Sexism in Gaming

A great collection of terrible representations of women through gaming history

A great collection of terrible representations of women through gaming history

Watch out, the women are coming for your games!

Actually, they just want to play too. The average gamer is in their 30s and almost 50% of you already are women anyways. Who would have thought that the ratio of people who enjoy playing games would so closely match the ratio of men to women who exist on Earth?! Shocking, I know. Women aren’t just playing Farmville, either, because about 40% of the player base in that game are actually men. Women like all sorts of games, but are routinely harassed and demeaned for trying to enjoy them on services such as Xbox Live. For an example of just how incredibly hateful and extreme these types of players are, go watch this video and pay attention when she starts talking about how an entire legion of sexists descended on her for daring to propose making a series of YouTube videos discussing not even the players who began their campaign of hate, but sexism in the games themselves.

Anita Sarkeesian at Tedx

There is a happy ending to that story in the form of her receiving an outstanding amount of support from people disgusted by the reaction to her proposal, but it doesn’t undo the inhuman treatment she received and still receives for standing up for herself and other women who just want to play too. Not to reduce the significance of the gay rights movement, but it shares a similarly weird reaction from the majority of those who oppose it with those who oppose equal representation of women in games. For reasons I will never be able to fathom, people who oppose both of these movements convince themselves that by giving marginalized groups more rights they are somehow losing their own. Human rights are not a zero-sum equation, there are plenty to go around! Though perhaps I am actually minimizing the issue when I limit the scope to how society treats women in games. This is just one of many forms of media misrepresenting women as being incapable of existing without the men they are attached to, are treated as sex objects (and used as decorations, even), and are portrayed as weak and helpless but definitely not feminists. I agree with Anita that one of the worst tropes to come out of Hollywood and TV is the straw feminist character who exists to show that feminism isn’t needed any more because women already won “enough rights”. The struggle to achieve simple equality is in fact far from over. On February 12, 2013, The Senate extended the Violence Against Women Act by a vote of 78-22. Men everywhere still think they should be able to control women with violence and intimidation, and if not, these 22 assholes would have been out of office long ago. Oh, and, if your response to this is “What about the men being abused in relationships?” this bill actually does cover them too.

The more people speak up, the more we write and produce content that calls out sexism and discrimination wherever it is found, the harder these issues are to ignore. Progress through perseverance is the name of this game. If you find my article and agree with me, please pass it on. Especially to young men who are already being trained by society to objectify and mistreat women. I’m ashamed to admit that for a long time I resembled the bigots I cannot stand today. I threw around words like “faggot” and “rape” (though for some reason “nigger” was crossing the line for me, it certainly wasn’t / isn’t for many young men) without regard for the harm it was causing millions of people, let alone the person I was being a nasty little shit towards. I can take responsibility for my actions, but where did the group of young men I called friends learn to casually engage in hate speech from? The best I can recall is, from each other, and from the disgusting racist, homophobic, and misogynistic culture present in many online game communities. So how do we fight this? By not tolerating it. If you hear this kind of talk in games you play, don’t ignore it, stand up to the people saying it and calmly explain to them why what they’re doing is wrong. Explain to them how it hurts you or someone you know and isn’t fun and games.

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Hello! I'm the main writer / contributor for Indie Gaming Insider. I have always loved gaming and I am very excited that independently developed games are changing the way we play! I live in the United States and my wife had our first kid on December 5th, 2012. I can't wait to teach Adelaide Leigh Williams all about everything :D

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