Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Harassment For Any Reason Is Still A Crime, Even If You Don't Like A Gaming Critic

A lot of crap has gone down with female gaming personalities over the weekend, and I have debated about addressing it at all. Mostly because everything has been said, and you have, most likely, already formed your own opinion about the situations. What I’m referring to is the death threat against Anita Sarkeesian and the staggering amount of hateful, harassing messages she has received through her Twitter profile within days after releasing the latest Tropes vs. Women episode. The death threat against her and her family was reported to local authorities in her area. Whether or not it was retaliation for the video, who knows. The Twitter profile is a literal “blank slate” with just the user name and no details about the person who controls the account. It could be that he or she is a stalker who picked an optimal time to join in on the hate speech by others who do consider themselves as gamers. We don’t really know, and may never know. It’s subject to a police investigation.

The other is Zoe Quinn, pen name for Chelsea Van Valkenburg who released an online novel titled “Depression Quest.” After a nasty break-up with her boyfriend, he began posting online about things that may or may not have happened that lead to the relationship dissolving. He accused her of cheating, sleeping around with publishers and magazine writers to help gain traction for her online game/novel. There are a myriad of other claims as well, but a break-up gone bad has made Valkenburg a target for harassment by gamers. Read at your own discretion. Again, none of this has been verified that what the ex-boyfriend speaks of is the truth. But we don’t know if he’s lying either. Unlike Sarkeesian, this is a woman who made a “game” and she’s being singled out because she may or may not have done some sordid things to get it promoted. Because men don’t do that, ever. Right? (looks at every sport and sponsorship deals ever.)

If you care at all about any of this, you already have formed your opinions and I won’t be able to change them. But what I do think is a shame is that we have anti-women in gaming articles on the rise because of this, and they are gaining traction. The one that I’m linking makes me very uncomfortable to read, and almost encourages people to continue harassing gaming critics of any gender to get them to shut up. What the hell people? We are much better than this. We are not cave men from 6 million years ago. We are fully-formed, functioning humans. We have transformed our world within the past decade to a thriving digital marketplace of thoughts and ideas. We are no longer limited by our physical bodies to create new things to better Earth. And instead, we’re going to harass game critics because they are asking questions and pointing out concerns? Really? Cure for cancer may be decades away because everyone’s head is up their own butt.

I have said it before that I don’t agree with everything Sarkeesian and other gaming critics present to their audience. But that can be said for ANY critic. Movies, music, fashion, television, food, software, etc. Things are tailored to fit their point of view. That isn’t to say they outright lie about a product, but they find the points that fulfill the story they want to present to the audience. My criticisms about video games are going to be different from yours. And that’s perfect fine! We’re all allowed to have our own opinions. That’s a basic human right as far as I’m concerned. We shouldn’t be condemning critics from talking about video games, but praising them for wanting to move the medium forward. Even as video games have overtaken movies as the prime entertainment medium for the past few years, it’s still viewed as a “kids” activity. People do not take gamers seriously. When I go to a gaming convention, I still keep quiet about it. I know the staff at TSA laugh when they see my luggage being scanned and it’s filled with gaming gear thinking “this belongs to an 8 year old boy, not a grown-ass woman.” I know the concierge or front desk employees snicker behind my back when I check in with the “gaming con” rate, and refuse to assist me when I ask for help or for a towel because “I’m not a REAL guest. I’m just some gamer kid.” Yeah…because I’m not paying for this bill with my own hard earned cash or anything. Gamers, we’re still on the bottom of the food chain when it comes to respect. Even though so many marketing teams are trying to get our attention, we are treated like less then ourselves because of our hobby.

So why on Earth would we want to diminish the work of those who want to raise us up? The only way gamers can be truly respected as a part of society and culture is to actively participate in examining games with a critical eye. This happened with television, movies, music, theater, paintings, sculptures, and so forth. All of these areas of entertainment were once considered “less than” and people who appreciated them were never accepted as part of the norm. It wasn’t until we began to analyze the medium, that people gained respect for it. People use to think art was a waste of time. Movies too. Now it’s revered.

Before you go off on a tirade about a critic pointing out the misogynistic views of a game, remember this: they have a right to an opinion just as you do. Be a human and discuss your point of view. Engage with the critic and have a healthy debate. We love debates about games! Not swearing contests, mind you, but people actually engaging in discussions on games. Look up anything recorded with Adam Sessler (former XPlay host) at conventions or symposiums and you’ll know exactly what I’m referring to.

And for f*ck’s sake, quit with the violence and death threats. Even with the anonymity of the internet, you can be tracked, traced, and found. You might be surprised how often internet predators and harassment claims are solved, but rarely reported about in the news. Also, you’re making gamers look bad by being a douche bag. Again, a media thing. One person reports “gamers harassing XX person” everyone thinks all gamers are like this. Let’s grow up and be the homo sapiens we have developed into, shall we?

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