Now, you may have noticed that my Equality in Gaming is all about women. There are a few reasons why. The largest one is that I am a woman who is into games. I am not, however, a member of any other minority, so I’m trying not to talk for any of them, since that’s not okay. The other one is that women, as gamers still suffer a serious stigma and get overlooked in the game industry, even though we comprise a large portion of consumers.
Seriously we’re forty-six percent of video game consumers. Yet, the majority of games cater to specifically heterosexual white males. Granted about a portion of the female population quoted is also likely members of minority groups, as well as on the male side because gaming statistics generally tend to be about the binary because the industry is still stuck back in the 80s with regards to looking at customers.
In reference to content, they might as well be back in the fifties. Most female characters are love interests, sex objects or captives. That has admittedly gotten better, but there’s still a lot of tropey stuff out there. Not all tropes are bad, and sure, having some of the traditional games in the industry is still good, because nostalgia is a thing.
Why does it matter in video games? Because games are a part of our culture. They reflect us and affect us, even if only on a subconscious level. Because the more women we see in gaming as acceptable partners, the more women will get treated as partners in gaming. The industry staff wise can be hella toxic for women, not just with neckbearded trolls on forums but actually within the industry itself. And it’s not like there aren’t some really top-shelf women doing work in the industry. Like Miki Higashino (Suikoden), Kim Swift (Portal, Left 4 Dead), and Michiru Yamane (Castlevania), to name a few.
Maybe you’re a guy, maybe you don’t get it. Let me give you a few real-life examples: I have been threatened because I wouldn’t post pictures of my husband and I. I have been called slurs and insults because I wouldn’t chat over voice. I have had male characters stalk my toons across zones sending me lewd texts. This stuff happens all the time. Ask any woman who doesn’t like voice why; if you dig, nearly every one of them will cite harassment as a reason. Hell, that’s why I don’t use my actual name for these articles. Because I have been stalked, I have had someone send me voice messages of hours long describing graphic violence to me and my loved ones with some creative and not so creative insults. Women get doxxed. Women get targeted, harassed and assaulted in the game community, and that is not okay. It’s ridiculous. It’s unacceptable.
Gaming for me is about a place where can all gather together and share our hobby. Where we can be geeks together. And when the industry itself refuses to see me and my gender as non-existent or unworthy of representation, it denies us that. It fosters the us versus them mentality and when their staff gets treated like crap simply because they’re women it sends the message to all gamers that this is acceptable behavior and all that women should expect.
Just no. This is the twenty-first century. It’s time to not only kill that idea but to marinate it in napalm and chlorine gas and let it scream in torment until it expires into a pile of noxious goo.
So until that is the case, I will write, I will talk, and I will try to change what I can. And I’ll try to do so in the most respectful way I can towards other minorities, leaving them their own space to talk, because I sure as hell know what it feels like to be silenced in a place I should be welcome. I’m not ignoring it, but those aren’t my topics to talk about, and unlike some, I know it.