This is a guest post by Stevie. Content warning for misogynist abuse.
There is a long-standing idea that women are a small, unimportant minority in the video game community. Recently, this idea has been turned on its head, and women now make up nearly half of video game consumers. This changing dynamic has been quite troubling for many male gamers. As women have become a larger segment of the gaming community, they have become vocal, and it’s causing quite a stir.
These women have been pointing out that mainstream gaming is still heavily misogynistic and that AAA game studios, armed with the ability to create literally anything, continue to put out games with the same protagonist: dark haired, scruffy, heterosexual white male. These women have noticed that when developing these and other characters in their games, studios refer to the same set of tired tropes and narratives, many of which perpetuate damaging stereotypes of women. These women, often self-professed feminists, have had the audacity to express their opinion, which is creating quite a bit of tension with “true” gamers (white, male gamers who like video games just as they are). These women have offended “true” gamers, and those gamers have responded with an impressive amount of backlash. Though these individuals represent a minority in the gaming community, it is troubling to note how they continue to proliferate throughout the community.
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The 2013 study on Sales, Demographic and Usage Data conducted by the Entertainment Software Association found that 45% of the United States gaming population are female. Still, when most people think of a “gamer,” their first thought is never a woman. We still think of gamers as a nerdy, glasses-wearing boy or young man with a passion for all things “geeky”. Over the past decade, this has changed with growing numbers of female gamers, among other marginalized groups, entering the community. However, within the gaming community, female gamers continue to be scrutinized on their knowledge and abilities, and if they fail, are accused of being a “fake geek girl,” and subjected to misogynistic character attacks. Aisha Tyler felt the brunt of this when she hosted Ubisoft’s presentation at E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) in 2012 with a slew of comments like this:
this is what happens when you let the jews and liberals infect your industry_ to inject “diversity” and “progress”
dont let them kill our games people
Tyler’s authority to host the event was called into question by individuals who knew nothing about her. Despite being an avid gamer, participating in numerous E3 events, and voicing characters in 3 major games, she was immediately discredited by trolls for no other reason than being a woman. In response, Tyler penned an open letter to the gaming community on her Facebook page, stating that she plays video games and will “still be playing when your mom’s kicked you out of her basement and you have to sell your old-ass console and get a real job.”