Over the past week, the various game forums and websites have exploded with criticism in a dramatic aftershock to last year’s Gamergate conspiracy (you remember, the one that started with an indie game about depression and became an investigation into a world-wide collusion between the entire gaming industry, the media, and three world governments?)
I’m not going to touch Gamergate with an electrocuted, twenty-foot pole, nor am I here to make a judgment call one way or another about Anita Sarkeesian. I want to point out something else:
Gamers. Please. Regardless of your personal feelings toward feminism, toward the representation of women in games, or toward Sarkeesian or her supporters as people and as a public figures, these sort of reactions do not help.
In general, the major media outlets of the world raise eyebrows at the idea of video games as an art form and at the belief that gamers are a culture. In other words, anything that we have to say about our medium starts out at a deficit. We have to work our way up, and, unfortunately, many of the most outspoken gamers in the field don’t seem to see that. It’s a classic case of a few ridiculous people making things difficult for everyone. I don’t believe that gamers or video games are sexist, racist, or homophobic at heart. What I do believe is that the medium is still evolving from of its arcade roots to a fully-fledged story-telling medium. That kind of progress comes with change.
Even if you see Sarkeesian as an extremist, as many people do, the answer is not to take the polar opposite view to spite her. It’s exactly what people tend to do with national politics. The only way that either side will ever make progress is through measured discussion. That was the idea when Congress was created; that’s the power of the Internet.
Plus, the answer is ESPECIALLY not to insult, threaten, or otherwise wish harm to Sarkeesian or to her supporters. That is NEVER the answer. For one thing, it’s immoral, and for another, gamers already have a deep-set reputation for immaturity and childishness in the minds of many people. Let’s not make it worse, please.
Sarkeesian’s review is also overwhelmingly positive. She thought that Syndicate was PRETTY GOOD, both as a game and as a representation of a female character.
That’s a good thing.
Responding to a mostly positive review with venom won’t encourage gaming’s detractors to work with us. In fact, it’ll do the opposite. Gaming is moving forward; its making progress. Whether people like it or not, the medium is evolving.
Don’t we want more people to play our favorite games? Don’t we want developers to make money so that they continue producing the games we love? It’s not like anyone is going to stop making simple, fun games because some developers are coming out with sweeping epics at the behest of people like me that love stories. The arcade games and shooters that we love for the sole reason that they’re fun won’t go anywhere if we introduce a little more diversity into games.
So let’s chill out a little, gamers.