If Video Games Are Going To Grow Up, Then The Bullying Needs To Stop

Disclaimer: I was a key creative in what is often considered one of the more "dudebro" franchises out there, Gears of War. I'd also like to remind everyone out there that I went out of my way in working with our team, the writers and Epic's artists to make sure that female characters are represented well in that franchise.

By the time we got around to Gears 3 the female soldiers were kicking butt right alongside the men in outfits that weren't drastically different than the men's, and with a restrained depiction of hair and makeup. (I was just tired of seeing stripper looking female game characters after all of those years... ironic, considering how exaggerated the men were.)

(I'm also not the best person to post about misogyny on the internet as I'll be the first one to post a sexy picture of my wife or give young boys tips on how to flirt with girls.)

However, I can't let this one slip, because there's a deeper cancer plaguing our business.

Let's talk aboutAnita Sarkeesian.

The "Tropes Vs Women" controversy caught my attention when I noticed, right on Anita's main Kickstarterimage for her campaign, that there was Anya, front and centre. I was surprised and a bit confused by this. As I mentioned above, she wasn't an object to "win" in the Gears franchise. She was far from helpless as the franchise matured. Even then the franchise was famous or characters such as fan favourite Bernie, who was an older woman who kicked plenty of enemy butt as well.

Once her first video launched, I found it to be smart, informative, and well put together. She clearly knows what she's doing and, even if you knew a lot of the information she was sharing it's worth watching for the nostalgia of how comedic the repetitive nature the business has been with the Damsel in Distress motif. After watching the video I went to my Twitter feed to see what the fuss was about … were there really people out there who were still so very angry at what this woman was doing?

We saw a public display that mirrored the worst of what the anonymous internet male culture has to offer.

As it turns out, yes, there were. I heard a variety of responses. Before we dive into some of the thinking behind them, let's look at some of the Kickstarter numbers and break it down a bit.

Anita was asking for $US6000 for her campaign. News hit the internet of the campaign, and the Taliban of videogaming responded in droves. Who was this... this... woman who wanted to analysewomen in video games? How dare she! An army of bold (and, naturally, largely anonymous) men…no, wait, boys, because even adult males that acted in this manner are boys — proceeded to give her a digital stoning. We saw a public display that mirrored the worst of what the anonymous internet male culture has to offer. That young guy who assumes that a girl playing an online game is fat, ugly or slutty now had a CAUSE to rally behind!

And then a funny thing happened. Anita shared some of the heinous virtual abuse -— bullying, in fact -— on her website and people rallied behind her to the tune of over 150K. Folks who responded to my Twitter query were enraged by this fact! How dare she ask for money and then get... well, a whole lot more money! One guy even made a flash game where you can beat her up. How much of a bored, hateful loser must you be to even consider doing something like that?!

I'd like to take this moment and remind everyone out there that my good friends at Double Fine, not so long ago, also killed it on Kickstarter. After asking for $US400,000 on Kickstarter they wound up with a final tally of $US3.3 million. Now, I read the Kickstarter page about campaigns that succeed and I didn't find a single line about doing too well at Kickstarter. As far as I can tell, if you put up a campaign where you ask for $500 to artistically photograph your ham sandwich and it becomes a thing online you're welcome to do whatever you need to with the difference as long as you fulfil your promises to each backer.

So let me get this straight. Doublefine can win Kickstarter but a woman who wants to analyse the treatment of her gender in our business is somehow…exempt from this?

What colour is the sky in the world you trolls live in?

I'm assuming you can do a decent web series for a pretty low amount of money. $US6000 sounds like a healthy budget, even maybe a bit much for what the Anonymous Internet Boy Taliban thought was needed for the videos. Here's the thing though, boys. It's not your call on how much the series should cost, or how much she should be allowed to make on Kickstarter. (The Boys were so enraged by this as they believed she "scammed" money out of people. One man's "scammed" is another's "shut up and take my money.")

You know, maybe people were just happy to donate money to a project that should see the light of day because of irrational immature male fear on the internet. It's called voting with your dollars.

So let's assume that Anita fulfils the promises to all of her backers and is then left with $US144,000. I'm gathering this project is a self-employed gig, so she most likely has to pay self-employment tax. Fulfilling everything to the donors also costs money. When you earn that amount of money you are also in a higher tax bracket and you make more, you pay more. I'm not an accountant, but I'd estimate that when all is said and done and this project takes her a year then she might actually be able to pay herself a (gasp) good salary for her year's work.

How dare she!

Heaven forbid a woman actually take a magnifying glass to our beloved hobby and actually try to unravel and figure out why things are the way they are in the effort that somehow she might change things? Why aren't there more female protagonists? Are you protecting Lara Croft in the new Tomb Raider or are you empowering her? And god dammit, where's my Buffy game?

Shame on all of you.

My wife and I had dinner with the always amazing Warren Spector and his brilliant (and sharp tongued) wife Caroline last night and this very subject came up. Caroline was rather eager to speak up about it. We went back and forth on the subject and, I'm paraphrasing, but the takeaway that she said to me (and I'm sure she'll do a great talk or article about it) is that we're not supposed to be this crowd.

We're the gamers, the dorks. We're the ones who were on our computers during prom. We're the ones that were in the back of the lunch room who were playing D&D instead of tossing a football around on the quad. We were supposed to be the open, friendly ones, the ones who welcomed all into our wonderful geeky circle.

We're not supposed to be a mob that's storming the gates with our pitchforks and torches.

We're not the bullies. And that's what happened to Anita.

