It's nice to see a rare instance where this discussion can (mostly) be had with people rationally looking at it from both sides. In my experience researching/following this issue from the start, it's been a sort of insane echo chamber from both sides.
Here's my two cents:
- Anita's videos are helpful in that they bring up a difficult issue, but the videos themselves I don't feel are very productive. I am by no means an expert on women's studies (I took a few classes in undergrad/grad school and that was it), but a fellow female student who DOES have a degree in women's studies as well as is an avid gamer summed up how I felt about it pretty nicely: "It's basically feminism 101. It's good for bringing up the discussion, but her points seem more sensationalist rather than digging deeper into what the actual issue might be or how to best address or constructively fix it." I'm honestly more annoyed she's only released a fraction of the videos promised (as someone who backed her Kickstarter), especially considering the massive amount of money she makes, and the fact she's still asking for more money on Twitter. If anything, that makes it seem a little disingenuous. But again, I'm glad they exist, though I don't know why they're so revered.
- Labeling GamersGate people as misogynists is just as bad as me labeling people on the other end as feminizies. It's fun to label a group by its most extremists (we do with with the left, the right, the religious, the non-religious, etc.), but in truth the bulk of the people are level headed in my experience. If anything, I've gotten the most flack from the anti-GamersGate guys, but that might be because I self-identify as somebody who plays and makes video games in his spare time. Point being, I the amount of snap judgements being made on all fronts is downright embarrassing.
- The "Gamers are Dead" articles and the vitriol tossed out over Twitter, etc. by some gaming "journalists" is absolutely horrible. Yes, there's plenty of asshats in GamersGate doing the same thing, but I was under the impression that when you basically made a living off representing a hobby that a large group of people likes, labeling and attacking the group that literally puts food in your mouth is not only repulsive, but really stupid. I'm not cutting GamersGate's extremists any slack for being just as stupid, but they aren't earning a living off this. Having people whose articles I've read call me a "misogynist neckbeard" (I have financially supported feminism in the past and even attended rallies, and I have a beard but shave my neck, thank you very much) because I don't agree with Anita or the whole "White Male: Easiest Difficulty Setting Ever" style of propaganda gamer-shaming articles is really disheartening. Don't even get me started on the tweets from certain individuals about how they'll burn people who disagree with them, not to mention the rampant doxxing happening and encouraged from both sides.
- On games/feminism: here's the thing, the market is shifting, and games will shift accordingly and naturally regardless of what people say either way. Let's be totally honest here: the biggest games are made by companies with shareholders, and shareholders want them to make stuff that makes money. Males buy and play a lot of games, and still are the most prominent game buyers. However, females are finally breaking into the market, both through cell phone/facebook games as well as an increasing number of gamers into what many consider "traditional," "hardcore," or "real" games (I don't prescribe to this; games are games, but whatever). With this new influx of a different demographic, game companies will shift to meet it, because their STOCKHOLDERS want it. In the end, it's about money. If making Call of Duty every year for the 12-30 year old male crowd is selling a billion dollars of product, they'll keep doing it. If women start buying and playing more games with female protagonists, the market will shift as well. But it takes time (games take a long time to make after all), but I imagine we'll see it balance out over the next five years. This is, of course, all speculation, but we've already seen games expand to wider audiences and have more female protagonists in just the past console generation. If anything, the industry is moving in the right direction.
- Games for "guys" can still exist without being "misogynistic." Yeah, Gears of War is a dudebro fest. But you know what? I'm a dude, and I like it. My wife does not. Rune Factory is a dating/farming/RPG sim. I think it's boring. My wife loves it. These games are allowed to coexist without one or the other being "misogynistic." It's market demographic and audience. Guys don't usually watch Twilight. Girls don't usually watch Transformers. But they both can exist.
- Honestly, I feel the biggest problem with this started with the "Gamers are Dead" articles, and that's what GamersGate has (mostly) been focusing on, at least in the circles I lurk. This idea that games (and in turn, gender representation in games) is a zero sum game is what is spurning this argument on and causing such extreme reactions from both sides. It's really sad to see happen, because deep down there's masses of people on both sides that essentially want the same thing: better games with better characters from a wider range of demographics. But it's all blasted down by the "misogynists!" and "feminazi!" white noise.
- Lastly, as an author and indie game dev, I really think the issue with games is what has been said before: the writing. The writing is bad. Rarely to dev studios hire experienced writers or put story in the highest priority in their games. It's why games like Mass Effect and Gone Home get praised for having "amazing stories," when in truth they're pretty rudimentary compared to almost any other medium (particularly books, but that's just an unfair argument). If we get better writers in the industry, we'll get better stories. Good writers know how to incorporate more than just safe tropes/cliches in their writing. We'll see a natural progression towards inclusion.
That being said, we'll have to allow them creative liberties. If they want to write a dude-bro story (you could argue a very well written game like Spec Ops: The Line is dudebro; there's no women in that game at all), they should be allowed to. If they want to write a romantic comedy game, they should be allowed that as well. If anything, I'll always defend a creator's artistic integrity and freedom of expression. Once you tell an artist what they can or can't do, you've killed the art.
tl;dr Get better writers, stop attacking gamers, Anita's alright.
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