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A Tipping Point On Sexism And Video Games

It’s been a draining week, but I was heartened to see three items come over the wires today. First, James Fudge at GamePolitics, calls out the campaign against Anita Sarkeesian:

Admittedly we missed this story last week, but it’s important to highlight the ridiculous antics of some Neanderthals in the community that are so bent out of shape over a video series that they want to create a digital effigy of someone to abuse. The last time I checked, Canada and the United States were situated in a part of the world where women are equal to men and ideas can be explored without engaging in violence. The part of the gaming community that loathes Anita Sarkeesian needs to call off the Internet holy war it has declared on her for exploring ideas they seem to think are tantamount to blasphemy.

At Forbes, Erik Kain writes about overcoming how flabbergasted he’s been by some of the sexism he’s seen to speak out, and explain why sexism hurts male gamers as well as female ones:

Maybe it’s not my business to comment on what to do about it — girl gamers don’t need White Knights, after all — but I do think men can be useful, and probably necessary, allies. Men and women talking about sexism in gaming culture is an important way to make matters better for everyone involved. I’m including men in this statement because ending sexism in gaming culture is good for men, too. As with any other social setting, things get dreary quickly when it’s all boys. Life is more fun because there are two sexes, and treating people decently opens doors and reduces barriers to entry for everyone. More girl gamers means better, more varied games, and better online social interaction. Not objectifying and vilifying women means you have more actual human beings with whom you can interact, vastly enriching your social experience — and theirs.

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And Sam Killermann, founder of Gamers Against Bigotry, an initiative that lets gamers pledge to avoid using slurs in trash talk, tells the Mary Sue about the attitudes he’s changed since he started the campaign:

About a dozen of the pledgees have contacted me saying things like “I never realized doing this actually hurt people,” or “I just thought it was part of the culture, so I played along” and ended their messages with “but I’m going to try to stop now.” And those are just the gamers in those situations who have gone out of their way to get in touch with me. We can safely assume more signed with those sentiments and didn’t let me know (see what I did there?).

I don’t know that sexism in gaming will disappear tomorrow, or within a year — there are powerful economic incentives for it. But over the last couple of months, it’s seemed like we’ve reached an action point, where men who were previously silent or neutral are no longer content to be so, and are working to marginalize the trolls amongst them. The moment when eradicating sexism becomes not a special interest but a shared interest is a powerful one.