Slightly more than 24 hours after my post on rape culture in gaming was posted, I moved house, a process which involved disconnecting my internet (the connection at the new place won’t be up again until the 25th), driving eight hours down from north-east Scotland to south-west England, lugging all our possessions up thirty-eight steps, and then unpacking them while my husband (who did all of the driving and most of the lugging) collapsed in an exhausted heap, in which recumbent posture I joined him several hours later, once the house was (mostly) assembled. The next day – that is, Wednesday – I woke up late, put away our remaining possessions, and then headed out to join the local library, primarily because I like libraries, but also – it must be said – to gain access to their free internet. When last I’d checked, the post had been viewed about fifty times and had two comments, so as I logged on at the library, it didn’t really occur to me that anything might have happened in the less-than-forty hours I’d been offline.

And then I opened my gmail, Twitter, tumblr, and WordPress, and saw that everything had exploded.

I’m still sort of stunned by how much attention the piece has received. Had I been online as the comments started coming in, I would have been replying to them in real-time; and even yesterday, if I’d been on any other computer than one with a user time-limit whose only browser was a version of Internet Explorer so scabrous and ancient that WordPress kept telling me to update it, I might’ve still tried to clear the backlog. But circumstances being what they are, that wasn’t really an option, and so (to cut a long story short) I’ve decided to reply to various points that were raised in comments here. The reason I’m taking the time to explain this decision is that the points in question are objections to my thesis, viz: that rape culture exists in gaming, and while I can’t control what people think, I’d like it to at least be on the record that this isn’t an attempt to stop debate, or to avoid having direct conversations with commenters, or anything like that: it’s just that, as my internet access will be unusually limited for the next week and a half, it seems more expedient to reply en masse rather than individually. However: given the extent to which the original piece has seemingly resonated with people, it might also be of value to have all my extended thoughts on the matter ready and accessible as a single post, rather than scattered disparately throughout a comment-thread.

So, with all that in mind: there seem to be three main objections to the assertion that rape culture exists in gaming, all of which are deserving of attention, and which I’ll respond to  here.

1.’Gaming doesn’t have a rape culture – it’s just that some gamers happen to be terrible people already.’

Let’s say you’re a high school teacher at a school where a lot of the kids, for whatever reason, have serious behavioural and authority issues. Lots of rule-breaking, absenteeism, verbal abuse, violence; that sort of thing. Now, it’s certainly fair to say that you, as a teacher, didn’t create those issues – but how you deal with them still matters. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that your responsibilities are greater towards these students than to those with fewer or no issues. For as long as they remain at your school, it’s within your power to help them – or, conversely, to make them worse, whether through neglect, poor management of their issues, or active endorsement of their most problematic behaviours. And if your attitude is to shrug as though these kids have nothing to do with you, your school or its policies – if you don’t bother to understand or educate them beyond the absolute minimum, or if you selectively decide they don’t really belong to your school because you’d rather they didn’t – then chances are, your actions fall into the latter category. And at that point, if people see your kids wrecking up the joint or behaving badly, then they’re going to consider that you’ve failed in your duty of care; but more to the point, they’re also going to associate the actions of those kids with the culture at your school – and in both cases, they’ll be right to do so.

Or, to put it another way: everyone comes from somewhere, and nobody gets screwed up in a vacuum. Every culture has negative elements to balance out the positive, just as every culture cannot help but impact on its participants. Only very, very rarely do terrible people just spring up from the ground like fully-fledged horror movie psychopaths, absorbing nothing that might contradict their primary urges: the rest of the time, we live in a state of mental give and take. So even if, by some incredible fluke of statistics, every single gamer who acts like a sexist, misogynistic asshole already was one prior to their discovery of gaming, it seems incredibly unrealistic to assume that gaming culture then procedes to exert no influence over those people whatsoever. In some cases, I’d suggest, native sexism and misogyny – to say nothing of general assholishness – are doubtless amplified by exposure to an online culture that’s rife with sexist, racist, homophobic and abusive language, and which graphically sexualises women a default setting. Or, here’s another question: why do so many assholes enjoy gaming? Invariably, assholes crop up in every social context from knitting circles to pro wrestling, but if the contention is that all the terrible sexism and rape culture in gaming comes from people who were already like that beforehand (which presumably excludes anyone who got into gaming as a child, unless we’re saying that adult sexism is genetically predetermined) – and if these assholes are loud and passionate enough to give confused readings about the state of gaming culture as a whole – then it doesn’t seem unreasonable to wonder: what is it about gaming that attracted all these sexist, misogynistic adults in the first place?

