As I said last year, I’m a big gamer, videogames have been part of my life since the early 1980’s. Met lots of good friends via gaming. Even spent five years programming them as my day job. Walking into a games shop and seeing an about even gender split (Leaving any discussion about gender binaries for another day) makes me happy. In short, I like gaming and think it something positive.
Some parts of the gaming culture aren’t so nice or worth celebrating. The casual use homophobic and sexist language, especially in FPS’ just makes me avoid play sometimes, plus the narrow choice of player characters in most games (with some notable exceptions via mefi) just don’t represent me. Add to that recent events at Eurogamer Expo. In some ways as games have become more mainstream the culture has moved backwards. I don’t remember it being so nasty back in the early 80’s but then I was only young, so maybe I just didn’t pick up on it.
Anita Sarkeesian has been video blogging about pop culture at Feminist Frequency for a few years. The Lego video really stood out for me. Back in May she started a Kickstarter to help fund a new series of videos covering videogames: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games. Then it happened, the part of gaming culture I don’t really like descented in full force, threatening comments on Twitter, Facebook, Kickstarter and YouTube, a defaced Wikipedia entry, rape and death threats, which are really indefensible. I was take aback by the sheer hate being posted.
She didn’t back down, which I can’t imagine being the easiest route to take but as a small positive note the Kickstarter raised $158,922 much more than the $6000 goal. As Rock Paper Shotgun noted (via mefi) this year seems to have marked a turning point in the discussions about gender representation in games. Fingers crossed in 2013 things keep improving.