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Civility

I Wrote the Wrong Post (on Misogyny and Gaming)

Civility

A few months ago I wrote a piece that was ostensibly about maturity in the game industry, but that was really about trying to define what is and isn’t sexism and misogyny in games. Yes, I uncategorically condemned online harassment. Yes, I absolutely supported the idea that the gaming industry desperately needs to grow up and become more inclusive. But I also wrote that the mere appearance of sexism doesn’t make something inherently sexist. I wrote that it’s impossible to avoid stereotypical pitfalls 100% of the time and that its surface appearance, which absolutely should be open to analysis and criticism, also shouldn’t come to define the entirety of the work. I wrote that we can better see the real problems the industry has with inclusion by looking more at the aggregate than the specific.

I was making the wrong arguments…

Don’t get me wrong, I still believe those things, but as I actually open my eyes and pay more attention, and in light of some of the truly abhorrent events of the past weeks, I can see just how much this argument truly does not matter. Not right now. There is no point in debating the topic at that nuts and bolts level when the peanut gallery can’t even agree that it should be out of bounds to threaten the bodies, lives, and families of women who dare to have publicly-expressed opinions about gaming.

I was naïve as to how bad it can truly get. There is no other word for it. Sure, we’ve all seen horrifically moronic, hate-filled comments posted beneath all manner of articles on all manner of subjects. It’s disgusting and depressing, but that is nothing new and we’ve largely managed to get by in growing a thicker skin and understanding that words only hold as much power as we give them. But that attitude can only take you so far. There are lines being crossed that go beyond sticks and stones. There aren’t words to describe this…

FemFreqHarassment

That’s from Anita Sarkeesian’s tumbler. That hate is coming her way for what reason? Because she had the unmitigated gall to create some thorough, professionally produced, and thought-provoking work on Women as Tropes in gaming. Work that was crowd-funded in a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign that rose to six figures against goal of just $6k. (I’ve embedded the first two parts of the most recent set, Women as Background Decoration, at the end of this post. You don’t have to agree with every example used in these videos to understand the accuracy of the broader point and these videos are required viewing if you want to even begin to form an opinion on this topic.)

This harassment isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. At best it’s a few steps from the base. The tip is where people, decent people who are getting by doing the best work they can in and industry they want to love,  are having personal accounts hacked and publicized, the accounts of friends and family members hacked and publicized, having their home addresses published alongside threats to their lives. It’s surreal. Most of you already know the most recent events, and if you don’t there are plenty of quality places to go to learn more. Try here and here if you want to get started.

So why am I writing this? What do I have to add? Unfortunately, not nearly as much as I’d like. I suppose I’m posting this in part because although I don’t specifically disagree with what I wrote before, I can’t in good conscience let that be my last word on the matter; not when I’ve come to realize that half the core argument is irrelevant. It’s minutiae that, in this climate, is not worth the page space I gave it. I mistook the forest for the trees and I regret it.

Mostly, however, I’m posting this because I want to do and say something and I don’t know what else I can do. Even standing on the distant periphery of it all, this ongoing savage injustice frustrates and saddens me on so many levels I don’t really even know how to process it. I feel impotent and less than useless in the face of it. So, however small this particular pool, it’s the most public place I have to say that I stand with the people calling for tolerance and inclusion. I support them in word and I’m going to begin supporting them by whatever other means I can, including backing their work in venues like Patreon and Kickstarter. I hope that you do as well.

This has also all been a sharp reminder that I’m raising two young children who are growing up in this world and that guiding them to be better than all of this is perhaps my most important contribution. I want my daughter to know that her dad has her back in whatever she chooses to do in life and that she’s strong enough to face down whatever or whomever would stand in her way. For my son I want very much the same, but I also want him to understand that this cacophony of Internet hate-mongers do not represent what it is to be a man. I want him to understand that empathy, patience, and tolerance are not weakness, nor are faux-bravado, intimidation, and threats strength. If you have or will have children you have a responsibility to guide them, as best you can, not to be a part of this problem. Sadly, our most realistic path to a future better than the present is to grow our way out of it.

One final note, the latest straw man from those who don’t like what these women have to say is to call them corrupt; to call the entire games journalism profession corrupt. I’ve only ever skimmed the surface of game journo circles, but I can tell you with 100% conviction these arguments are asinine. There is shoddy work out there, yes, but the notion of widespread corruption is a fallacy. Isolated examples will always exist, but don’t confuse the poor work of some with corruption. There is a difference. And what’s truly bizarre is that it’s the best, most brilliant work people out there that are, perversely, under the most severe attack. It’s that their work that, if you agree with it, needs your support in whatever way you’re able to offer it. If you don’t agree with it, at least stop and think about how you respond to it. What cause are you furthering? What message are you conveying? If you have (or someday might have) a daughter  (or son) would you want her (him) to see what you’re putting out there? If your only goal is to tear something or someone down by any means necessary then I sincerely and wholeheartedly beg of you — just back away from the keyboard and let it go.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

——

Todd Brakke

Todd was born in Ann Arbor with a Michigan helmet in one hand and a mouse in the other. (Never you mind the logistics of this.) He grew, vertically anyway, and proceeded to spend over 16 years as a development editor for Pearson Education, publishing books, videos, and digital learning products under the Que and Sams Publishing imprints. Because that wasn't enough of a challenge, Todd has also been a 20-year part-time snob about video games, writing reviews, features, and more for multiple outlets. Follow him on Twitter @ubrakto or check it out his website at ToddsFoolery.com.