More pertinently still, the origin of the bad elements in a culture is irrelevant to the ability of those elements to affect and change that culture. So even if all the asshole gamers were like that before they discovered gaming, that certainly doesn’t prevent them from remaking gaming culture in their own image, or distorting it, or ruining it for other people. Cultures aren’t static: they exist in flux, and it’s extremely important to note that even people who start out with positive values can start to change when faced with a different social paradigm. To quote one of the papers I referenced in the original post, Marriage Structure and Resistance to the Gender Revolution in the Workplace:

“…individuals (married to a woman not employed) whose behaviors were atypical for their gender ideology (e.g., egalitarianism) would shift their ideology in a direction more consistent with their behavior (e.g., a woman’s place is in the home)… when individuals occupy roles inconsistent with their gender attitudes, they adjust their attitudes to match their behaviors. Such results are consistent with findings in psychology that “dissonance” (e.g., Festinger, 1957) results whenever one’s behavior violates some self-standard (e.g., one’s gender ideology) (Stone & Cooper, 2001) and that such dissonance can result in attitude change (Cooper, 2011).”

In a nutshell: when people with egalitarian beliefs regularly engage in non-egalitarian activities, they unconsciously start to adopt less egalitarian attitudes which then translate to a change in their actual beliefs. So: given that the depictions of women in video games is highly sexualised, deeply stereotyped and frequently negative – and given also that sexist insults are commonplace in what are often male-only or male-dominated gaming environments – it doesn’t seem unreasonable to suggest that, regardless of their intentions, some gamers are being coerced into ignoring or supporting sexism and rape culture as normative, simply through prolonged exposure to it as a normative social framework. And like it or not, that does reflect on gaming culture as a whole, because a healthy culture would work the other way, altering the attitudes of sexists for the better rather than changing egalitarians for the worse.

2. ‘Blaming rape culture for gamers who behave badly towards women is like blaming Islam for Muslims who are terrorists – you’re just falling back on negative, blanket stereotypes as a way to demonise a whole culture! Stop tarring us all with the same brush!’

 This is an accusation I take seriously, because I’m not trying to stereotype anyone; nor am I trying to say that gaming culture is some sort of closed ecosystem that can be held wholly and exclusively responsible for its own flaws. As stated in the previous point, everyone comes from somewhere, and these days, it’s comparatively rare for any one person to be the product of just one culture. Our experience of ‘culture’ is more akin to being the smallest nesting doll in a matryoshka set than to being shepherded by a single colossus, and ultimately, gaming is a subculture: a specific, blurrily-defined aspect of something larger that both contains its own subsets and overlaps with other aspects and subcultures. So when I said, in my previous piece, that we’re not wrong to ask about the presence of rape culture in gaming if and when gamers behave in a particular negative way, that’s not the same thing as saying that the most defining and significant aspect of gaming is its relationship with rape culture. There is, I think, a fundamental and important difference between investigating why a representative of a particular group would undertake a particular action in order to understand what relationship, if any, exists between the motive for the action and the logic of the group itself, and assuming – as stereotype does – that any member of that group would naturally perform such an action in accordance with group logic, because the necessary motive is both innately possessed by and requisite for its members. Or, to put it another way: inquiring how a footballer might have been influenced by rape culture is not the same thing as saying that all footballers are necessarily rapists, or that they commit rape because they’re footballers, or are footballers because they’re rapists; it’s just acknowledging that, in some instances, there’s a relevant correlation between our actions and the culture that surrounds us.