Recently at the DICE summit in Las Vegas David Cage called on the industry to "grow up." In some ways, David, I agree... we can do better in many, many areas. We can make more mature and engaging plot lines and explore unique game mechanics beyond sawing someone in half. The reason we haven't? It's because it's fucking hard and we're looking at an industry that is ever more risk averse as more and more money is needed to craft product.

However if we're going to grow up as an industry we're going to need the consumer to grow up a bit as well. The latent racism, homophobia, and misogyny online are black marks on an otherwise great hobby. Anonymity is the gasoline on the fire of hate that flares up on forums, chat rooms, and Xbox Live on daily basis.

Why are there so many shooters? Because it's easy to make a trace in code to see if you virtually "tagged" someone. Why were there so many princesses in need of rescue? Because it was easy, and for many years we didn't have the tools or desire to try something else. Why did Mario have a moustache originally? Because they didn't have the graphical fidelity to depict much more. The purpose of research is to encourage rational thought in areas where there may have not been much before. If, by watching Anita's videos, I, as a developer, can reconsider how I depict women in any future product of mine then her work may very well be worth it.

And maybe, as a result of this, years later we may see more and more girls who are comfortable playing games, online or off, or going to a conference …or joining the industry in a professional manner.

This is where change sometimes starts, merely by asking "Why?"


Comments

    There was a Buffy game last gen and it was pretty awesome.

      That's true. I'd say given that the show finished ten years ago, it's probably a little unrealistic to expect a new Buffy game now :P

        Random thought - I always thought Jennifer Garner would be a better Buffy.

          I dunno, I think she's a bit tall. The whole idea was "tiny blonde girl kicks butt" :P

          Cant stand 'Jennifer man shoulders' personally, as @shane mentions above it sort of outwieghs the idea of buffy, she was the "unlikely" hero.

          Last edited 14/03/13 10:45 am

            You just read an article about misogyny and the treatment of women and you post 'Jennifer man shoulders'. Way to be part of the problem

      There were actually 4 Buffy games.

      Buffy the Vampire Slayer
      Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds
      Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Sacrifice
      Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Wrath of the Darkhul King

        Well I knew about the first 2 and I'm pretty sure Chaos Bleeds was the better. I had no idea about the third and fourth!

      It was total awesomeness, except SMG didn't do her voice acting.

    Well-written and well-reasoned article. Onya Cliffy.

    Great Piece mate, the main reason I haven't used my xbox for anything but streaming movies is the endless torrent of juvenile racism, homophobia, misogyny etc that I encounter online. We, as a community are better than this and its about time we started acting like it!

      That's precisely why I don't play multiplayer shooters anymore, unless with a tight group of buddies. Even MMOs are a bit of a minefield with douchebag dudebros sometimes.

        I'm sorry but I really don't get this argument...not on Xbox anyway.
        I agree there is plenty of idiots online, but all I do is plug in the crappy standard xbox mic to my controller and turn the volume down. That way I can still play online and not deal with all the morons. And when my mates are on we make a private chat and don't have to listen to anyone else.

        It's a bit harder on PS3 due to the fact that there is no global private chat like Xbox. Generally on PS3 you have to individually mute players or select a mute all option if available. Hopefully PS4 sorts this out.

        Let's not quit playing online; let's quit giving the online idiots an audience and just ignore them. Maybe they'll die off (figuratively) eventually. Worst case they just annoy each other and leave the rest of us alone.

    The only thing I think that's wrong with her videos is that there isn't a spiffy 3d intro.

    For $160k, there ALWAYS needs to be a spiffy 3d intro. ALWAYS.

      But not for $6000.

        No, the threshold for a spiffy 3d intro is $50k. It should cost at least $35k, otherwise it won't be spiffy enough.

    Online "bullies" are so pathetic.. I honestly believe that if you can't handle someone talking shit about you online, you're probably too weak to survive, given how easy it is and the multitude of tools the internet gives you to simply silence and ignore someone.

    It sounds harsh - but you hear of people who supposedly harm themselves due to such treatment.. And I just imagine how they must be in real life when they undoubtedly meet someone disagreeable in one form or another.. It's more of a matter of time, than online being the cause.

    Personally I think you'll NEVER stop bullying the same way that there will ALWAYS be dumb assholes out there.. Teach people as kids how to deal with it, rather than trying to stop something that is most likely much older than the notion of everyone living in peace.

      There will always be dumb arseholes. But if more people start standing up and saying "we will not tolerate dumb arseholes" then there will be less of them. They will become a dying breed.

      But as long as we tolerate them, they're not going anywhere.

        I'm sorry, but that's a dead-end, fairytale mentality. Just as we are incapable of completely ridding crime and evil people in our modern civilized society, we are equally incapable of ridding the internet of trolls, racisists, misogynists, you name it. That's not cynicism, that's just reality.

        I admire the spirit, but it's just not going to happen.

        Last edited 14/03/13 3:30 pm

          As long as they can hide behind the veil of anonymity this will always be the case. Where they can be identified there is much less of a problem. They are basically cowards with low self esteem issues.

          It's good when someone like Cliff takes a stand and makes people think about these things that are sometimes taken for granted as just being the norm.

          "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

          Doesn't mean you can't try Kizaru.

          If you do nothing because it's hopeless, then you've been defeated and are now part of the problem, because you're thinking that's how it is.

          It's not, it can get better. I think you're right that it'll never be fixed, but it can always be improved.

        The problem with that logic is that you all expect EVERYONE to agree with you no matter what. So your idea of an arsehole, is probably a lot different to mine, but because you're kicking and screaming we should all listen to you?

