Why men - and everyone - should speak out about misogyny in gaming


101 Responses to “Why men - and everyone - should speak out about misogyny in gaming”

  1. anon0mouse says:

    “Abuse is the natural response of anyone wishing to perpetuate a privilege that by its nature demeans or diminishes others.”

    That, my friend, is unfortunately a symptom of the human condition. All the world’s problems are fundamentally about control.  It is why misogyny exists, it is why children die in poverty. I don’t believe there is any real solution because people crave control. There is so much insecurity over it that people believe to give control to someone else is to take it away from themselves.  I believe that frightens them.

    That does not mean it shouldn’t be fought and rejected. It should.  However, history has taught that influence over people is rarely won by morality, because that has always been sold to the highest bidder. Humanity is so easily influenced, even against its own best interests.  I wish I could say I was an exception.

    All I can say is that however hopeless, it is still worthwhile to keep tilting against those windmills because at least each individual can hopefully make the things they touch in the small circles they travel a little better.

    • mindysan33 says:

      If that is what history has taught you, read better histories…  It really isn’t a triumphal march of those in power over everyone else, at least if you know where to look. Resistance lives in the cracks at all times and constantly has to be papered over and shoved aside to create the narrative of power and dominance that you allude to. At least it’s what reading history and doing history has taught me.

      Also, watch the passive voice. History, as Marx reminded us is made by people, even if not always in the condition they’d most like, but it is made by people… terrible, beautiful, contradictory people. History doesn’t happen without us.

      • anon0mouse says:

        Yet this is the world we live in…and have lived in for millennia. The endless cycle of revolution has accomplished nothing. Marx didn’t have all that much figured out.  I can only see through my eyes and this is what I see. Again, I’m not saying don’t fight, just don’t be surprised at the result because we point our fingers at the injustice around us but fail to take hard looks at the little ways we contribute to them in our daily lives. So often we are cattle and don’t even realize it.

        • fakefighter says:

          I have a very hard time believing you know how every society in this planet has operated for the past millennia. Marx is one white dude who, like many white dudes before him, aimed to describe the whole of the universe based on his own gut feelings. It isn’t at all unexpected or surprising that he didn’t figure anything out.

    • SoItBegins says:

      Also, occasionally some of the windmills fall over.

  2. Gus says:

    I really don’t get this.  I’m only 30 something, but everyone I knew would be DYING to get a girlfriend that would play with them.  Offending or demeaning girls that play is so… childish?  Dumb? Counterproductive?

    Though I can kinda understand white knighting and other bland (but maybe misguided) sexism.

    • SedanChair says:

      Offending or demeaning girls that play is so… childish?  Dumb? Counterproductive?

      Do you, like, know any men

    • Aloisius says:

      There is a long list of reasons why people behave badly towards a group of other people. All the reasons why some people hate /mistrust/resent Jews could be said about why some men hate/mistrust/resent women.

      I myself had a rough time separating feminism with radical second-wave feminism (growing up, all I knew was there were a group of women called feminists who hated me because I was a boy). That led to a general fear of lesbians and frankly, any woman with short hair and a brief period in my life when I might have sympathized with the plight of the young male gamer.  Luckily, I met and befriended enough third-wave feminists over the years to undo a lot of the damage and empathize with their struggles.

      Most of these people have not.

      • chgoliz says:

        “(growing up, all I knew was there were a group of women called feminists who hated me because I was a boy)”

        Who told you that? Because it was a lie. A lie told to you to teach you to distrust women and equal rights for all. You were a child, and you fell for it. But you must know better now.

        Are there individuals who for some reason “hate boys”? Yes, somewhere, there are some individuals. There’s never been a dominant group in the US focused on hating boys. Hating on girls? That’s an entirely different story, which unfortunately is ongoing.

        To argue that most men have never met a feminist and thus cannot have empathy towards women….well, I don’t know what to say about that, except that you have a steep educational path ahead of you.

        • golvio says:

          There’s also the fact there are plenty of men out there who are feminists without even realizing it. If you believe that women and men should have equal social, economic, and political rights, then guess what? You’re a feminist!

          All too often the discourse around feminism is more about what people unfamiliar with feminism believe it to be based on hearsay, rather than people who actually put in a basic amount of research. And unfortunately those who know the least tend to be the most opinionated, and their opinions spread like wildfire across others who are uninformed until they are treated as absolute fact.

          • ffabian says:

            “You’re a feminist!” 

            …and that shows what’s wrong with feminism.

            I believe every human being should have equal rights. I’m not a feminist – I’m a “humanist” (or “equalist” ;-) ).