Which brings me back to the nesting doll concept of culture: because gaming, as I’ve said, is ultimately only an aspect of wider culture, and wider culture – however you want to define it – has an ongoing problem with sexism, misogyny and violence against women. The accusation of participation in a rape culture is not unique to gaming, and nor have its consequences happened in isolation. Subcultures are no more created in a vacuum than people are, and anyone who concludes that gaming has a problem with rape culture because it’s somehow necessarily and innately rapey is missing the point that wider culture is what gave birth to gaming. The hypersexualisation in games is not a separate issue to the hypersexualisation of women in movies and other media, because sexism and misogyny are pan-cultural problems. As I said earlier, it doesn’t matter where gamers got their sexism before they became gamers – it’s our collective responsibility to not be sexist anywhere, and that means creating a gaming culture where rape threats, misogynistic abuse and casual sexism are not only unwelcome, but actively called out as wrong.

3. ‘But guys cop insults in gaming, too!’

Let’s say you’re walking down the street, and you come across someone who’s clearly just been beaten up – black eye, bloody nose, split lip – and is telling anyone who’ll listen that they suffer such beatings regularly, but that the police refuse to press charges against their assailant, because the attacks aren’t deemed severe enough. Say you stop to talk to this person: if the first words out of your mouth are, ‘But why are you complaining? I got beaten up once, too – it’s just something that happens, and you should learn to deal with it,’ then congratulations! You are officially an asshole.

This is called derailing, a term which is often used to explain why countering complaints of abuse with assertions that the abuse is normative or unimportant is a bad thing to do, but which many people seem to not understand. Abuse is never acceptable, but the fact that you’ve suffered it too doesn’t mean your interlocutor doesn’t have a point, and if someone is telling you about a bad thing that’s happening to them, it’s a catastrophic failure of empathy to instantly change the subject from their pain to yours, particularly if you do so in a way that suggests their pain is lesser or ultimately unimportant. It’s also important to note that not all abuse is the same: that it doesn’t always happen for the same reasons, to the same degree and/or with the same frequency. In the above example, the person with the black eye is being attacked regularly, but nobody is doing anything about it. This is not a comparable situation to being beaten up once; and if, as the metaphor is trying to suggest, the other person is being targeted by a specific type of assailant for a particular reason – such as, for instance, their gender, race, religion or sexual orientation – then this is certainly not the same as you getting into a fight with someone because of an intellectual or competitive disagreement.

So, yes: men get insulted in gaming, too! And that’s definitely an issue. But if you really care about the issue of abuse in gaming, you should listen when someone else is telling you about their experiences, and be open to the fact that maybe, some people have it worse than you. Trying to conflate your own experiences with those of someone else or declare them universal is ultimately a form of silencing – a way of telling the victims to shut up. And if you really want to create an environment where abuse of any kind isn’t tolerated, then this is the last thing you should be doing.

  1. Chrono1 says:

    You say you are not trying to stereotype anyone but you did with footballers and with frat boys in your previous piece. Just because you say you take the accusation seriiously does not make the fact that you did it go away. There are plenty of instances of female teachers having sex with underage boys. That doesn’t necessarily imply that the correlation of them being teachers and doing this behavior is because they are teachers. You need to learn the difference between correlation and causation or you are simply stereotyping and profiling.

    Moving on to your other points. The simple fact of the matter is that you are using to broad of a brush when you talk about gaming. If you want to focus on AAA console titles and online play (such as hitman) that is a better approach and your criticisms are more valid. The most popular games today (Facebook and mobile) should not be lumped into this discussion. To do so is like attaching porn to pixar movies and calling them both the same simply because they share the medium.

    Another issue is that there is no data or proof for any of your claims. You attempt an analogy about someone getting beat up once versus someone who gets it all the time. This fails because you make the incorrect assumption that the first person (the man) was only beat up once. Where is your proof that in console online play women are harassed more then men? Due to the younger male dominated demographic that plays these games one would expect that they are also the majority of victims because most of that kind of garbage is anonymous spouting because ignorant people can do it without any serious consequence.

    So I guess as a TL:DR version show some proof and present some solutions. Anything else is back patting and tilting at windmills

  2. jennygadget says:

    “Or, here’s another question: why do so many assholes enjoy gaming?”

    Being a children’s librarian, I deal with the issue of “boys! they don’t read!” a lot. Putting aside for the moment that this isn’t precisely true* my brother posited a theory a good decade ago that makes a lot of sense to me: they have more options. The question for boys is often not “do I read or not?” It’s “do I read or watch a movie or (especially) play video games?” Many girls can and do choose movies and games as well, but it’s often a less attractive option for girls because there are fewer stories in which girls are positively included or centered.

