Today’s post is a special one as it’s about my thoughts on Gamergate and this nightmare that’s been going on for what feels like forever at this point. I’ve already talked about my thoughts on women in the Game Industry and thoughts on using tropes in the past. But today I’m going to lay things out on the table — I don’t support Gamergate.
On Using Tropes:
This whole gamergate ordeal got me thinking about one of my first game ideas I ever thought of in enough detail to write a full design doc for it. The game was an action title with a combat system that even to this day no one else has thought of. But the part that I remember most was the story that I came up with and how horrible it was.
I wrote this about 8 years ago and even then I thought it was bad — a trope filled disaster which thinking about it in more detail now, had elements of misogyny in it. And there was nothing clever about it or any deeper meaning in it; it was just used as a throwaway plot. And after all those years and how my own writing has changed, it offends me to think that I used to think like that.
The point is that falling back on the use of tropes, misogynistic feelings or sexist imagery in storytelling is just a sign of poor storytelling. It is entirely possible to take a trope and turn it on its head to make something clever, but most game designers can’t or aren’t willing to make the effort.
And this is why all this talk about “censorship” and how women are ruining games is just idiotic. The growing discussion about diversity and moving forward in storytelling are great topics and I hope that developers will take them to heart in evolving titles and not as a sign that they are being censored in any way.
We need to have a talk about storytelling and the topics that Anita Sarkessian has brought up about the industry. But we can’t have that discussion until this whole Gamergate incident is finished as any progress we would make would be tainted by it or its members. I’ve already said in several posts that I don’t agree with everything that she has said about games, but making videos about how much you hate her personally, stalk her or harass her is not improving things. And that also goes for anyone else who has spoken out about Gamergate, harassment or any other topics relating to the Game Industry.
There will always be games that do pander to male gaze, that will feature sexist imagery and not meant for women and that’s alright. What people are asking is for game developers to stop falling back on sexism as the go-to plot device. Using “sex sells” as the only justification for content is not a good attitude for the mainstream Game Industry no matter what anyone tells you and neither is thinking that harassment of any kind is justifiable.
And the term “male gaze” is important to mention as that is at the heart of the problems with video game storytelling. Too many developers fall back on male gaze to define their experience, it’s why so many games have strip clubs, women whose purpose can be interchangeable with objects and why there are so many white male protagonists.
It’s not really a foundation or pillar of the Game Industry, but a tired trope that has gone on for too long and many people believe to be a cornerstone of the industry. It is possible to have games with sexualized characters as per the case of whenever we have a debate about Bayonetta. However there are far more examples of poor sexualized female characters than there are good ones and that tilts the scale too far in the wrong direction.
For Gamergate Supporters:
I have a message for people who do believe that Gamergate is about fighting corruption and that is to get out now. The name of Gamergate after all the issues over the last few months will be remembered for its stance against women and using harassment and threats, not journalistic integrity. There is definitely room for discussing it, but not as a part of Gamergate. The well has been tainted in a manner of speaking and whether that’s from a majority or minority doesn’t matter at this point.
If you still want to talk about journalism and corruption, start a new group, a more private group that has clear goals and leadership with no mob mentality. For anyone who is a fan of Game-Wisdom who supports gamergate, it’s not my intention to drive you away.
From what I’ve seen and the people I’ve spoken to, there is definitely misogyny in the Game Industry and a campaign against women despite what anyone else says. If you do listen to me and trust my instincts and thoughts about game design and the industry, then please take these words to heart and get out before you do become associated with what at this point can only be viewed as a hate group.
I know that on the podcast several times I’ve talked about not wanting to discuss Gamergate, but the fact that news organizations are looking at this and people outside of the Game Industry are starting to take notice is not good. The reason is that its displaying a level of internal chaos within the Game Industry that shouldn’t be there and shows us and the medium as a whole under a bad light.
I don’t know if anything that I’m saying here will actually affect someone’s thoughts but if we’re going to put this ordeal behind us, then we need to put our collective feet down so that we can move forward and not just keep spinning our wheels around.