36 thoughts on “I Wrote the Wrong Post (on Misogyny and Gaming)

  1. Thanks for this Todd- hearkens back to the glory days of NHS when we were writing stuff like this every week. 😉

    Anyway, I watched parts of Sarkeesian’s videos and when she lays bare the academic,cultural and social aspects of what you see in these games- pulled out of the context of “entertainment” and “fantasy”…it’s FUCKING HORRIFYING that a couple of generations of TEENAGE BOYS- because let’s face, this shit is aimed directly at TEENAGE BOYS- have been raised with this kind of pervasive, injurious sexism ingrained into their fantasy lives. There is nothing healthy, positive or morally justifiable about how many video games treat women and sexuality.

    I remember playing the God of War games a couple of years ago, just after 3 came out. I had not played the first two on release. All I could think about the whole time was how I felt like I was playing this ultra-macho, HATEFUL power fantasy…and then it got to the absolutely not-sexy/not-erotic softcore porn scenes and any goodwill that the gameplay generated went down the tubes. I felt ASHAMED to be playing something so repellently juvenile. It wasn’t even as “classy” as a Frank Frazetta or Boris Vallejo illustration. It was just trash, and it treated the women on screen as trash.

    “It’s not real women, it’s just fiction”. Whatever. Images- and interactive images in particular- can be extremely harmful not only to the individual recieving them but also to the _entire culture_ when they become commonplace and even expected.

    What’s even worse to me is how the past generation saw games makers trying so hard to show “empowered” women…meaning that they had armor on their giant breasts and were effectively warrior-men with female body parts. And then there’s garbage like Bioshock: Infinite and The Last of Us that treat women as baggage trains…doesn’t matter if they have magic powers or shoot zombies along with the fellas…they were still MULES to serve male egos.

    Then there’s Tomb Raider…she’s empowered because she murders hundreds of men in it. But she’s still a woman because she grunts and exhales to show that she’s exerting effort. Yet the game still hangs her upside in a slaughterhouse and drops her into piles of guts for shock value…and shows her being murdered over and over again through impalement, strangulation, and other brutal means. It’s as sexist as anything else out there.

    This is actually quite timely because I’ve been revisiting the Metroid games and in particular the much-maligned Other M. It’s true that the writing isn’t great and there is an inexplicable contrivance wherein Samus defers to a male superior officer who gives her “permission” to use the Varia suit functions. But 3/4 of the way through, I realized why there was so much wailing and gnashing of teeth about how Samus was portrayed. They actually made Samus a _woman_. Not the breasted warrior-man that passes for the empowered woman in video games, but an actual female that has different emotions, motivations and sensitivites than a man does. And of course, Joe Videogamer HATED that. They’d rather see the crude sex puppets in a Bioware game, the awkwardly spasmolytic strippers in a GTA game or female soldiers issued BDUs from Frederick’s of Hollywood.

    But you are right, when the average “gamer’s” maturity level is such that they feel empowered and cock-sure enough to THREATEN SOMEONE’S LIFE or WISH RAPE ON A WOMAN on the internet, there’s not a discussion to be had here…even though that very behavior 100% demonstrates the psychic DAMAGE that the portrayal of women in the games medium has done.

    I mean, the fact that these BOYS- none of these people are men- tweet or post this stuff makes Sarkeesian’s argument better than her videos do. THis is the result of YEARS of systematic, institutionalized and _encouraged_ gender denigration.

    All of the above is part of why I’ve distanced myself quite a lot from the current video games world…between all of that and the rampant death-worship, negativity and empty violence an awful lot of popular video games don’t have much to offer to positive, loving and progressively-minded people.

    1. Like Last of Us? Really? Like the game whose dlc featured and celebrated queer, women of colour as the central characters of the tale? Like the game that condemned parenthood akin to Joel wherein he kills, maims and tortures everyone Ellie knows so he can be a father? The man who damns mankind by trying to live out his selfish dream of becoming a father over the whole human race? Yeah, that is definitely the game being marketed to teenagers with murdering, mysoginistic fantasies and not Ground Zeroes with its grotesque sexual violence against Paz. Nope, definitely Last of Us is what is wrong with gaming.

      1. It was an example in it’s simplistic sense. Because at the very very bottom line, Ellie is still there following the PC, Joel.

    2. Like I agree with your post Michael Barnes, but there have been plenty, far more useful examples of videogames using women as baggage or a plot device. Several games from Nintendo started this and have now ended with games like Hitman and red dead redemption and Bioshock 2 as stated in the video examples. I don’t know much about bioshock infinite so I can’t say much about that but I really have to disagree with putting Last of Us in the same category. Sure, 2 women do get fridged and that is a patriarchal trope that is sexist as hell but it is not some beacon of misogyny that you make it out to be.

    3. “Thanks for this Todd- hearkens back to the glory days of NHS when we were writing stuff like this every week.”

      Because I am brain dead, I forgot to reply to this, but thanks, Michael. I miss those days!