        The REAL solution is everyone mind your own fucking business. Look after yourself and your family and stop all being such a bunch of bleeding heart, knee-jerk reactionist's.

        Why does my video game experience now have to have layers of someone else's political agenda over the top of it. The shame of it is that if all of you idiots finally did get your own way, we would have a bunch of bland, white-washed, crappy 'games' and no one would play them anyway. Then good by video games huh.

      That argument doesn't really hold water. Yeah, people should learn to deal, but some can't. People should just learn to be socially and economically adept enough to have a job and pay their way, but some people can't. Should we leave the disabled, the mentally unwell and those with congenital conditions to die? I don't believe so. So i feel it's our duty as those who can function in society to help those who cannot. It's our duty to protect those who aren't able to stand up to the bullshit of life. Be it physically, mentally or emotionally.

      That all said, the point wasn't that she couldn't handle the criticism. It was that the criticism was vitriolic, nonsensical and apparently socially acceptable. That's sickening.

        No, we should give them the tools to handle it - as I say, especially online ignorance truly is bliss. If someone literally can't muster the strength to press a button to perminently have no further interraction with someone - then I hate to say it but they probably are not strong enough to survive.

        Trying to control the actions of bullies like this has NEVER been shown to be effective in any instance. Ignoring bullies on the otherhand has quite strong evidence going for it. Bullies generally are just seeking a response.

        In the end of the day, any body trying to control the behavior of the masses is both ineffective, and to a degree deprives a degree of liberty from a populace. It's better to empower the individual.

          So, you subscribe to the teach a man to fish idea, even if he lives in a desert? I get what you mean and to an extent I agree, but life and the world isn't that easy. We have to look out for people who can't do it themselves regardless of the tools provided. Mental illness isn't so easy to treat as telling someone they should react in a certain way to that situation.

          But you ignored the point. That wasn't what the article was about. It was that people felt that the abuse she copped was largely justified. It wasn't. At all. That shames all of us.

    lol sounds like women are trying to ruin games now. Can't we just have fun?

    I don't condone people hating on women, that shits just weird. But I happen to like rescuing a princess. Its called Fantasy.
    I'm just as happy to play that princess going mental and hacking people up. Do I want her to be gender neutral? No, wheres the fun in that.

    If you want that, make the game yourself and play it yourself there's nothing stopping there being 2 types of games. I don't understand why things have to 'change' why can't they just 'grow' to incorporate what they want.

    If you want to have a gender neutral character fighting of gender neutral enemies go play that game just don't take away my school girl with a katana cutting up massive dudes.

      I CBF explaining why, but you obviously didn't understand the article at all.

        She was complaining about gender inequality in games and a bunch of haters started trashing her. Did you read the article?
        I'm the type that gets annoyed at harem anime and ridiculously large scantly covered breasts on female characters.
        I just don't watch those anime or play those characters I don't try to change the industry.

        As expected, All the Marios came and protected their beloved Peach. Sure, some Warios took it too far. But that doesn't mean the Marios didn't have a good reason to voice there opinions about her videos.

        The writer only defends Anita's claims... of course someone in the comment section would write another opinion.

    We’re the gamers, the dorks. We’re the ones who were on our computers during prom. We’re the ones that were in the back of the lunch room who were playing D&D instead of tossing a football around on the quad. We were supposed to be the open, friendly ones, the ones who welcomed all into our wonderful geeky circle.

    I'd argue that a large chunk of modern gamers were never those people. Maybe three of the people on my XBOX Live friends list who identify as gamers played games on PC as a kid, or even owned a NES/SNES/whatever console was appropriate for their 5-15 years. Most of them have never even played a 2D Grand Theft Auto game (even though they would have loved it) or a Doom.
    Most of the people who fit that into that 'classic gamer' category aren't hardcore gamers now. A lot don't even play games anymore. The people who do seem to play more games are the ones who got into gaming when they were a little older with the PS2.

    Now don't get me wrong, that's not a slam against 'new gamers', if you're on my friends list and I know you personally odds are I love you, but it's worth keeping in mind that as a group we've grown huge and we've changed so much. As the group got larger the common traits became fewer and fewer. These jerks talked about in the article represent gamers about as much as frat boys represent all college students.

      "We’re the gamers, the dorks. We’re the ones who were on our computers during prom. We’re the ones that were in the back of the lunch room who were playing D&D instead of tossing a football around on the quad. We were supposed to be the open, friendly ones, the ones who welcomed all into our wonderful geeky circle."

      personally I think this is more accurate as the issue than supposed sexism, we nerds in school we got bullied persecuted and treated like shit, usually out of fear or jealousy that we were smarter.

      Since gaming has become mainstream you now get those same jerks becoming "gamers" and bringing the toxic attitude with them, mixed in with the fact that parents are no longer allowed to beat their kids for being little arseholes, its all part of the downfall of the world.

      The internet 15 years ago was a friendlier and smarter place and guess what it was also more anonymous, so saying anonymity breeds hate is BS, sure it does allow cowards to hide behind it, but those people would be toxic in real life anyway.

        Totally agree with dnr,
        If I told people I went online I used to be called a nerd. Now people go online to call you a nerd.
        Internet used to be great. I used to be able to make so many friends, talk about everything because it was anonymous.

        But that's all gone. We just fling abuse back and forth..

