women are game designers and only three percent are programmers. This is even more shocking when compared to the percentages of women in graphic design (60 percent) and tech sectors (25 percent).”

So? Shock of all shocks, Jessica: MEN AND WOMEN ARE DIFFERENT. They go into different fields and have different qualifications and interests. If you want more women in game design, my suggestion is to stop saying it’s a boy’s club (it’s not, according to many women actually in the industry) and maybe women won’t be so afraid of getting raped that they go into gender studies instead -.-

Also, who cares about the numbers for graphic design and the tech sector when comparing them to game design and game programming? They’re not the same jobs, nor the same skillset.

“And according to a 2011 survey by Gamer Developer Magazine, female programmers make $10,000 less a year and female designers make $12,000 less than their male counterparts”

Do they work the same hours? Do they have the same level of experience? These are things that you don’t provide. This time you don’t even provide a link to the survey you refer to.

“In November 2012, a massive Twitter conversation, among thousands of men and women gamers and developers was sparked by the tweet “Why aren’t there more female game developers?” Answers ranged from safety (females being groped at conventions) to blank stare responses to questions about over-sexualized female characters. The conversation received national coverage and long awaited recognition.”

You cited a twitter conversation as evidence.I’m going to assume everyone reading this knows why that’s a problem and move on.

“There are notable and exciting exceptions. Kirsten Duvall has been working in the industry for the last 20 years and is currently the Business Development Director of Everyplay Unity Technologies. Tracy Fullerton is the Director and experimental game designer at the University of South Carolina’s Innovation Lab. USC is one of the world’s leading video game schools. And Chelsea Howe is an extremely effective Creative Director at EA Mobile. These women prove that female success in the industry can be done regardless of the rocky road.”

Good for them, though in my experience they’re not the exceptions. Why do you keep citing this rocky road and implying that women aren’t welcome in the industry if there are examples like this? If gaming were a misogynistic boy’s club these women would probably never have made it that far in the first place.

“#GamerGate”

Oh, THIS should be good -_-

“Here is a look at a prime example of the hostility women can face in the industry. Gamergate started around two women: Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian.”

I’m stopping here. I did read on, but I’ve heard this s#$@ before and it doesn’t get any more true the more you say it.

Anita Sarkeesian was receiving  “harassment” (much of which has been proven a lie) since long before #GamerGate showed up. Nobody in GG cared about Zoe Quinn – their problem was with Nathan Grayson, one of the men that the Zoe post claims she slept with (which Zoe admitted to, and btw, she also says that having sex with someone you’ve cheated on is rape).

“Her unpopular opinion was answered with unspeakable malice.”

WAMarticle

Here’s the only ‘unspeakable malice’ ive seen. And it’s not from #GamerGate.

AntiIsTheHateGroup

AntiGG Threats2

KillAChild

ProConsumerIsBad2

Questionaire1P1@Alison_Prime

Questionaire1P2@Alison_Prime

Syringe

ArthurChuIsARacist2

B_gP75EWQAA0nf-

NotYourShield is Dumb

“These threats all came under the viral hashtag #Gamergate.”

*snrk* No, no they didn’t.

“Unfortunately as far as regulations go, there are few to none.”

Good. Regulations always make the problem worse. But what do they have to do with harass-

“The courts have time and time again defended game developers under free speech and the First Amendment.”

…….. you just said that the harassers were the gamers, not the developers.

… Oh god, are you actually arguing that game developers should have their speech restricted to ‘protect women’?

The rest is a summary of some court cases regarding violence, and a conclusion paragraph.

“But the hostility and open sexism toward women is real and can’t go unchecked, even if it isn’t coming from the majority of gamers.”

She said, without citing or proving any of it and accusing all gamers of it.

“Industry leaders need to make the inclusion of women a priority,”

Why judge by sex?

“and they can start by hiring more of the many intelligent, competent women in the industry.”

They have. Last I checked, they were bending over backward to get more women in tech and gaming, but women just weren’t coming. Correct me if I’m wrong, it’s been a while since I’ve read that particular piece.

….

So in short, you argued about a problem that doesn’t exist (ie, systemic misogyny) as if it were a fact that it did exist, gave little reliable evidence, and what actual raw data was provided was provided was also buried in opinion pieces after 2 or 3 links. And I am COMPLETELY certain I missed some stuff.

Truly, a journalistic masterpiece.

*sigh*

I’m tired now. Gonna go pee. Maybe take a nap or get some programming done.

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An open letter to @Zennistrad and @srhbutts #GamerGate

Dear Zennistrad and srhbutts, (No, I’m not making fun of her, her twitter handle actually has ‘butts’ in it, just roll with it)

This is a response to our earlier conversation where you asked me to clarify why TFYC’s contest wasn’t sexist and Intel’s was.

Sexism is judging someone based on their sex. Saying ‘this person is stupid because he’s a man or because she’s a woman’. Racism is… well, that, but with race instead of sex.