    Movies having changed a lot in the last few years with regards to which gender of teenagers the studios are trying to get money from, and so games are increasingly becoming the last refuge of the boy that refuses to see girls as people, for whatever reason. So assholes may indeed enjoy gaming in part because we let them be assholes there. Or rather, they enjoy it more than other things they might also enjoy – all things being equal – because their assholeness is welcomed there. Stop letting them be assholes – be more inclusive – and they will find other places to hide. Or – gasp! – possibly even decide that changing is the better option.

    *”Boys” tends to mean “middle class white boys” and their test scores are just fine, thank you, no matter how much time they actually spend reading. Yet few people talk about the boys for whom this isn’t true or fret over the ratio of books about non-white boys.

  3. Nemrodh says:

    seriously? what happened to you to cause you to think this way?

    When I was younger and I saw a kids acting out i would blame the parents(something I learned from my parents mind you). Now that i have kids of my own, I wonder if the parents are doing everything they can to fix his behavior or if the kids is just that mental. Never have i ever met anyone or ever thought “omg what is that kid learning in school”. First, because we all know the US school system has had there hands tied by short budgets and idiot people who want to put blame on other things then the actual problem and have ruined what REAL educational value they could have had.

    So you move on to nobody gets screwed up in a vacuum. Your wrong, when humans are giving nothing they will fall back on there more primal instincts. People still do it to day even after years of school and training not to panic. yell fire in a crowded room and watch as primal instinct to fight or flight kicks in. You trying to point fingers at things and stories about bad things as a point of inspiration. I say your wrong, you should be pointing it at the people themselves and the primal instincts they have in them and the lack of discipline to control themselves.

    you want to say its because we see it on tv and video games. No,try watching a lion mate.. looks pretty rough to me, some might even misconstrue it as rape.. I mean by federal law in the US you cant show porn in which it shows a woman not enjoying her self. so there for by that standard the male lion is raping the female lion. there by everything we learn comes from animals, i mean we have been watching them for ++1000s of years. tv in only the last 100years. and video games of the last 30 ish. if you don’t count the Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device.

    If your not blaming the gaming industry then stop bring it up. because you are, i see you pointing it at gaming and gaming industry, Ive seen it pointed at tv, porn..

    Why don’t you blame the bible too while your at it, that has more vile and treachery then most porn’s I’ve seen. Hell lets blame god he condones rape,murder,stoning,and the such.

    you want the industry to change because you are weak and cant handle the REAL world. the real fact that some people are just follow there primal instincts and do bad things, doesn’t matter what they watch read or hear, they are just going to be bad people.

    So stop trying to take way the freedoms of other people for a cause you will never beat it out by removing those items. Its like saying lets burn books they have bad things in them.

    Other wise you are no better then the rapist who says its the woman’s fault for dressing like a slut she was begging for it. And you are giving him a excuse to validate the things he has done and able to put the blame some were else other then himself.

    If you want to fix these things. try pushing for better schooling, help for parents with kids so they can have a positive roll model. You want to help, push for equal rights for the gay and lesbians and women, blame the powers at the top and the religious fanatics. They are the ones who are hold us back and show society that its Ok to be like this.

    **Don’t blame the entertainment industry, because the only thing you should be learning from them is how to watch/read/play a story for mindless entertainment.. nothing more. I mean seriously if Lindsey Lohan and other actors and actress or a character in a video game are your roll model, you were lost WELL before you got to that game.**

  4. RandomPerson438 says:

    For your answer to issue two:

    You say, “The accusation of participation in a rape culture is not unique to gaming…”. Then why was your original piece targeting gaming specifically if you want to address rape culture as a whole?

  5. “Invariably, assholes crop up in every social context from knitting circles to pro wrestling, but if the contention is that all the terrible sexism and rape culture in gaming comes from people who were already like that beforehand (which presumably excludes anyone who got into gaming as a child, unless we’re saying that adult sexism is genetically predetermined) – and if these assholes are loud and passionate enough to give confused readings about the state of gaming culture as a whole – then it doesn’t seem unreasonable to wonder: what is it about gaming that attracted all these sexist, misogynistic adults in the first place?”

