Normally, I don’t post articles responding to individual comments, but today, I’m making an exception. This little doozy comes from Falcon D. Stormvoice on our article on Deep Down and Sexism.
“The thing about having more male characters is, it's just realistic. Men are different from women. They are more aggressive, and more likely to be in situations that involve conflict. Also, there are more male game developers, and people create things based on their own experiences. That's not to say there are no female devs, or that they aren't welcome in the industry. Apparently, they just don't find game development as enjoyable as men do.
And on the gaming side of things, don't say, 'there are just as many female gamers as male gamers and they deserve games that represent them!'. Ah, well, if they are already playing the games, then they must disagree. And nobody deserves anything anyway. Also, if you're using statistics that show that there are just as many female gamers, then you are using stats that include Facebook games. If you feel offended by that reality, too bad. I hope that one day all females realize that video games are the best thing ever. It might not ever happen, but I want it to. But right now, they just aren't as into it as men. Period.”
OK, I’ll ignore some things, like his complete willingness to ignore the ESA’s study that shows the difference between male and female gaming populations is marginal, and that there are more adult females playing videogames right now than young males, or that he says that female game developers don’t “enjoy” it as much as males do, which ignores the rampant gender discrimination in the gaming industry, or that he even said that males are more likely to get into conflicts than females… which I couldn’t find ANY supporting statistics for, but I can honestly say this man has never watched a soap opera or been the unpopular girl in high school.
But OK, ignoring how wrong he is on basically every premise, there’s one thing I wanted to point out, that I think is important, and that’s that the game design community does not actually agree with him. First of all, sexism and sexist behavior is being outlawed in many popular shooters these days, Call of Duty: Ghosts being the most recent. MOBA's like League of Legends have also followed suit, going as far as to ban money making professionals for their toxic behavior. It's clear that skill takes a backseat to being a halfway decent human being in that case.
Second, many game developers are questioning the stereotype of the straight, white, male, grizzled protagonist. Mike Bithell, producer of the upcoming game Volume, basically says the standard beefcake male protagonist is boring. He hopes to create a protagonist that challenges the notions of masculinity and heroism. “The thing that's interesting with gender,” Bithell said in a statement to Polygon. “The conversation has gotten to a point where I'd even be asked 'Why male?'. That's a big deal, and speaks a lot to the awareness that's brewing in the industry about gender depictions, and frankly, the boringness of the standard chiseled beefcake with the big gun. People are getting tired of playing the same grizzled man carrying a variety of guns.”
So game developers and publishers seem to be on the side of equality. It seems as if only a small populace of vocal gamers seems to be opposed. In fact, during a panel at Otakon a few years back that was discussing feminism in gaming, male gamers were told to “not be afraid” of female gamers. They were told that increasing the gaming community can only be a good thing and that it will expand our influence as gamers around the world.
But I am here to disagree. Sexist gamers of the world? People who think there’s nothing wrong with objectifying women? People who feel uncomfortable with gay main characters and hurl homophobic insults online? Anyone who is sexist, racist, or intolerant in our community. I am here to tell you to be afraid. Be very afraid.
You see, one thing that comments like our friend Stormvoice’s have always proved to me is that people are willing to overlook data in order to keep their vision of a mostly male action based ultra-violent gaming demographic pure. No matter how many studies we shove in their faces, they will always, 100%, believe that gaming is a boys club, a society were only bros get to hang out, comparing their favorite Call of Duty loadouts and scoffing at n00b tubers. They use the identity of a gamer as an excuse to partake in behavior that would be seen as abhorrent in the outside world. Gaming is the one refuge where, to this minority of vocal yet angry gamers, it is acceptable to throw around the n-word, tell women that they are inferior, and fling around every homophobic slur in existence because it just comes with the territory. As it stands, the gaming world is sort of a retreat for sexist, racist, and homophobic individuals, a safe haven where this sort of behavior is acceptable. Right now, you are a “real gamer” while, to you, we are just whining about intolerance or looking for things to be outraged about. The only thing that matters is your gaming skill.
But it won’t be forever. Soon, it won’t matter how high your K/D ratio is, your bigotry won’t be welcomed in the gaming world, just like it isn’t welcomed anywhere else. As much as there is a belief that gaming is a perpetual boys club, statistics don’t lie. Game developers care about the rest of us who won’t stand for inequality and intolerance. Fewer games are being made with burly space marines, more complex female characters are being created, and developers are forcefully weeding out toxic individuals from their gaming communities. It all sends a very clear message. “You are not wanted here. Change your tune or leave.”
Soon, it will be our time, the common rational thinking person’s time. We will be the people developers market to. We will set the trends. We will define what a “real gamer” is, and you will have nowhere to go. No place will accept you. You won’t be special anymore. You won’t be a gamer. You will be just an intolerant, bigoted, outcast that the outside world will not want to deal with... and you will be alone.
I say it again, be afraid, because the stats say we are winning, and any hardcore gamer knows that winning is the most important thing.
Former Contributing Writer