          • fakefighter says:

            Does everybody who says that genuinely believe they’re the first person saying it? That you’re seriously blowing the minds of feminists?

            Why is there a gay rights movement? Why not an “everyone rights” movement? Why feminism and not equalism? And why does the civil rights movement concern itself mostly with people of colour? Because those groups are oppressed in our society, and saying that “everything bad that happens is wrong” does nothing if you don’t address the specific issues that cause each of those bad things.



          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            In other words, you’re living in a cocoon of privilege and can afford to pretend that everyone is treated equally.

          • ffabian says:

            Interesting. Who would’ve thought that there are feminist blogs covering this topic. 
            … and no I don’t consider myself a special snowflake with genuine insight into the feminist psyche or genius level ideas concerning the human condition.

            I never said or pretended that, quite the opposite: “should have”.

          • class_enemy says:


            Do you have a keyboard macro?  One that for every keypress of Ctl-CP generates “cocoon of privilege”??

          • wysinwyg says:

             You’re responding to this:

            All too often the discourse around feminism is more about what people
            unfamiliar with feminism believe it to be based on hearsay, rather than
            people who actually put in a basic amount of research. And unfortunately
            those who know the least tend to be the most opinionated, and their
            opinions spread like wildfire across others who are uninformed until
            they are treated as absolute fact.

            If you try rereading it very carefully you might see that it’s actually referring to you.

          • Girard says:

            You seem to be operating under two fundamental misunderstandings about how language works:

            1.) Language is not a mathematical system, nor a collection of Lego blocks. Words aren’t simply logically assembled by connecting appropriate prefixes and suffixes in a vacuum. Words are given their meaning by context and history, and the reason the word ‘feminism’ means equal rights for all genders is dictated by the historically poor situation of women in society and the historic movements to achieve sexual equality largely has necessitated a focus on improving the lot of women.
            2.) You, no matter how solipsistic and narcissistic you are, don’t get to reassign the definitions of words according to your own caprice. The word “feminist” means “person who believes in equal rights and dignity of all genders.” Deal with it. If you say you’re not a feminist, then you are saying you do not believe in equal rights and dignity of all genders, because that is what that word means – and incidentally, that means you are also saying you are not a humanist, as feminism is a necessary component of humanism, unless you believe women aren’t human.

          • ffabian says:

            “The word “feminist” means “person who believes in equal rights and dignity of all genders.” 

            No, that’s precisely not the generally accepted definition of feminism – and thats exactly the reason why I posted my comment and why your argument fails. Deal with it.

        • LogrusZed says:

           I believe that feminist stereotype is mostly spouted by douchebag propagandists these days, however there did exists a very vocal element of feminism (or women referring to themselves as feminists) who were patently anti-male, even anti male-child when I was a little kid.

          It’s not even unexpected for something like this to happen when an oppressed group gets the first bit of freedom or an alleviation of oppression some members of that group are going to exercise vitriol and anger and the oppressors will, and always have, used that subgroup as exemplars of why said oppression should be bolstered. Particularly when their struggle becomes a movement and they feel like they have allies who must feel the way they do since they have borne the weight of the same yoke.

          Just as there were anti-white blacks made visible during the middle of the civil rights movement there were anti-male women who were given undue notice during the women’s rights movement. There are plenty of folks out there who will espouse anti-wealth rhetoric at the drop of a hat (I’m sometimes one of them, but in my case I’m absolutely right).

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            You mean that there were some people comparable to Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter who made the talk show circuit by espousing the views that would get them the most publicity. And the mass media promoted them as the face of feminism.

          • LogrusZed says:

            The difference is in proportion. I’ve yet to see much to dissuade me that Coulter and Limbaugh and their ilk don’t speak to the heart of, if not the majority, a great percentage of the modern right wing.

          • class_enemy says:

            Actually, there was a long list of ways in which women were seriously oppressed.  There are still some now, not quite as many as 50 years ago.

            But “being depicted unflatteringly in video games” is, maybe, around 8,643rd on that list?

          • wysinwyg says:

             It’s not “depicted unflatteringly in video games”.  Where do you even get that?

            There is an issue with women being objectified in video games just as women are objectified in pretty much every variety of media.  That’s not a special “video games” issue, that’s one of the general means of perpetuating the idea that women exist for the amusement and titillation of the menfolk.

            And then there’s the fact that a lot of gamers hurl misogynistic abuse at female gamers, say on XBox live.

            Both are worth working against.  If you strongly disagree with that then you’re just another obstacle as far as I’m concerned.