  2. There are so many horrible aspects to this story that it’s hard to know where to start. In no particular order, and by no means inclusive:

    -The persistent online abuse being hurled, it’s disgusting
    -The casual acceptance of lazy, sexist aspects in games
    -How merely pointing out any of the lazy tropes subjects you to the seventh circle of hell online
    -How it presents games, and gamers, to the outside world as these ignorant, immature, petulant children
    -How it is impossible to have a rational discourse about the topic
    -How Anita’s videos are really surface level and shallow analyses, but how the abuse makes it more unlikely that we’ll get more better analysis, because why stick your neck out like that
    -How really abysmally shitty the 4chan group is
    -How the persistent abuse has literally driven writers and critics out of the industry
    -That last point again, that this whole debacle has narrowed the scope of discussion by removing some of the more unique voices is truly a tragedy
    -That any discussion about, and critiques of, the culture of games and games writing has now become toxic

    Here’s the thing, I’d love for there to be a discussion of Anita’s videos. There are things to discuss there, but right now that conversation gets drowned under the abuse. I really want there to be more critical analysis of games. I’d like there to be some more substantive looks at the tropes, sexism, reliance on violence, and so on, that are persistent in gaming. Her videos are really shallow and simple, not doing much true criticism, but that’s not exactly their purpose. They are to bring these topics up to others who aren’t aware of them. I’d like there to be a more substantive analysis of such things. I’d like there to be a discussion about the examples used, how to improve, what doesn’t fit, etc. Rather any possibility of discussion gets subsumed under a campaign of hate from ignorant children (regardless of age).

    That’s the thing all of us lose. Critical discussions can only serve to improve games as a whole. Heck we’re already seeing the budding of such thoughts. Games that challenge traditional styles or ideas of what games are blooming, and enrich this hobby immensely. Games like Brothers, Gone Home, Proteus, Journey, Depression Quest and more broaden the scope of what games can be. Critical discussions of the sort Anita hints at can further expand gaming by challenging the default settings of many games. That these small minded individuals can effectively discourage that type of analysis makes everyone poorer for their lack.

    As for that whole corrupt bit? Egads, do people really get that myopic? There are legitimate questions of integrity in journalism that are true threats, and I’m talking journalism as a whole not just games. Sponsored content is a real scandal waiting to blow up, and indeed already has several times. The corrosion of the division between ‘church and state’ in newsrooms could seriously threaten reporting. That journalists know, and sometimes are friends with, developers does not mean corruption. When actual corruption and conflict of interests occurs, by all means it should be pointed out. To simply attack people because *gasp* a writer knows and is friends with a developer, is puerile ignorant foolishness.

  3. So let me get this straight for the record, it’s okay for folks like Quinn and Sarkeesian to dox themselves, reply to themselves on twitter in the form of sending themselves threats to attack the gaming community, and we’re suppose to support them because feminism? I am all against rape and death threats, that stuff just isn’t right or cool.

    That being said with all that is coming to light on just how corrupt and progressive agenda pushing “games journalism” is turning out to be, I’m wondering why all the well worded constructive criticism towards this stuff is flat out being ignored to focus on threats that might not even be legit.

    This is one reason I don’t get on board the social justice wagon, it’s full of so much liars using often non factual sources just to push an agenda, that it’s impossible to trust any of them.

    Modern day feminist give the moment a bad name, it’s no longer about pushing for equality, it’s about how can we get more over men simply for being female. Its quite disgusting when you really break it all down.

    1. Those are some really, REALLY, bold claims. So Quinn and Sarkeesian doxxed themselves? Phil Fish hacked his own site with a 4chan theme and released all the sensitive information for his company? Jenn Frank made up so much abuse so that she could quit writing about games, at the point where her work was starting to get published by major mainstream sites? All the abuse, rape and death threats, harassment campaigns were orchestrated by those being narrated to try and capitalize in some way off playing the victim card?

      Bull. Shit.

      The preponderance of evidence is clear. That there is a very large, very vocal contingent, hurling abuse and threats is not up for debate. It is happening, it is rampant, and to claim it is all manufactured is simply being a blinkered conspiracy theorist with no grounding in reality.

      I’ve seen these threats for myself. I’ve looked at the twitter timelines. I’ve seen only a small fraction of the abuse, and still that fraction was too goddamn much. Then there is the various screencaps of 4chan comment logs. Now they don’t prove definitively that the hacks and doxxing were done by 4chan groups out to attack Quinn and Sarkesian, but they certainly show that at the very least they approved.

      And what social justice liars(tm) are you referring to? Certainly there are some who get too aggressive and bring out the misogyny brush too easily, but to claim that everyone on the side of Quinn is a liar or pushing an agenda? Yeah, take off the tinfoil hat.

      Here’s the thing there are legitimate concerns to raise about ethnics in games and games journalism. Just like there are real concerns about journalism in general. The big issue in modern journalism is over things like sponsored content, the degradation of the veil between ‘church and state’, how editorial staffs are being squeezed out for marketing, how our current funding model for writing is broken. Guess what, those are far more damning issues than whether game journos and devs have friendships on the other side. The fact that a dev might, MIGHT, have had sex with multiple writers shouldn’t really matter. Certainly not treated with the level of vitriol seen. If the writer in question had written a review AFTER said encounter it could certainly bring up conflict of interest. That would definitely be a problem. The rub? It never happened. Heck the outlet in question didn’t even have a review.

