Ed. Note: This post has been written over the last week or so. It’s not as cohesive as I’d like it to be, but I wanted to get it all out. Plus, I’m still getting my writing chops back, so keep that in mind as you read this post.
It’s been a horrible couple of weeks for gaming culture, and it started when the ex of an indie developer decided to air his dirty laundry publicly, accusing his ex of sleeping her (and her gender is very important here) way to some positive reviews for her game. Which, as many gamers were quick to point out, isn’t really a game, presumably because it didn’t have any guns that go PEW PEW. Soon, there was a witch hunt against this developer* and nude photos of her were spread across the web. The man she’s accused of sleeping with in order to get this juicy review (didn’t happen) has also gotten some shit, but not nearly as much as she has.
Before I tackle this and the harassment that Anita Sarkeesian** has received for her newest Tropes vs Women video, I want to take a look at gaming culture in general. You can read my prior post on what it took for me to call myself a gamer for some of the negativity I see dominating gaming culture. Some will argue that it’s just a reflection of society in general, and while I agree, I have to wonder why it’s particularly vitriolic in gaming culture. I mean, writers and directors of movies don’t get umpteen death threats if the end of the movie isn’t agreeable to the viewers, so why is this a normal thing that happens in gaming? I mean, the developers of Call of Duty got death threats when they tweaked a weapon, for fuck’s sake. What the hell is wrong with gamers that this is a common thing?
Part of the problem is the endless patching of games. A game is released, oftentimes in an unfinished/unpolished state with the knowledge that there will be patches in the future. In the Early Access program on the Steam website, developers actively ask for gamer input. I have complicated feelings about the Early Access program which shall be left for another blog post, but suffice it to say that it’s interactive nature allows gamers to give feedback to a game in a manner that actually affects the outcome of said game. Therefore, it’s not unreasonably to say that gamers are a part of the creative process, albeit a small one. So, they have a sense of entitlement, that they DESERVE the ending they want (or the gun power or whatever). Still, that doesn’t seem like enough to inspire death/rape threats, does it?
Now that I’m dabbling in gaming culture, I’m seeing a common complaint by some gamers that I used to see in politics, and, indeed, in society in general. “Why do you have to bring ___________* into it? I just want to enjoy ____________** without any of that icky identity crap that goes with it!” In case you can’t guess, the people saying this are usually white guys, probably straight, and they don’t understand why they have to deal with race, gender, sexuality when all they want to do is play a damn video game! They can’t understand why we minorities have to harp on these issues. Well, let me try to explain why it’s important to us who are not in the majority.
The default for video games is to have a white, straight male as a protagonist.. Even though gamers themselves are becoming more diverse, the protagonists have remained mostly a monolith. Blah blah blah developers creativity, but as I pointed out in a previous post, if every developer churns out the same product, it’s not really creative, is it? I will say that I started gaming in the heyday of its diversity with you having the ability to choose to customize your character to varying extents in more games than ever. However, if a game gives you one protagonist, you can bet that nine out of ten times*** said protagonist would be a white male. So, those of us tired of playing straight white males are going to point this out from time to time. Not all the time as some straight, white male (SWM) gamers claim. Probably not even half the time or a quarter, but enough to make it uncomfortable to those who wish to remain oblivious of the issues. Any discussion of an issue that one would rather not face feels like too much attention given to said issue.
If you’re a SWM in gaming, you have the luxury of not having to think about race, gender, sexual identity, etc. All the games cater to you because you are the default norm. When minorities point out the rather obvious fact that they are missing from the equation, it seems like THEY are the ones who are bringing up race, gender, sexual orientation, etc., and injecting it into the conversation. The SWMs don’t see that race/gender/sexuality already play a big part because you don’t come up with that kind of uniformity by accident. No, I’m not saying it’s some kind of conspiracy – I’m saying it’s societal norm that is invisible because of its pervasiveness and acceptability.
Ok. I have been trying to stay above the fray with all the batshitcrazynuttywingers on the right. I mean, I don’t need the stress. I really don’t. However, I just snapped today. It was over at BJ, of course, and it was a thread on health care. One idiot was tossing out one wingnut point after another, and I just lost it. LOST IT. I started hurling the fuck bombs like they were going out of style. I called him (I think it’s a him, I am not sure) a fucking pretentious nitwit. I went off on him, posted the comment, and promptly exited the thread.
I don’t understand the batshit craziness of some of the memes that are sticking. I had lunch with Natasha today, and neither of us could understand the, “Ohmygod Scary Black Man wants to kill my Grandma” meme that just will not fucking die. There is a provision in the 1000+ page bill that reimburses seniors who want counseling about what to do with their living wills. That’s it. That’s all. Seniors get to talk with a medical counselor about what they want to do in end-of-life situations. They get reimbursed. Simple like that.
Then, all of a sudden, death panels! Obama is gonna kill the elderly. Ohmygod! Scary black man! Rationed health care! Babies with Down Syndrome are gonna be put to death! Stephen Hawking would have been put to death if he had been born in Britain because of his physical handicaps! You think I’m kidding? Investor’s Business Daily ran an op-ed about this very topic. You know the drill. I linked to a link that dissects the stupidity. Read Stephen Hawking is Alive and Well and weep. Stephen fucking Hawking is a fucking British theoretical physicist. Really. This is the best they got?
