I don’t think how I played Watch Dogs had any effect on whether or not the main character’s niece gets killed and he then has to protect his sister. You’re familiar with “women in refrigerators”, yes? How anyone plays the game has nothing to do with it. 100% of the people who played that still experience the tired old trope of “threaten a man’s women to motivate him.”
The last day of this thread represents a good summary of why Gamergate got such a spanking from the media. The media, it bears reminding, being those among us who are paid money to tell stories every day.
Curiously, the guy who wrote the book the Why do Men Fight thread is about, wrote another book about Storytelling [I first heard of this book yesterday in that thread; looking forward to reading it [the storytelling book]].
Something plainly obvious but marginally-argued (Sarkeeisan) gets talked at by folks (Gamergate) who think that complex objections to specific points and examples will communicate something meaningful about the whole. But what they miss is that their reaction reinforces a simple story about their inability to perceive the context in which those specifics (and their reactions to them) are understood by others.
The amusement (for smarmier mainstream writers) has been in consciously exploiting these discrepancies. But its also true that online forum-type environments are so inherently rewarding to that communication style that Gamergate will always think it is winning.
That audience may explain why the things she points out are so common but doesn’t change the validity of pointing them out, and I think this objection is a good illustration of what’s really the issue here.
It’s not really any of the things Sarkeesian has actually said about games. As people have pointed out, most of that is an extremely straightforward look at them from a feminist perspective. Yes, she may occasionally miss a mark or exaggerate, but it’s very far from the claims of manipulative dishonesty you see. To the contrary, both the analysis and mistakes are of the sort you generally see all the time for books, movies, art in general, and yes, even men’s or women’s magazines.
What she’s doing that is so radical is saying anything about games at all. Treating them as something comparable to other media that you can look at from a critical perspective, instead of something “for men” and so somehow beyond her consideration. At heart, it seems to me like almost all the objections to her work have been over that general concept more than any particulars, as in this case.
Personally, though, I have a tough time seeing it as a defensible complaint. No other media has ever been immune to criticism for how it portrays one demographic just because it targets another, and if we were talking about any split other than gender I doubt many here would entertain the idea.
And video games aren’t just puerile time-sinks for guys, but a major part of our culture on the whole, of the sort that deserves such examination. You know, I can remember gamers being proud to hold them up as a form of art, something worthy to be taken seriously; and heck, I can remember Penny Arcade making fun of the idea things could be beyond criticism.
Sarkeesian is a taste of the serious consideration many of us have argued games deserved, and I for one am very disappointed so much of the response has been to instead try to claim them as something people like her shouldn’t talk about.
I have a few extra copies of “The God Delusion” if you are interested.
Extra, because I was working in Kansas for an extended period of time, and noticed that my hotel nightstands always had a copy of the Bible and the Book of Mormon. So I started trying to leave behind copies of Dawkins books, because that seemed like a pretty hilarious thing for the next occupants to find.
The hotel maids, unfortunately, were very good about checking for items left behind, and my book was always waiting for me at the front desk the next time I checked in.
It’s not a bad read, but the title makes it sound like something it isn’t–a fact he acknowledges in the preface, and attributes to pressure from his publisher.
Right now I’m going to get down to brass tacks about why I’ve trolled on this subject, under more than one name in the past.
I can’t stand knee-jerk reactions.
BoingBoing is one place I see it, but I see it elsewhere. Not only do I see the kneejerk reactions, but when someone who has spared more than 10 seconds thought weighs in, people feel the need to angrily defend their initial kneejerk reaction.
Take Blurred Lines, for example.
If you want more proof that the repetitive “I know you want it” chorus isn’t creepy, let’s do a closer reading of the other lyrics. The end of the chorus goes: “The way you grab me/ must wanna get nasty/ go ahead, get at me.” The last part, “go ahead, get at me” very clearly kills any “rapey” vibe. In fact, he’s putting the ball in her court by telling her to make the move and not the other way around. He’s saying, “You’re clearly turned on by me. Go for it.” (Again: Douche? Sure. Rapist? Probably not.)
And that’s about all I’ll say about how a hyper-douchey, mildly misogynist, ultimately insipid and forgettable song about a guy awkwardly coming on to a girl who got “handsy” with him turned into the most misogynist, most controversial song of the decade. If not for the sturm und drang, it would have been forgotten by September 2013.
But kneejerk reactions aren’t just how Blurred Lines, erm, “gate” happened; that’s also how Gamergate happened, how Elevatorgate happened, and how both Anita Sarkeesian and Stephen Moffatt ended up receiving death threats. It’s also how every non-story blew up last year, whether they were angry because dudes were offended, or because people wanted justice for the oppressed.
And simmering anger is where conservative comment sections word salad comes from (“God damn America Barry O’Bummer socialist Marxist Muslim ruining America Hopey Changey!”), Gamergate objections to Anita Sarkeesian (“I don’t like video games!”), Leigh Alexander (“Isn’t she the one who made that racist tweet about ‘hood rats’?”) or, hell, look at how any time an issue championed by men’s rights groups gets brought up, how quick some people are to bring up fedoras, dudebros, and shoehorn in, say, “Not All Men”. Or hell, Gamergaters automatically assuming there’s absolutely no difference whatsoever between critique of video games, and calls for banning videogames, because Tropes Vs. Video Games reminds them of the NRA’s reaction to Sandy Hook.
All of this is a lead-up to me saying why I brought up the connotations of Wil Wheaton accusing GG’ers of hysterics: because words mean things; but also, because we’re all human and sometimes we fuck up. Sometimes we even fuck up unintentionally because we genuinely don’t know. How many people really realize that “hysterics” is a comment about women? How many people really realize, without being told, that Chris Tucker’s act has racist roots? Or how many people have you heard say “shuck and jive”, then after ages of grinding your jaw, you find out they have no idea that it’s the least bit racist? And so on. It’s a teachable moment, not a moment to club 'em over the head. And it’s their chance to learn from it, not angrily defend it.
TL;DR instead of getting angry, first ask yourself: What Would Spock Do?
Let’s say a woman writer from Vancouver writes about how it’s crass sexism for Wonderbra, a company in South Africa, to sponsor a National Cleavage Day. The author also writes about the harassment she received on Twitter as a result.