      And yeah, there are plenty of other issues in the game sphere that could be brought up. In fact there was a new Twitter hashtag I saw earlier that was doing a decent job of talking about them last I looked, one free of the baggage of being associated with conspiratorial misogynistic threats. It was #gameethics, and I was seeing some of the real legitimate concerns we should be talking about. I’m all for having those issues brought up and discussed. I’m all for trying to improve the way games are made, reported, and consumed. I also don’t think that you can honestly make the case that this is what the whole Sarkesian and Quinn things are about.

    2. I like the idea that all the rampant misogyny can be explained away if we just assume that a gaggle of deceitful women have spent several weeks writing thousands of hateful messages to themselves and methodically falsified an incredible amount of evidence to back up their claims. Why? Because they’ve conspired to “get more over men simply for being female”

      And because hateful prejudices against women are so incredibly rare, of course.

      1. What is this rampant misogyny that supposedly exist in the first place though? Are we going to pretend there are zero strong females in games? Because quite frankly that isn’t true. And why is it that it’s all of a sudden trendy to like video games, are SJW’s coming out of the woodwork to try and dictate to developers how to make the games THEY create? If people can’t see the agenda pushing then their eyes simply aren’t open.

        Why don’t they go after movies or television shows for the same stuff? Oh wait I know why, because holywood is chalk full of their own kind, liberals. Can’t disrupt the hive mind.

        So many important issues in the world, and we’re focusing on strong female leads in fucking video games of all things. It’s pathetic.

        1. I am going to ask those who would vehemently disagree with this sentiment (of which I am one) to please not engage with Spectral’s inflammatory position on this topic. Spectral, I don’t know if it’s deliberate or you really don’t see it, but you are being inflammatory. I do not want to see further escalation.

          My post is not about games, it is about professional women being intimidated and threatened for creating content about games that some people don’t agree with. That is not okay. There is no, “Yeah, but…” commentary that I am interested in seeing engaged in here. As I said abovebelow, that is not up for debate. Both of your posts were made before I came in to check comments and I will not remove them at this time, but I am asking that this go no further.

        2. In a sense this sort of comment is the crux of the debate, and exemplary of the dilemma we all face.

          On the one hand there is the impression, which I think will be shared by several other readers here, that your statements are due to a limited experience of the world in general. It’s not hard, individually, to pick apart those sentiments. Clearly most human beings in this world would be happy to be seen as warriors for justice. Obviously written criticism, which has an *ahem* long history, is not dictatorial toward creators in general. Regarding the “trendy” comment, many of the individual critics who I would describe as most liberal have liked video games for as long as anyone. And um, perhaps the most obvious absurdity is the notion that feminist criticism has spared movies or TV shows, since poor representation of women (not to mention minorities) in both formats has been a topic of considerable discussion since before video games were invented.

          Yet unfortunately (here’s the other hand) there is a sense that all of these distortions are willful, and that pointing them out will not convince you of, well, anything. Maybe next time you’ll hone your arguments a bit, making the same point without the weirdest of your counterfactuals, but it’s like, what you and others believe, you don’t believe for those particular reasons. We know that, to a point, humans can choose what to believe and it’s like you have. To the extent that you can’t be convinced, all that some of us really want is forums where you aren’t around.

          I’m afraid your third paragraph does the case no favors. You and I are here on No High Scores, a site which exists for writing about games. We didn’t get here by accident. Over there —-> there are wonderful people arguing about which scale is best for model trains. Over there <—- someone wonderful is arguing over whether pour-over coffee is best prepared at 195F or 198F.

          Our society doesn't advance through laser-focus on our most important ten issues. We make progress, in fits and starts, where we can, and nobody understands the process well enough to tell others what is and isn't important or interesting. If some of us think that certain types of representations of women in gaming are bad for gaming, and bad for society at large, we have the right to make a place and time to talk about that. I'm afraid that isn't improved so much when you come in the door and tell us we're pathetic.

    3. Spectral, that women are being threatened and intimidated and hacked is not a subject that is up for debate here. I know, historically (when this place was hopping), we encourage debate on games and what we write about them. This is not one of those posts. I am not asking for a show of hands and I will not tolerate debate at NHS over the notion that women doing quality work (whether you agree with it or not is not relevant to this discussion) are either manufacturing threats or are somehow to blame for the threats they are receiving. That is a non-starter and if this is your approach to addressing this topic I am asking you not to post it here.

      1. What Anita does is not quality work, she uses other peoples footage and doesn’t even play the games she’s critiquing. Takes examples way out of context, is a professional victim even if she takes matters into her own hands to make herself a victim and has a very obvious feminist agenda to attack the very things you cover on this site.

        I get it Todd, you want to only frame one side of the discussion which again very typical of the left to do. Honest debate generally doesn’t enter into that equation.

        Yeah her tweeting to herself rather then sending these threats to authorities is so really the proper way to go about it, let me tell you. Like I already said death threats are wrong and uncalled for. You know what else is uncalled for? Latching onto a hobby that you obviously aren’t even a fan of despite claiming to be a life long gamer,(hint: She isn’t) out right lying, all to try and make money off of it with shoddy youtube videos just to push some more progressive drivel out there. Women aren’t always victims, Anita and Ms Quinn aren’t victims, there’s such a thing as taking a tiny bit of responsibility for your actions, I’ve seen nether of this women do that one bit.

