Tag Archives: gamers

Breaking news: the gamer community is broken

[CW: verbal abuse and massive online harassment directed at women]

In case you missed it, there’s a war on against women in games. Trolls and/or misogynists (when the two groups are observationally equivalent, fine distinctions seem beside the point) used the 4chan hate site to organize an attack against game developer Zoe Quinn, opportunistically exploiting a series of revenge posts made by Quinn’s disgruntled ex-boyfriend.

Quinn has now posted detailed excerpts from 4chan members’ IRC logs that make their intentions to carry out a false-flag operation, and manufacture a controversy about “ethics in game journalism” out of thin air, crystal-clear. The people making sockpuppet accounts to post what they think are convincing simulacra of feminist thought aren’t concerned about ethics; they’re not even sympathetic with Quinn’s hapless ex. No, they simply have a vendetta against “social justice warriors” (I guess they think that term is an insult?)

You can follow links to read many more details. I’d like to highlight one thing, though. Normally, we don’t publish rejected comments on this blog — sort of by definition — but most comments this blog receives never see the light of day, whether they’re nonsense spam, indiscriminate proposals for posts on the most faintly on-topic issues, trolling, or outright hate. I’ll make one exception, though. This comment sat in the pending queue for a while before it was deleted:

The full text of a comment from Matthew Rappard that was left on this blog

This is a comment that was deleted before it appeared on the blog. Wow, are we glad.

As far as I can tell (people who are sufficiently dull, sheltered, or both to think that fighting against social justice is the best thing they can do with their clearly-copious free time), 4chan trolls planned to manipulate the Fine Young Capitalists to provide publicity for their hate campaign. I was already suspicious, when I saw the initial comment, of a group purporting to help women in games that has a spokesperson with a traditionally masculine first name; more suspicious by not seeing obvious credit given to any women who were also collaborating with the organization. I thought it might be innocent, though. And now, I see that it was — but that it could well have been preparation for some not-so-innocent manipulation.

(By the way, I didn’t think to whois the IP address until just now. Turns out it’s a public Toronto Public Library terminal. That probably would have raised a red flag for me as well — usually, representatives of nonprofits that are on the up and up don’t need to hide their identities by using a public library computer.)

I think the moral of the story, for people who moderate blog comments, is to be careful and seek second (and third) opinions. It’s natural to want to err on the side of not dismissing somebody as a troll when they actually have a genuine issue that you don’t know much about. But sometimes, when it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it really is a member of Anas platyrhynchos.

Open thread: A video for the sexist gamer dudes

The line around 3:14 made me laugh, so I’m embedding this video right here:

The Border House blog has a transcript, if you are so inclined.

This is intended as an open thread, where you can talk not only about sexist gamer dudes “who still think that sandwich joke is funny” but also any older stories for which the comments are now closed, or you can bring up new stuff you think we should know about.

Chainmail (European 4 in 1 pattern)

and you will know us by the trail of linkspam (22nd May, 2012)

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Featured Image Credit: ‘Abstract’ Chainmail – Uploaded by UCL Engineering on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Prepping for April Fool’s Day linkspam

The photo has nothing to do with the title, except that we are the lamp of knowledge and truth and anti-sexism shining into the dark corners of ignorance! Or maybe not. Anyway, linkspam:

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on delicious or pinboard.in or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

The plight of the Straight, Male Gamer

If you’re not a gamer, perhaps you haven’t seen this post entitled Bioware Neglected Their Main Demographic: The Straight Male Gamer which complains about the romance options in Dragon Age II. [Warning: minor spoilers for Dragon Age II about which characters are romance options.]

In every previous BioWare game, I always felt that almost every companion in the game was designed for the male gamer in mind. Every female love interest was always written as a male friend type support character. In Dragon Age 2, I felt like most of the companions were designed to appeal to other groups foremost, Anders and Fenris for gays and Aveline for women given the lack of strong women in games, and that for the straight male gamer, a secondary concern. It makes things very awkward when your male companions keep making passes at you. The fact that a “No Homosexuality” option, which could have been easily implemented, is omitted just proves my point. I know there are some straight male gamers out there who did not mind it at and I respect that.