        The internet 15 years ago was a friendlier and smarter place and guess what it was also more anonymous

        I'd disagree with that. I think the only difference is that A) now you can make your own content easier and B) the addition of comment sections and community interaction to literally everything put existing assholes in the spotlight. I remember being overrun by trolls before trolling even had a name. My first ever guestbook signature was someone calling my page shit and me an asshole even though it had (roughly) 'this is my first website, I'm just seeing what I can do with these tools' written right there on it. My first online gaming session with people I didn't know was exactly what you'd expect from a modern XBOX Live first time experience.
        Newbies were hated by anyone who had spent five seconds more than them online. We didn't call it an e-peen back then but anything that measured your activity (ie, post counts) was held up as making you more important.

        Granted it wasn't all like that, if there wasn't plenty of quality stuff there I wouldn't have stuck around, but that's no different to today. If you read the Kotaku AU comments they're mostly just decent people having perfectly reasonable conversations about the articles. There are heaps of good places online, and if you're willing to ignore the comment section there are even more beyond that.

          While i agree that if you look you can always find the issues, as a generalised statement the internet was friendlier back in the day, as you pointed out before trolling had a name, it was the odd toxic person who would post his rage.
          these people were usually ignored or shunned by the community as a whole. But these days trolling has become a sport in itself, more and more people intentionally go out of thier way to ruin peoples days, its an epidemic, one that didnt exist pre 2000.

          Where did you used to hang out?
          I find it weird that you had those sorts of experiences when it was fairly hard.

          IRC was my old haunt. Online gaming wasn't really an option with a 28k modem.
          You'd get people come in and spam something and they were instantly g'kicked.

          I think I recall Quake being online when I went to an internet cafe once that had fast net and I don't recall anyone even talking in game rather than the typing hi, in between fragging.

    Damn-fucking-straight Cliff!! And "Anonymous Internet Boy Taliban" is a perfect description of these angry tools!

    If I had to guess at some reasons as to why the gamer crowd has become like this (and they are purely guesses), then I'd say:

    1. Gamers grew up. We went from being young, hopeful kids, collecting Nintendo Magazines and loving the hell out of nearly every game we got (I remember actually enjoying TMNT on the NES), to growing up and becoming cynical, judgemental and entitled adults. We feel like this is our hobby, our culture. We own this, so while we'll happily tear apart any new game that comes out because we are the fucking experts (a 75/100 rated game is a shit game apparently), if anything comes along to threaten our hobby then we'll generally defend it viciously, jumping to conclusions and refusing to listen to anything that suggests that there is anything wrong, just like most other adults on most other topics (politics anyone?).

    2. Games became mainstream. It's no longer the geeky outsider crowd who focus on games. You don't get multimillion dollar franchises like Call of Duty which out-gross film franchises without creating a massive mainstream base. Games like Halo, CoD and Madden have tapped into that Young-Adult market and have opened gaming up to a much wider audience than before. Unfortunately. the catch of the audience being so wide also means that gaming's douchebag minority is now much larger than it ever was before, and much more vocal thanks to social media. What used to be 50 douchebags having a cry about nothing is now 1500 douchebags making issues over nothing, and Twitter/Youtube gives them the platform they need to directly spew their narrow viewpoints to their targets. These aren't intelligent discussions, these are opinionated drivebys, where the anger is vented without any real intention of developing it into a rational discussion. Then when you get enough of these opinions, you get yet another e-drama. About videogames.

    Thats what I think has been going on anyway. There are definitely more issues at play here, and you could argue that I'm wrong, but I feel that these 2 points are at least relevant in part...oh wait, of course you can argue, it's the internet.

    Last edited 14/03/13 10:55 am

      Point 1 i dont think is accurate, sure as old skool nerds/gamers we had to earn the right to be called as such, we got bullied, we got treated like shit, we also grew up and realised that we are better off than the bullies, we make more money, were generally more successful.

      I think you come close with point 2, its the current market thats the cause of the toxic behaviour.

        Do you really think it's the average douchey jock playing cod who's trolling her sites?

        I don't. That person doesn't have the time, or care that much. It's the hard core nerds, tempered by years of rage and bitterness who are rallying to take her down.

        There's a sickness at the core of a lot of nerds. I know, i'm a nerd. I hide it well, but a lot of the people at the lans I go to, don't. At all. They're quite horrible to each other and there's definitely bullying going on.

          Yes and no, i think the line is drawn at a different point these days.
          I think while its now "socially accepted" to be a nerd, the bitterness comes from the target market for games like COD/Halo, kids that are still picked on by the douchy jock's, they then try to find a place where they can be arseholes and get away with it.
          They see these same kids who pick on them playing games now and cant understand why they are more socially accepted, so they immitate in the one environment they know they can get away with it.

          But i dont think thats the largest part of the issue, i think in this day and age its about exposer, as @danmazkin said, its now mainstream for people to play games, teh target audience is larger and the coverage is larger by media outlets.

          i know im going to cop flack for this comment, but does anyone remember how good teh community for games like WOW or Runescape were back in the day? they were the hardcore nerds, and before MMO's became mainstream they were a nicer place, everyone was helpful and nice, sure you got the odd wanker, but as a whole it was agood experience.

          IMO the issue is on society as a whole, parents need to dissipline their kids, they need to take responsibility for shapping their children into decent people.

          why hide being a nerd? im proud of it, im smarter than anyone that picked on me in school, i make more money, im more productive to society, i didnt get some random pregnant at a party when i was 16 and ruin my life by being the a "jock".

            WOW was awesome, half the game was helping people with quests etc. I made a lot of friends on WOW. It gave a real sense of community.

          You make a really good point and one that I haven't really thought too much about
          Who is actually making these posts. Many people in this section seem to be quick to point the finger at the dudebros but as you say they probably don't actually care that much about the games to spend time defending them. Or maybe they do i don't know.

