Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Can This Die Now?

If you're not familiar with Anita Sarkeesian, she's done a recent series of youtube videos deconstructing tropes in videogames that have sexist components. She first rose to notoriety when a rampantly sexist and not at all small portion gaming community tried to get her kickstarter to create this series, shut down. It ended up backfiring and she grossly exceeded the requested amount.

In response, those against her have continued to vilify her saying that she's defrauded donors for falling behind with her production schedule, sending her death and rape threats, etc....

But the newest tactic I think is the most pathetic yet. It's to declare that Anita isn't a real gamer because during one of her lectures, she said she's not into that games and had to do a lot of research.

Do I really need to explain context to people? That, perhaps when giving a lecture to an academic community, playing up habits that are generally thought to detract from academic focus would be frowned upon? Or that when trying to raise money to perform a through enough analysis or a large genre, she might be inclined to stress the background she does have?

And these aren't mutually exclusive. It can be fair to ask to what degree she may be a gamer, but any degree of gamer is still a gamer. I generally don't consider myself much of a gamer; I do play World of Warcraft casually, and I've played many of the major console titles (albeit usually several years behind the curve). But ask in the right crowd and that absolutely qualifies. The difference is that I'm not being targeted by a smear campaign for daring to point out the sexism in video games (even that benevolent sexism where video game women get treated as objects because guys are so totally in love with them).

It's absolutely the same trope that has been thrown around at conventions with increasingly regularity as "nerd culture" becomes pop-culture; that all these people (usually women) aren't "real geeks" and are just wearing costumes because they want attention. It's incomprehensible that a female would wear a costume because they actually appreciate the character. Yeah right. It's not.

The whole meme of "not a real ______" is a pathetic attempt to change the context of the discussion and isn't even a legitimate objection in and of itself. I seriously doubt that any "hardcore" gamer is going to walk into a job interview and when asked about their hobbies, declare that they spend every waking hour playing first person shooters. Just like Anita, the context determines how vocal they may be. But without a sexist axe to grind no one would bat an eye. Anita is a real gamer and people that think that people that aren't "hardcore" can't do their research, are just jerks.

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