Now I can already tell from the title alone that people are simply going to rush straight to the comments and bitch. For those people, learn to bleeding read before you do that, seriously. Jeez. How do you function in the real world with impulse control that poor. How do you have time to comment on things on the internet when you should by all rights be lying half dead on your bathroom floor with a gullet full of shiny things you just had to touch.
For everyone else who is reading, this article is going to be talking about why the very argument surrounding misogyny in video games is biting everyone in the ass, regardless of whether or not you personally give a shit about it. First things first, some facts.
Last year, one Anita Sarkeesian started a fundraiser for a web series in which she wanted to discuss the tropes revolving around women in video games. A number of people on the internet took huge offence to this and started a systematic, misogynistic harassment campaign against her. Those are facts, those things happened and were reported in major news outlets the world over, I am not trying to start a dialogue on the topic she wished to discuss because enough people have done that already. Not to mention arguing with the same people who are angry about misogyny in video games, both men and women, exposes you to so much venom and anger I’d be safer simply punching a bag of snakes.
No, what I want to discuss is the fact that it’s stories just like those that ruin it for the rest of us. If you don’t give a shit about misogyny in video games, you should sure as hell give a shit about how that reflects on you as a gamer. Gaming is a huge hobby, but it being so huge means that stories with headlines like “Awful Things Happen When You Try to Make a Video About Video Game Stereotypes” or “Internet Trolls Up Their Harassment Game With ‘Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian‘” reflect badly on that entire culture, because the average non-gamer, doesn’t realise that video games are a hugely expansive topic covering multiple genres. Like it or not, there are still people out there who automatically assume that “gamer” means a guy who sits in his room all day playing video games, only taking time out to masterbate to anime. When they see those headlines and the word gamer, they don’t see a massive culture with dozens of smaller sub-cultures nestled within it. They see a writhing faceless mass of hostility, because those are the stories that make it into the news.
It’s unfair as all hell, but the media at large (I’m talking newspapers and television here), can’t possibly explore the finer intricacies of a topic as massive a gaming. So when it’s featured in such news outlets it’s invariably poorly researched. Just take any recent public shootings and note how in the few days following such a tragedy video games are invariably blamed. Now we as gamers know that this isn’t true, which is why such claims are immediately countered and exposed as being more full of hot air than Satan’s colon after an Indian. But have you ever stopped to think why if every gamer knows that these stories are bullshit, and that they’re going to be contested by scientists and experts the second someone suggests them, why do they keep coming up.
It’s because although gaming is a massive hobby, there are still a whole bunch of people who simply don’t understand it.
Which brings me to my point, it doesn’t matter whether or not misogyny in gaming exists or not, the fact remains that it’s been reported as such, and not everyone reading those headlines is smart enough, or knowledgable enough about the topic at hand to know that it’s an incredibly small minority of gamers, being unthinkable assholes to women. Hell most people online don’t even read the rest of the story, the headlines are the only thing they have to go on in half of the cases I’ve personally seen. For example, when I asked people about how they felt, knowing that the people sending abuse to Anita would invariably be lumped in with gamers as a whole, half of the answers I got talked about sexism in games or Anita herself. People read that one word and just had to comment. They completely ignored the rest of my post in which I asked people a completely different question. One of the few people to give me a straight answer was actually one of the other writers for this site.
And he raised an excellent point, how many of the people reading this would be willing to be perfectly honest about the gaming habits to someone who wasn’t familiar with gaming? Would you be willing to say how much you love Ni no Kuni to a girl you just met at Sainsburys, would you be willing to say that you spend 5 hours every friday shooting people in the face in Call of Duty in a job interview, if they asked how you like to unwind? Would you feel comfortable answering the question “what did you do last night?” entirely honestly if the answer was that you played Manhunt or some other game that has been demonized by the media and the other person wasn’t a gamer?
The answer to the question above is invariably ‘no, I wouldn’t. However if the same question was posed about music or films, most of the people I’ve met have no problem dropping the names of obscure or violent media, because the connotations about those mediums are so different to those of video games, and we should be angry about that. Lack of knowledge about the subject combined, with news stories that demonize games have made just admitting that you’re a gamer something people feel wary about and that’s not cool. I can guarantee that everyone reading this has at some point felt a little wary of revealing the true extent of their gaming habits and that sucks.
We as gamers need to face facts, the stereotypes surrounding people who enjoy films, books or music are vastly different from those about the kind of people who enjoy video games. We shouldn’t be angry about people assuming that all gamers are lonely virgins with no social skills. We should be angry that some people in our community are allowing that stereotype to be perpetuated by being huge dicks online thus making it easy for the news to paint us all as dicks when they publish stories about them being dicks. Because that’s what’s going to happen whether we like it or not because the public at large only absorbs the news on a very superficial level. It’s called the inverted pyramid of news, basically, all the imporant stuff in a news story is at the top. However, people know this, which is why it’s becoming increasingly common for people to only skim the headlines of news stories. So when people see a headline like “Not A Game: Fighting Misogyny In The World Of Video Games” they’ll assume the title refers to all video games unless they actually bother to click through and read the damn thing and if they have no interest in video games, why would they?
Not every gamer is a total dick to women online, the same way not all radical muslims are terrorists and not all pro-gun advocates are jabbering mental patients threatening to shoot Obama. But they’re the only people the news is going to show, because those are the stories that sell papers and get page-views. Those unfamiliar with gaming are only going to see all the bad stuff because only the bad stuff is worth reporting to people who couldn’t care less about gaming. The only thing that’s going to change their mind is us, gamers, doing something rad as shit about it.
We don’t have to discuss misogyny in video games, enough people are already doing that, we just have to do our bit to prove to the world that most gamers are fucking rad. If you’d like to do that, and be in with a chance win 50 dollars (35 pounds). Check out my plan to fix the entire world over on my own site.
When he isn’t being part of the Femnazi conspiracy. Karl likes to Tweet.