        At any rate enjoy your agenda pushing, happy trails NHS.

        1. As to Anita Sarkeesian’s work, even if I conceded the point as to the quality of her work (I do not), it would still be beside the point. She could be calling games real-world violence generators or saying that gaming is an alien plot to mollify the public and it would not justify the threats or intimidation she’s received. Nor any of the other talented women who are being assaulted in this way, of which there are many. And you may not think you’re condoning those things, but when you take a post about the threats (which this is) and try to turn it into one about the work of the people being threatened (and they are people; fellow human beings), that is *exactly* what you’re doing.

          I suppose I *could* say it’s so very typical of “the right” (whatever such labels actual mean in the real world) to condone threats and intimidation towards women and minorities, but that has no more a shred of truth to it than your allegation that I’m pushing a “leftist agenda.” You know absolutely nothing of my ideology and you’re too busy pushing people into boxes they don’t fit into to bother trying to understand any position beyond your own narrow view. You say you’re interested in open debate, but you’re not. You’re interested in labeling and name-calling. That’s not debate. It’s a tantrum. And, as I stated, it’s not welcome here, nor will it be missed with you gone.

          I hope at some point you’ll come to understand the people you’re so busy labeling and treating like some kind of existential threat to the mythical sanctity of gaming aren’t your enemies. They’re people doing the exact same thing as you — trying to get by in the world as best they can. Maybe try to remember that the next time you look at threats made to a woman’s person and life and conclude they must just be making it all up for some attention.

  4. Wow, what a topic… and a sensitive one at that. I’m largely familiar with the whole 5 Guys Burgers and Fries 4chan story, etc. I tend to mainly ignore this type of stuff simply because… “Hey man, I’m just here to play video games.” Do I think Ray Rice should be banned from the NFL? Definitely. But, “Hey man, I just want to watch the game.” Does that make me part of the problem? Definitely. But I don’t know what else to say about it or how to be constructive in discussing it.

    These twitter/tumbler warriors are what they have always been – despicable internet elitist turds who hide behind their anonymity. Thankfully, they’ve unwittingly given up so much of their anonymity as the internet has evolved that they are now being held responsible for their bullshit. Why don’t we just leave it at that? People like Sarkeesian are going through the proper authoritative channels to bring these people to justice and hold them responsible. This is what free speech has always wrought for the activist. MLK found a burning cross on his lawn. The women who are bringing this issue to light (which as I’ll go into more below… I find to be utterly fascinating) should have known that they could have potentially exposed themselves to haters. I’m sure they’re not naive. They must have known. Despicable as these dregs of humanity are, they are always there. I have faith that they’ll be exposed, and that they are the dying remnants of a social aspect of humanity that just does not want to evolve. Like racism. I feel like I’ve seen so much racism and media driven stories about it in my lifetime, but I have faith that racists are a dying breed. It’s just going to take a long time. You just gotta keep the faith. Same sex marriage is slowly but surely claiming its place in society. These things are always hard fought. Stay the course, people. Change comes whether the ignorant minority wants it or not.

    In watching Sarkeesian’s videos, she does make a very striking point. I also suddenly became very aware of just how many of those games I’ve played and thoroughly enjoyed. Did I love telling girls to “shake it baby!” in Duke 3D when I was in junior high? Of course. It was hilarious at the time because I was a friggin child in a virtual stripclub. I wasn’t tugging my pudd over it… it was just immature shit. Now I just find it and its modern counterparts (GTA IV – V strip club / prostitutes) to be cringe worthy. They are aspects of the game that I don’t even pursue anymore. If I was in junior high again, I’d be loving every minute of it.

    Sarkeesian does take some things out of context. A good portion of her referenced content isn’t part of the main storyline and has to be sought out by the player, but they are admittedly there for the finding. Then again, she makes an excellent point at just how many “storylines” put the main character in a position to objectify women. Thinking back, the stories have taken me through so many backdoors of so many stripclubs that the thought just seems hack at this point. Most of those storylines involved some aspect of the dark underworld of humanity… and that’s just part of that world I suppose. However, yes, they are mostly gratuitous and Sarkeesian’s video did an excellent job of pulling me out of the zombie, consumerist mentality that is enslaved by the marketing of these titles. I never really caught on that I was consuming so much raw sexism. It’s actually pretty amazing.

    At the end of the, guys, I have no outrage to give. I view videogames and the marketing that surrounds them with the same disappointment that I view society as a whole. I can’t even buy beer or snacks without having a bikini clad woman tell me why I should. This is what happens when your hobby becomes mainstream. It started off being for adults. Then it moved on to children. Then those children became adults. Now it’s so mainstream… you can’t stop the freight train. This could happen to ANYTHING; any form of entertainment. Sadly, it’s a part of most of them.

    I have faith though. The almighty dollar rules all. If you don’t want this in your games, don’t buy them. As women account for larger and larger gamer demographics, then surely these types of things will fall out of fashion. I tend to have faith in the free market. I just think it moves a lot slower than most of us are willing to accept. It might not happen in our lifetime, but this shit will all go away. Racism, Sexism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Leftism, Rightism, any ism that pisses you off. They’re all going to go away. We’re going to evolve past them eventually. Otherwise, we’d still be watching murder porn in the gladiatorial arenas of our ancestors. Now, we’re just watching convicted felons toss around a pig skin ball. Good times.

