Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sexism in the Gaming Industry

Sexism in the Gaming Industry and Community
Originally Posted on and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review on 8/18/2013
Written by Dustin Murphy

     As a male gamer it has not come across to me as unrecognizable, even among my friends I've heard horror stories, and even their reasons for quitting. I'm not talking about guys, I'm talking about female gamer's, the ones that we normally don't hear from or even hear talk over their headsets or even voice chat servers such as Ventrilo, Team Speak, and even in-game chat servers. Sexism, female game harassment, and even trash talk in general has become a problem to the point many companies have begun to take it seriously, but is it enough? Personally it's in truth not. Many guys soon as they hear a female gamer's voice they think a sex item, a girl who will strip down, send nude pictures or even at least give them a quick peak. This isn't how it should be, this isn't how it should be going down, and sadly it is. In many ways though, there is a community to blame, a set area of female gamer's that make this a seemingly "common" thing for women gamer's to do and in turn their sister-hood counterparts are taking the heat from it. Sitting down with a friend of mine that remain's anonymous I asked her what she felt about being a female gamer, her results - just short of making me ashamed to be a guy. She stated to me that it isn't uncommon for her to hear pleas for nudes, some skin, or at least a small show on video chat services such as Skype or a instant messenger video chat service. That when she even mentions she's a woman men come after her like she's the last woman on Earth, they call her pet names, bug her constantly, and ultimately are the reasons she has pretty much become just short of leaving the gaming industry and community as a whole. It's not something she wants, she didn't ask to be seen as a easy access, she didn't even want to be seen as available, but unfortunately in her eyes it is something that many women who use being a gamer or "nerd" to hook up have done to it. However, according to her it's not something that will change, instead it will remain this way as time passes and gaming matures.

   After having sat and chatted with her a bit longer I decided to sit down and ponder on this before asking guys who aren't gamer's what they thought of female gamer's. The instant response was all related to sexuality - sexy, hot, someone they'd want to be with, and of course the usual 'I'll ask for pictures if they are comfortable with it'. There was also the few that stated they would rather have a female gamer around them than "arrogant childlike teenagers that think they are the best at gaming since they can 'game battle' a MLG title'. This too has become another issue that many male gaming person's have yet to realize. There are female teams in the MLG as well as the gaming industry, and in truth. I'd be scared to play against them. I've seen women with a two and a half kill to death ratio in Activision's online shooter Call of Duty. I've seen women that play some of the best characters on Activision | Blizzard's mega MMO title known best as World of Warcraft, I've also seen women do things men can do, and do it better. A perfect example is my days from playing Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter Series and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas series. A team I had been with at the time on XBox 360 known as RX was quickly defeated by an entire team of females. For us this was degrading, hurtful, and well we were left butt hurt to say the least. However, coming together we realized that we were being bigot's for being hurt over having our rears handed to us by Ubisoft's founded group known only as "Frag Dolls". These ladies were the first true known all female MLG focused team. They weren't and aren't just a bunch of easy access women, instead they are professional, aggressive, and very sportsman like from my experiences of playing with them. Honestly, it'd be an honor to do so again as often times the experiences can be just as fun for myself as the other players.

   To get back on topic however there has been disturbing occurrences that do arise in the gaming industry. Some of it is because of events like E3 Expo, ComicCon, and even Tokyo Game Show that allow for women to dress almost as revealing as it can get. This does in ways create a general ideology that all women are like that. In other instances there are women inside the industry that have come out being uncomfortable with the industry, one that should already, like others be welcoming to the female gender. Why isn't it thought? According to several articles written on big name sites such as Polygon, Joystiq, and even Game Informer, harassment in the work environment is not uncommon. According to an article written by Megan Farokhmanesh of Polgyon, Kim McAuliffe a game designer from Microsoft Studio's has had much less "horrific" experiences than others, but she also wanted to show something different. In the gaming community most of us assume players are male, and according to the article with Kim, she stated that it's not malicious. That this is how the gaming industry and community as a community has always been this way. In Megan's article she quoted McAullife saying, "One of the reasons so few women are in the industry [is because the industry] makes females feel like they're on the outside. We're not on the fringes, we're part of the core". For me this is too true, and we as a community and industry need to stop seeing it this way and realize our fellow women gamer's are our equals, not something other than that.

  What can we do to change that though as a community? It's not something I can just go and write, but my opinion is? Us men need to realize that women aren't just some dolled up female waiting for us to show our kill death ratio is better than any other and that we are the man they need. Instead, we need to treat the women as we would our female friends and take notice that they can do just what we can. In truth? This has to stop. The immaturity in the player base is getting saddening enough that women are leaving the gaming industry, quitting gaming, and overall just not wanting to be apart of a mess. Hopefully in the future we'll see this change and we'll see poles drop from a 63% of women gamer's saying they are sexually harassed (pole done by VG247 - Study - 63% of Women believe sexism is rampant in the gaming community). As a gamer? I think this is a big problem that the industry and community need to help fix, and unfortunately as the younger generations mature, this will only get harder, and will require the companies to take more suitable action to prevent it. I know I've done my share by welcoming female gamer's to game with me without feeling they are being stalked, stereotyped and or even to be begged for any form of indecency. 

 If you are a female gamer do you feel comfortable with gaming or do you find yourself uncomfortable? Why? If you've been harassed what's your story and does it change your stance on how you see and portray yourself as a female gamer? Guys, what do you to prevent this? Do you feel intimidated by women gamer's? Please let me know in the comments.

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