Thursday, 14 June 2012

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Games and Feminism

I can't say I'm surprised about some of the reactions ... and that's the worst part.

I'm kind of getting in at the tail end of this, but it's something that I've been keeping track of a while, ever since I saw a link to this Kickstarter at Destructoid. Now, I'm not here to argue whether or not Anita Sarkeesian is going to do a good job covering the tropes she plans to cover. Nor am I here to make any sort of judgment regarding whether or not she is right or wrong in doing so. Still, there's something for me to talk about in regards to this.

The sheer amount of utterly vitriolic backlash she has gotten not for doing, but just attempting to do what she plans on doing.

While there has been a tremendous outpouring of support, with over $100,000 be raised by the time this post goes to publish, there has also been a decent outpouring of contempt for what she plans to do with this series. People have reported her Youtube videos as terrorism, sent her threats up to and including death threats, and tried to get her Kickstarter taken down. Although the number of truly vitriolic comments has been surprisingly small, the fact that they're there at all is deeply troubling.

What the hell is so threatening about this? That's my question. Whether or not you agree or disagree is one thing. It's quite possible that the video series that comes out of this is going to be disappointing, and that's of course going to vary from person to person as well. I might find it engaging, someone else might not and be able to give a long list of completely valid reasons for why they thought it was bad that don't rely on ad hominem attacks to try and prove their point.

We have to face it, even if some people out there would like to think so, video gaming isn't a boy's club anymore, and frankly I'm completely fine and even grateful for that. Gender shouldn't be a barrier in this kind of medium, and the fact that in some cases it still kind of is is a pretty sad fact in and of itself. I think that the backlash we're seeing here proves that this stuff actually does need to be talked about, because it might hopefully shed some light on why people are so desperately, violently sure that it shouldn't be talked about.

There's no harm in having a discussion over any of the tropes that she's planning to tackle, but with some of the outcry you'd think that she was trying to ban games or get them changed as a whole. I freely admit that if all the changes were made to games to make sure that everyone was represented fairly were ever implemented that all games would become as boring as shit. That doesn't, however, mean that I'm okay with some of the overt sexism and yes, even misogyny that still happens in them. Does that make me a feminist? I really doubt it, but just because it's one thing that I don't feel that we should be apathetic about doesn't mean that I'm not open to both sides of the argument.

Of course, that's assuming that both sides of the argument can actually interact with each other without resorting to threats of rape, murder, terrorism, and all that other fun stuff.

Thanks Internet!

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