The situation is just intolerable.
There have been a lot of really insightful write-ups recently. A broader perspective—and I almost cringe to say—catch-all by Molly Crabapple left me gasping for breath. This write up, by Elizabeth Sampat giving her thoughts on an industry that’s very dear to me, delivered the final blow and left me in tears.
It’s really rare that I create from a place of grief. It’s just not how I operate. But it’s largely what I have openly felt for the last few days, and reflecting on it, it’s been there for far longer.
This quote from Elizabeth’s piece— “We should have a war memorial for all of the women we have lost to this. We should lay flowers and grieve and see our reflections in stone.”— struck a very literal chord in me.
So yeah, here it is. A place just for me where I can light a candle and remember all of the wonderful people I probably will never get the chance to meet. Folks that have been driven away by these horrible fucks that have the audacity to think they know what gaming and community is about.
I have never, in my life, been ashamed to call myself a gamer. Until now. These misogynist little shitbags are a disgrace to our community.
All of us who care about gaming need to step up and save our community, while there is still something about it that’s worth saving.
Please do. Why are the men who want to drive women out of games so much louder than most of our male colleagues, our male gaming group members, our male friends, our male fans?
Your voices are louder than ours will ever be, at least in this arena; they won’t listen to us, because they think that listening to women proves they aren’t men. They’re trying to prove their manhood upon our work and our reputations and our wellbeing. Tell them that as a man, you’re not impressed.
They won’t listen to us, but they might listen to you.
When’s the last time a female dev got an outpouring of support from men in the industry and in fandom when people first started harassing her (does it have to progress to the point where her children are being threatened at school, where she is driven from her home, before any sort of critical mass of men gets loud and says that this is not okay)? You don’t, incidentally, have to like her or her game to stand up and say that rape and death threats are not acceptable, that disagreement and legitimate criticism are not the same as harassment, that posting a dev’s home address or bank account numbers is something that has no legitimate place in discourse about games. When’s the last time men who love games and are in favor of working in games not being the most abuse-filled profession out there were half as loud as men who want to make it intolerable for women to make games?
I mean, imagine a world, just for a moment, in which when a female dev (or, for that matter, a male one) gets told by police that she probably shouldn’t spend the night at her home because of the threats she’s received from gamers, that gamers raise the money for her hotel room (or better, to hire some burly security people to spend the night watching her house so she doesn’t have to flee her home). In which a hundred people or so who spend all those hours righting injustices on their PCs and Playstations and Xboxes chip in $5 each to stop injustice against the kind of people who enabled them to enjoy all those hours of gaming in the first place.
Tell them, as they claim we aren’t real gamers, aren’t real geeks, got hired because we were female, must have slept with someone to get into the industry, aren’t real, aren’t legitimate, aren’t true, are ruining games with our presence, that our love for games, for geekdom, for fandom, is not in question.
Our right to be here is not in question.
They have raised the price for women just to be here, just to do our jobs, just to play our games, just to wear our costumes, just to show up, so high it’s heartbreaking.
But women are still making games and we’re not going anywhere. Tell them that in raising the cost for women to remain, they haven’t made their targets less. They haven’t shown that women aren’t legitimate game makers, they haven’t shown that women aren’t real fans, they haven’t shown that women don’t belong here.
All they’ve done is highlight women’s steel, women’s resilience, women’s determination.
And that in and of itself is sad, that I haven’t met a female game industry veteran who isn’t battle-scarred and tougher than any ten guys I’ve worked with. This is supposed to be art. There’s supposed to be room for gentleness and delicacy and delight and nuance and vulnerability and all the other things that the strangling, one-note demands of man-child fans and the wretched hostility and cloying malice of interactions with them is crushing out of people who work in the industry. They’re the ones destroying games, not women.
Fandom is supposed to be about loving a thing.
How can you love something when you want to destroy the people who made it? How can you love something when you want to chase away the people who also see how wonderful it is? What does all of this — driving Zoe and Anita out of their homes, sending rape and death threats to any female dev who dares express an opinion (or, for that matter, harassing women in comic book stores and game conventions) — have to do with being a fan?
Tell them, when they go after a female game dev who’s put in crazy hours and sacrificed her personal life and worked herself to the bone to bring them a game, that her love for games, her legitimacy as a gamer, her worth to games is not in question.
Tell them theirs is. Tell them loudly.
I feel pretty strongly that Jessica is so, so, so, so right.