July 27, 2011 61 Comments
So, I didn’t realize that it had been a whole week since my last post. Holy cow! It’s been a crazy week and time got away from me there. Anyhow, my slowitude (yes it’s a word, shut up) means that the things I’m going to be writing about might seem like old news. To those of you who think this is too little too late, I say – throw off the tyranny of internet time! I refuse to fall into the trap of feeling like I have to blog about something the very second it happens!
Also, I have some stuff to say about these two topics that I haven’t seen other people (quite) say. So bear with me.
Fail the first: Organizers have decided to ban women from a major Battlefield 3 launch LAN party (Via Kotaku)
A lot of people have already written about this and about the titanic amounts of fail the organizers have engaged in by deciding to ban women from their event. Tami B (who sometimes goes by cuppycake), in particular, had a great analysis over on the Border House. However, I had a few points of my own that I wanted to add to the general castigation of the organizers of this event:
Point the first: this perpetuates stereotypes and makes it easier for others to do so
Thank you so much for once again contributing to the stereotype that women don’t count as “real” gamers. Your decision has ensured that this will be a major gaming event in which no women participate, despite that Battlefield is an immensely popular titled that appeals to both men and women. But by making your event a male-only space, your reinforcing the idea that only men are “real” gamers. Even worse, you’re perpetuating the idea of gaming as a male space and actually making women less welcome at future such events. If your event is successful, other event organizers are sure to at least consider adopting your highly flawed model. It will set a precedent that other organizers may well choose to emulate. After all, why put up with the hassle of trying to make a safe space for female attendees when you can just ban them all together?
Point the second: this is cowardice
I will at least give the organizers props for acknowleging that harassment is a serious problem at large gaming events. But by deciding to avoid the unpleasantness by banning the victims of potential harassment, the organizers are taking the cowardly way out. They want this to be a fun and friendly space; standing up to your friends and calling them on their privilege/bad behavior is often uncomfortable, sometimes even downright terrifying. Rather than being courageous enough to implement a strong non-harassment policy, the event organizers are caving, giving in to those men who use harassment as a tool to drive women away from such events. Which leads into…
Point the third: They know what they’re doing is wrong
In the original version of their event FAQ, here’s how they justified their decision to exclude women from the event:
Nothing ruins a good LAN party like uncomfortable guests or lots of tension, both of which can result from mixing immature, misogynistic male-gamers with female counterparts
Naturally, they got a lot of flack for this and have since removed the above language. The above language was replaced with:
This event is a ‘gentlemen’s retreat’; as such we do not allow women to attend.
Afterward, they were kind enough to add the following clarification:
We actively discourage gamers from being the kind of mysogynistic jackwagons seen in the Reddit post, and such behaviour should not be tolerated. Frankly, we don’t like that kind of player either. So far as this event goes, it is an special event designed specifically for male gamers. Further, it is meant as a getaway designed to help said male contingent become better men both for themselves and for those who love us.
Now, a lot of smart people have written about why this is just the wrong approach to take, and given that the organizers were cognizant of the problem of potential harassment, these arguments can’t have gone completely over their heads. Rather than listening and saying ‘mea culpa, we shouldn’t exclude women’, they’ve changed the language to call this a “gentleman’s retreat”, making it clear that they have no interest in reexamining their decision to exclude women from the event.
This is, to me, the most damning fact of all – the fact that they understand that this exclusion is unjust, or at least they understand enough to change their public statement that precludes argument. Clearly, they know this is wrong and they don’t give a shit because they’re doing it anyway. So shame on you all. I hope your event is a flop, or at the very least that the backlash you receive convinces organizers of future such events that it’s in their interests to be inclusive of women.
Fail the second:“easy” trivia quiz with E3 booth babes
Someone (I forget who) sent me the link to this video that made the rounds about a month ago. In it, a total of 8 booth babes at E3 are asked five “easy” trivia questions:
What are the original three Pokemon?
What love interest are you forced to kill in the original Portal?
What video game is inspired by the Ayn Rand novel Atlas Shrugged?
What character introduced the gun stiletto?
What is the name of the main character in Zelda: Ocarina of time?
Predictably, the booth babes answered all of the questions incorrectly and were then mocked by male gamers for getting the answers to such easy questions wrong:
These aren’t trick questions. You know all of the answers, and they don’t. (Kotaku)
To be honest, they all sound very stupid, I’m sure they’d struggle with general knowledge, let alone that of video games. Who hasn’t even heard of Atlas Shrugged? *sigh* Hundreds of years of suffrage, and we’re still here. (Kotaku)
There is a reason they are [sic] both babes… brains is not it (G4tv.com forums)
Nice. Real nice. There’s one thing that you asswipes are forgetting – gaming trivia isn’t exactly general knowledge, is it? And honestly, can you really be surprised that booth babes at E3 turn out not to be gamers when they’re paid to be exposed to the very worst aspects of gaming culture? Would I be interested in a hobby that treated me like a piece of meat and largely turned a blind eye to incidents of harassment that happen on the job? No. No I wouldn’t. And I think that’s just human nature.
Secondly, some of these questions are just plain bad questions. Like the last question – we tend to be culturally conditioned to expect that if a media property (book, movie, game) names a character, that the named character will be the protagonist. After all, Hermione wasn’t the main character of Harry Potter, was she? Assuming that Zelda would be the main character is a logical assumption, kids.
Similarly, BioShock is a pretty niche game and I’m willing to bet there are a shitton of gamers who don’t know that BioShock is Atlas Shrugged plus a bazooka. And even if all gamers everywhere did know that, Ayn Rand is a shit author and I’d be happy to see her books drop off the list of what “educated” people should be expected to be conversant with. (But that’s just my opinion.)
The worst, though, is #2 – the question about portal. I’m sorry, but “love interest”?
Okay, now I know that there are people who really developed an attachment to the companion cube, and that some people felt having to destroy it very keenly. But I’m going to remind you that the companion cube IS A FUCKING BOX. Generally speaking, humans do not have romances with boxes, not even boxes with hearts on them. Putting a heart on something does not make it suddenly romance-able.
Not knowing the answers to these stupid questions doesn’t make these booth babes dumb. It makes them smart enough to not want to associate with a hobby that treats women like shit.