Gamer culture, like practically every other culture and sub-culture, has a misogyny problem. And if my blog had even a little bit larger audience, I would be expecting a raging shitstorm of disagreement just for that first sentence. (Hell, I won’t be surprised if I get a shitstorm now, and I have maybe 12 regular readers). I kind of understand why: For a lot of people, gamer/nerd culture is a place where they finally feel like they belong; it can help people form strong, tight-knit friendships; gaming is something that people do for fun and they don’t want to deal with troubling social issues in that space. It’s rough when other people attack something that so many feel is a really positive part of their lives. But all of that is no excuse to turn one’s back when a problem becomes evident.
From all outward appearances I don’t really have a dog in this fight (besides the obvious “I’m a feminist and misogyny is bad, m’kay” part). I barely game. I do “girl” gaming. (Hey, there’s some sexism right there!) I fuck around with the occasional facebook or smartphone game. If I’m feeling a little more game-y, maybe I’ll dig out the old NES and two-button it up. Occasionally I go really wild and break out the PS2 for some Guitar Hero. The extent of my tabletop gaming is Scrabble. That’s about it. Maybe I would game more if I hadn’t internalized the message (sometimes unspoken, sometimes said right to my face) that gaming is for boys. Maybe not. Either way, the technology and interest ship has pretty much sailed right on by me.
But I have a daughter. And I think she’s got the potential to be quite a gamer. She’s been attacking anything with a touch screen since she gained the ability to point. By one year of age, she would happily sit on her father’s lap and help him play WoW. Now she’s building her very own world in Minecraft. She just turned four. She loves gaming. I love that she loves gaming. There are obvious benefits. It helps her develop problem-solving skills. It’s a creative outlet. And it’s something she can bond with her daddy over. I don’t want her to ever be pushed away from something she loves so much, which is what I fear misogyny in gamer culture will do.
A lot of people with more experience than i have in the gaming world have written more eloquently than I possibly could on the subject, and I’ve provided a couple of links below. (If you really want to see sexism in action, you can usually find it in full-force in the comments section of any piece that calls sexism out. Enjoy.) I want to stand up with those people and say “misogyny in gaming is a problem and it needs to stop!”
Over the next few…days? Hours? Whenever the kids give me time? I’ll be posting some ranty-rants addressing some of the common examples of misogyny in gaming and the usual, disappointing responses.
Scott Madin, over at Shakesville, posted a piece just today. Oh look, it’s time to talk about gamer culture and rape culture again.
New York Times article about gaming and harassment
There are several good links within those 2 links, also.