          • llazy8 says:

            Quick! What are numbers 1-99 on your list of ways in which women are seriously oppressed?  

        • Aloisius says:

          Who told you that? Because it was a lie. A lie told to you to teach you
          to distrust women and equal rights for all. You were a child, and you
          fell for it. But you must know better now.

          I’m not sure anyone explicitly told me. I grew up in the Bay Area during the 80s. I remember at a very young age watching young women protesting their oppression at the hands of the patriarchy in Berkeley on the local news and thinking to myself that these women really disliked me. I remember also being distinctly aware of women who disliked men so much they lived in separatist communities.

          Now of course I realize that they were the last gasping breath of radical feminism, but at the time, I was sure that they represented the majority.

          • timquinn says:

            Or it might be that your childhood observations were just plain wrong and do not in fact fit some grand narrative about how your generation “fixed” all that radicalism of the past.

          • Aloisius says:

            Entirely possible, even probable considering I was after all, very young.

            Doesn’t really change the outcome though.

          • So glad to see that someone ‘splained this to Aloisius.

          • chgoliz says:

             “I remember at a very young age watching young women protesting their
            oppression at the hands of the patriarchy in Berkeley on the local news
            and thinking to myself that these women really disliked me.”

            You are the patriarchy?

            Wow, you’re really important and powerful.

          • Aloisius says:

            You are the patriarchy?

            Uh. I was like 6, feminism was fractured. Second wave feminism was dying, third wave wouldn’t start until the next decade so there was basically no one out there to correct my world view. I’m so sorry that I hadn’t considered my place in the world yet or fully recover from the misinformation given to me until my early twenties.

          • blueelm says:

            “I remember at a very young age watching young women protesting their oppression at the hands of the patriarchy in Berkeley on the local news and thinking to myself that these women really disliked me.”
            This kind of narcissistic thinking is normal in children. I hope it stayed in childhood. In reality, they didn’t know you or think about you… ever.

          • Aloisius says:

            I am sooo glad that the feminists now comply with your needs. How you
            feel is truly the measure of the equality of women, of course.

            It must be exhausting to feel so superior to everyone. Especially those who have outright admitted their faults and struggled to overcome them.

          • blueelm says:

            Poor you. No, honestly, you’re not important enough to influence how I feel.

          • Aloisius says:

            Poor you. No, honestly, you’re not important enough to influence how I feel.

            Oh good. I was worried for a second that you might have a conscience.

          • blueelm says:

            You know, at this point I think it would actually benefit this conversation to try to explain what is so skewed about this and why I reacted the way I did.

            In your original post it really comes across like you are implying that any women within feminism who had a fear or anger toward men are wrong. Very wrong. As if we have to say “no, I promise no one is EVER angry at men no matter what happens to them, how much it hurts, or how close to dying they get.”

            Yet you are justifying carrying a fear and anger based just on becoming *aware* that some women were angry about how they had been treated, and demanding sympathy for *that* at the same time.

            Do you not see how twisted this is? If you meant to show how you had grown, you missed the part where you talk about *growing* and it’s kind of hard to read your mind when I don’t know you and all I can see is what you write.

            Maybe you have changed, but comments like “last gasp” don’t really convey that. At all.

            I feel like I’m being particularly harsh, I’m just not in a mood to be all “oh, any women who are angry at men for any reason at any time no matter what has happened to them are wrong and bad and not feminists because feminism is only about happy ponies and flowers and shit.” To be honest, almost anyone who has been abused or suffered injustice feels anger and resentment towards people who hurt them. Moving past the pain and fear of very real and intimate trauma is complicated process. The first time you realize that your chances are slim, it hurts (and that’s the shallow end of it).
            It’s a slow and a personal process, that doesn’t invalidate the mechanisms of society that lead certain populations to have certain kinds of abuse heaped on them.

            Yes, I push back hard on these things. It’s not personal, it’s that I have a sincere dog in the fight.

          • blueelm says:

            I have a conscience. It just doesn’t revolve around you. That seems to really bother you.

          • Aloisius says:

            In your original post it really comes across like you are implying that
            any women within feminism who had a fear or anger toward men are wrong.
            Very wrong. As if we have to say “no, I promise no one is EVER angry at
            men no matter what happens to them, how much it hurts, or how close to
            dying they get.”

            I simply don’t agree that you can it is ok to generalize people based on a set of chromosomes or genes. I have trouble even understanding how anyone can bend their minds around grouping the most jockish straight male and the most feminine queer male into the same group. Never mind the asexuals and pansexuals.

            So no, in that respect I have not grown. I doubt I will ever agree with radical feminism. I understand what could drive someone to it, but I can’t agree with it.