          But before we start trying to change things it's probably a good idea to work out what needs to be changes and who is causing the toxic community before trying to fix it.
          And maybe Anita's work will be the first step

          Great article btw Cliffy

        In regards to Point 1, i may have confused it a bit by taking a stab at the fact that we just don't seem to enjoy games like we used to and instead pick them apart. Ignoring that, the first part of my comment was meant to be more of a statement about how we become more cynical and closed minded as we grow up. Sure it's not the rule for everybody, but when most people have an idea which they feel strongly about, no matter what it is (the games i grew up with were pure and innocent, gaming is for boys, labor is better then liberal, liberal is better than labor, etc), they'll argue it irrationally if it is threatened. Thats just what we are doing as adult gamers.

        In regards to my second point (and to comment to Rowan too), i wasn't trying to say that CoD and Halo gamers are the ones causing the hate. I'm saying that those games expanded the number of gamers drastically, so all of a sudden it's not the meek gamer nerd giving their opinion, its a huge amount of people from different backgrounds and with different expectations of gaming. The way i figure it, there is a percentage of douchebags in every group, increase the size of the group, and you increase the potential number of douchebags. It may not be a Jock/Nerd thing, it's just a people thing unfortunately.

    A well written and well thought article that says what all the sensible people are thinking. It's great that dudehuge is writing these things now he's out on his own, because we get to see and hear what he really thinks.

    Who knows, he might even strike a chord on some level with the dudebros and douchebags that are responsible for things like the Anita hate campaign. I seriously doubt it, but a gamer can hope, right?

    Last edited 14/03/13 11:08 am

    Behind computer screens, keyboards, microphones and controllers, people think they're anonymous and can't get in trouble so act like twats.

    Can has $6000+ nao? I analyzed and EVERYTHING

    The sweet irony of everyone saying "good on you this is a great article" is that Patricia who's last name I forget has written a dozen articles on sexism in the industry... And people tell her to shut up and get over it and it isn't a big deal and she's making a mountain out of a molehill.

      The difference is that this is a good article about a real issue, whereas Patricia Hernandez tends to take a completely innocuous issue and catalyse a feminist diatribe around it.

      I don't generally disagree with Patricia because she's a woman or a feminist, but because her articles are, 9 times of out 10, bloody stupid.

      If Patricia Hernandez wrote this, not only would I be completely astounded, I would still agree with it.

        Agreed. Patricia has the fire in her belly, but her shot selection is terrible. She should be on this topic like stink on a teenaged boy, because I'm sure she'd have some very poignant things to say about the unjustified BS Anita's encountered. But instead, Some of Pat's articles in the past have made flawed or very tenuous arguments about social attitudes (think the article about the MMO and the troll-player claiming in-game date rape and how this somehow reflecting gamers' indifference to rape, for example), and sometimes doing a Britta and starting arguments in situations where there are no divisions. Or, they've been annoying articles about CoD. In the last 3 months, I don't think I've seen her comment on the Anita Sarkeesian situation once. If I'm wrong, let me know, but...

      I think one of the key differences is that Cliff is talking specifically to a group you have to be a jerk to belong too. Patricia will come along and say something about Kirby being racist that puts anyone who ever enjoyed a Kirby game into defensive mode.

    I've never had a lot of time for Cliff B (not a huge fan of his games) but frankly this piece was tremendous.

    My hat's off to him and Sarkeesian. As for the complainants, God forbid someone actually makes "gamers" think.

    I have a couple of problems with this article. The first of which being the obvious strawman you set up and decide to just beat on, rather than creating an actual dialogue or a debate. You talk about our medium needing to grow up, but I can hardly see that happening when articles remain a one sided monologue against a strawman, rather than something to create converstaion

    Secondly, the idea that this industry needs to "grow up" to be as worthy as other seems rather shallow at this point. We have a huge range of games that envoke great amounts of emotions, we have moving story lines and landscapes that boggle the mind. And yet people say we need to grow up because we have games that are about carnal pleasure. Can anyone honestly say that we're the only medium that does this? Can I not refer to Rambo, Twilight, Most Chick Flicks as an example that we're THE SAME as other mediums. We have our deep creations, and our shallow ones. Every medium is like this

    Finally, you seem to have a preconceived idea of what "we" are meant to be. You want gaming to become mainstream? It has become mainstream. Gaming isn't for geeks or nerds anymore. Gaming has come to the mass, and one thing that proceeds that is the fact that the mass now has a voice. We're no longer a niche community that's been developed by being picked on by jocks or outcasts. Jocks and the people that outcast geeks and nerds are part of us

    And my point with that is that almost every aspect of feminism has been riled against by the mass. This behaviour isn't unique to gaming. It's not unique to who we are. Gaming has become mainstream, and as such our culture reacts in pretty much the same way most mainstream cultures react

    This isn't a problem with gaming. This is a problem with you not recognising that gaming has changed

      Well said... Up vote... if I could have.

      They have recognised gaming has changed... for the worse. That's the point. Also, your views on "feminism has been riled against by the mass" um... are you living in Kabul or somewhere in Sudan? Because I've been around for a while, I definitely don't remember 'the masses' robustly opposing gender equality in the West (or in Australia at least) the way you're implying.

        Feminism is still under attack in many countries. I'm not entirely sure about Australia to be honest, but certainly in other parts of the world. The US and UK included. Currently even the word holds a stigma against it, so much so that people avoid labelling themselves as feminist to avoid said stigma. Then you have people who say feminism is no longer needed, or that it merely points out things that aren't there. You have people who believe that feminists don't want equality, but superiority

        You then have the separate sides of feminists on certain issues which attack each other, such as the Pro-Sex and Anti-Sex movement. And if you want examples of the masses riling up against feminism, just look at reactions to the slut walk. We're getting a lot better about it, but it still happens

        I'm not saying that even the majority of people are against feminism, or get riled up by it, but part of being mainstream, part of being accepted as a medium, as an art, is that the people who partake and contribute include all demographics. Including people who attack feminism.

