Sunday, September 14, 2014

#GamerGate and gaming content

Several years ago, when I played World of Warcraft (WoW) as many hours as I could, there was an interesting phenomenon with respect to the way that your player character dressed. The more armor that was visible on a male character, the better protected they were against the dangers of the game. Conversely; the less armor that was visible on a female character, the better protected she was against the dangers of the game. This phenomenon led to the joke that if you ever saw a female character running toward you wearing only pasties and a g-string, you had better run the other way as fast as you could!

If you assumption of a "gamer" is an adolescent, straight boy, then it could be seen as a reward for your character to become more skimpily dressed the more work you put into them. For others, this isn't the case. Blizzard helped tremendously with this problem by allowing players to change the look of the armor they were wearing to suit their own purpose. Suddenly you could be a female, playing a female character, and not look like a teenage boy's idea of a stripper.

It seems like GamerGate (Wikipedia link) might have started from the dislike of Zoe Quinn (Wikipedia link). It seems like after her game was published, she was accused of sleeping her way to better reviews by her ex-boyfriend. Later, the GamerGate cry expanded to Anita Sarkeesian (Wikipedia link) and her video series Tropes VS Women (feministfrequency YouTube channel) exploring the problems of the way women are treated by game designers. And finally, the GamerGate tags began to point toward game reviewers that weren't publishing reviews that "gamers" liked, such as GameSpot's Dead Rising 3 Review Justifies why we need #GamerGate (article link).

I have spent days reading over the material that people would send me on Twitter from the #GamerGate hash tag, but with few exceptions, it all turns out the same. People that like games don't want to take a risk that they won't be able to laugh at transsexuals or flamboyant gay stereotypes. They won't get to view scantily clad (sometimes dead) women under the guise of a video game. Or, heaven forbid, someone might make games for a broader demographic.

But what they fail to see is that there are more people that like to play games than just them. Some of us are women, or gay, or transsexual, or any other minority group. We want games for us where we aren't forced to look at degrading caricatures of ourselves or those we care about. If the aforementioned gamers really want the zenith of their gaming experience to be shanking a prostitute in Grand Theft Auto, I have no problem with that. But for those of us that want something different from our gaming experience, or simply don't want to feel degraded every time we play a game, we deserve the same consideration, development, and thoughtful reviews as the other gamers.

Everyone might not have been happy with the way that WoW developed over the years. I'm sure some people wanted wall to wall breasts every time they logged into the game. Regardless, Blizzard found a way where, if we couldn't all get along, at least we could all tolerate each other and the game.

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