Misogynism in Video Games: Struggles and Solutions

Misogynism in Video Games: Struggles and Solutions

This interesting article hit the web last week. It chronicles one female’s gamers struggle towards acceptance in both her online communities and her real world gaming community.

“A lot of ‘gamer’ guys just never respected my opinions,” she said. “I’ll be talking about games with my friends, and there would be this one guy who always thought my taste in games were too girly and childish […] He said I wasn’t a ‘real gamer.’” Even so close to home, female gamers are met with hostility for expressing their interest in video games.

This unfortunate story tells a truth about the gaming industry: it’s kinda sexist. Well, maybe not kinda, maybe REALLY sexist. Female gamers, whom make up a healthy population of the gaming world (coming in at 47%) are often still disregarded as casual on non-gamers. That’s not to mention that the majority of video game being developed are specifically aimed at young males, rather than their female counterparts.

Cooking Mama’s not part of the problem, right? OH NO!

Where’s this hostility coming from? Well, I don’t know if I need to say this, but: YOUNG MEN ARE STUPID, HORMONE DRIVEN, ASSHOLES. That is to say, place a young male gamer on the internet and let them loose with pure anonymity as their dark side comes out. You needn’t look further than a message board flame war for this (OH GOD, THE WARS I’VE SEEN!). With the veil of the internet, young male oppress and harass female gamers in ways they’d never do in person. However, as this article contends, the harassment and oppression doesn’t end online- female gamers are often disregarded and marginalized by their peers, dismissed as non-gamers or casual gamers. The picture of a “hardcore gamer” in the eyes of many males game is only one gender.

So what can we do? This isn’t a karate movie in which Hilary Swank is going to train and prove her worth to boys (No one makes The Next Karate Kid references, and for good reason..). We as gamers need to realize that we have to play nicely. Gaming is no longer the introverted activity it once was, and that your gaming world is all of our gaming world. We also need to examine what makes a gamer; is it the type of games we play, or the people we are? Likewise, developers need to keep in check the messages and images they conveying, and putting forth. Through acknowledgement and acceptance, marginalization in the gaming world will one day disappear.

Baby Names Based on Video Game Characters On The Rise

Baby Names Based on Video Games On The Rise

I don’t know if this counts as a news story, but this week Laura Wattenberg, author of a very popular set of baby naming guides (That’s a fun sub-genre), has revealed that she will be covering a growing trend in baby names that has arisen in recent years: Baby names named after video game characters.

WHAT WHY!?

As Wattenberg puts it:

These video games have become enough of a part of our culture that you start to see names coming out of these games. Which makes sense, because if you go and watch a movie, you watch a character for two hours. If you play a video game, you might embody this character for two years.

Oh ok. So, besides this meaning that we’ll steadily begin seeing a massive influx of children being named Pikachu and Master Chief, what does this mean? It means that video games are gradually embedding themselves into our society in ways that we hadn’t seen in the past! Video games have become such apart of our social world that they’re influencing the people we are, and the people we become. As Wattenberg eludes to, people are creating emotional bonds with these characters to such a degree that they want to memorialize these characters in their children Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? Who knows. One could assume a child be given the name Waluigi will have  a hell of time in life, but there are plenty of less ridiculous video game character names that would be adequate children name. For example, Robin Williams named his daughter Zelda after, duh, The Legend of Zelda. It’s not that insane, really. If I was naming a child, some names I might consider would be Ash or Miles. Then again, both those names are can easily be the target of great  ridicule…

If you we’re naming a child after a video game character, what would your choice name be? If you have an interesting one, please feel free to comment.

Girl Scouts Giving out Game Design Badges

Girl Scouts Giving out Game Design Badges

Last week the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles introduced a game design merit badge for scouts to promote women in the field of game design and programming.

“Our ultimate goal is to create a STEM-aligned video game badge for the Girl Scouts of the United States of America,” Amy Allison, vice president of WIGI, told GirlGamer.com. “Creating this badge will get young girls excited in technology and science and let them know that they, too, can have a career in the video game industry.”

“If the girl scouts had a game design badge when I was a kid, I would have joined!” said me, on he street, to no one.

But why should we care about this cookie dealing militia getting game design badges (Especially when there’s no cookies involved)? Well, females are incredibly underrepresented in game design- the majority of programers and engineers are still men. Why is that? Well, we could go into a whole thing about the genderification of careers, but no one will read that. Long story short: Somewhere along the line in the education process, women are pushed out of the math of sciences. Such  programs, like this, that focus on early education in math and sciences for young girls will help to alleviate this problem. If we can get girls excited at a young age about math and science, then they’re much more likely to be excited later on in their educational career  for these fields

So Bravo girl scouts. Thanks for doing something, unlike those good for nothing boy scouts. “Oh, that’s a swell knot you tied. Can I eat it? Then I don’t give a damn”

GTFO: A Film About Women in Gaming

GTFO: A Film About Women in Gaming

Another interesting kickstarter has sprung up this week: GTFO: A Film about Women in Gaming.

What is it and why should you care? the GTFO campaign is a kickstarter to fund a documentary about women in gaming-

GTFO is a film exposing the harassment of women in video games. It features gamers, bloggers, scholars, developers, and other experts.

Neat. But is this importannttt? Despite making up a big portion of the gaming populace, women in gaming are still treated as second class gamers. Sexual harassment, under or misrepresentation, and backlash to their participation in the gaming world are amongst a few issues that female gamers encounter. A gaming world that is hostile to half the population of the world is quite an issue. Bringing this issue to the forefront is the first step in making our gaming world a more accepting and diverse place.

Kickstarter for Documentary about LBGT Community in Games

Kickstarter for Documentary about LBGT Community in Games

This interesting bit of news came out (no pun intended) last month. It’s a documentary focusing on the LBGT community in video games: Gaming in Color

In their own words:

Gaming In Color is a full length feature documentary on one of the fastest growing communities in the fastest growing entertainment sector in the world: Gaming. For too long gamers have been painted in a very specific light, and the mosaic of gamers have lacked the diversity of minorities, queers, women, and members of LGBT communities.

So, why should you fund this documentary…or even care for the matter? The gaming communities is one of the fastest growing communities out there, and while it’s typically painted as being dominated by pre-pubescent teenage boys calling each other “fags”, it’s a far more diverse community than just that. That said, there’s still a considerable amount of misrepresentation and under representation of the LBGT community in gaming (Tingle doesn’t count). Video games are a growing socialization tool for kids, and without proper (or any) representation of the LBGT community in video games they may be getting wrong or mixed messages.

Plus, it’s cool and it’ll be interesting to see.  Entertainment. Yay.

-I