So, I’m a couple of weeks late to this truly repulsive piece of “news,” but feel compelled, as a female gamer, to weigh in on it.
Anita Sarkeesian did a Kickstarter campaign to do research on female video game tropes. She asked for $6,000 and ended with close to $160,000. As Helen Lewis emphasizes in the linked article, Kickstarter is a totally voluntary thing. You VOLUNTEER to back projects that you believe in. There are all kinds of different projects on it. I have a friend who’s launching an erotic comics anthology, and friends who have launched fantastically successful campaigns for magazines, game proposals and toys.
In response to Sarkeesian’s Kickstarter, a small slice of the internet - and I stress this is definitely a minority here - went bananas. Anonymous memes/pics/cartoons appeared, featuring Sarkeesian being brutally raped. One sad little cocktail sausage from Canada, a guy named Ben Spurr, created a game that allows the player to punch Anita Sarkeesian’s face until it’s bruised and bloody and totally unrecognizable. He claims that it was merely to GET HER ATTENTION and prove a point. Spurr wrote:
Anita Sarkeesian has not only scammed thousands of people out of over $160,000, but also uses the excuse that she is a woman to get away with whatever she damn well pleases. Any form of constructive criticism, even from fellow women, is either ignored or labelled to be sexist against her.
She claims to want gender equality in video games, but in reality, she just wants to use the fact that she was born with a vagina to get free money and sympathy from everyone who crosses her path.
Apparently this is what it takes to get a full-fledged feature on gaming in the New York Times, which touched on Sarkeesian’s cyberbullying (which, to me, somehow doesn’t even seem adequate enough to describe what’s going on).
I’ve loved and played video games for the past 20 years of my life. I’ve never seen the kind of vitriol and rage launched against this poor woman. Yes, there is sexism in the gaming industry, and the gaming community. As an online gamer, I know what to expect from trade chat regulars and trolls. The people behind the screen may not fecklessly spout sexist, racist bullshit to their real life peers, but their gaming personas do. I know some wonderful people who can say some truly fucked-up things in games that they’d never normally say.
It’s a weird, inexcusable behavioral dichotomy that I’ve always found fascinating. I’m not sure which theory this is (spiral of silence or whatnot) but obviously has something to do with avatars and relative anonymity and the sense of fantasy you get playing a game.
What I’m trying to say is - trolling is something one should expect from the gaming community. People say shitty things and laugh about them, but they’re mostly harmless if you’re smart enough to ignore them.
Now, in the case of Ben Spurr (see tweet above), all of that goes out the window. This guy is a bottom-feeding dick. He claims he made the game to get her attention. He never explicates what exactly pisses him off so much about her project - and mind you, the research/project is obviously still in the works. What he’s gone and done is given Sarkeesian the best kind of ammo she could have hoped for. I hope she’s got steel balls and will take advantage of this moron and incorporate this into her research. Look at the support on her Kickstarter and tell me I’m wrong.
Really dipshit? I bet you say that to all the girls. I wonder what the females in his life think of him. In all seriousness, I hope they punch him in the face. With tasers.