It seems oddly appropriate that this is the 200th published post on Feminist Sonar.
I am so tired of being told, either implicitly or explicitly, that there are no girls allowed in games. It’s not just video games, it’s analog games too. I am tired of people acting like roleplaying games and video games were created for a boys club that would never end.
An entire gender does not get to co-opt a hobby.
Women in the games industry, and just plain women who like to play games are told through imagery, interactions with other players, and game content that they are not wanted. As Anita Sarkeesian demonstrated in her most recent Tropes Vs. Women in Games video, women’s bodies are used as props. Violence is done to our bodies virtually. Rapes are a plot device, and sometimes even a joke.
When choosing to write about the way that women are treated in games, we have to ask ourselves questions like “Do I really want to open myself up to the trolls?” and “Am I sure that I am safe in my own home if people decide to come after me?”
Here’s the thing: two women are unlikely to try and create a documentary about how men are destroying the world of video games for women. Instead, we write about the facts. Instead we create video series’ interrogating the issues in specific kinds of games. I’m not attacking anyone here, I’m literally saying what’s happening right now.
But a patreon titled “The Sarkeesian Effect” is doing exactly that. Two conservative white male gamers are choosing to try and raise funds to create a documentary discrediting specific women in the games industry, and just watching their video made me ill. In it, they say that they have “unreleased” information about Anita Sarkeesian, and others. They want to display the conspiracy against the games industry.
There is no conspiracy. None at all. We just want to play games. And we want to play games where we aren’t inundated with images of women’s bodies being used to, say, KEEP A GATE OPEN by having the body thrown into the gears of said gate.
I reviewed Tomb Raider last year when it came out, and the only thing that irritated me was the intensely graphic death scenes that no one needed. I did not need to watch a woman have her throat bust open in slow motion. I did not need to watch a man strangle my avatar to death in slow motion either.
But I DID get to shoot a would be rapist. I just don’t understand the dissonance here. You’re fine with creating a kick ass game about a woman who survives, but you’re not willing to make that game without exploiting women’s bodies?
I don’t get it.
I don’t undertsand why these people are afraid that I’m going to ruin their fun. I don’t understand why they’re acting like I literally stole the game from their hands. Don’t you want to play *more* games? Don’t you want to have more people to play with?
The thing is, it’s not just that they don’t want us to play. When I watched the Owen & Aurini team’s video for “The Sarkeesian Effect” I was afraid, because they don’t just not want me to play. They’re ANGRY. They are very angry that I, and other women, are trying to make games better. They don’t want us in their sandbox, and they will say and do just about anything to get us out. Men in this community are organizing a protest against Zoe Quinn being at PAX Prime, and on their fliers they are printing the URL’s to nude photos of her.
They wouldn’t do this to a man. They never have. They never will. They’re doing it to a woman because of one simple fact:
They hate that women are in their sandbox.
Well. I want to play in my sandbox too. I have been playing RPGs of one kind or another for most of my life. I started playing Magic the Gathering when it first came out.
This is my sandbox too. This is where I work. This is where my husband and I spend Saturday nights. This is where I met most of my friends. So, no. I’m not getting out of the gaming sandbox. You can’t put up a “No Girls Allowed” sign on the door, because I’ve been in for as long as you have.
Stop the violence. Stop the hate.
Games are made for everybody.
I am so afraid to hit the post button on this, because I know, without a doubt that people are going to come for me today. I will have hate mail in my inbox. I will reset the hate mail counter more than once. I don’t want to. But I know that this is important to say.
From my tearstained keyboard, to your computer screen, keep playing. Keep writing. Keep telling stories. Keep dreaming, and adventuring.