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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Day 601: The (D)evolution of the Gaming Culture

http://thinkprogress.org/culture/2014/09/18/3568970/aei-feminist-gaming/

After death threats forced a feminist video game critic to flee her home, conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI) released a video telling feminists to “stand down,” as the outrage over misogyny in gaming culture is overblown.
AEI’s resident scholar Christina Hoff Sommers described the gaming world as “a lively, smart, creative subculture, consisting mostly of tech savvy men from all over the world but also including a small but distinct group of very cool women. If you love games, they don’t really care about your age, your race, your ethnicity, your gender, your sexual preference. They just want to game.”
During her “Factual Feminist” segment, Sommers argues that feminist video game critics are misguided in their seeming attempt to dismantle sexist gaming culture. Ignoring research showing that women make up half the gaming population, Sommers says that because most “hardcore” gamers are male, it’s expected and okay that games use imagery and story lines that appeal to them, including stereotypical depictions of women as damsels in distress or sex objects. Yet at the same time, she insists that “the world of gaming has become inclusive. There are games that fit a vast array of preferences and games with responsibly proportioned and appropriately garbed female protagonists.”
Sommers also defended gamers’ sometimes violent anger at feminists, claiming most gamers have responded to criticism with “logic, evidence and humor.”
That logic, evidence and humor was missing in reactions to feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian, whom Sommers calls out as an offending feminist critic. After releasing a webisode critiquing women as background decoration in video games, Sarkeesian received numerous death threats, presumably from angry gamers. Those threats are now being investigated by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Polygon reported.
While Sommers argued that Sarkeesian’s and other critics’ anonymous death threats aren’t necessarily indicative of a negative, “patriarchal pathology” in game culture, there’s been evidence to the contrary. Online harassment disproportionately affects women compared to men. The white male-dominated tech industry overall has been slow to address online threats or stalking. And when reported, the threats are often not taken seriously.
Sommers also compared Sarkeesian’s criticisms of video game culture to hypothetical attacks on women’s magazines for not being inclusive of men, seemingly missing feminists’ point that game creators overly rely on depictions of women as sexualized eye candy and objects of grotesque violence is unnecessary, and immaterial to the gaming experience. Despite evidence that women play all kinds of video games, female lead characters are rare. When women do appear in video games, they’re frequently over-sexualized, and being beaten, kicked, stomped on, or shot simply for shock value.
But public outrage over companies’ anti-women policies is growing. Game makers are facing more pressure to be inclusive as their non-white and non-male audience grows. Top game creators are beginning to openly support feminist game critics’ work. And gamers overall may just be ready for a change. - Think Progress

I'm a girl. I'm a gamer. One thing that I have come to, not accept, but rather I do not react to it is the current nature of games. Yes, I absolutely agree that games should change - not just from a gender point of view but in multiple ways (including violence, greed, competition, war etc etc). Obviously part of the problem is that many people and children interpret games as being an accurate reflection of life and society, which contributes to violence and even to the continued existence of superiority / inferiority.

Yes, we need to change games, but this is something that will take time and that will only happen when enough people in positions of power (ie they can drive the change with MONEY and/or influence) start producing and promoting different principles in games and media. (I am not discluding that a grassroots movement could bring change). So in the meantime, we need to teach ourselves and especially our children that what you see in games is not relevant to the real world in most cases. You need to realise and understand that just because you see certain things in a game/ the media, that doesn't mean that those things are acceptable. This leads to the consideration that each person should develop integrity in terms of choosing and standing by a set of principles that are good for themselves but also society and the world as a whole. This also flows into the teaching of children - teach your child to determine acceptable from unacceptable by teaching them to consider and treat others as they would want to be treated if they were in their (the other's) position. This is a principle that is often not fully understood: people often interpret it as putting themselves in another's position, but seeing the situation from their own perspective - there is a big difference between putting yourself in another's shoes, but still as yourself, and putting yourself completely in another's shoes and considering everything that the person has and is going through in their entire lives.

Another aspect of this conflict in the gaming community is that it is another dimension of the internet trolling point where the true nature of peoples' minds comes out. Here you will see what people really think of each other and what they really think about doing to each other. This is a shocking does of reality for many who do not understand the extent of the problem that exists in humanity. The point of violence and disregard for life etc in the gaming industry is another manifestation of this. What needs to be understood is that changing the games alone is not enough to fully address and resolve the problems we are facing - we need to address the very nature of the human mind as this is the source of all of the problems.

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