        You say it's for the worse, I'm not going to state an opinion either way. I am going to say that people need to decide what they want. Either complain that gaming culture includes people we don't like, or complain that we aren't accepted like any other medium. You can't have both

        Obviously you weren't alive when women tried to secure the vote for themselves. Or rallied for their right to work. There was a huge backlash against both those movements.

          We are alive for the gays trying to have the same rights.
          Homosexuality isn't stereotyped in gaming but man are they hated by the community.
          I find it funny how people turn around and say people who denied women equal rights of black people equal rights were wrong then turn around and say gays don't get that right.

            This! Damn straight fathermiso! The hysterical anti-gay sentiment (in general) today is analogous to the racial and gender driven discrimination throughout the 20th century. To suggest this is somehow not the case is is completely and utterly false. And when I say gaming has changed for the worse, I've been playing games since the 80s, I remember well playing FPSs in the 90s and early naughties and there being barely any abuse (maybe a little reserved for obvious cheaters). As the later series Calls of Duty (particularly from about 2006/2007 onwards), racial and homophobic abuse in these games from other players became endemic, in some cases, tolerated on some levels (remember the MW2 F.A.G.S. video?). I could barely get a kill without having some douchebag call me a hacker, a Jew (what being Jewish has to do with anything I don't know) or many variations of vitriolic, homophobic obscenities. Any shooter you play now, I GUARANTEE, someone will abuse another player with something homophobic racist or otherwise bigoted within the first few minutes. The rest of the match will be filled with this bullshit. There was a marked difference in attitudes from CoD:MW to MW2 that I put down largely to younger gamers coming over from the Halo series. It was like the flood gates opened and a torrent of childish, hateful behaviour flooded in. Younger gamers let rip, they have no sense of moderation so they let fly with all sorts of crap. Now, in addition to the aforementioned shitty, bigoted behaviour, we see a significant rise in sexist attitudes towards gamers who're girls/women. I can't play shooters like MW because I find whole experience tainted by the general attitudes of many of the douchebag players. Same with MMOs, that chat window is always closed. I don't need to provide evidence of this, because examples of this are all over youtube, easy to find when starting a new match in MW or simply look at the response to Anita Sarkeesian's projects.

      As you say all industries in the media have a range of creations both deep and shallow. The point (or one of them) is that it isn't the content of game that need to change and grow up it is the consumer.
      Movies may have shallow games, but is a movie about female liberation ala Themla and Lousie is released the creators are not bullied and harassed.

        No, but people who enjoy Twilight are. People who hate Twilight are harassed. 50 Shades of Gray has been attacked on so many fronts it's not funny, while supported on the same ones. Then you have rifts between series, such as Star Wars and Star Trek. Or you have people who claim that Harry Potter books are the devil and need to be burned. No consumer base is "mature"

          Fair point but they are discussing (wrong word) the content not the themes. Or they are just creepy 50 year old mums lusting after a 21 year old. The quality of the work or a preference for a different style is well within the bounds of a mature community.
          The knee jerk reaction to anything that my display gaming in a negative light or be seen as outsiders trying to change things are hit with abuse. Which ties into your point about understanding that gaming culture includes people we don't like as it has grown into a mainstream hobby.
          Part of the process of growing up in reference to video games is to accept that it isn't just one kind of person who plays and to accept different people with different tastes.

    I don't get this; games themselves are more mature than ever and are beginning to deal with more mature concepts. Secondly, to reiterate what others have already said, the gaming community is not longer just 'dorks, geeks and nerds'. CoD, Gears, sporting games and games like the Sims have brought gaming firmly into the mainstream. I can remember when you never saw games being advertised on the sides of bus', or on TV etc, now it seems commonplace.

    So it seems to me that; Games are growing up. The gaming community is broadening. Hopefully these two factors will lead to diversity and maturity in the gaming world (both the industry and the society).

    Finally; lets stop pretending that xbox live is representative of the gaming community. Because guess what; a lot of use don't play xbox. Or even multiplayer games. I have been playing PC games - including a lot of multiplayer games (mostly shooters) for a long time and I have very rarely seen bullying.

      I think one example of how the gaming culture has matured is the discussion on this webpage. People are taking time to consider the article and put forth their carefully considered opinions calmly and without vitriol. They're also taking the time to read each other's comments and discuss them rather than argue.
      Most Kotaku.au readers are part of the community and are people with a genuine interest in games and game culture.
      And no, Xbox Live isn't representative of the larger gaming community, but there are always bad apples that sour others.

      @Tooshay: You've been playing FPS a long time and rarely seen bullying?? Seriously? What are you playing and which servers?? Because when I play, it's usually happening within minutes of joining. I find games marketed to younger consumers (CoD, Halo, Gears of War, BF3et al) to be where the worst offenders are. It's even pretty bad when I join Day Z/The War Z servers. Yes I said The War Z. :p Though the abuse in War Z is 50/50 between general douchebaggery and people who hate the game...

