The hobby of gaming has always been seen as a waste of time. It has also been used as a scapegoat by media outlets to explain school shootings. Feminists have been the most recent group to put a negative label on gamers. Currently, gamers are labeled as violent, lazy, and anti-feminist by the public. Like all the other claims, the label put on gamers by feminists are based on false or bias claims.
The gaming community is made up of 48% females and 52% males, 6% of females identify as gamers and 15% of males identify as gamers. The rest of the people who didn’t identify as gamers can be classified as casual gamers: these are the people who play facebook games and phone games. Once thought as a male-only community, gaming has evolved to be more inclusive to every gender.
Recently there has been a problem in the community. With the rise of Twitch, everyone is trying to become the biggest streamer. But non-gamer girls have come into the community to exploit pre-teens for their donations by using their sexuality. Twitch’s rules state that you have to be playing video games at all times, but with these streams, video games are second to the streamer. In most cases, the aspect of a webcam to video games is ridiculous. Legendary Lea, Zoie Burgher, Celestia Vega, Little Fey, and more use the platform to bring in money from subscriptions and donations from 14-16 year-old kids. In particular, Zoie Burgher brought in donations by promising to twerk for a certain amount of money. Additionally, certain people such as Little Fey promise to add viewers to a private Snapchat, where they post sexual content, to people who subscribe for a certain amount of time. Older gamers have expressed disgust for this exploitation and they have tried pushing these types of streamers out of their community for the sake of real female streamers. To feminists, such as Anita Sarkeesian, they are only pushing these women out of the community because they are women, and completely miss the fact that these “gamer” girls are only in the community to take money from impressionable pre-teens.
Another of the biggest problems in the gaming community is the intrusion by non-gamers who are looking to start problems. Anita Sarkeesian, a self proclaimed gamer, is one of these intruders. Sarkeesian was the cause of the #Gamergate situation were some gamers took it upon themselves to verbally attack people like Sarkeesian. During this horrible situation, a few things about Sarkeesian were brought to light. Sarkeesian, during a class visit at Claremont McKenna College in 2010, claimed not to be a gamer and not know anything about video games, but five years later, at another seminar, she claimed to be a gamer all of her life. She then started a youtube series called Tropes versus Women in Video Games. This series was made to expose aspects of games that are problematic for feminists. This series could have been great because I agree that in some cases oversexualization in video games are problematic and more games need female protagonists. But the quality of videos worsen as time went on. Sarkeesian began falsifying information to her viewers about games. For example, in Hitman there is a scene where the protagonist goes through a strip club to assassinate a male target. The goal of the game is to only kill the target and go undetected; killing civilians prevents you from advancing in the game. Sarkeesian completely ignored the goal of the game and began killing the strippers in game. She claimed that the game promoted the murder of women because of this part of the game, and those who enjoyed the game were misogynists. This and many other examples enraged gamers and led to cyber attacks on Sarkeesian. I do not agree with the behavior taken by those who participated in the cyber attacks, but I believe that they decided to do so because behind the screen people feel invincible. This situation could have been prevented if Sarkessian didn’t make claims based on false information or manipulated information.
Recently, Sarkeesian was once again in the news for attacking Tyler “Ninja” Blevins’ achievement of being the first gamer ever to appear on ESPN’s magazine cover. Ninja made a remark that he wouldn’t stream with female streamers out of respect for his wife. Ninja saw that streaming with the opposite gender could create false rumors and damage his marriage. For example, another streamer, Guy “Dr.Disrespect” Beahm, began streaming with a female streamer and in a couple weeks the internet began questioning Guy’s faithfulness to his wife. The rumors caused him to quit streaming for months to repair his strained marriage. At no point did Ninja say that he wouldn’t stream with females because they aren’t as good as men at gaming. He made sure to choose his words correctly to be sure he couldn’t be misquoted and painted as a misogynist. Sarkeesian still tweeted, “wait wait wait isn’t this the guy who said he won’t play with women? cool cool cool way to go @espn elevating the status of a misogynist”. As we look at the choice of words we see she didn’t learn from the #Gamergate situation. By removing the phrase “out of respect for his wife”, all of a sudden Ninja could be seen as a misogynist. Words matter. The way we use language and information matters as well. There are good approaches to everything, but Sarkeesian and many others have approached the situation poorly and, as a result, they receive backlash from the community. Gamers are not anti-feminist in the slightest, but they disapprove of the faces leading feminism into the gaming community. For a movement to be successful the face of the movement has to be honest, open, and reasonable; and gaming has yet to witness a good leader.