            That said, I clearly confused two different ideas in my original post. One was related to how I felt about a situation that at the time I couldn’t understand and even now might be based on faulty memory. The second was my feelings towards a group which I associated with my experience that I today disagree with.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            I simply don’t agree that you can it is ok to generalize people based on a set of chromosomes or genes.

            What do genes have to do with it? Men and women are socialized very differently in a (largely successful) attempt to get them to behave very differently. The argument that feminists hate men for their very DNA is a straw man. It’s the behaviors and the training that produces them that are the problem.

      • Tynam says:

        I can’t buy that.  It is at least possible for a man not to meet or interact with (racial or cultural subgroup).

        It is not remotely conceivable for a man to never meet or interact with women.  The lack of empathy is caused by being taught, directly, that women are less important.

      • Girard says:

        There must be a fuck-ton of shitty teachers out there, considering how many grown men I’ve encountered were never taught the simple definition of a simple term like feminism.

        I think in fourth grade we had a Health unit of prejudice, where we learned terms for different kinds of prejudice (‘racism,’ ‘sexism,’ ‘ageism,’ etc.) and my teacher – who being a man and a creationist was hardly a progressive firebrand – gave us the cut-and-dry, textbook definition of feminism: “Believing that men and women should have equal rights and be treated equally.”

        The idea that feminism is in any way controversial is totally baffling to me. Someone saying they are “not a feminist” should elicit as much derisive laughter as someone saying that slavery was a good idea or something. How can there be so many idiots in this country that actually believe “feminism” means “castrating man-hating fascist radicalism”? How can so many grown-ass men have a sub-elementary school level understanding of the term?

  3. golvio says:

    I’ve seen the worst of the other side of this argument, and let me tell you, the victim complex that some of those men have is absolutely astounding. They are convinced that feminists want to ban every single game that has a slightly naked woman in it no matter how niche, despite the fact that there will always be a market for beach volleyball breast-movement simulators, and so they batten down the hatches and get extremely defensive whenever someone even mentions the word “feminism.” They claim that video games are inherently made for men, so women shouldn’t complain, and any request to tone down cheesecake in mainstream, non-niche games and gaming culture is an infringement upon their First Amendment rights and crushes male sexuality. When confronted with the fact that more and more women are playing video games, they insist that the women who complain about the sexism they see in gaming communities or point out problematic elements in games don’t actually play video games. Instead, they say that these women just want to ruin video games for men because it takes attention away from them. Y’know, like they did with sports. It kind of makes you wonder what kind of relationships they had with women that made them think that way.

    • str1cken says:

      Oh, man, so close. And then in the last sentence you blame women.

      It’s got nothing to do with the relationships they’ve had with women in the past. It’s got everything to do with deep-seated misogyny and terror that a world of gaming by men for men is being challenged and might actually change.

      • golvio says:

        You’re right. It’s just that the way they talk makes me wonder if any of those guys ever really had any meaningful interactions with women outside of a “picking up chicks” context. That victim complex had to come from somewhere, and they usually blame some woman in their lives like their teachers or classmates, claiming that women somehow have it easier and there’s some kind of mass persecution of men and maleness going on, despite there being very little actual evidence that anything of the sort is going on. And when I or someone else with experience of being a girl tries to explain that being a girl is just as hard for different reasons, they close their ears and start “La-la-la”-ing.

        Having more women in gaming culture would at least change the minds of those more willing to interact in a friendlier manner, while the troglodytes scurry back into their caves.

        • str1cken says:

          I am reminded of the urbandictionary (LOL WHAT A SOURCE) definition for “misandry”:

          The slightest deviation from male and white centeredness is perceived as a profound loss of privilege. This is why with each tiny step that women and minorities take toward equality, the outcry of white and male supremacists about how “oppressed” white men are has been getting louder.

          • golvio says:

            The saddest part is, most of the things these guys claim are evidence of male persecution are in fact results of the very system they desperately defend. I hear so many of those people talk about how hard it is for guys to date because they’re expected to make the first move while the woman passively sits there, but they just can’t see that these expectations are the result of old-timey gender roles that haven’t quite phased out of cultural consciousness. Instead, they just go on and on about how ungrateful women are and how they expect men to do everything for them and yadda yadda yadda.

          • mccrum says:

            You should stop hanging out with those guys, they don’t sound like any fun.  :)

          • “I hear so many of those people talk about how hard it is for guys to date because they’re expected to make the first move while the woman passively sits there”

            TBH, there are women who still do that.  Please stop that.

