online harassment

#1ReasonWhy: Truths from Women in the Gaming World

by E. Cain

#1reasonwhy exploded on twitter late last month in response to a question tweeted by videogame designer, Luke Crane, who asked:  “Why are there so few lady game creators?” Using the hashtag, female game developers, writers, critics, and journalists have been sharing their stories of sexism and exclusion in and by the video game industry.

I was put onto this by a friend who promised it would blow my mind. And yes, mind blown.

Once you weed through the trolls (and there are many, unfortunately) you will find stories of senior female game developers being paid less than their male colleagues and passed over for key positions; women at game conferences/conventions being mistaken for a “real” developer’s girlfriend; and no shortage of women who are tired of making games about war, cars, and football.  For highlights, see this link here.

And, if you find yourself needing a pick-me-up after perusing these posts, check out a complimentary tag created by author Rhianna Pratchett:  #1reasontobe. It collects reasons women have for working in the games industry. For highlights, please see this link.

This isn’t the first time misogyny in the video gaming industry has been making headlines, just google the name Anita Sarkeesian. A feminist journalist originally from Toronto and an avid video gamer, Anita launched a fundraising campaign last year to produce a series of free online videos on female stereotypes in video games. In response, she faced horrific cyber-bullying from gamers online, including the creation of a disgusting game called – if you can believe it – “Beat up Anita Sarkeesian.” At the time, much attention was focused on misogyny as a troubling theme within gaming culture, and Anita did raise the money from her videos (can view here), but otherwise little changed.

According to Mother Jones, 88% of employees in the gaming industry are men and that the perceived core audience is young men aged 18-25. But here’s what some may find surprising – according to a study by the Entertainment Software Association, young men make up only 18% of actual game players. In reality, 47% of game players are adult women and they represent industry’s fastest-growing demographic.

In this light, not only is it unjust that there are so few “lady game creators” – as Luke Crane put it. But it’s also bad from a business perspective given that women are the actual target audience. Now that we have thousands of women coming forward and sharing their experiences, it’s time for the industry to take steps to rectify the problem.

(photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Posted on by E. Cain in Feminism, Pop Culture 1 Comment

Don’t Feed the Trolls

Some trolls created an online game inviting players to “beat up Anita Sarkeesian”

by Alicia Costa

As I was stopped at the light today one of the young men in the SUV next to me leaned out his window and screamed, “Now THAT’S a great ass!” to a young woman crossing the street. She looked clearly startled and not at all flattered by the outburst.  It literally made me recoil as I know exactly what that girl feels like. In fact this exact same thing happened to me last week while walking to meet a client. And I’m sure if you are a woman reading this you can relate to this situation.

This got me thinking about how much sexual harassment women are receiving and internalizing on a daily basis and I’m tired of it. Many men seem to think by hiding in their cars and shouting out the window- or behind a computer screen they have full license to do and say whatever they want about our bodies.

In previous weeks feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian  of Feminist Frequency came out and laid out all of the harassment she was getting in response to a project she created about the lack of well-rounded female characters in video games.  Everything from the defacement of her Wikipedia page, to continued threats of sexualized violence, to a video game where the player can virtually punch a picture of Anita until her face in it turns black and blue.

While trying to process Anita’s experience and reconcile my own experiences of misogynist hate emails and nasty comments on things I’ve written over the years I started to think about other forms of harassment I’ve received on the internet. Read more

Posted on by Alicia Costa in Feminism, Pop Culture 3 Comments