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Friday, June 21
The Indiana Daily Student


Sexism in the gaming industry

Considering the number of articles being written about Gamergate or Anita Sarkeesian, one would think a disaster has befallen the ranks of equality and human rights.

With all due respect, I beg to differ.

The video game community, at large, has always been a notoriously fickle beast. There are factions and subfactions within it that call themselves “gamers.”

There are those who owe their allegiances to one particular platform or another and those who look down with disdain on “casual” gamers who purportedly only play “Call of Duty,” “FIFA” and “Madden.” Then there are those who love a game so much that woe betide anyone and everyone who even dares to criticize it.

Probably the closest analogy we have is the constant war between Android and iOS users.

This is a growing community and one that has greatly expanded from its humble roots into a burgeoning industry worth billions.

This is how we are able to get voices such as Anita Sarkeesian.

It takes really thick skin to be a prominent member of this community, which can produce just as much noise as political debates.

The criticism of Sarkeesian is not unusual, as surprising as it sounds. The vitriol at any time can change on a dime and often flips between the targets as erratically as the wind. But the result is not any different from the other controversies. Take a look at what happened last year with the controversial digital rights management policies of the Xbox One.

But much of Sarkeesian’s criticism is not without criticism of its own.

In fact, much of it is the same as the criticism that video games cause school shootings in the sense that she believes there is an impact from playing video games that can transfer to real life. In Sarkeesian’s case, she charges that videogames have very sexist elements in them.

For example, Sarkeesian points out that in “Grand Theft Auto V,” there are several instances of violence against women seen in “random encounters” where the player character can choose to stop or not. Sarkeesian said this is endemic of videogames using women as mere set-pieces or window dressing.

I disagree with this notion, however, in the broader context of the game, the setting is a hyper-caricatured dystopian vision of Los Angeles that no one in his or her right mind would believe to be real.

While it is beyond question that game developers and publishers are exploring new ways to make videogames tug at heartstrings and even produce catharsis, — think “The Last of Us”, “Journey” or “Heavy Rain” — the idea that this media can subconsciously influence our thought processes akin to brainwashing is ludicrously false.

If that was the case, we would have a lot more stealth assassinations, drive-by shootings and people preparing for the zombie apocalypse on campus.

Regardless of my views of Sarkeesian’s ideas, yes, it is wrong for her to be under this withering barrage of threats, but it is by no means unique for any person in a position of prominence.

It takes guts to put opinions out there, but criticism of any form will always produce a knee-jerk response. Continuing onward in spite of knee-jerk reactions is the way to respond to those who hide behind their keyboards.

Fear only shows weakness in this scenario.

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