    Great writing Brakke. I appreciate your enthusiasm and passion for the issue. Truly. I am, however, just a little disappointed that you didn’t acknowledge Spektral’s thoughts on it. Though I don’t agree with him, I really think that talking about it and listening to all sides is the only way to really help these things along.

    1. Actually come to find out she never contacted authorities at all. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaXDLpjG3XU So not only does she use other peoples footage and call it her own, but she’s a liar and a fraud. But hey lets keep defending obvious scumbags like Quinn and Sarkeesian because they’re women and obviously victims because they’re women.

      1. Ominous, I appreciate the long detailed thoughts and have absolutely zero issue with how you presented your perspective on this. I even agree that in the long term this is a problem that will slowly evaporate because the people endorsing/participating in hate speech on this level are on the wrong side of history. That said, I think it’s precisely because of women (and men) speaking up about it that I think this is true, and it’s why I follow many of them and admire them so much. Even if I may disagree with the finer points of *some* of the arguments they make, that is irrelevant. Again, this is about the aggregate issue in the industry. This is an area where I think cherry-picking their criticism for examples you (not you specifically, Ominous) don’t agree with is counter-productive. We’re in a climate where their having opinions and putting work out there at all draws threats to their person. Given that, I could give a damn if a small snippet of Dragon Age: Origins is being misrepresented. (This is the point of my post.)

        As to my problem with Spectral’s post and my response to it, I refer you to my initial response to him which concluded, “…I will not tolerate debate at NHS over the notion that women doing quality work (whether you agree with it or not is not relevant to this discussion) are either manufacturing threats or are somehow to blame for the threats they are receiving. That is a non-starter and if this is your approach to addressing this topic I am asking you not to post it here.”

        Not exactly a ban when I could easily have removed his comments altogether. And I should have left the word “quality” out of it because it predictably turned into a response about the work not being “quality” which, as I find myself saying over and over is not relevant to this discussion. This was a post about the threats and the treatment women in gaming in the public eye are receiving. That’s happening. That’s not imagination or fabrication. Just because I didn’t list other names doesn’t mean I don’t know women are who personally affected by this. And taking a debate about online harassment and trying to make it about ethics in gaming is, again, a non-starter.

        Those are my issues with what Spectral is writing here. And even then, if he (I assume) were being more civil about how he’s going about it, then fine. It’s not about dissent, it’s that it’s flat out mean-spirited of the type that leads to flame wars at other sites and I do not want to see that here. Making it about right versus left, calling people liars who “doxx themselves” and making them at fault for their own harassment, invoking the “social justice” stuff is a non-starter to me because it invites an escalated response that requires another escalated response, and so on. I hate that stuff and my replies were an attempt to nip that in the bud. I welcome civil, respectful debate on this topic. I do not welcome flame-thrower language, especially when it insinuates women are to blame for their own harassment.

  5. The only reason I believe that the threats are legit is because I frequent sites like reddit and 4chan. I know these types of people exist and that they’re not above making these kinds of e-threats, or worse. They are definitely nowhere near being outside the realm of possibility.

    There are a number of articles being published today that make the claim that this entire thing is a fabrication by Sarkeesian. I can’t speak for their legitimacy. Like, who is that guy on the phone in the video? Again… this is why I tend to step back from things like this and say “Hey man, I just want to play video games”.

    I do find both sides to be very interesting though (not the side making threats… Sarkeesian’s side and the side claiming she’s lying). It really does raise a valid question. What happens if it is proven without a shadow of doubt that she is a liar? What happens to her message then? It’s an entirely valid message (you really should watch the videos Brakke posted)… but something like this being potentially proven to be a lie would be detrimental to her cause.

    So why lie?

    1. To be honest I think she’s her own detriment to her cause by ignoring examples that disprove her “gaming is misogynistic” Which is part of the reason I have a hard time taking her seriously to begin with. She doesn’t at all want to take any sort of criticism even when it is constructive. Which tends to be a running theme with social justice progressives in the first place.

      1. How can you disprove truth? There is an embarrassing amount of misogyny in gaming. You would only need to watch the first 15 to 20 minutes of her video to realize that. As someone who really isn’t offended by it, per se (I find it to be more archaic, boring, and a cheap grab for my instinctual desires as man), I would make the argument that most of the misogynistic portions of any of the games she used are completely optional, and kind of rely on the misogyny of the players themselves to discover that they are even an option… but they’re still there. They’re still an option. Does that make these games realistic? I suppose. But it’s almost entirely unnecessary. There really is no excuse for how many of those elements are actually plot driven, though, and there’s plenty of examples of that in her video as well.

        I will agree with you thoroughly on one point: A lot of the social justice players I have seen are woefully stubborn and fanatical to the point of being detrimental to their causes. I believe in an open debate. That’s the only way you’re going to get the conversation going. Hostility, stubbornness, and refusing to do anything other than force feed your ideals just won’t be as effective.

