Advice to Male Gamers on How Not to Be Sexist Douchebags
If we learned anything at all during the recent election, we learned that there are wide swaths of men who simply do not understand women at all, but think they do.... They don't, and hey, not understanding things isn't a crime. On the other hand, I wouldn't let someone who doesn't know how an internal combustion engine works be in charge of designing a car. So try and be comfortable in knowing that being ignorant of a subject means you need to limit your input on it.
Lately, the gaming world has been waging a war on women. Well, woman. Anita Sarkeesian decided that she wanted to make a series of videos looking at how women are treated in video games and by the game community. After successfully funding it through Kickstarter, male gamers who were afraid that she would portray them all as misogynistic assholes preemptively struck by being misogynistic assholes.
Meanwhile, acclaimed comic artist Tony Harris went on an anti-cosplay girl tirade that has all the elegance and sense of bacon-flavored Sprite. Sure, he was talking about comic cosplay girls, but his rage-filled nuttering could easily apply to the game cosplayers I run into at conventions to judge by conversations between guys that I overhear at such events.
There is sexism in the air, is what I am trying to say, and literally all of it is misplaced and more importantly stupid. Here are a few things you might want to not do if you want to avoid making that particular social fart more potent.
5. Never type or say the phrase, "Tits or GTFO!": Number one, this meme was never funny in the first place. Number two, even though you think it is funny, this sort of thing is reason 2/3 of female players in MMOs use male avatars. You know why? Because women don't like the implication that their participation in an activity they've paid for is based on whether or not they're willing to show off their boobs.
4. Don't assume a woman in an MMO is looking for a date or casual sex: In reality, this assumption is no different than the old school idea that sending girl to college was just an expensive way of finding a husband for her. Depending on which survey you read, women make up between a quarter to a third of the gaming population now. Sure, some of them may be interested in pursing a romantic or physical relationship with someone they meet online, but it's almost certainly not their primary purpose.
3. Remember that you don't "own" gaming: The number of women playing video games has risen dramatically in the last five years alone. Yes, that means that boys were "here first" in most cases, but you have to understand that that doesn't matter in the slightest. Just because it took most women longer to become interested in our favorite pasttime doesn't make us the gatekeepers. No one "owns" gaming except the people that make the games.
2. Condescension is asking to have your ass handed to you: Gaming wouldn't be gaming if we didn't mock those of lesser skill and achievement than us, but there is a difference between doing it because someone is worse at a game than you and just attributing their being worse to their gender. You can't blame that on the dismal and simplistic selection of "girl games." Those things were made by clueless men trying to gain market share from people without bothering to try and research their demographic.
In reality, some girls are shitty at some games, but all of them can get better. If you provoke them you're likely to find them sniping you and tea-bagging your corpse because gaming also wouldn't be gaming if rage-filled players didn't find a way to humiliate something that pissed them off.
1. Girl gamers aren't a threat to you: With the above richly deserved retribution aside, you need to be wary of the feeling that girls becoming a dominant force in the gaming industry is somehow a threat to you. This, more than anything, is where men need to step back and consider some things.
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Gaming is going to change, and in a big way, and soon at that. Women have precious few good role models in games. Nintendo took their most badass female character and turned her into a simpering, shackled woman holding back her arsenal of abilities to curry favor with a father figure in Metroid: Other M. Mass Effect 2 had a character that you could "cure" of mental problems resulting from an abusive relationship by screwing her. Play through Arkham City as Catwoman and literally all you hear is "bitch" and thugs talking about nailing her. I'm not even going to talk about God of War and Duke Nukem.
At one point, this was a complaint gamemakers could just gloss over because there weren't enough girls playing the games to make their marketshare worth changing. That's already no longer true, and it's going to mean less and less chauvinism will be made or tolerated.
Actually, I guess that is a threat of a kind, but don't worry. There will always be games like the ones I mentioned above. It's just that there will also be games like Portal. It's not feminazism, it's just good business sense. The true essence of manliness is having the character to allow women a place on the server without resorting to a "mine" mentality. If you keep buying games where women are mere ornaments to be won they'll keep making them, but if you scream and throw a fit every time develops makes a title with a strong, female lead then makers will stop listening to you... and probably everyone else.
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