When I say BioWare neglected The Straight Male Gamer, I don’t mean that they ignored male gamers. The romance options, Isabella and Merrill, were clearly designed for the straight male gamers in mind. Unfortunately, those choices are what one would call “exotic” choices. They appeal to a subset of male gamers and while its true you can’t make a romance option everyone will love, with Isabella and Merrill it seems like they weren’t even going for an option most males will like. And the fact is, they could have. They had the resources to add another romance option, but instead chose to implement a gay romance with Anders.

When I saw this, I was torn between horrible gleeful schadenfreude at how hurt this guy was over not getting his preferred romance options… and wishing that *life* came with options whereupon I could flip a switch and not have people who I found sexually unattractive hit on me ever again. (In my case, the switch would specify “no otaku/japanophiles”) Oh, and wondering if I counted as an “exotic” choice in real life (again, see “no otaku”).

And then there’s the twitter commentary from @sparkyclarkson:

Man, I hope Duke Nukem has an option to turn heterosexual content off.

While schadenfreude might be fun, it’s hardly something to be proud of, much less something I’d feel a need to crow about here. What makes this a story worth posting about is actually the response from Bioware’s David Gaider:

The romances in the game are not for “the straight male gamer”. They’re for everyone. We have a lot of fans, many of whom are neither straight nor male, and they deserve no less attention. We have good numbers, after all, on the number of people who actually used similar sorts of content in DAO and thus don’t need to resort to anecdotal evidence to support our idea that their numbers are not insignificant… and that’s ignoring the idea that they don’t have just as much right to play the kind of game they wish as anyone else. The “rights” of anyone with regards to a game are murky at best, but anyone who takes that stance must apply it equally to both the minority as well as the majority. The majority has no inherent “right” to get more options than anyone else.

And if there is any doubt why such an opinion might be met with hostility, it has to do with privilege. You can write it off as “political correctness” if you wish, but the truth is that privilege always lies with the majority. They’re so used to being catered to that they see the lack of catering as an imbalance. They don’t see anything wrong with having things set up to suit them, what’s everyone’s fuss all about? That’s the way it should be, any everyone else should be used to not getting what they want.

And the person who says that the only way to please them is to restrict options for others is, if you ask me, the one who deserves it least. And that’s my opinion, expressed as politely as possible.

You can scroll down on the forum post to read his full response. Given that we get so many stories about how game companies are just pandering to their supposed straight young male market, it’s really nice to see a company standing up for their choice to make a game that appeals to a wider audience, even at risk of alienating a few of the “majority” in the process.

More commentary here: “Straight Male Gamer” told to “get over it’ by BioWare.

Everyone gets a linkspam! (27th January, 2011)

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the geekfeminism tag on delicious or the #geekfeminism tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

With a name like linkspam, it has to be good (8th March, 2010)

If you have links of interest, please share them in comments here, or if you’re a delicious user, tag them “geekfeminism” to bring them to our attention. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links in comments and on del.icio.us (yes, I know they don’t care about the old-school URL anymore but I miss it).

Organic freerange sustainably harvested linkspam, 28 February 2010

  • In multiple posts, Lucy Connor continues thinking about possible costs of diversity
  • N.K. Jemisin considers how she accidentally wrote a postfeminist protagonist in her new fantasy series
  • Maura McHugh, aka Splinster laments the SF industry’s failure to ask women’s opinions:

    In the article the magazine asked 34 directors, screenwriters and authors to name an obscure or under-rated cult horror that deserved better recognition. Yup, you guessed it, not a single woman was asked for her opinion.” What’s more, in a plot twist worthy of any novel of the genre, the SFX publication comes smack dab in the middle of Women in Horror Month, set up to raise awareness of and give recognition to the genre’s many female creators.

