Helpful Articles.. The Truths!

If you have some extra time, click on these links and read about some of the hard truths and crud ways of harassment and sexism toward women in the gaming world! It’ll make you think twice about the next thing you say online. Game on!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/13/gtfo-sexism-in-gaming_n_6804106.html

http://www.polygon.com/2014/7/22/5926193/women-gaming-harassment

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/08/sexual_harassment_in_the_gaming_world_a_real_life_problem_for_female_gamers_.html

http://www.npr.org/2012/08/08/158433079/virtual-harassment-gets-real-for-female-gamers

Misty Skelton

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The Most Recent Incident in Gamergate – Fernandez

If you haven’t heard, a group that had affiliations with Gamergate had been kicked out of the Calgary Expo, with its members faced with explusion for life, all without any clear reason why it had happened. If you wish to delve further, check out the articles below.

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What caused Gamergate? – Fernandez

(Note: For this article, it will be important to distinguish between the first and third generation Xbox’s. As such, the first gen will be referred to as ‘original Xbox’ while the new generation Xbox will be referred to as “Xbox One”.)

If you are reading this blog post now, you must have looked at my previous video, which looked at Gamergate as what it was, how it was perceived, how it started, and what it implies about technology and culture. This post will look at how something like Gamergate started, like what the conditions were for this movement to happen. After all, whether you are for or against it, it simply didn’t just appear out of thin air and decide to become a thing. Surely, there are some things that helped in order to bring it to life, and that is what I hope to isolate. Below this paragraph are what I think are the top contributors and factors that not only started Gamergate, but probably even still fuel it today.

  1. The Internet -> Social Media (Everyone gets a say!)

When I was researching whether other industries (movies, music, etc.), I came across an article explaining how the movie critic doesn’t have as much influence today as they did in like the 80s or 90s or generally when Ebert was around. One of the reasons listed was that the internet has changed the way that people can respond to art. They can log on, find a forum full of people that are eager to hear about the reactions/people who share their sentiments, and very easily write their opinions about the piece. Ever since the internet came about, it gave everyone a voice, and gave the impression that one should be entitled to a say. This ideal would become much more important when concerning the second reason.

  1. General Ire over Video game Business Practices (We have the bigger say!)

The idea of DLC (Downloadable Content), extra content that was not packaged with the original game content and usually priced on its own, was around a lot longer than mainstream gamers realize. It was just that it wasn’t until Microsoft came into the Gaming Industry with the original Xbox and its online service, Xbox live, that the idea fully blossomed. Earlier types of DLC lacked solid internet connection and thus were less of it. However, when Microsoft came into the market, the idea of an online connection service prompted more DLC, since it was much easier to put out content in this manner, and eventually culminated in the Xbox Live Marketplace on the XBox-360, where DLC could be placed, and eventually marketed as more content for the games. Eventually, other companies followed this model, and soon DLC became a staple of the industry.

One interesting thing to note is that during these early day, one game called “The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion” had a DLC called “Horse Armor” which does what the title says and nothing more. The entire DLC gives horses armor and nothing else. This package was also priced at $2.50. For many, it was a sign of what DLC would become.

Nowadays, DLC has become a gateway for other business practices that have been deemed as questionable, such as microtransactions, on disc DLC, and early access. These practices have also given rise to some of the videogame culture today, such as “pay-to-win”. There have been ire over these practices, and a general feeling of grudging acceptable, as they have become a part of the industry, and that the sales that they generate will ensure that the practices will continue. In a way, Gamers were stuck with having a voice in an industry that didn’t seem to listen, and they would have let this scandal go if it wasn’t for the third item.

  1. Previous Victories (Our say triumphs your say!)

Really, it should be the one previous victory which still should be mentioned, as it is probably the one thing that happened between Doritogate and Gamergate. When the Xbox One was first announced, it had come with all these controversial features such as an online check every 24 hours for games to work and a transfer system in which you can only exchange games with people that have been on your friends list for at least 30 days. The Kinect, a peripheral that was voice commanded, was also supposed to be an integral part of the system and had to be on at all times, leading people to fear that it would be recording at all times, though Microsoft assuaged those fears.

However, these features were not received favoritably, so much so that Sony had once marketed that giving your friends your game to play was as simple as handing them the disc. The resulting backlash, “feedback from the Xbox community”, forced Microsoft to reverse decisions on those features, getting rid of the online check and the transfer system. For what seemed to be the first time in the modern gaming industry, consumers were dissatisfied with the decisions of a major company, spoke out against it, and managed to get that same company to reverse their decision.

  1. Suspicious coincidences (I say…)

Other factors that might have contributed to Gamergate breaking out and becoming not an onetime thing, are the ‘Gamers are dead’ articles. On August 28, there was a flood of articles and editorials, all with the same main ideas, the Gamer cultural identity is dead, and should be left to rot. That is suspicious, but more than that, it is damning. After all, a bunch of articles with the same main idea, being posted on the same day, it sort of reeks of people coming together. It becomes even worse when some articles even have links to others.  Joseph Bernstein, a Buzzfeed writer, linked his article, “Gaming is leaving Gamers behind” to Dan Golding’s “briliant cri de coeur called The End of the Gamer”, even pulling out some quotes from the article. Casey Johnston, a writer for Arcs Technica, has a link on her article, “The Death of the ‘Gamers’ and the Women who ‘killed’ them”, to Leigh Alexander’s article.

Combine that with other examples that were provided, like Zoe’s Patreons, and it becomes much more obivious why Gamergate soon picked up steam.

Sources:

Terrible Industry Practices

DLC History

Xbox One Feature Changes

Gamers are dead articles

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Fernandez – Gamergate: Down the Rabbit Hole

For this project, I decided to do Gamergate, and decided to have alternate interpretations.