            As a shy, awkward guy, I would probably have gone out on a lot more dates as a teenager if women would have felt more comfortable about it.  I knew a few who would flirt, but I was never quite sure, never quite confident enough to just cockily strut up and announce my desire to enter into a relationship with this person.

      • Oh, man, so close.  And then you decided there was only one interpretation of the last sentence: misogyny.

        • str1cken says:

          Blaming victims for discrimination against them is shitty and misses the point, which OP acknowledged.

          I was referring to the frantic, frothing opposition to and attempts at silencing feminist readings of game culture as misogynistic. Which if you consider the gendered slurs and threats of violence in the service of that end, clearly, they are.

  4. Marc45 says:

    My GF plays more video games than I do.  It’s kind of a non-issue if you ask me.  The demographics of gamers has changed a lot in the past decade and will continue to change.  Also, I’ve found the girl gamers in RP games are just as crude as the guys but it probably depends on the game.

    Like the previous poster mentions, it’s all about control.  The less control people feel they have over their own lives, the more they will try and exert control over those who will accept being submissive(even if they have no choice).

    When people are empowered to achieve their own success, despite the misogyny of the conservatives or the feigned concern of the liberals, then the world is a much happier place.

    • Scott Elyard says:

      The behavior of some gamers I’ve seen almost certainly makes it an issue, though.

    • Lauren Seals says:

      Quoting from the article:
      “The amount to which you think it doesn’t exist is directly proportional to the amount to which you do not care that it exists. If you don’t care that it exists, I hope you are willing to be open-minded enough to try to empathise with others that do – at least give that a go.”

      And I’m sure your anecdotal evidence from a one-person sample will be really convincing against the barrage of hard evidence cited in this post and elsewhere.

      And please don’t ever suggest that women should just try harder and get over it again. 

    • str1cken says:

      Why feigned concern? What evidence do you have that people critiquing the representation of women in gaming are insincere? What possible motive do “liberals” have to challenge women’s representation in gaming besides making gaming more inclusive and less actively hostile to women?

      • golvio says:

        Because everyone knows that sexism and racism were eradicated from the face of the earth forever in the 60s’, and institutional prejudice no longer exists, you silly billy! If women who game are having a hard time being accepted as equal members of the community, then they just aren’t trying hard enough. Merely suggesting that the opposite may be true or looking at culture with a critical eye will prevent people from working hard or something.

        Also, the whole “feigned concern” argument could be tied into the “white knighting” argument that was mentioned in the article, and which I’ve heard ad nauseam on gaming forums.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      When people are empowered to achieve their own success, despite the misogyny of the conservatives or the feigned concern of the liberals, then the world is a much happier place.

      It almost appears that you’re suggesting that the victims of bullying need to toughen up while the bullies can just continue their abuse. That would be a despicable philosophy.

      • blueelm says:

        I think if you were “empowered to achieve” your own success you would see that this is really *your* problem :)

      • Marc45 says:

        No, what I’m suggesting is that the bullies are the ones who feel powerless and thus take out their frustrations on those around them.  This is a result of our society which is seeing an increasing amount of frustration in all but the upper echelon.
        Reduce that level of frustration and you’ll probably see less bullying.
        I’m not apologizing for the bullies, but recognizing that they are people too.  Vilifying the bullies and feeling sorry for the victims doesn’t necessarily fix the problem.  Recognizing that the issue runs much deeper is a start.

  5. str1cken says:

    Why feigned concern? What evidence do you have that people critiquing the representation of women in gaming are insincere? What possible motive do “liberals” have to challenge women’s representation in gaming besides making gaming more inclusive and less actively hostile to women?

  6. I teach History of Games at college level and the discussion of gender in games is a required part of my class. We start with a lengthy look at the ways discrimination happens, and what mysogyny is, Then they write a response that includes researched statistics., and we discuss their findings.

    My male students are usually surprised when the female students speak openly about being bullied, about the ridiculous portrayal of the female body in games, and the abysmal industry stats on women employed in the game industry. My female students are often surprised that the topic is important enough to devote almost an entire class to the issues surrounding it.

    It is easy for men to make excuses for unequal treatment. One of my students told me about a friend of his who plays cross-gender specifically to seek out “presents” and preferential treatment by other presumably male players. But I honestly hear more stories from young women that play with male avatars to avoid the bullying they experience playing same-gender.

    Openly and honestly facing the problems endemic in games around gender will improve games – and leveling the playing field should be something that everyone cares about.

    • mindysan33 says:

       This sounds like a great class. Bravo!