        I disagree with Brakke. I think whether or not these threats are real should definitely be open for civilized and intelligent discussion, especially since there are substantial claims out there. Personally, I just don’t see why or how they could be lies though. Having my finger on the proverbial pulse of the internet (douchey thing to say, I know), I firmly believe that the threats she’s receiving are so “business as usual” that they HAVE to be real. Given her message… I’m 99.9% certain that they’re real. Whether or not she actually reported them to the authorities… meh. I don’t know. Maybe she just wanted to scare them, knowing that they’re probably 14 year old e-warriors. Who knows. I just think she stands to gain nothing from lying. It’s far easier to just state an unpopular opinion and watch the hate roll in. People have received death threats for far less.

        1. “I think whether or not these threats are real should definitely be open for civilized and intelligent discussion, especially since there are substantial claims out there.”

          The problem is that even if it were true that Anita Sarkeesian specifically is trumping up the harassment she’s receiving (which I do not believe), it wouldn’t change the point of this post. This is a widespread problem and women in gaming are being harassed and threatened. This *is* happening. Maybe it was a mistake for me not to name other people beside Sarkeesian (which was deliberate) or maybe I shouldn’t have used any names at all because it allows the sort of cherry-picking of the issue that I really do not want to see here.

          There are two ugly things about debating on these grounds. One, making the debate about whether something that is happening is actually happening is an implicit way *changing* the intended debate. It’s like arguing that the world’s climate isn’t changing. Of course it is. The debate desperately needs to be about how we deal with it, not whether it’s happening. Two, as I posted above, it’s an implicit way of victim-blaming. Debating journalistic ethics or the quality of the work when the conversation is about online abuse and harassment is just another way of saying, “Hey, look over there!”

          That’s not debating the topic, which is set by the post actually written. If you (again, not addressing anyone specifically) want to have a debate about game ethics or the quality of the work a person like Sarkeesian is doing, go right ahead. But you need to find a place where that is the topic, be it a different post here or a post/forum someplace else. The whole thesis of my post is that these debates are irrelevant when this harassment is going on and how do we, as a community, address it. Yet, here we are talking about ethics in gaming and whether the threats are actually happening.

          (And, again, as long as that remains civil I’m not going to go into post deletion mode, which, to the best of my memory, I have never done unless it was obvious spam. The point where I’m trying to draw the line is exactly where I think comments are turning less than civil.)

          1. It’s been published for about a week now, but I’m only just reading this piece at RPS which addresses pretty much the same issues brought up here.

            http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/09/08/videogames-are-for-everybody/

            If anyone still thinks I’m trying to stifle worthy debate, maybe read this first.

            EDIT:

            This, too, is an amazing conversational sequence (it’s linked from the RPS article). I’m not all the way through it yet, but it’s worth taking in:

            https://storify.com/brett_douville/extending-the-branch

            1. Yeah because RPS is a such a shining example of journalism or any of the other progressive Gawker type sites who all simultaneously ran “The term gamer is dead” type articles. This is exactly the types I was talking about Todd, the sites that censor any criticism be it constructive or not because they’re solely interested in agenda pushing.

              As for the comment that there’s embarrassing amount of misogyny in gaming, so what? There’s and equally if not more embarrassing amount in movies and TV shows yet that field isn’t being attacked one bit. I guess gaming and developers are far easier targets. Wouldn’t want the tumblr style social justice retards to have to actually work at it now would we.

              This is really an issue with society in general now, the liberals have dominated academia for so long now they’re just churning out these brain washed progressives with their liberal arts degrees, that can’t debate out of a wet paper bag, were handed so many participation trophies they truly believe they’re entitled in life without ever working for it. And latch onto these causes that SHOULD rank so low on anyone’s scale verse actual important issues in the world.

              As little as 5 years ago no one would have cared, gaming was relegated to just the nerds. Now that it’s all sorts of trendy to be into gaming thanks to the Wil Wheatons and Felicia Days of the world, all these so called journalist are chomping at the bit to push whatever drivel their borderline commie professors fed them throughout college.

              1. And this is exactly what I’m talking about:

                “Wouldn’t want the tumblr style social justice retards to have to actually work at it now would we.”

                If you want to have a discussion about this stuff here (and you have said that you do), then talk about people with some modicum of respect, even if you radically disagree with what they are saying. I hate engaging with stuff like this and, as has been my point elsewhere in these comments, I don’t want other people engaging with it at this site in a way that escalates out of control. I’m honestly not sure what you think is going to be gained by talking about people in this way.

                Also, if you think that film, television, and literally *everything* else doesn’t have people engaged in every conceivable facet of criticism about it then you are willfully not paying attention.

                Finally, if you didn’t read the RPS piece (and it damn well doesn’t look like you did), then you are ill-equipped to judge the message it contains, which does address the very topics you seem to think should be open for discussion here. Your words further the notion that you have no interest in debating a problem, but are rather more interested in being indiscriminately angry at people you perceive to be your enemy (and are not).

                In any case, it continues to go back to the basic principle that people talking about things they don’t like about an industry is not grounds for abuse and harassment of them.

              2. Yea, you’re really not helping your case, Spectral. You’re discussing this like a douche.

                There is an issue. You CAN’T deny that. You just can’t. In terms of your “so what?” comment… you wouldn’t be so brave if it were blatant, hateful racism being discussed instead of misogyny.

                Gaming is mainstream now. Deal with it. There’s money to be made in every aspect of it. Also, movies and TV shows get criticized and called out on it ALL THE TIME.