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Albertson- Women Gamers and Mob Mentality

For my portion of the project, I made a video that focuses on some specific incidences of gender based abuse in the gaming world. I gave an example of men ganging up on women in a game and the kind of sexually charged harassment that takes place. The women featured in the video are not amateur gamers and don’t deserve to be belittled the way they are. The games industry needs more women, and a more diverse collection of people in general in order to be more successful. I hope that with the knowledge of an unfair system, proper changes can be made, and women gamers can get some more respect.

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Women Gamers

So my focus for my video was pointed towards sexism and harassment in the gaming world. Whether it has to do with personal experience or the way the characters are made to look like, there are crud people out there with crud and unnecessary things to say. Harassment happens all the time to many woman but this is just an example of how specific it can get. It’s sad and infuriating and I won’t stand for it anymore. Women gamers, GAME ON!

Enjoy:)

Misty Skelton

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Baird – Sexy vs. Sexism

375-Sexyvs.Sexism

“Representations of girls and women as simply eye candy, as characters who do nothing active in a game and apparently have no ideas, interests, or goals other than to please men sexually are not only unrealistic but potentially dangerous to real-life females. Conversely, images of female avatars showing real skill, intelligence, strength and impact can be empowering.” Reed, 152

Resources and Recommended Readings:

T. V. Reed – Digitized Lives: Culture, Power and Social Change in the Internet Era. Chapter 7: Are Digital Games Making Us Violent and Sex Crazed, or Will They Save the World?

The Sexy Lamp Test

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Baird – Diversity vs. #Gamergate

Diversity

the condition of having or being composed of differing elements:variety;especially : the inclusion of different types of people (as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization (Merriam-Webster.com/dictionary/diversity)

As I’m sitting here, trying to figure out how to start writing this blog, I’m staring at a poster I got at Emerald City ComicCon this past March. On it are the party characters from Bioware’s latest release, Dragon Age: Inquisition. Nine different faces smile at me from across the room – three female, two POC (though one is incredibly white-washed in this particular art) and four non-human. Three are queer, three more are straight, and the remaining three are not available for a romantic relationship with the player character, but coded as being straight.

Bioware is often praised for its “diversity efforts”, and this cast of characters shows those efforts taking effect. In addition to these characters, many prominent characters are people of color (PoC), women of color (WoC), identify as female, queer, trans, etc. It’s a pretty good start considering, but nowhere near where we need to be for accurate representation.

Look at upcoming releases, take a headcount, how many games feature a white male lead? The Witcher? White dude. Batman Arkham Knight? White dude. Mad Max? White dude. Call of Duty? Lots of white dudes shooting each other. Sure these games could include women and PoC and queer characters, but maybe once in a blue moon will one of those characters be the protagonist.

“As a gamer, I am not used to people of color as the protagonist of my games. I’m not even used to seeing my own gender playing the lead role. Ever since I could hold a controller, I’ve always seen the same recycled characters over and over again. It was the tall, dark-haired, bearded man with a strong build. Representation is important, especially within the AAA gaming industry. The fact that I was honestly shocked to see a black man as the protagonist of TWD goes to show that.

The Walking Dead is one of the well done exceptions to the rule. Emm, a blogger at Femhype.com, describes main character Lee Everett as “a refreshing change from the “hardened military man with nothing left to lose” archetype that the gaming industry seems to cater to”, and anyone who has played through TWD knows this to be true.

Then Gamergate shows up. A female developer’s ex-partner accused her of sleeping with a journalist for positive reviews on her recently released game, despite the fact that the journalist never published a review on the game. “Gamers” began frothing at the mouth and rabidly attacking the female developer, the journalist, and anyone who stepped in to defend them. Labeled as a movement fighting for “ethics in game journalism”, GG has resulted in many female and PoC gamers, developers, etc. being bombarded with death and rape threats and the overall degradation of the status in games in society.

See, while the accusation made by the developer’s ex was entirely false and proven to be so, the misogynists had their platform and were happily using it to keep video games as segregated as the south wanted their bathrooms to be in the Jim Crow days. And this colossal temper-tantrum has resulted in “the real world” looking at gamers with disgust. According to a social psychologist specializing in video games (who posted anonymously in fear of the inevitable harassment from GG supporters) “It will take years and years to repair the damage, and it is absolutely devastating to the serious study and application of the power of games to real problems”. They also state that they have trouble getting grants, getting foundations to fund games, and “getting people to take us seriously” because when speaking to “industry groups or fellow academics, GamerGate always comes up as an example of how terrible and immature people who play games are”.tumblr_inline_nkxolwCSuU1r09uvv

A video game archivist, Rebecca HG, also spoke out against GG, stating that because of the movement, “video game archiving as a professional practice is all but dead”. Because of Gamergate, there is zero money available to research and preserve video games.

Where do we go from here? How do we, the current generation, repair the damage done by the ignorant and biased? Looking back at my poster I see nine examples of solid, fairly diverse individuals, and feel like we are making progress, but at a pace that may not save video games as an industry in the long run. What we need is a radical overhaul. Create people, not tropes, as characters. Use media to reflect on the world around us and reflect on the real problems. Ignore the rabid fans who are ruining gaming as an entertainment industry, and focus on the fans who can and will recognize solid, respectful representation when it is in front of them.

And stop harassing women. How on earth is this at all beneficial to anyone, ever?

GamerGate_FakeGamerGirls

Resources & Recommended Reading:

#INeedDiverseGames: Challenging the White Male Archetype With ‘The Walking Dead’

In answer to “Where are the scientists?” who study video games, I am one… 

GamerGate is killing video games.

“That life is over”: Zoe Quinn looks beyond GamerGate

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