      I think lonewolf's right though. Here, people read the responses. They don't just yell obscenities at the screen. :p

      Last edited 14/03/13 2:27 pm

        I'm talking from a PC gamer perspective here. With that regards the games I've spent the most time playing online (shooters that is) is CoD4, Blops1, MW2, BF3 a bit of MW3. And yeah I havn't (or at least recall having) seen bullying. Obscenity yeah, but you will find that in any gathering of young men. I see that as different from bullying because bullying is specifically targeted at a single person. The only game I have ever stopped playing because of the community was CS 1.6 (because I was god awful at it and no one was shy about telling me that).

        I've seen (or heard) people being stupid over microphones, but thats when I am thankful for mute player options. Ultimately I stopped playing games like CoD not because of the players but because I got bored with the gameplay (and the prestige thing, that was stupid).

        I have no doubt that it is a vocal minority that gives the impression that gamers are self-entitled rude shitheads. But the thing is (as is evident in politics) it is impossible to silence a vocal minority.

        What I object to in this article is the assumption that the self entitled shitheads are the norm, that as a whole we need to 'grow up' - and that games are entirely immature, where I think the increase in game presenting a mature story (and the relevant success of those games) indicates that as a whole the gaming community is much better than we are given credit for.

        Maybe Cliff B sees the community from a different perspective being involved so heavily in Gears. A game that was xbox exclusive (I think? not a big console person), which therefore involved xbox live, which is not representative of gamers as a whole.

    Let me show you all a discussion I just had on Facebook with a total moron, out of decency I'll hide his identity. I won't hide mine. My names SC. (Steve Croft) All I did was post the video in a forum and say 'This is fantastic', as I seriously thought it was. I found the video deep, thoughtful and excellently structured. In five weeks time at Uni we will be talking story structure in videogames at Uni, I will be presenting this to my lecturer prior to that to see if we can use it. Anyhow on with the show:

    ====================
    Steve Croft
    This is fantastic.

    Damsel in Distress Part 1 - Tropes vs Women in Video Games
    www.youtube.com

    This video explores how the Damsel in Distress became one of the most widely used gendered clichés in the history of gaming and why the trope

    MM Fantastic in a "Wow, what a train wreck! Let's get in closer to see if there are any dead bodies" sort of way, or fantastic in a "Please miss, may I see the jar containing my testicles? I want to remember what it's like being a man" sort of way?
    22 minutes ago · Like

    MM I heard it comes across as flat, like a high school report, and covers as much new ground as a quadriplegic chained to a tree.
    21 minutes ago · Like

    SC So I'm guessing you didn't watch it then?
    19 minutes ago · Like

    MM I have more important things to do, like clean my belly button.
    17 minutes ago · Like

    SC Too confronting?
    17 minutes ago · Like

    MM Too much of a circle jerk. Get back to me when she addresses an issue with a solution, rather than wasting tens of thousands of dollars stating the fucking obvious.
    15 minutes ago · Like

    SC It's a series. Stop being part of the 'right now' generation.
    15 minutes ago · Like

    MM "Oh no, the dam is about to break! What shall we do?!"
    "We shall sit down and talk about the history of the construction of the dam."
    "But if it breaks, we're all dead! How do we fix it?!"
    "What do I look like to you, an engineer?"
    12 minutes ago · Like

    SC Your inability to actually discuss the situation reflects the idea that you're uncomfortable with the topic. Have a great day dude.
    11 minutes ago · Like

    MM What topic? That the tale of a male protagonist rescuing a girl is as old as bacteria? WOAH, HEAVY STUFF MAN.

    ========================

    I guess this kind of shit is what we have to contend with until people wake up and understand there is definitely an inequality in videogames. Whilst I don't expect us to ever lose the 'hero rescues the girl' arch-type, I do think we need to, as a world, move past the sexist barrier we've held on to for far too long and start getting more equality in our games. God knows Xcom is one of the best games I've played in the last few years where Gender plays zero role, all characters are equal, Tomb Raider has been amazing, I love how in Skyrim gender is of really no consequence, you just 'are'. More games should be of this nature, that it doesn't matter what gender you are, you're the hero/heroine and you're there to save the day, your gender doesn't define you, your actions do. But as long as we have reactions to how things are like above, we won't be able to move forward, we'll be stuck where we are right now...

    Last edited 14/03/13 2:49 pm

      I don't get it, you say gaming has examples of that sort of princess thing, then you give all these examples of strong female characters (also see Dawn of War: Space Marine).
      So, why are you complaining? Game developers are taking action to give better female role models in games.

      The only thing that's an issue is the hordes of stupid.. Which aren't just sexist but also racist and homophobic.

        I think he's trying to illustrate though the quoted discussion how closed minded and scared some people are. Judging by MM's comments he's a toolbag (yeah a whole bag), when I see people like this I always remember the Passion of the Christ Episode of South Park, where Cartman is giving Stan shit over the phone until Stan works out it's Cartman who then gets scared and hangs up.

          Exactly. Peoples initial reaction is 'ITS DIFFERENT! I DONT LIKE IT! STOP IT! IT SCARES ME! I MUST RAGE AGAINST IT!' The gaming examples I gave, were games where the protagonist was strong as a character but not because the character was a woman. There's plenty of games out there that put forward a female character who still relies on what I would personally term sexist and cliched tropes that, although you use that female, really show they haven't moved forward in any way. The Ninja Gaiden series, as much as I love those games (well maybe not 3), have females with back breaking size breasts, Lollypop chainsaw, Bayonetta (fun game but still...), where the fact is the womanly character is only succesful because of her womanly ways... the other games the gender is inconsequential. If it ever does enter the fray, its only to add effect to the game. Games such as Fallout, where it adds spice to side quests and abilities, relationships with characters, Saints Row 3 where it really makes NO difference other than some actual jokes during the game etc. That's where the progression comes in. Where you don't truly see the gender no matter which one it is, you just see a great character. Maybe I've deviated a little from what I was originally trying to say, who knows, but I think you get the gist.