    • Dlo Burns says:

      When you talk about  the ridiculous portrayal of the female body, do you show examples of the ‘both ass and breasts face the camera’ pose? I think it’s more common in comic books but jeez it’s horrible.

    • Graceless says:

      Yep, the most cunning scammers use voice-changing software and forger exif data on pictures of scantily clad girls to pass themselves off as a sexually willing girl. They get heaps of free stuff, often without asking. I always laughed at the guys who fell for it but in hindsight, the setup resembles a prostitution ring. Girls are being targeted for their sexuality in online games, right now. Which means all the gender issues surrounding prostitution are evident in MMOs of all things.

      I’m glad this article was posted, I’m starting to see a lot of things in the gaming community with sharper eyes.

  7. timquinn says:

    You know your liberation is almost complete when they start jailing the losers for having backward personalities. Triumph!

    • golvio says:

      Who said anything about sending anyone to jail? All we’re asking for is for a more civil environment in which to discuss our mutual love for video games.

      • timquinn says:

        ‘s hyperbole, you know. . . 

        If you want a civil discussion you may need to find a new place to hang out. You can’t expect everyone to be a grown up, especially a self selected group of perpetual adolescents who are already hiding in their room and posting under aliases.

        • Oh_Hi_Mark__ says:

          Right, the “that’s just the way it is so don’t try to change it” argument. Not included in the linked article, but very common.

          Let’s try an analogy: tell a black aspiring college student in the 60s that the racism they’re going to face is just the way things are, and they might want to find a new place to hang out.

        • Brainspore says:

          If you want a civil discussion you may need to find a new place to hang out.

          And what’s wrong with trying to create a place within the gaming world where civil discussion is the norm?

  8. “You think women need you to stand up for them.”

    Sadly, I’ve gotten a variation on this one too many times:

    “You think we need you to stand up for us?”

    Well, considering how the guys were ignoring you…yeah, I kinda did, and I didn’t realize it was sexist to stand up for what’s right…

    • blueelm says:

      Well, actually, I think I *do* need men to stand up for me. Why? Because until men do then it is only a woman problem and most men who aren’t rabid misogynists get to sigh “phew I don’t have to worry about that then” and move on. After all, it’s *not* anything they have to worry about directly. And the rabid misogynists think “Yay! All these other guys need me to speak for them!!! I’m important and everyone appreciates me bashing women!!!”

      But when men stand up against that behavior it means it’s everyone’s problems then. The misogynists will get pissed “poo-nuts, who dares not love me!” But really, do you want to be tacitly approving through silence? Really? Just to have one less thing to care about?

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      There’s a difference between solidarity and trying to wrest control of the steering wheel, which is not always apparent to some people.

  9. abstract_reg says:

    “You’re just trying to get laid.” No, but if I my standing up for half of humanity leads me to romantic relations with some of them, bonus!
    I’m tired of the idea that feminism is a zero-sum game. That men must loose out to allow women to make gains. Certainly there may be places where this is true, but I’m thinking that having a feminist world view actually benefits men (as well as women) in the long run. Part of that is that men who learn to treat women with respect will probably have more satisfying relationships with women (Platonic or otherwise). Men who learn to work with women are going to be more productive than the misogynists. And yes, men who learn to articulate their sexuality in ways that don’t repulse women are more likely to “get laid” in ways that are actually satisfying.

  10. Ladyfingers says:

    The first thing that springs to mind when reading this sort of thing is that online gaming has turned gaming from a cerebral refuge into a horrible, machismo-infected playground of the id with nothing but the ineffectual threat of a ban to discourage bullying and bigotry.

    Environment aside, the problem seems to be that despite the vast success and growth of gaming as a medium, it’s still considered to be “for kids” or “for losers” and so game criticism is consigned to the back alley of journalism. The only time the “problems” of gaming reach a wide audience is when the content of an age-restricted title is deemed to be a threat to the children of negligent parents. You can see this in the just-overturned ban on R18+ classified titles in Australia, as though adults don’t play at all.

    If the mainstream press finally takes gaming as seriously as it takes sport and movies, then it will be forced to grow up. Note how the meteoric rise of the superhero movie to popular genre has effectively forced the comics industry to tone down the stupid depictions of female characters by means of limelight.

  11. RagnarDanneskjold says:

    The gaming industry should really think about stamping out misandry. The problem is man-hating women who see gaming as “too male” because they are man haters. Stop the hate.

    • echolocate chocolate says:

      Hahaha, yeah, that IS the kind of thing you read in the comments on gaming sites. Good one. Those guys are amazingly ignorant, huh?

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        You could have left it. I assumed that he wasn’t joking since he was a single serving commenter.

