Dear Video Game Industry:
You have a handle on my son. Yes, I know you know this already. You started your influence a long time ago, just the same way the Disney princesses have infiltrated our girls’ lives with 3 month Cinderalla onesies. In retrospect, maybe the whole video game thing is my fault. I was the one who bought him Wii. I was the one who got him the DS. I was the one who taught him how to play Lego Star Wars Wii, and yes, I was the one who got him through that incredibly difficult level, you know the one where Sebulba races young Anakin… Anyway!
I’m sure you’ve seen the new video circulating the internet, created by Kixeye for the purposes of recruiting programmers. I’m sure you also know that The Atlantic pointed out this video. In particular, they discussed CEO Will Harbin’s quote in which he said: “What is best in life? Is it to crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women? Well, that’s a pretty good start.”
There’s no secret about the misogynistic characters in video games. There’s no secret about the misogynistic people playing these video games either–and maybe that’s the point of Kixeye’s video? To be satirical? To have a laugh at your own expense. Soon after The Atlantic article came out, Kixeye’s VP of engineering Danielle Deibler (a woman! don’t you love it?) swung her own digital sword:
“Everyone has a place at Kixeye if they kick ass and have a passion for making great games. You’ve totally misrepresented our company and taken our video so far out of context that it’s laughable.”
Here’s the problem with the video. It feeds into the perpetuation of sexist behavior that makes it uncomfortable and intimidating for women so that they don’t feel safe in your world.
Kind of like how Miranda Pakozdi felt when she entered the Cross Assault video game tournament. She expected to play for $25,000, according to New York Times reporter Amy O’Leary, and instead got this feedback from her coach:
Over six days of competition, her team’s coach, Aris Bakhtanians, interrogated her on camera about her bra size, said “take off your shirt” and focused the team’s webcam on her chest, feet and legs. He leaned in over her shoulder and smelled her.
How about how Anita Sarkeesian from Feminist Frequency has become the target of outrageous, misogynistic comments and rape threats when she began documenting her Tropes vs. Women project. I’m sure you’ve seen it.
Video Game Industry, could you do us this favor? Could you try, try try to at least accept that this kind of sexism is real. That it’s viral. That it’s not just denigrating to women, but it’s denigrating to the men as well. That women have a dirty sense of humor. We love sex and violence just like everyone else (hello, Game of Thrones?) but we don’t like it when you make us the target or the victim or the subject or the object. Can you try to make it so that gaming is a healthy place for everyone, could we at least attempt to understand that boys–like mine–are fully engaged and enthralled by everything you do.
And for more proof on daily activities, take a look at what the blog Fat, Ugly or Slutty is documenting. Just in case you didn’t know, they’re a blog that charts the complaint of women who have been harassed by gamers.
(Image: Fat, Ugly or Slutty)
The Kixeye recruiting video for your enjoyment.