Recently, I am feeling pretty excited about the steps the gaming industry has made to transcend an all male demographic. This really shouldn’t come as any surprise, but there are still some people who are unable to understand why there is any reason for excitement at all. The attitude I most often encounter in open discussions about women in relation to gaming culture, as of late, is one of neutrality. More specifically, the notion that video game culture or nerd culture in and of itself is and always has been welcoming of women. Lately the words women and gaming are scarcely not mentioned in the same breath as Gamergate. In my mind, this is proof enough that gaming has never been a level playing field for women on any level. Still, one thing I hear time and time again is the idea that Gamergate was simply reactionary or inflammatory on both sides of the issue, that women were always welcome to stake their claim in the world of gaming, and that many were simply just reacting poorly to the fact that women had finally decided to do so. Really, the issue centered around the idea that women staking their claim, or even being included in gaming and nerd culture was somehow a slight against men. That the empowerment of women would somehow oppress men. For the longest time I saw this perspective as simply apathetic. However, I’ve recently begun to regard it as naive, and I cannot help but think about what I would have said to myself as an adolescent gamer posing as a male online while playing Diablo 2 in my older brother’s bedroom. More than this, I cannot help but think about how that adolescent-me might try to justify such willing self-erasure and the seemingly natural order of things that made it a necessary practice.
Image Source: Marvel ComicsEventually, after burning through a persona or two, I would stake my claim in the world of gaming. Yet, I remain unconvinced that it will be any less difficult for today’s young girls to keep their identities intact as they navigate their way through nerd culture. Nerd culture being, of course, a salty microcosm containing universe, after alternate universe, after parallel universe; wherein even Superman can be represented as both iconically good and disturbingly evil so long as he remains SuperMAN (let’s not forget the outcry that ensued when Marvel announced Thor’s powers and namesake would belong to a woman). Not cool, bro. Image courtesy Costume Express It is a good thing, however, that I cannot talk to my twelve-year-old self. On some days I imagine that I would tell her she didn’t need to hide behind a male persona. In this daydream, she would then accept my advice and plunge headlong into a feminist vendetta against all of this chauvanistic nonsense. On some days though, I imagine that I would feel guilty if I didn’t tell her about the doxxing and threats of death or rape that would become so prevalent. I imagine that in either case she would be afraid. I remain optimistic, though not necessarily confident that women will find their rightful and equal place in gaming culture. That one day the empowerment of women in an field they enjoy will not be seen as a threat to their male counterparts and that women will someday be able to pursue their passions and hobbies without receiving threats for wanting to be included. Article by: Lydia Mondy