Hey guys, this is Fenrir here with a quick bite to think about. In light of Judge’s post on sexuality in video games, a recent article shared on Kotaku reminds us that women who are slighted by video games’ will find that it’s not the games themselves, but rather the industry that is problematic.
Kate William’s article, “I can be just as capable. Let me.”, reveals her less-than-satisfactory experience at E3 this year. As a news reporter representing PC Power Play and an experienced PC gamer (Complete with a games degree, even) she was ready to tackle the game demos offered at E3 and write about them when she got back. Unfortunately, she never got the chance to experience the demos properly, as seen in this quote:
“Do you play PC games?” he asked, frowning.
One of the publications on my media badge was listed as PC PowerPlay. It shouldn’t have been necessary for him to ask such a question, but I answered. “Yes.”
“Well, OK.” I sensed a disbelief in the guy’s voice. “But do you play shooters?”
I remember the silence that filled this space beyond this question. I was horrified that anyone could even ask such a thing. Here I was, sitting with my fingers spread across WASD, admiring a game world — and somehow, for some obtuse reason, being assumed to be someone who didn’t know anything about the world or how to interact with it.
“I think I better play it for you,” he said finally, prying my hands away and turning the keyboard towards himself. — Kate Miller, “I can be just as capable. Let me.”
Her experience was repeated at several other booths. In short, PR reps would snatch away her keyboard before she had the chance to try the games for herself, assuming that she was nothing more than a pretty face sent by a company to E3. This kind of precaution, even if there are reporters that are just like that, is ridiculous: Whether a person is “good” at a video game demo or not, let them try it. It’s disrespectful that these reps immediately snatched the keyboard away from her, taking away any chance for Kate Miller to try the game for herself; if they wanted to instruct her from the back-seat, let her do so, but with her hands on the keys.
Commenters on her article have called for Kate to be more assertive, to have “snatched the keyboard” right back, but here lies the problem: Kate shouldn’t be subjected to this treatment in the first place.
After so many years of getting underestimated for being a woman in online games, in a games degree, in games journalism, why would it seem that I’m still not used to this? Why am I not tired of it already? Why have I not yet learned to shut up and realise that things will never change? If I’m so offended, why am I not determined to just keep my head down and prove the unbelieving wrong by producing good work?
And honestly? It’s because we’re f**king beyond this already. — Kate Miller, “I can be just as capable. Let me.”
Indeed, we should be beyond “this” — this one glance at a woman before we decide “let’s go easy on her” or “she can’t possibly play” — but unfortunately the industry is stuck in their own boys’ club mentality. The fandom for games has changed to include men and women, but the industry itself is lagging behind, sometimes failing to harness the potential that can be found in the female part of their fan-base.
And the first step to improvement is to take their female fans seriously, is to realize that yes, girls can play, too.
(And again to get the full (stomach-sinking-feeling) story, check out Kate Miller’s article here at Kotaku)