In the past hour my blood has boiled, evaporated, condensed, simmered, then boiled and evaporated again. I’ve tweeted about driving 12-inch iron nails into the skulls of Cro-Magnon by-blows with an electrified sledgehammer, and come up with exciting new punishments involving cider and cupboards full of wasps. All this uncharacteristic anger came from reading numerous tweets, sporting the hashtag #1reasonwhy, about some of the mind-boggling crap women in gaming and the games industry endure on a regular basis.
Here is a selection for your viewing displeasure.
Because conventions, where designers are celebrated, are unsafe places for me. Really. I’ve been groped. #1reasonwhy
#1reasonwhy because even freelance i produce as much industry content as some entire websites, and i’m still ‘that feminist writer.’
I had to make my own game in order to see someone like me as a main character #1ReasonWhy
Because every disclosure of harassment feels like risking never being hired again. #1reasonwhy
I feel awful for remaining silent when a coworker spoke up about the sexist office culture because I didn’t want to be mocked. #1reasonwhy
#1reasonwhy Because I still have to keep saying: “But what if the player is female?”
#1reasonwhy Because some of us don’t even try to pursue a career in gaming: too beaten by institutionalized sexism as young fans.
For some women like Kate Williams, aka @desensitisation on twitter, 140 characters and a hashtag wasn’t enough to cover the staggering amount of bullshit she’s had to put up with. In a blog entry titled “Too many reasons why” she gives examples like “Because when I call out this behaviour, I’m told it’s my fault for having an “attitude problem” and maybe I should be less of a bitch”, and “Because when a man condescends to me, I’m told it’s because I’m wearing a pink skirt.” The entire entry is capped-off with a beautifully damning encapsulation of everything still wrong with gaming culture: “Because I’m scared to post this on Twitter.”
Her fear is sadly justified. Aside from her own experiences of being “berated, blamed, dismissed” for speaking her mind publicly, she need only point to Jade Raymond, Jennifer Hepler or Anita Sarkeesian: three women whose treatment at the hands of an ever-shrinking vocal minority in gaming was absolutely vile. Even now an assortment of brain-dead misfits, throwbacks, and other roaches have scuttled out of the proverbial woodwork to shit out the same old justifications, insults and excuses. Desperately accusing women of “causing a fuss”, calling any man who speaks publicly in support of #1reasonwhy a “White Knight”, and naively assuming anyone actually give two shits about anything they say.
If you’re male and your reaction to #1reasonwhy is a hearty roll of your oh-so-ripe-for-stabbing eyes, the nonchalant shrug of the privileged, or smarmy verbal dismissals like “what’s the big deal?” and”LOL! get bak 2 teh kicthen!” then you’re part of the problem. I don’t know why I even wasted precious seconds of my life telling you that. You’ve doubtless been informed of this fact already by people whose brains don’t resemble a week-old microwaved shrimp. Some might even have been women you’re not related to, although I might be giving you too much credit there.
In a way I almost pity you, Mr Gamerscum. You see the days where you were the undisputed sad little king of your sad little hill are long past. The writing has been on the wall for so long it’s started to fade and needs going-over again in permanent marker, not that you even paid a blind bit of notice to it. Do I really have to spell it out for you? You are no longer the lord of the clubhouse. You’re not even in the clubhouse any more. You’ve been evicted and you don’t even know it. Oh you may well like to think that squalid little shed we threw you into is the only “One Troo Klubhouse 4 Troo Gamerz Only (no gurls, blaks or gayz)”, but you’re only deluding yourself.
Except you do already know this, deep in your corpulent cheeto-stuffed gut. Why else would you howl so loudly and cling desperately to your delusions of relevance? All of your sound and fury are but the last desperate cries of an old order bellowing at the ocean as it comes rushing in. It’s not too late however. You can still come back into the clubhouse and have fun with the rest of us. All you need to do is stop being a dick, loosen up and learn the credo “Be excellent to each other.” Is that really such an incomprehensible idea to wrap your stunted brain around? Because if you can’t understand that I’m surprised you have the mental capacity to play games in the first place. Perhaps something less taxing, like chewing on crayons or eating chips of lead paint, is more up your alley?
And with that I’m off to reaffirm my faith in gaming by reading tweets with the hashtag #1reasontobe and #1reasonmentors, created to bring some much needed hope and positivity to the debate. Here are some inspiring selections to see you off.
Because no one is going to take my dream away. #1reasontobe
#1reasontobe Because I LOVE video games! #1reasonwhy is like water off a duck’s back. I know I belong here :)!
To make more of the kinds of games *I* love to play.#1reasontobe
#1reasontobe Despite the bullshit, I am able to work constantly with amazing men and women who care about telling great stories
#1reasontobe Because I get to craft experiences that help add joy to the lives of millions.
#1reasontobe Games are the most inspiring and imaginative projects you will ever work on, with the most creative people