    What is it about Islam that attracted all these terrorists in the first place?
    What is it about Judaism that attracted all these thieves in the first place?
    What is it about Christianity that attracted all these Westboro Baptists in the first place?

    The truth is, gaming is better than most anonymous places. Don’t believe me? Go to Youtube or Yahoo or any other site like that, let alone the Freeper/Dailykos type sites. Want to see sexist mysogynistic adults? Ask your local paper to let you read the letters and emails that they rejected from publication. Or just go to a local bar or dance club, where the enviornment lends itself to anonymity. Find me an anonymous setting which is less rapey than gaming.

    Every game site I go to will quickly boot out anybody who makes mysoginistic comments. This is kind of self-defining, as I would never stay on a site that wouldn’t. I can’t say the same for the non-gaming web sites I visit, or the real life places. Good luck on finding a bouncer or a moderator as fast as most game site admins.

    The truth is, there are very few Muslim terrorists, very few Jewish thieves, and even fewer Westboro Baptists. There isn’t anything about either culture that promotes any of these, but those that are terrorists or thieves tend to be very loud. You’re just perpetuating a very hurtful stereotype that all gamers are mysgonynists. I suspect at this point that a majority of gamers are female, although not for the first-person shooters.

    You don’t present any evidence that there’s a lot of mysoginist adults in gaming. You don’t even present any evidence that there’s a lot of adults period in gaming. You use the actions of a few noisy people, who are likely kids, to tar us all with the same brush.

    “and if these assholes are loud and passionate enough to give confused readings about the state of gaming culture as a whole”

    No, you’re the one who’s interpreting confused readings about the state of gaming as a whole. The commenters don’t believe it’s a rape culture The videos don’t say it’s a rape culture. The only person claiming that it’s a rape culture is you. Sexist? Absolutely, but that’s mainly because the game designers are still stuck in the stone age when only teenaged boys played video games. It’s an enormous leap to go from that to saying that the players tare mysoginist. What you are doing is exactly the same as if I said “What is it about England that attracted all these sexist, misogynistic adults in the first place?” You have exactly as much evidence of your statement as I do of mine.

  6. JC Olivr says:

    Huzzah! These are great points! Except the implications of that quote from “Marriage Structure and Resistance to the Gender Revolution in the Workplace” left me a little uneasy, to think that someone may revert to oppressing others (even in the littlest way) even after knowing better via work place influence.

  7. I figured out why this upsets me so much.

    In a few weeks, I’ll be going to a costume convention. One that my girlfriend and several hundred other people will be working, with almost 10,000 people. Many of these will be women (and men) very scantily clad and showing off. The convention actually made a rule saying that women couldn’t run around with just duct tape over their nipples, apparently because before that women were doing it.

    The number one priority of all those hundreds of workers is to make sure that nobody gets assaulted. If you grab a woman (or man), you’ll be kicked out so fast your head will spin. They have people checking everywhere, constantly. Assaults do happen, but they are very rare, and most of the people there will stop it if they can. It’s not so much the staff, it’s the gamers themselves. The weirdos and perverts are eyed with suspicion, not egged on. Any person can ask any other person for help in relative safety. Even talking about rape will get a “that’s not cool” from the guys around you and possibly an escort out the door.

    When you talk about the adult gaming community, well, that’s them. Those people are mostly gamers (and mostly heavy gamers), and it’s really getting a large group of gamers together. It’s one of the safest places for a woman (or man) to be, any time day or night. Women (and men) are dressed up in outfits that would get them badly hurt in many parts of town, and they can walk around and flirt as much as they want. My 12 year old niece is safer with them than she would be almost anywhere, including school, church, or Girl Scouts.

    More than any other group I’ve seen, a Con is the antithesis of a rape culture. Women (and men) can wear what they want, and do what they want, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. Big or small, ‘ugly’ or ‘pretty’ (whatever those mean) doesn’t matter, you can wear what you want and do what you want. And you will not see warnings like “women should go to the bathroom in pairs” or “Do xxx to prevent rape”. They don’t need them.

    We, the gamers, have made a culture where women don’t have to fear rape. We worked damn hard at it (or at least my girlfriend has). When you single out gamers as being a rape culture, you insult all of us. There isn’t any place safer than a group of gamers.

