I saw an interesting article on the The Verge today about EA’s Electronic Entertainment Expo press conference and I couldn’t help but nod along in agreement. Authors Chris Plante & T.C. Sottek speculated about why gaming executives didn’t comment on the recent tragedy in Orlando, Florida which left 50 dead:
Perhaps EA executives thought it would be hypocritical to comment on a real-life shooting before promoting a first-person shooter.
The only reason it would by hypocritical to talk-up virtual guns and virtual violence would be if it had any effect on real-world behavior and that insinuation is completely on point.
The production of video games that require or reward people for taking digital lives are causing outbreaks of violence around the world. Late last year an attack in Paris was perpetrated by killers who were undoubtedly much more skilled at DOOM than even the most studious Polygon reporter. If research were carried out to compare the attackers in both cases the only link would probably be their love of gaming.
How can we let gaming companies completely ignore and neglect their responsibility in these tragedies? Completely failing to acknowledge real, actual shootings that were probably practiced in their games? Unforgivable.
Let us strive to make our voices heard: we want violence out of video games. To end mass shootings and end terrorism we, as gamers, need to look at how our hobby is fueling hatred worldwide.
There is a common misconception in the minds of today’s moviegoers and that is the idea a great film is one which has impeccable acting, masterful direction, and brings a story to life. I’m here to disavow that myth: it’s not. What really makes a motion picture transcend its medium is a cast composed of ethnically diverse actors and actresses.
The first trailer for next year’s mythological blockbuster Gods of Egypt has certainly proven this. The movie won’t even be out for months, but the reviews are in; this film is just too damn white. It should be common knowledge that the real gods of Egypt were racially similar to the mortals that they ruled over. Well, the human parts of them were.
Hollywood has yet again tried to “whitewash” history with its large stable of actors and actresses of European descent. How would one even know that those hailing from the Nile river basin have dark skin?! If media moguls won’t provide historically accurate depictions of events, who will?
This could have been a real turning point for Western media. There is only one main black actor in the film, but think about the impact of having even more. In the United States alone it could have changed millions of lives for the better. Some activists waste time on tackling poverty and incarceration, but in reality those issues simply stem from employment practices in Hollywood. Thankfully, some brave souls have already made sure that the Gods of Egypt Wikipedia page already reflects what a travesty it is.
I hope studios listen to the loud voices demanding change. Together we can make a difference in the world and that starts with holding movies accountable for historically accurate and racially correct depictions of mythological deities.
GaymerGate, often shorted to the acronym GG, is an online movement that began in August 2014 after it came to light that a gaming journalist had engaged in sexual acts with a female game developer whom he had written about without disclosing any type of relationship. Tens of thousands of homosexual gamers took to social media to voice their discontent. The movement claimed to have been against what its members saw as an ethical transgression and fiercely criticized the standards of modern gaming publications in general. Officially, it had nothing to do with the heterosexual nature of the impropriety, but the fact that it had happened at all.
Some were critical of GG and pointed out the double standards of the movement. Developers and journalists had never been criticized for any exclusively-male orgies often held after conventions. Feminist culture critic Anita Snarkiseen called the group a bunch of “gay white nerds” who weren’t willing to let women into the industry.
Getting in with the Gaymers
In order to fully understand GaymerGate and find out what it was really about, I had to infiltrate the movement from within. After familiarizing myself with their home on Reddit in a forum called r/KocktakuInAction, I began speaking with those that personally identified as belonging to the shadowy and leaderless group. One such “GaymerGater” agreed to speak to me, but asked to only be referred to by his initials “A.S.” Repercussions for those who turn their backs on GG are often ridicule and online harrassment… bullying which can only be prevented by completely logging off from social media, something near-impossible to do in today’s connected world.
The first question that had to be asked was, “Is it really about ethics?” I could see A.S. pause over Skype, but he slowly shook his head. “No,” he said, “and I’m sick of pretending it is.” The narrative just kept unwinding from there. It was, he admitted, an organized attempt to get women out of gaming.
My link into GaymerGate patiently explained that gaming was never intended to be an activity for females. He pointed out the phallic origins of the joystick which still remains an iconic symbol for the hobby.
“This has always been a unique celebration of male-ness. When you wrap your hands around a controller and start jerking it around… it connects you. You’re right there with your brothers. It’s deep, man. Girls just don’t get that,” A.S. seemed to get a bit choked up a bit and I gave him a moment to collect himself, “It just isn’t fair for women to try to tempt the weaker straight men among us.”
He also admitted that GG would do anything it could to stop the influx of women into gaming, including criticizing their fashion sense and hairstyles on social media. Weight, however, was off-limits because “gaymers understand how tempting chocolate can be”.
Toning Down the Testosterone
Women have not taken kindly to GaymerGate or its facade of caring about “ethics in journalism”. Opponents of the movement have created their own group: Females Against GaymerGate, or faGG for short. They promise to keep shining the light on the misogyny spawned by GG. Multiple YouTube series have demonstrated how important characters such as Lara Croft are to gaming; “She’s definitely one of the most important female role models as far as characters go. For the next game though we really hope that Square Enix highlight her privileges, such as being white, thin, able-bodied, and cisgendered as well as acknowledge the inherent cultural oppression in exploring new territories.”
Girls fighting under the faGG banner have also sharply criticized gaymers for the assumption that they hold a monopoly on geeky men. They point out that some of the most desirable traits can be found among gamers, chief among them being their skilled hands from countless hours spent nimbly nudging analog sticks and timing precise keystrokes during critical moments.
Where do we go from here
GaymerGate wasn’t predicted to be a long-lived, but even today proponents keep the movement going. Likewise, faGG supporters are there at every turn to ensure women are able to get in on the joystick-slamming action in gaming.
The war rages on, but I hope that my exposé brings attention to the real motives behind GG and just how divisive it is in gaming. Bear this information in mind when deciding which side you support.
Street Fighter V has revealed pre-order bonus costumes in North America and the gruff, masculine “Battle Costume Ryu”, which was quickly dubbed Hot Ryu online, has aroused gamers across the globe. Gaming sites are already declaring him one of the “too hot not to share” and it didn’t take long for him to trend on Twitter.
His popularity has absolutely crushed my spirits and faith in humanity.
I expected outraged blog posts complaining about his over-sexualization and unobtainable level of masculinity which could influence the minds of young, impressionable boys who would grow up in world which glorifies bodies such as Hot Ryu’s. I trusted that women would see what straight men had done to their gender and do anything in their power from the reverse happening. Sadly, I have now realized that I cannot trust straight women any more than I can trust their heterosexual male counterparts. This has left me feeling very alone in the world and not just that of gaming.
Thus, in the spirit of equality and safeguarding tomorrow’s youth, we must remove all sexually revealing outfits and characters from games (and all media really). This will guarantee that women do not feel objectified and prevents men from going down the same path. I can only imagine the pain that a straight male teenager will feel when he asks a girl to the dance and is rejected because he lacks an 8-pack like her favorite video game character.
Only we can stop gender stereotypes and video games need to be target number one.