  12. stiv says:

    I am so happy that these issues seem to be getting some attention. It really seems that there’s some sort of critical mass scenario on the horizon.

  13. timmaguire says:

    “I’m angry about something – constructively angry about something a person should be angry about – and I want to see positive change”

    That’s an awfully arrogant statement. Especially given it’s used in furtherance of the argument that developers shouldn’t make the games they want, they should make the games you want. How about YOU make the games you want?

    • John Walker says:

      Hi there.

      I absolutely do not argue any such thing.

      Hope that helps.


    • wysinwyg says:

      Developers are, of course, free to follow their artistic visions and make whatever games they want to make.

      Unless, of course, they work for one of the companies that makes A-list games.  Such games are huge and require a lot of work from a lot of people.  They are collaborative efforts and as such the “artistic vision” is necessarily a compromise between the opinions, interests and ideas of a lot of different people.  These “different people” include customers because, believe it or not, these companies spending hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars to produce games want to sell them and make some of their money back.

      So it’s not really arrogant at all to suggest that A-list game companies should try to be more sympathetic and realistic in their portrayal of women.  Two reasons:
      1) Women gamers are a significant and growing market.
      2) It’s the morally right thing to do.

      It’s not arrogant to want to see your culture improve for the better.  In my opinion it’s actually required to qualify as a decent human being. Asserting that everyone should STFU and be content with the way it is now — that’s fucking arrogant.

    • golvio says:

      Your argument isn’t really that unique; there’s always one person in a feminism/videogames discussion who says, “Well if you don’t like it then make your OWN game.” Except the people who are commenting on it aren’t always programmers or have a team of developers chomping at the bit to take you up on your challenge. And even if they did make their own game, it’s not like you would even buy it, so what’s the point?

      Furthermore, when people make the melodramatic argument that the big mean feminists are forcing developers to make only games that appeal to them, it shows how spectacularly out of touch with reality you are. Mr. Walker is not holding the developers’ children hostage and demanding him to remove all cheesecake from video games or else the kid gets it. It’s just a blog post on a website, and developers can choose to ignore it entirely. Developers are free to make whatever kinds of games they want, just as game critics are also free to point out problems with those games on the internet. Freedom of Speech goes both ways.

  14. Manny says:

    I want games where all different sorts of characters are heroic, helpful, sweet, cranky, dark, violent, etc. Like in real life, only heightened for effect. I can see I’m not the only one, so why do people assume better female characters would hurt sales?

    Look at how this works in the Mass Effect series: Manshep and Femshep have the same action and options. The main male characters have as exaggerated sexy bodies as the females. (Even the squad aliens who aren’t physically attractive have sexy voices.) It works out great for play experience and sales. Why can’t other games do this? It’s not like Mass Effect is an Edsel.

    Does anyone thing that sales of hot games like Battlefield 4 would be hurt by having a female character option? 20% of the hardcore gamers now are grown women and they have a LOT more money to spend on games & rigs than 18-YO males. Mass Effect has shown that men are also interested in playing as a female protagonist anyway.

    Is there any positive constructive reason for game developers to overlook the likely sales benefits of better female characters?

  15. Michael says:


    much like there are “approval markers” for Kosher food and other “signs of quality” we need a “Feminist Approved” label for new games. RPS should get the ball rolling and create a list of criteria that a game needs to meet in order to justify for this quality seal of approval.

    I am sure they can cull a review panel from the staff and commenters here on BoingBoing to evaluate every new game before it goes to market.

    As a third step would then be for RPS and BoingBoing to lobby Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft to actively filter voice chat for unapproved words as well as implement a scheme to prevent games that do not carry the appropriate certificate level to be played on their hardware.

    As a final step we need to make sure that at least 50% of the people playing online are women. To that effect next generation hardware will perform a voiceprint analysis as well as a body shape analysis to make certain of that. If there aren’t enough women in an online game no more men can join.

    • Oh_Hi_Mark__ says:

      Nice straw man. Nobody is suggesting that games or gamers should be censored, just that any attempt to even raise gender issues should not be immediately shouted down by bullshit arguments like this one and the others enumerated in the article.

      • Michael says:

        Not a Strawman. The entire debate is trying to fix symptoms instead of asking WHY this is happening and addressing that.

        If you only care about the end result, then find the most efficient way to “numb the pain” and don’t pretend you’re trying to do something more.

        Nothing that is proposed by RPS, BB et. al. ever tries to actually get to the core of the problem. It’s a whack-a-mole approach, pointing out individual situations that are “unacceptable”, then some SJW swings themselves from tree to tree loudly yelling, frantic action occurs until they’ve moved on to the next “hotspot” and nothing has changed.

