With PAX Australia coming up, controversy hit today regarding one of their panels.
Tami Baribeau wrote a piece summarizing her problem with this. She got the impression that these panelists, whom of which aren't employed by Penny Arcade, are claiming that the videogame industry is exempt from criticism.
I didn't get that impression from this short bit of text describing the panel. Instead, it struck a cord with me on exactly what's wrong with our industry: We're all too sensitive and letting emotions cloud judgement and compromising the integrity of having a real conversation.
Of course this panel isn't necessarily the best launch case for this topic, but it is something that has been on my mind lately so after seeing this whole debacle I decided to write this thing. The bulk of the controversy was in regards to Gabe's arguably offensive remarks towards transgenders, but the other side of people getting pissed off on the Internet (weird, I know) was the text describing the panel.
You got the Anita Sarkeesian side of this industry of super pre-feminists that instead of opening up conversations, they just assume they're 100% right and while they're fighting for a social issue, they're just throwing a tantrum instead of being mature about the topic.
Some folks tweeted comments about shutting PAX out all-together.
Above is the same woman that said folks should automatically block anyone that disagreed with Phil Fish on a statement he made complaining that there aren't enough female protagonists in games. Most of the tweets to Fish about that topic were pretty constructive. Yes, you have the handful of assholes trolling with kitchen comments of course. Then of course I had to be an asshole and say, "Isn't Gomez a male?"
...I couldn't resist.
Back during the #1reasonwhy movement, a friend of mine saw a developer state an issue she had with a friend not getting a job "on the grounds she's female". My friend was attacked on social media for simply asking if the woman applying had qualifications, previous work history, and so on. The female developer responded with something along the lines of "that doesn't matter". Of course she retweeted his "sexist" comment and he was bullied for a good day or two.
My point is that of course I would love for more female representation in games. From an outsider's perspective I saw a lot of progress this E3. Most press outlets had females covering the event and I saw a lot of female developers on the floor talking about their games.
Of course I'm not saying there isn't an issue, but clearly the game business is doing a lot better. I mean, I've been in a college environment for awhile and I haven't met a single female interested in computer engineering or any other educations that might lead to the game business. There's a larger pool of males that are interested in the business so of course it's going to be male dominated.
The issue lays with anytime someone disagrees with a statement made by someone supporting #1reasonwhy or Anita, they're labeled as a sexist and the champions of those pro-feminist messages just shut that person out of any potential conversation or purposely sets that person up for bullying.
I have yet to talk to anyone in person or on the Internet that says, "FUCK WOMEN BEING IN THIS BUSINESS, DICKS ONLY!". But people out there on the world stage are communicating these messages we all agree with, but their methods are questionable and rash.
Even if you have a good message, there's still potential for bullshit. Everyone needs to be prepared to be called out on their bullshit. Back to my example of the unemployed female developer, it's reasonable to look at her actual qualifications. Doing so however, makes you an easy target and makes folks afraid to challenge the people with the microphone.
Whether you think Penny Arcade is sexist or if Anita deserves a Medal of Honor or if you are some crazy lunatic that thinks a woman's only job is a womb, be prepared to open a conversation. For no matter what your motivations, no matter how morally right they are, we aren't going to make progress if you shut out everyone that disagrees with you. Turning into a bully to defeat bullying is not the answer. Instead we need to take a step back once in awhile, take a deep breath, and remember that we all love videogames and this industry's quality and integrity has to be something we all protect.