- 2 years ago
Recently, there was a storm of vile, hateful and sexist threats and harassment of BioWare writer Jennifer Hepler after she suggested that some gameplay be changed to make gaming more welcoming to players who are interested in story rather battle sequences. Essentially, she was suggesting that the ability to skip fight scenes, the same way players can fast forward through dialogue, in order to focus on character and plot development might make gaming accessible to a larger audience - such as women. This obviously created a backlash that only entitled male gamers with the added protection of internet anonymity could create.
Hepler’s statements were actually made in 2006 during an interview about her work on DragonAge: Origins, but as things sometimes go on the internet, someone dug it up and brought it back to life in 2012. The statements Hepler made, which can be seen here, appealed to me and probably to a lot of other women and casual gamers. I have spent hours upon hours watching my male friends play video games such as God of War, Shadow of the Colossus and several Zelda titles simply to see how stories played out, how characters developed and, particularly with Shadow of the Colossus, how cinematic and downright beautiful some games are. However, with the exception of a few Mario titles, I am no gamer. I don’t know how to approach a controller, I don’t have the patience for the seemingly endless and repetitive fight sequences and, frankly, I scare easily. I remember watching my roommate play Resident Evil 4 and jumping in my seat. In essence, the vast majority of video games are not meant for me. But that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in them, or that games could not be easily redesigned to cater to my demographic.
Unsurprisingly, gamers were NOT cool with what Hepler was saying. The backlash was swift, harsh and dripping with entitlement. The attacks were violent, sexist, and because the Mass Effect series included a gay romance option for the male version of Commander Shepard, extremely homophobic. People called Hepler a cunt, a whore, a slut. They threatened her with rape and murder. They called for her to be fired. The attacks exposed just how threatened much of the gaming community is by the inclusion of female players and gay characters.
BioWare is standing by their beleaguered writer, and while many blogs were not afraid to call these attacks what they are, outright misogyny, one blog in particular saw it differently, and this particular blog post happened to be how I was introduced to Hepler and the attacks against her. The Australian offshoot of Gamespot decided to frame the backlash as an issue of gamer entitlement, suggesting that players themselves feel entitled not because of gender but because they are the customers. Gamespot writer Laura Parker cites that some of the backlash included sentiments that BioWare was “unfaithful to its community” and that it “treated their loyal fans like crap”. I was immediately struck by Parker’s almost entire lack of acknowledgement of the misogynistic nature of the attacks, and the gaming community at large. Parker of course mentioned that many of the attacks were sexist in nature, and made note that Hepler’s suggestions for changing gameplay could make gaming more appealing to women, but the suggestion that gamers feel entitled to control how games are developed, written and produced completely negates the essential fact that most gamers are male. And that we live in a world where men are taught to feel entitled to just about everything, gamer or not.
The root of the issue is that a woman is suggesting that games be inclusive to women. The threat, of course, is that men will no longer have control over their gaming spheres, and that they might have to share the gaming experience with women. That men will have to share power with women. That the backlash against Hepler isn’t really about changing video games but about changing who plays video games. It’s backlash against women. And attempting to disguise that as customer entitlement perpetuates the idea that backlash against women is okay. It hides the real issue, allowing misogyny in the gaming community (and the nerd community - and frankly, the whole damn world) to continue unchallenged. So let’s call it what it is.
I was perusing this thing yesterday and noticed that I have been doing nothing but reblogging gifs and humorous photo sets for the past month or so. I can only attribute this to the grinding mundanities of my life. What mundanities, you ask? Well, there’s the veritable Sarlacc pit known as job hunting. There’s the endless referring to A Wiki of Ice and Fire because you forgot who the hell Reek is and after looking it up you’re still not sure who he is. There’s the caving to societal pressures of co-dependency and getting a boyfriend (well, that part’s not so bad, I guess). And then lastly is the abysmal lack of creativity that is “writers block”, although that suggests that I 1) posses creativity and 2) consider myself a writer.
On the bright side, I’m going to see John “I’m a PC” Hodgman tonight. Hooray!
- 2 years ago
Remember that time, friend, when you vented about your exgirlfriend and you called women bitches, hoes and sluts? And tried to say something like, “oh, that wasn’t what I mean. I mean, you know what I mean!” …. Yeah, I know what you mean. You mean you’ve “given into” disrespecting women and hating on them for not caving to your every whim. I know what you mean, man. You mean you’s a bastard. Cool.