TFYC selected 5 women for its contest, but determined who it would fund based on the merit of the game presented (the contest required you make a concept and prototype). Is that sexist? Eh, maybe, but ultimately their decision laid in the merit of the game, so I don’t consider it such.

Intel is giving money to brand-new startups based entirely on sex and race. Correct me if I’m wrong (i could’ve missed something) but Intel has no guarantee about any of the start-ups they’re funding because they’re brand-new startups. And most small businesses fail within the first year. There is no reason at all to back these companies other than ‘they’re started up by women’ or ‘the owner is X race’

These two scenarios are *not the same thing*, as you two kept trying to say they are: one is based largely on merit, the other entirely on sex and race.

But that wasn’t even my point when I responded to Sarah’s original tweet – my point is that she was utterly dismissing the arguments that Intel’s move could be considered sexist/racist… even though Intel’s move is based entirely on sex and race.

Let me end with my own opinion on Intel’s ‘diversity movement’. I don’t really care if Intel decides to hand out cash to new start-ups – I actually think it’s a good idea, America needs more jobs. I’m annoyed that they want to limit it by race and gender (because it’s pretty blatantly a PR stunt), but at least they’re building groups up rather than tearing a different group down. My issue is with how Sarah chose to respond to critics of the move by dismissing the argument entirely.

David

PS. Also, as TVTokyoBen stated, TFYC has a completely different motive than Intel.

An open letter to @adrianovaroli – why #GamerGate is upset

“I’mma take a page from #GamerGate’s book and wonder why do they hate those articles about gamers being over. I don’t see the problem.” -@adrianovaroli

This is not an attack, or an insult, or anything of the sort. I just try to make a habit of reaching out to my ideological opponents. (I usually don’t do a very good job, but it’s always worth the effort). I will endeavor to be as calm, reasonable and rational as I can while answering this question.

In addition, from the few tweets we’ve exchanged, you seem to have missed the problem with these articles.

The ‘gamers are over’ (or ‘gamers are dead’) articles were so maligned by the gaming community because of how openly hostile they were to gamers as a group. Here, let’s take a look at Leigh Alexander’s article, the ‘gamers don’t have to be your audience’ one for Gamasutra. It’s linked to often by the other 9 to 12 ‘gamers are dead’ articles, so it seems as good a place as any to look: It starts out as identifying gamers as people who get into lines “with plush mushroom hats and backpacks and jutting promo poster rolls.” She says that gamers “don’t know how to dress or behave.”

So far the article’s entire focus is on the gamers themseles: not the absurd preorder and dlc practices, not the fact that some gamers were angry that prices FELL once (seriously, why NOT focus on that?! It’s practically gift-wrapped as an episode of gamer entitlement) but how we dress and act.

“‘Games culture’ is a petri dish of people who know so little about how human social interaction and professional life works that they can concoct online ‘wars’ about social justice or ‘game journalism ethics,’ straight-faced, and cause genuine human consequences. Because of video games. ”

This is not a critique of gaming markets, but a direct personal attack. First by claiming that gamers are socially inept losers with nothing to do but talk online (which is odd, considering that with the obsession she previously levied you’d think they’d be GAMING)

This entire article reads like that. Open personal attacks on “these obtuse shitslingers, these wailing hyper-consumers, these childish internet-arguers”.

Keep in mind that a games journalist’s job is to INFORM THE CONSUMER so that they can make good purchasing decisions. They’re supposed to be on the consumer’s side.

It’s not alone, either. Arthur Chu’s article opens with “The subset of entitled, belligerent gamers convinced that being ‘objectively’ right entitles them to defend their rightness by any means necessary are overwhelmingly male”, which is incorrect. And these articles are FULL of incorrect statements, assumptions, and outright lies (“Based on the lone fact of Quinn’s relationship with one Kotaku writer, Nathan Grayson, who quoted her once in an article and never covered or reviewed her game,” -Casey Johnston. This is completely untrue – NG covered the game twice and is even thanked in DQ’s credits.)

Attacks like this have continued for the *checks* wow, 9 months now that #GamerGate has been around.

Your side has openly attacked an entire group of people that they were supposed to be advocating for. Again and again, your criticisms of us are proven false. We’re not a bunch of white men, or wailing hyperconsumers, or right wing bigots. We are gamers.

And the one group of people in the industry whose ENTIRE JOB is to keep an eye out for the consumer… told us we were losers and should all just get out.

THIS is why gamers are upset. The articles were openly hostile to everything gamers were. You brought up DLC and preorders, and yes, how companies are handling those things are problems, but they aren’t actually brought up in the articles.

#GamerGate (or something very much like it) has been building for over a decade now. But this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. (Except in this case, the straw was more of an anvil)

… Wait, you actually read through that? Uh… thank you!

-David Burton, @HalfTangible