Videogames, Fuck Off

I’ve been dragging this out for so long now – thinking I could ignore it, thinking I might be overreacting, thinking you might change. But I’m finally fed up. It’s not one specific thing that set me off, it’s just that I’m so tired. I’m tired of trying to convince people that they’ve just seen you on a bad day, or in a bad light. I’m tired of arguing that the bad is outweighed by the good. I’m tired of defending you. So that’s it, I’m done. I’m done. Fuck off, videogames. We’re through.

I don’t want to be part of your toxic culture anymore. It’s not worth it. I know there are lots of decent, regular people who play games – I like to think that I’m one of those people, after all – but the good is simply outweighed, outweighed on a grand scale, by the bad.  The culture is just too influenced by the endless stream of hateful and vicious and wilfully cruel people, and by their hateful, vicious, cruel behaviour.

There are good communities out there, and I’m thankful for that. But even then, whenever these communities start talking about important, difficult topics they’re flooded with the hateful people from the outside. People who heard that someone, somewhere was talking about sexism in games – people who can’t abide with that.

I’m tired of how games treat and look at and talk about women.

I’m tired of how, when I count the number of women protagonists in games, I finish counting and I’m still counting on my fingers.

I’m tired of how, when I try to count the number of women in games that are treated as human beings – as individuals and not just tits or damsels or harridans – I barely get much higher.

I’m tired of how even great games, well-written games struggle with basic aspects of their portrayal of women.

I’m tired of how most of the indie scene, supposedly so revolutionary and forward-thinking, is barely any better than the mainstream games industry at this kind of stuff.

I’m tired of marketing cycles that sexualise women over and over and over again. I’m tired of marketing that can’t decide whether it wants you to want to Fuck The Women or Shoot The Women, and that therefore sexualises violence against women.

I’m tired of all the publishers and the developers that are fine with that.

I’m tired of how women game developers, women game journalists, or women who just like games and have something to say about them are so often ignored and berated and treated as nothing more than objects to be used for sex, violence and unholy unions of the two.

I’m tired of how, when a woman games journalist makes a mistake she’s a stupid cunt.

I’m tired of people who say “That’s the internet. That’s how it is.”

I’m tired of the way women are sometimes treated at games press and community events. Of all the stories of women games journalists getting talked to like they can’t possibly know what they’re doing. Of all the stories of women gamers at fighting game tournaments or LAN events, or whatever, getting insulted and harrassed and sexually fucking assaulted. Of all the women who go to industry expos because they love games, and are then faced with companies whose only significant interaction with women takes the form of hiring booth babes.

I’m tired of the not-insignificant number of people who defend this kind of behaviour, and the huge number of people who just don’t really care either way.

I’m tired of how few women there are working in the games industry.

I’m tired of people responding with “More women should try to join the games industry, then.”

I’m tired of people claiming that the lack of women in the games industry isn’t anything to do with systematic misogyny in the games industry, or the huge institutional barriers in place that stop so many women from getting into tech in the first place – in school, in university, and elsewhere.

I’m tired of people refusing to recognise that these institutional barriers exist, even when there is direct, incontrovertible evidence for their existence.

I’m tired of how, when game-making tools like Twine come along and enable countless new people to make games without overcoming imposing, financially-prohibitive, and often arbitrary barriers, people start frantically trying to tighten our definition of ‘game’ in order to de-legitimise these new creators.

I’m tired of people who claim this debate of “but is it a game?” isn’t about de-legitimising these creators and the things they make. Because while the definition of ‘game’ is of purely academic interest to some, the topic is almost always raised in an attempt to wall off games culture from these new, unfamiliar games, made by new, unfamiliar people.

I’m tired of how the culture treats LGBT+ people. How I could swap out ‘woman’ for ‘gay’, ‘trans’, or ‘queer’ in all the points I’ve made above.

I’m tired of how people use hate speech and then become furious when they’re called out on it – arguing that of course ‘faggot’ isn’t used to refer to gay men any more, and so it shouldn’t be seen as offensive.

I’m tired of how so many groups are sidelined in our culture – a culture that I always thought would be especially accepting and understanding of others, considering how many of us know something about being sidelined and ignored.

I’m tired of all the people in our culture who don’t take a single moment to try to imagine what kind of effects their words and actions may have on other people.

I’m tired of Men’s Rights Activists appearing in their legion every time an article mentions sexism.

I’m tired of how so few prominent games sites talk about any of these issues. And I’m tired of how, when a prominent site actually does write about these issues – sites like Rock Paper Shotgun and the awesome John Walker in particular, they’re met with a of torrent furious responses in the comments section.

I’m tired of how, when these articles about sexism and homophobia are posted they’re also met with a wall of people shouting that they “just want to read about games”, as if these problems aren’t some of the most fundamentally important issues currently facing the medium, the industry, and the culture of games.T

I’m tired of people thinking that, because they’re not A Racist or A Sexist or A Transphobe, they can never have an opinion, or express a statement that is racist or sexist or transphobic.

I’m tired of “sex sells” and “Men want to look at hot women – that’s just nature” and “There’s nothing wrong with an attractive woman.”

I’m tired of “If women want games to be more respectful of them then they should make their own game”, and “Developers and publishers don’t pander to women because women don’t buy games”, and “Having a woman protagonist in our game would be too much of a risk” despite there being no actual evidence that the gender of a game’s protagonist influences sales.

I’m tired of people with the money and the influence to affect what the market will buy claiming that the market simply won’t accept anything other than the status quo.

I’m tired of how so few people know who Emily Short is.

I’m tired of how so few people know who Anna Anthropy is.

I’m tired of how so few people know who Deirdra Kiai, or Porpentine, or Robert Yang, or Patricia Hernandez, or Mattie Brice, or Stephen Lavelle, or Merritt Kopas, or Christine Love are.

I’m tired of how, whenever a woman talks about these kinds of things they’re called a jealous, fat bitch, or a feminazi, or just a stupid cunt.

I’m tired of how, whenever a man talks about these kinds of things they’re called a white knight, rather than just, y’know, a regular fucking human being getting angry because of all the bullshit they see.

I’m tired of so many things that I’d be here for hours if I didn’t force myself to stop.

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