The Gamergate and Women in Gaming

Admittedly, I’m not part of the community where this is an actual controversy, as I don’t really play video games that much, and I haven’t really read up on the situation, but that hasn’t stopped me from expressing my opinions before.

I might be ignorant about the details, but I know the general outlines of what happened and is happening. Some asshole dated a woman working in gaming industry as a designer. After that woman dumped him, he went to 4chan for a slutshaming campaign… which worked much better than expected, basically ruining the life of the woman. Her personal information was seminated through the web, her father received harassing calls, compromising photos of her were sent to her colleagues, and so forth.

This was in August, but it hasn’t stopped yet. For about last two months, women have been raising the issue of misogyny in the industry, while there has been a backlash from a fringe group of idiots, who are basically proving that point by acting out against these women through all sorts of shit, including death threats, which is what happened recently in Texas, when one of these women was supposed to give a speech on the subject on campus of some university.

Being male and not from the US, where all this is happening, this doesn’t involve me that much, but do have a dog in this fight. I don’t really identify as a gamer, since that seems to involve video games in a much bigger part than my life. I do strongly identify as a nerd, and games are definitely part of that to me. Now, gamers and nerds are easily mixed, or gamers can be seen as a subsection of nerds. This isn’t so, but for our purposes, that’s close enough.

Since for a long time gaming was something only practised by men, this has become part of the identity of a gamer for many people. The thing is, its superficial. This isn’t the gay subculture. There is no need to be of a certain sex to participate.

These days, according to various sources, there are as many or more female games as there are males. They just tend stay out of the community as a whole, because of the attitudes brought to the open by this controversy. They don’t even have to lie about their sex, because they generally stay home and are assumed to be males if they play games on the net and aren’t forced to use their voice in the games they play. The ones who are open about their sex often report misogynistic behavior, including things like pressure to, you know, Tits of GTFO.

To me this male behavior is quite counterintuitive. During my days at the university, where I studied software engineering, women were scarce and there was a certain male emphasis in the culture. That didn’t make us hate women. Quite the opposite. I had a certain amount of respect for those women just for overcoming the barrier and having the courage to join the community.

I did see the misogynistic side first hand in the army. The few women in the Finnish army back in those days (and it was the early days of them being able to serve, but if I would have to make a fairly educated guess, the numbers have actually dwindled since than) often went through officer training and did well by the army standards, but there were a lot of rumours about their sexual behavior, especially regarding why they were chosen for the leadership positions.

The people in the army were somewhat younger than those in the university, so perhaps its a maturity question. Or perhaps the general level of intelligence is higher in higher education (hopefully).

In any case, this attitude among males takes away opportunities from women. That’s not good. Gaming is a great hobby (and I’m not talking about videogaming alone, I’m talking about gaming more generally) that has all sorts of benefits to the person (although there are risks involved as well). We shouldn’t take that away from anyone. Especially not because the person happens to have different genitalia from our own.

While society as a whole is moving towards more openness and equality (despite setbacks based on economic issues and war), we shouldn’t be that backwards. Gaming should be about forward-thinking. You need to be able to foresee what is going to happen. You can’t just react. Why can’t gamers learn to look forward? Is a world where women hate you something you really want? Do you really want to alienate not only all the women, but also all the men who would rather have the women than the games?

I guess that’s one way to form the illusion that you are one of the chosen few, one of the elite. Good luck with that.

What pisses me off the most, personally (but isn’t that important), is that I like to think that we can be better than this. I can sneer at religions, political parties, Americans and whatnot, because I can generalize the weird, shitty things their fringes do and laugh at them. Now the fringe of the gamer community is acting out in the same way and if I’m intellectually honest, I must use the same rules for us as well. Therefore, apparently, we are no better than a bunch of fundamentalist assholes.

Gladly, as I said, I’m really not a gamer. I can choose to identify myself as a nerd (and demarcate that group the way I want).

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