        • Oh_Hi_Mark__ says:

          It is a straw man. You’re misrepresenting your opponent’s arguments as suggesting there is a need for censorship, which they are not, in fact, suggesting, and then formulating a reply to that argument.

          • Michael says:

            No you’re missing the point. Nobody is asking what causes this kind of behaviour, only that the behaviour has to stop. Nobody is taking a step back trying to figure out why this behaviour is so common.

            Standing there shouting: “STOP!” is not addressing the root cause. Talking about how it is unacceptable is also not going after the root cause.

            All that is being done is being concerned with aesthetics  The idea that if you don’t hear it (a lot) it’ll be gone. It won’t. It just moves out of the limelight somewhere else.

            Claim as much as you like that it isn’t about censorship, but you’re deluding yourself. Unless the scope is broadened and an attempt is made to get to the root of this, censorship is all you really want.

            But keep living in denial if it makes it easier for you to command the troops from your high horse, that is, until the circus moves on to the next “hot spot” and things return to the Status Quo.

          • Oh_Hi_Mark__ says:

            Like I said, the author is advocating the freedom to be able to discuss gender issues in relationship to gaming and gamers without being subjected to one of several formulaic rote arguments. If we can’t even start a discussion on the topic, how the fuck are we supposed to get at the root causes?

  16. Narrativist says:

    It frustrates me to exhaustion that there are so many people who strenuously troll in favor of the status quo, even in moderated forums in which one would expect to see more reasoned discourse. I almost wonder if there are paid “sexism denialists” (not unlike paid climate change denialists) who pull down paychecks by posting defensive complaints about feminists and feminism. Surely all this misogyny can’t be sincere; surely these trolls are not merely poisoned by intractable ignorance.

    I am cynical about the trolls’ sincerity (i.e., the depth of their emotional attachment to bigotry) for two reasons.

    First, what possible motivation other than simple mercenary self-interest could a person have in defending the indefensible social injustice heaped on women?

    Second, why would so many sexism denialists sound so much alike and resort to identical rhetorical flourishes and logical fallacies? If bigotry is individual, born out of personal experience and evolved from the circumstances of individual lives, wouldn’t one expect to see a spectrum of unique and individual hatreds, each one a window into some gamer’s damaged psyche?

    Instead, forum entries by the denialists all come from the text of the Union of Misogynist Gamers’ Talking Points Memorandum In Defense of Lads, with items like “47. Some of my best friends are female gamers, and they don’t have a problem …,” and “12. Men who complain about the pervasive sexism in computer games are just feigning concern for women …,” as well as the more creepy “3. Maybe she shouldn’t have let the other Halo players know she was a girl.”

    I would feel perversely relieved to see some strikingly personal and “real” sounding bigotry. At least sincere bigotry is potentially subject to self-examination, discussion, and eradication.

  17. Brainspore says:

    Confession time: As part of my first full-time graphic design job I created the packaging* for many of the EverQuest games. 

    …all of which featured a nubile female elf warrior on the front of the box.

    …clad in a bikini. 

    …including on the expansion pack set in an Arctic wasteland.

    I’m sorry.

    (*In my defense, I had no input in either the art direction nor illustration.)

  18. Gus says:

    I’ve seen lots of people being jerks to women (and else), but not in this specific niche/situation.

  19. Aneurin Price says:

    This conversation always depresses me because people just form sides then get really defensive and start attacking each other, really nastily.

    Instead, I’d like to offer a couple of ways in which you can help, in a very tiny way, to make the situation slightly better:

    Vote for Cognition on Greenlight! http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=92915746

    Support Bloom on Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1376061185/bloom-memories-one-of-a-kind-action-adventure-rpg
    This is a really interesting looking game, and most of the buzz so far has been more concerned with the biological characteristics of its creator than with the game itself, which is pretty frustrating.

    I was reading an article a while back (on PA Report IIRC) which talked about the amount of marketing funding that went to games featuring realistic female protagonists versus their male counterparts – to no one’s great surprise, the former got far less, which leads to lower sales, which leads to execs saying “there’s clearly no demand”.

    In this light, and given that talking about it just leads to pointless arguing, I think highlighting good games with realistic portrayals of women is about the most productive most of us can really be on the topic.

  20. KanedaJones says:

    The real face of misogyny in gaming in person:


    As bad as internet commentary can be, this woman is surrounded by men unwilling to speak up in front of an asshole who is supposed to be her team leader and coach and helping her.

    Go ahead, defend this.

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