Gaming culture. Let’s be clear. GamerGate is our fault. We allowed to it happen. By accepting a culture that diminishes the status of women as full members of the gaming community, this toxic environment has been able to fester and take shape and lead to the harassment and threats of violence against women in our community. Since video games have existed, women have been marginalized and have had to accept second class citizenship within gaming culture. Devaluing a culture renders it powerless, unable to define itself or articulate on its own behalf. As Iris Marion Young suggests, powerlessness leads to the exposure of disparate treatment because of their diminished status. Powerlessness is one of the strongest forms of oppression and this is apparent given Anita Sarkeesian’s inability to speak at Utah State or Brianna Wu and other women in the gaming industry now fearing for their lives.
Even our video games are a direct reflection of our thoughts about women. Gendered representations reflect the male gaze and the idealized fantasy of hyper-masculinity. Women in game development are often shunned for their perspectives and relegated to ‘safe spaces’ to create games for girls (this is changing drastically, however). Marketing practices cater to a male demographic objectifying the female body. This exploitation generates massive profits for the gaming industry. Game Studies, although a rather new academic field, is dominated by male perspectives and masculine curriculums valuing technology and development over cultural implications. This devaluation leads to the marginalization of women expelling them categorically for participation leading to further oppression.
Oppression refers to a structural phenomenon that immobilize or diminish a group. Women have endured individual acts of discrimination but the wide scale acceptance of this discrimination is an institutional issue: one that has yet to be addressed meaningfully by gaming culture. Sadly, what ultimately occurs is violence as victims of oppressed groups must live with the knowledge that they could be subject to random, unprovoked attacks. These attacks don’t require motives. They are only intended to damage, humiliate, or destroy the person for belonging to a member of the oppressed group.
I appreciate the mobilization of the gaming community against GamerGate but it has come too late. Our response needs to be more than just condemning an anonymous group. We need sweeping changes to our culture to ensure future cowards know that punishment will be quick and swift. Of course, this requires a complete change in ideology and operating. One I’m not sure we’re entirely ready for.
Manifest...My Reality: Seeing the World through the eyes of the 'other'