  • More event backchannel inappropriateness, this time in the PHP community.
  • There’s been some discussion about Silicon Valley diversity of late. See what Techcrunch and Mercury News had to say.
  • Maybe this article about meritocratic hiring could be insightful to startups wanting to avoid non-diverse hiring pools:

    Now, whenever I screen resumes, I ask the recruiter to black out any demographic information from the resume itself: name, age, gender, country of origin. The first time I did this experiment, I felt a strange feeling of vertigo while reading the resume. […] And, much to my surprise (and embarrassment), the kinds of people I started phone-screening changed immediately.

  • From the compare-and-contrast department: How the gamer stereotype stacks up against reality.
  • An unscientific survey of MIT students indicates that geeky students are a typical subset of society with typical sex lives as opposed to the stereotyped socially awkward folk. But we all knew that already, right?
  • Not all countries have the same gender disparity in Tech. Stanford Uni’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research examines gender roles regarding Technology based careers in Malaysia, where women reign supreme.
  • The Free Software Foundation is seeking donations to help sponsor more attendees for their Women’s Caucus at LibrePlanet 2010 next month.

If you have links of interest, please share them in comments here, or if you’re a delicious user, tag them “geekfeminism” to bring them to our attention. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links in comments and on delicious.

Playing with women’s boundaries

Trigger warning: contains mentions of implied sexual assault.

Between around 2000 and 2005, mostly during my second and third attempts at tertiary study, I racked up substantially more than one year’s worth of time in a text-based RPG. The particular one I played was a very heavily customised CircleMUD and had been going for quite a number of years at that stage.

Back then, I was an environment geek, or so I thought. It was during the second tertiary course that I learned the uber-basics of how The Internets worked, mostly from trying and (given my inexperience) largely succeeding in creating a website for a class project. The site was to document the species found in an ecological restoration site.

I learned HTML in the space of a weekend, and continued on to create the entire umpteen bazillion HTML files over the following few weeks. By hand. In static HTML. And frustrating the hell out of the teacher who could not get over my use of Notepad as my preferred way to edit HTML files. You really do not want to know what she wanted me to use.

All the while I was doing this, I was spending my spare time smiting the living daylights out of textually represented orcs, goblins, trolls and so forth, doing quest tasks, and generally having a fun time. So much fun that I started contributing to the game by making zones — new lands full of things to smite to shit, and be smited by.

I was prolific in my zone building. I tidied several orphaned zones up to start with, then I earned the privilege of being able to add completely new zones and expand one of the adopted zones to be a whole new area which was richly scripted. I moderated the communications channels, and helped form policies. I had a penchant for running weekly quests and all this meant that by the time I left, I ranked moderately in the deity hierarchy and knew how to code.

There was a small group of regulars who were women. That is, women in Real Life. To say we were “sought after” would be an understatement. To say that some of the dudes didn’t know boundaries is probably a larger one. At least once I had someone attempt to enact a caveman mating ritual. For real. Using a knock-out spell and the “R” word and everything. It was awful, but thankfully my protests were heard and the asshole was banned for a significant period of time and learned from his mistake.

Unfortunately, there was not always this level of understanding.

Years later, towards the end of my playing days, there was an individual who developed an obsession with myself and one of the other deity women. He abused the messaging services within the game, and when he realised that we had set him to ignore on all fronts, he proceeded to abuse scripted things within the game such as the florists, and out-of-game contact methods like email, to send us things. Awful things. Like links to pictures of hysteria machines saying how fun they would be for us. The higher deities were aware, and some of them did their best to spare us from the harassment, banning him when things got bad. At one point, the individual even posted a hate website to try slut-shame our characters.

Then, one day, the asshole appeared online as a deity himself. We could no longer avoid him, as he too was now a deity and impervious to ignore filters. What the hell was happening?!

It turns out that this little freak had befriended the administrator’s fiancée, and then the admin. They had decided that since we’d never taken our complaints to the admin himself until the promotion — just the deities above our own rank — that they didn’t have to care. We were told that we were just making stuff up for the sake of spite, then we were reprimanded rather fiercely by the fiancée for getting angry at her for defending the asshole.

I tried to hang around for a while, and even tried to continue playing under the guise of an alternate character. Alas, the fun was no longer there.

Studies show that women evolved to linkspam (23rd September 2009)