I’m furious. I’m enraged. I’m weary. I’m horny, but that’s not going to be part of the post today. In the comments from my last post, whabs brings up the point that guilt is supposed to be a part of what it means to be a woman. I have learned that lesson all-too-well. I feel guilty nearly every goddamn minute of my life. I have learned to mitigate it somewhat so it’s just a muted chorus, but it used to dominate my thoughts. Which was why I was suicidal by age eleven. Well, not the only reason, but one of them.
In no particular order, I felt guilty for not being married, for not having children, for being bi, for being loud about issues such as racism, for not being a Christian, for letting myself get out of shape, for thoroughly enjoying sex in so many different ways and with so many different people, for not making more of myself, for wasting my life, for not having to worry as much about money as do other people, for not being able to single-handedly save the world, for being alternately aloof and clingy, for being so damn narcisstic, for craving fame, for not working hard enough to get said fame, for being a repudiation of everything my mom is, for accidentally kicking Raven twice today, for not being a better aunt/sister/daughter/friend/cat caregiver, for the Cold War, for evaluating my worth as how skinny I am, for not being enough of ______ (fill in the blank) and too much of _______ (fill in this blank, too).
Now, while I’m worrying about everything little thing I’ve ever done wrong and will ever do wrong in my life, there are people who act like their shit don’t stink. Because I follow politics, my examples are of politicians and of the so-called pundits who opine about said pols.
I have started a sober, thoughtful post on the shooting of the security guard at the Holocaut Museum, but I am not feeling sober nor thoughtful right now.
It was an awful thing that happened. You know the sick and twisted part? Many on the right are trying to pretend that the asshole who did this (old asshole, yes, but an unrepentant asshole all his life, nonetheless) was a liberal because–well, it’s the same idiotic pretzel-shaping they did when the converted Muslim man assassinated that soldier.
“You all crammed multiculturalism down our throats, and…” What? Apparently, there are some on the far left who blame Jews for what’s ailing America. I did not know that, and it’s appalling. However, can you honestly tell me that when you hear of a white supremacist who hates minorities (especially blacks) and Jews and thinks the government is treasonous, who is packing heat and intent on doing damage to the greater population, the first thing you think of is, “Damn fucking liberals are shooting up the joint again!”?
Come on! We’re not called the bleeding heart liberals for nothing. The right likes to scoff at us for our empathy and our do-gooder ways. Now, they want to do a one-eighty and say…I don’t even know what the hell they are trying to say. Oh, wait. Yes, I do. They are saying the alleged killer hated the far right movement, so he must have been far left. You know why he hated the far-right movement? Because he thought they were a bunch of wusses who talked a good game, but who weren’t willing to lay it on the line. The sad thing is that he’s right about that. Most of the far-right pundits haven’t served their country in any measurable way. They are not the ones protesting or filling the streets with tea bags. They are certainly not turning down money from ‘the librul media’ which is paying them a handsome amount to spew their hatred.
I’m still grieving. I have read many things in lefty blogs about Dr. Tiller’s murder, and I can’t seem to shake it. Partly because I was lulled into thinking that this kind of violence was in the past. Partly because I am just so damn discouraged at how the GOP still gets to define how we debate issues and with what terminology. Whatever the reason, I’m still saddened. However, a thin thread of anger is beginning to worm its way through the pain.
So, just for this post, I am giving in to the baser side of me. I need to vent.
Dear Religious Right,
Listen up. For far too long you have gotten to choose how to frame the debate around abortion, gay rights, and other things which, quite frankly, are none of your damn business. I am not talking about Christians in general here, but the wingnutters who are the extremists to the right. I am not pretending that you are anything more than what you really are–domestic terrorists. If you had brown skin instead of pale, pasty white skin, you would be known as a terrorist cell.
I did not know that the last doctor murder was while Clinton was president. In fact, there were none during the Bush years, despite the fact that abortions rose during Bush’s reign as Decider-in-Chief. By the way, per that article I just linked, here’s a little fun fact for ya. Abortions were at 24-year low when W. took office. Gee, who was prez before him? Why, one Bill Clinton. Anyway, as the right gets out of political power, it appears that the batshitcrazyinsane portion of their party feels hopeless and helpless and shoots people to feel better about themselves. They don’t give a shit that it’s the Dem presidents who actually do things to improve conditions so less abortions are obtained, because really, who needs facts to get in the way of a good hard-on for hate?
And so it begins. Even before Sonia Sotomayor was picked by Obama as his first SCOTUS nominee, the monkeys started howling about how unfit she was. I blogged about the indignation here. In that entry, I deconstructed what racism feels like (as much as I could) and how white privilege is rampant and unexamined (by certain people) in our society.
Now, Obama has actually made his pick, and it’s Sonia Sotomayor. Predictably, the reaction on the right has been, “She’s an affirmative action pick! She’s an activist judge!” The more egregious quotes are of the, “here’s hoping she can get past her gender, racial, class issues and judge impartially” variety. The chief idiot of the global climate change deniers, Senator James Inhofe, says that he hopes she can get past the gender, racial thing. So do other Republicans. Because, as we know, white men are never influenced by their race or gender, oh no. Or their political ideologies–nope nope. In fact, for any conservative who wants to natter on the objectivity of the Supreme Court, I have one thing to say to you, “Gore v. Bush!” Suck on that. That ruling was so flawed, even the SCOTUS said, “Hey, man, don’t base any future court rulings on this decision.”