The last few weeks in videogame culture have seen a level of combativeness more marked and bitter than any beforehand.
First, a developer—a woman who makes games who has had so much piled on to her that I don’t want to perpetuate things by naming her—was the target of a harassment campaign that…
This is really strong.
OK, I am getting super annoyed with men talking about this framing the discussion as being in a history where women only recently started playing games or contributing to the industry.
WOMEN HAVE ALWAYS GAMED. THE FIRST COMPUTER PROGRAMMER WAS A WOMAN. GET THIS THROUGH YOUR SKULL.
It’s like figures forcing you to concede that adult women make up roughly half of gamers have just made you move it back ‘Oh, well, they didn’t used to’ or ‘They only used to play girly games/casual games’. STOP. NO. I KNOW YOU THINK YOU’RE HELPING, BUT YOU’RE NOT.
We have always been here and we have always experienced shitty levels of sexism and exclusion when we have tried to do so.
The difference is that the Intenert has made the fact that we game and talk about gaming and critique gaming and write games impossible to ignore. That is why the backlash has become so vicious. Erasure by simply acting as though we aren’t there isn’t possible anymore, so the tactics have become more direct.
Look, guys, I appreciate that you care and that you want to show your outrage (and pat each other on the back for being so powerfully outraged) but you really need to be aware of how you can still be and are perpetuating the culture that begets this.
Stop painting us as new. Stop painting us as taking someone else’s toys. Stop pretending that the sexism of the ‘old days’ was OK, because only boys played. No. Girls played. Women played. Women have always played. The sexism was there not as some kind of natural consequence of only supplying to boys, but as a consequence of the massively sexist culture in which we still exist and in which you partake.
I’m 48 years old. I’ve been a gamer since the early 80s, back in the days of Space Invaders and Pac Man, and have cycled from hardcore to casual gamer and back again several times (usual depending on additional factors such as the age of my PC and the state of my wallet). As I pointed out on a separate post some time back that was going around about this “surprising” sudden increase in the number of 50+ women playing, this increase should not surprise anyone.
This ‘increase’ is merely the cohort of my teenage age-mates and near-peers who were in their low 20s or so at the time of the introduction of the first widely popular home computers and consoles - the Apple IIs, the Vic20s and Commodore CBMs,PETS and 60s, the IBM PC 2, Nintendo, Atari, ColecoVision, etc - aging gracefully upwards while still doing what we have always done - GAMED.
I will bet there is, yes, some overall increase in the size of both the 50+ gamers and the cohort I’m still down in. This would be all our peers who hadn’t gamed prior to now, who have now started becoming grandmothers, with grandchildren for whom gaming is as widely accepted and practiced an activity as TV watching was in our own youths. Grannie starts helping grandchild play through levels of their current obsession on their tablet or Wii or whatever and next thing you know Grannie has a gamepad of her own.
It should not surprise anyone that women game, and in significant numbers. We have always gamed. We have always participated in creating games as well, which is where there’s always been a saddening disparity between the number of women employed by the industry and the number of women who make use of its products (which is, sadly, also true of a huge number of other industries). Anyone who thinks that women gaming is a recent phenomena must have spent their entire life to date living under a rock with blinders on.
Though judging by the comments I’ve seen male gamers make about female gamers, that last actually seems appallingly possible.
Gaming as an identity as the original article frames it is one that has actively excluded women, as well as POC, from the very beginning. We were there playing all along and nobody wanted to acknowledge us.
A whole whole lot of the time there has been active hostility.
What’s happening now is not something new, but more of the same. White men have been aggressively territorial about gaming all along. The difference is that you’re starting to notice it.