    I got called an antiquer on Battlefield 3 once, best hate mail ever.

    In Defense of X-Box live which I rarely play against randoms, when I do I rarely get abusive twits. But once they are ignored they tend to leave.

    I've generally had more helpful team players than jerks.

    Fantastic read Cliffy B! From my surveillance, it's the fact that CoD's become so ridiculously main-stream, all the little shits and primary school kids bathe in violence and swearing of a school-afternoon in a match of the newest installment of Call of Duty. Of course, not all who play CoD are like that, some just want to play a good multiplayer game, but it's become more of a social hangout then a game.

    I'm going to play Devils advocate on this one. I agree that women get mess treated, but I really do think it's kind of shallow to just say it's only in video games. How many women in the work place makes less than a male employee? Or how if you see a woman with a child, some people first thought is "Stay at home mom.".

    It's not just video games. It's society in genre. I know we all want to label sexist and other foul behavior as poison to our shared enjoyment. But it isn't just in our hobby. It's everywhere. In the same sentence some women exploit these idiots for their own personal gain. Take for instance a League of Legends Twitch Tv streamer. I want you to find some people who aren't personal and how many viewers they have. I counted at least 4 dozen males with web cams on with no more than 10-20 viewers. I counted 10 + Women streamers with 200-600+ Viewers and half of them had push-up bras and with low cut shirts. (Idk what they're called, but you get the idea). Sadly, if you read the chat 90% of the idiots in there are asking for her name, what's her age, if she'll flash them etc. Do I think the women who are just playing to play are wrong here? No. There were 2 of them just wanting to talk to people they played. Perfectly fine. One even banned the little boys who asked immature questions. The others, were just exploiting views. Even feeding in to the children by saying "No! I'm not going to say you my breast *giggles*" which we all know just makes it worse by inaugural their exists.

    I'll give you another example. I know if you played World of Warcraft you've had at LEAST one female in your guild before. Now, I have many female friends in WoW and they don't let people know what sex they are. Because A.) It's no one business and B.) it just makes things awkward. But the type of females I stay away from are the ones who make it a point to let people know they are female. Then they always go out of their way to "flirt" with people. Then when a guy offers to give them something.... they take it. Instead of saying "No thanks, I don't need anyone to pay for my way." they use the fact that the male is an idiot and wants to E-hook up with her.

    Here's the problem. If you do this kind of behavior then you're not helping the cause. Just like men HAVE to grow up and realize being a woman is no different from being a man. That the men need to stop trying to exploit women to "flash" or bully them. While women need to stop exploiting these little boys for their own personal goals. Am I saying it's all women? No, of course not. That is utterly stupid to say and or think. But I am also not saying it's all men. Which is also utterly stupid to say and think. It's a two way street. Hopefully we all can drive on that street together without stupidity one day.

      . I want you to find some people who aren't *professional* and how many viewers they have.

      Even feeding in to the children by saying "No! I'm not going to *show* you my breast *giggles*" which we all know just makes it worse by inaugural their exists.

      Sorry, was 4am and didn't proof read my post. Always check it before posting no matter what time it is.. o_o moral of the story

    I think people need to realise that what Anita Sarkeesian might say doesn't necessarily need to be all negative. She intends to look at the Tropes of women in video games, but if she is non-bias she will also look at the good portrayals of women in the games industry. Take women in the Mass Effect series, they are all portrayed VERY well.

    I think the sexist haters are like the Westboro baptist church. A vocal minority that catches people's attention. It's unfortunate that a tiny segment of the public can consume so much spotlight and make us all look bad.

    Doesnt anyone else just have this feeling of smashing keyboards and beating on desks and yelling "STOP TRYING TO FUCK WITH WHAT I ENJOY?!" Im not racist, homophobic or sexist, I like my games the way they are, I like my epic fantasy stories of love, war, good and evil....LEAVE MY GAMES ALONE, TROPES ARE AWSOME *cry*

    These articles are great and all and everyone should be more than informed about the topic by now. However, I feel it's sort of at the point where the people who are going to change will have changed and everyone else is sticking to their guns. As Mr Presley put it, "A little less conversation and a little more action". It'd be nice to start seeing more articles about what the companies and development studios are doing to make an effort to invert and subvert the tropes while also trying to mitigate the extremely vocal minority's (The one that poisons everything) effect on everyone else.

    That's not to say though that keeping people aware isn't important, it's just that a lot of people don't really have any evidence or examples to fall back on. There's too many sources out there for people to point at and go "Well, it's just how it is". Seriously, why didn't we have any articles today about Siobhan Reddy winning an award? It's a great example to point to and say, "See. Where's your man-dominated gaming industry now?"

    Last edited 15/03/13 1:29 am

    This isnt limited to video game culture, its just more vocal here. Yes a lot of people need to grow up, but lets take everything into perspective. In the last 40 years Western society has changed from men being bread winners, master of the house and pretty much everything else that wasnt child care to todays more modern equality, both real and forced.
    Many of us are old enough to remember the dying days of the old order, and many more still know of it through media and older friends and family. A lot of men (more than will ever admit it) feel their worth has sunk with the introduction of female empowerment. The more idiotic of this group can be VERY vocal about it.
    A lot of guys need to grow up, but at the same time you cant ignore that society has changed more in the last few decades than it ever has in history. It will be decades before this issue is behind us completely, and no amount of "education" or forced acceptance will change it. Sad but true.

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