November 6, 2014

What is #Gamergate & Why Does it Matter? {Videos & Mindful Commentary}

gamergate screenshot

I don’t know how much the gaming world overlaps with the yoga and mindfulness one.

Maybe the overlap is as small as just one person: me. But I think the issue that is being brought forth by the #Gamergate controversy has relevance for us all.

#Gamergate’s defenders say it is about “ethics in journalism.” But to pretty much everyone else, it seem like it’s a misogynistic backlash to criticism about sexism in gaming.

I cannot do justice to the complexity of the issue in this brief blog post, but here is a clip from someone who can: Anita Sarkeesian. She is the creator of Feminist Frequency, a web series on YouTube that explores the roles and depictions of women in gaming.

For her actions, she has become the target of death threats, along with several other women who have spoken out on the issues.

Here she is in an interview on the Colbert Report:

I have watched Anita Sarkeesian’s web series and found it enlightening and interesting, and also totally inoffensive. The backlash against her is utterly perplexing to me. I do think sexism is alive and well in our culture, and she does well to point it out. We can’t change the things we don’t acknowledge. You can watch an episode of her show for yourself, and I will include it below.

I find her arguments compelling, but the one thing I can’t help but wonder after each one is, what do we do now?

Certainly some of the stuff she points out is sexist. But if games are a form of art, then like songs with violent lyrics, or books with violent plots, what do we do about it? I don’t think the right reaction is to burn books, or blame rappers when violent people cite their songs as inspiration. And we certainly shouldn’t react by sending death threats to the people who speak out about it.

What is the mindful reaction to all this?

I’d love to see the gaming world become more inclusive and start to reflect the diversity of the population. But gaming is not alone in this problem. Movies and TV shows are over populated with white women and men of a limited number of body shapes and other traits. This media trend not only helps to reinforce the sometimes racist and sexist status quo, but it’s downright boring after a while. But again, what can we do?

I think the answer ultimately becomes one for the conscious consumer.

More diverse movies and games will be made when people know they can make money off of them, and I don’t say that to be cynical at all. There are all kinds of people in this world, and we’d all like to see someone that reminds us of ourselves in a movie or show, or even a game.

The market is out there. We’re here. We’re waiting, and we’ll vote with our dollars.

Love elephant and want to go steady?

Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!


Author: Kathryn Muyskens

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: YouTube Screen Shot

Leave a Thoughtful Comment

Read 0 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

K.L. Muyskens  |  Contribution: 13,880