    • Jean says:

      I’m having trouble with your pronouns here. “Many of these will be women (and men) very scantily clad and showing off.” Many of these people -conference attendees? Or many of these workers?. (That would make a big difference.)

      Anyway, to review:
      1) This conference has had such trouble in the past with people taking ‘scantily clad’ so far that they banned the wearing of duct tape as clothing.

      2) This conference has had such trouble in the past that they need to hire ‘hundreds of workers’ (200? 300?) to keep people (men) from assaulting each other (women) in their skimpy clothing.

      3) “Assaults do happen, but they are rare.” How rare? According to the UN, the rate of sexual assault in the US in 2009 was 28.6/100,000, per year. For your number of participants, that would be 2.86. Of course, your conference isn’t a year long, presumably. So in a week, that rate should be close to 0. Any number large enough to prompt the organizers to hire 2 or 3 workers for every 1000 participants has to be orders of magnitude above the statistical norm.

      And yet, you are firmly entrenched in your belief that your particular gaming subculture is the “antithesis of rape culture”. (I don’t think that word means what you think it means…)

      I must say, if I were working at a gaming con where the women (who undoubtedly are fewer in number than the men), wandered around in lingerie, and where I had been explicitly hired, along with 200 others, to make sure no asshole touches them, I doubt I’d feel “safer with them than…almost anywhere, including school, church, or Girl Scouts.”

      Also, you really believe that? And you take your 12-year old niece to conventions where people (women) wander around mostly naked followed by hundreds of security guards to prevent people from touching them? That…does not sound healthy.

      • The personnel in question handle registering, set up the stores, check badges, showing films etc. But all of them will step in if they see something untoward going on. These people have not been hired- they are all volunteers. Imagine a school where the students had banded together to make sure sexual harrassment and assault didn’t take place in school. Would that make you feel safer, or less safe?

        You should visit one or two yourself. You can’t really talk about gamer culture without going to a gamer convention. Otherwise you’re just talking about people on the internet who may or may not be adults, and may or may not actually game.

        • Jean says:

          You said:
          “Imagine a school where the students had banded together to make sure sexual harrassment and assault didn’t take place in school. Would that make you feel safer, or less safe?”

          Less safe. Definitely. Because volunteers banding together to stop assault implies a need for such a thing, that is, that assaults have occurred in the past, and there’s an expectation that they will happen again. Again, you used the phrase “assaults are rare”. You didn’t respond to my point that any instance of “rare” above zero is outside the statistical norm.

          To your second point, why are you assuming I’ve never been to one? I don’t say that in my comment. That’s an interesting conclusion to leap to. I have, in fact, although not in a long while. Not since I broke up with the guy who dragged me to them.

          And you know what? I never felt particularly safe. And the presence of scantily clad girls (and it was nearly always girls), did not make me feel safer. Or more free or whatever you think. (And the rare scantily clad guy? Totally did not make me feel more comfortable.)

          I’m sure you’re going to say, “My girlfriend loves them! She feels safe! She loves games!” Or some variation of this. And that’s fine. But any analysis of gaming cons will show you that the vast majority of paying participants are men. Why is that?

          As to your notion that “you can’t really talk about gamer culture without going to a gamer convention”, really? Are you serious?

          Conventions are a subset of gamer culture. Depending on the game, they may reach a smaller or larger subset, but there’s never been a game where 100% of players (or 90%, or even probably 50%) of gamers actively attended cons.

          This is a completely ridiculous condition to attach to any discussion of gamer culture.

          To sum up: You are heavily invested in a subset of gamer culture that attends conventions. You have convinced yourself that at your particular con, a) women are totally equal! And b) women are totally safe!

          Your only proof of this is that your convention needs “hundreds” of staffers/volunteers wandering around making sure no-one touches the scantily clad girls wandering around.

  8. SImone says:

    Thanks for the eloquence (in all of your posts) Foz. I don’t know how you’ve managed to be so restrained in responding to all those who it seems are deliberately missing the point/s, but kudos. And thanks again. Your posts are why I love the internet (and some of the comments why I hate it).

  9. I’ve been strongly affected by this and by your original post on the topic. I consider myself a decent guy. I’m married to my college girlfriend, I have a good job, a nice house, and I want to start a family. I’m also a gamer, both video games and tabletop roleplaying, and have been for close to twenty years.