                You keep using left wing, right wing, liberal, etc. terms… you lose me. You’re just on the opposite side of the hate isle. You’re no better than the social justice fanatics that you’re criticizing. Come on, man. This is a bigger issue than just videogames. Stop with the “Hurr durr… so what if there’s strippers in games.” It’s a larger social issue.

              3. Also, I didn’t mean that post to sound like an attack. Just trying to steer your argument in a better direction. You don’t have to agree with what Brakke is saying… but like he stated: “…talk about people with some modicum of respect, even if you radically disagree with what they are saying.”

  6. Yeah I didn’t read the piece and won’t, I don’t give clicks to agenda pushing sites that either delete comments they don’t like or disable comments on an article altogether because they don’t want any criticism, and I’m sorry Todd, I don’t really know a nicer way to put it. All this is, this whole “games are so sexist” argument is hot air. And no I haven’t heard or seen any of these types attacking TV or movies. Hell Game of Thrones may as well be a HBO branded porn yet everyone, men, women, rave about it like it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.

    It’s human nature to like sex, both male and female, it’s how we reproduce and often show love for another person. And if you think for one moment there aren’t plenty of women out there who use their bodies to their advantage and knowingly manipulate people to get ahead *cough cough* Zoe Quinn, then you’re naive.

    That being said there are many strong female characters in gaming, from Samus to Lara and everything in between, so the idea that all games are just to cater to a young male demographic as a knock, when in the same breath these types then turn around and make claims like 50% of women are gamers (which is a bullshit statistic to begin with) strike me as a group of people who don’t truly even know what they’re fighting for, or have any sort of gameplan aside from lashing out at those who won’t sign on for their dog and pony show.

    Incidentally I do view liberals and politically correct agenda pushes as my enemy in some ways, because in reality all they do is use minorities for votes, while keeping them down and dependent on them rather than uplift them into bettering themselves and their lives. They use women in much the same way, painting them out to be weak, and often victims simply for having breasts and a vagina. And quite honestly that to me is absolutely shameful and abusive.

    That’s not even mentioning the toss out of the racist/misogynist card the moment they get challenged on their view point like clock work, it’s like the old story of the boy who cried wolf at this point, it happens so often.

    They are dishonest by nature, and if there’s one thing I hate it’s dishonest people who are only interested in making themselves look better or get further in life while using other people often less fortunate than themselves to get there.

    If we had any smart people in the world left, we’d be looking to shrink government rather than grow people’s dependence on the corrupt entity it’s become, move away from the welfare state we’re quickly becoming, and stop trying to be as progressive as Europe, because progressiveness is often anything but.

    TLDR version: Take the progressive agenda and shove that shit. The world is better off without it.

    1. Ugh… crap.

      I actually agree with a lot of those sentiments as well. This is why I don’t get involved in these discussions.

      My bad.

  7. Someone else’s quote, but this is spot on to really what the issue is with progressives and SJW’s in general.

    .they will never be happy. If you don’t have a gay character in your game, you are homophobic, if you do have gay character in your game, you are homophobic, because they don’t like the character. If women in your game look good, you are sexist, if they look bad, you are sexist, if you can fight with them, you are misogynistic, if you can’t fight with them, you are using them as objects, if you don’t have any women, because there is no correct way how to have them, you are misogynistic.

    1. It’s absolutely true that left-leaning types are comfortable with a diversity of perspectives and shades of gray, in a way that conservatives like yourself are often constitutionally not. I’m pretty happy myself in general, but I also see the work of equality and justice as a long game with the “promised land” far into the future.

      I think it’s fine for everything to be criticized. Personally I think Bioshock Infinite was wildly misinterpreted by some of its critics, who didn’t (for example) see the “white people change the universe until they are right” angle as intentionally meta. Still, an actual black person, or an actual woman, might have a different experience from the black person or woman that I imagine in my head, and their thoughts can be valid too. Why would I need to call them names?

      Nobody is going to award a “Certified Sexism-Free(tm)” gold star. It’s just not that easy. Respecting the dignity of all human beings isn’t a checklist. It’s complicated and difficult and ambiguous and worth it.

      1. It is a checklist for a lot of them. Gender quotas, minority quotas, dictating what themes you can and can’t have because sexism! They’re also very good at criticism themselves, they’re not so good at taking any sort of criticism however, as displayed by the mass censoring, banning and basically removing any and all criticism of their agenda pushing.

        Conservatives do respect people’s dignity, they don’t treat everyone as needing to be in some special snowflake little group. We believe that it’s up to individuals to make something of themselves, not be rewarded simply based on skin color, gender or sexual orientation.That’s the problem with the left and why things like racism won’t ever go away because they won’t let it go away, color is important to them to push some sort of imaginary diversity quote rather than judging people on what they do and their character. It’s apparently racism these days to expect a tiny bit of personal responsibility from people. So much better to hand everyone a participation trophy just for showing up, wouldn’t want anyone’s precious feelings to get ruffled.

        Of course the issue with all of that is life isn’t roses or easy, it’s not a cake walk, so filling children’s heads with the idea that they’re always going to get a trophy for not putting any effort in does very little to actually prepare them for what the real world is like.

        All those socialist commie prof.. oh I’m sorry liberal progressive professors are doing these kids a disservice above anything else.

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