    And I admit, for a long time as a teenager and even into early adulthood I was completely comfortable making light of sexual abuse. Even though I have friends who have suffered abuse and rape, in my head I figured it was okay to joke about it in certain circles. I’m not saying this was specifically due to gaming, but rather gaming is one of the influences in my life and overall, those influences played a part in what I felt was okay to joke about and what wasn’t.

    I don’t want to run the risk of raising children to think that sexual harrassment is a laughing matter. Laugh at the dark things so you rob them of their power to make you scared, certainly. But there’s a difference between realising how pathetic some sexist pig is, and making a joke out of the pain they cause.

    I’m proud to be a gamer. My friends who have children bring their kids to games conventions and they’re completely safe. All of my closest friends are gamers and we would do anything for each other. But I’ve seen the other side of the culture, too. I’ve seen the cliques, the behind-the-back bitching and the sexism. It’s there, even if it’s just a small number perpretrating it. It’s great that conventions are generally safe places and the moderators of gaming forums won’t stand for abuse. But that doesn’t mean we should let our guard down. We have to be willing to face our own demons and the fact is, gamers, and gamer culture, are not perfect. We should accept that and take pride in the fact we won’t let these things stand.

    If it’s all right, I’d like to mention your posts in my own blog at

  10. Being marginally involved with the fighting game community, the problem is quite apparent to me. There is a dearth of female fighting game players compared to other forms of video game and I think that lack of female presence is feeding into itself with regard to disrespect to women. I’m sure you are aware of the Cross Assault incident.

    The advent of streaming has complicated things. There are a number of what appear to be pure spectators who do not actually play but watch matches online, colloquially known as “stream monsters.” During those very rare moments where a woman appears on camera the stream chat blows up with blatant objectification, assertions of promiscuity, and demands of food preparation. Major tournaments, having thousands of viewers, tend to end up a real-time 4chan/reddit. It is every bit as bad as you’d imagine. There is a quote from a prominent member that “Stream monsters are not a part of the FGC.” I wish it was true, but obviously a specific type of person would be attracted to fighting game streams in the first place and reflect the culture in place. I will say, to their credit, that the people actually at tournaments tend to be far more civilized.

    Every time problems like this are brought up, the defense is either “it’s your fault for being offended” or “that’s just the way the culture is.” A significant amount of effort is taken to dodge accountability for loathsome behavior. Other popular defenses include “this community is based around beating and dominating other people, it’s to be expected.” It’s really quite discouraging to be associated with this type of people.

    • PocoPuffs says:

      The point that M. Huntington makes about cons and cosplay is great, but I feel that only addresses a smaller if more visible segment of the gaming community. For every person happily and safely expressing their creativity at a con, there are multiple gamers between the ages of 12 and 25 who are revelling in the anonymity of a private residence. Gimnbo’s point resonates far more with me, because my S.O. is a prolific streamer and I spend a lot of time in his stream and others. His stream has evolved into a fairly female-friendly space, and was specifically known for it at one time, but there are still trolls–so many trolls–there and elsewhere that revel in a mob mentality and embrace the perceived freedom of a “boys only” space where they can let their nuts down and breathe easy thinking there aren’t any women around to object. Lest it seem like I’m embracing a strictly male vs. female dichotomy of this culture, there are certainly men who take a stand against the problem/language and women who willingly offer their cleavage and sandwich-making abilities to garner favor. Cons and cosplay may be visible, and thus may be opportunities to spread the right kind of message and behavior, but we still have to acknowledge the other communities at work in the larger universe of gaming.

  11. I’m not even sure how I stumbled across these articles, but here I am. I’m not a huge gamer, but am a huge comic fan who has grown increasingly unsettled with many of these same issues in popular comics culture. I wanted to say thank you for these well-thought-out reasonably argued pieces. I know I’ll be picking up influence from these in discussions for years to come.

    This has been a glorious reading experience, thank you for your intelligence and tact!

  12. […] that topic again) drew attention and a flood of comments, both positive and negative; her follow-up post about the attention and commentary is also really interesting as a look at the kind of discussion […]

  13. […] behind this Rape Culture which I strongly advise everyone to read. (Edit: There is now also an excellent rebuttal of some of the main refusenik views on the issue […]

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