So I was originally going to finish writing about the relationship between characters and open-world gaming today, but after hearing about the “Ellie” Overwatch Competitor’s scandal I feel the need to address it. For those out of the loop and unwilling to click the link, Overwatch Competitor’s team, Second Wind, signed a female player by the gamertag of “Ellie,” who then later left due to extreme doxxing threats. To make matters even worse, streamer “Aspen” said during a Twitch stream that “Ellie” turned out to be a man pretending to be a female gamer, which Blizzard has since confirmed. When the scandal broke, there was mass outrage. See below:
So before I start going into the necessary detail, I concede that I was raised in a high school culture that was extremely sexist, even to the points that I did not realize at the time that I actively perpetuated with heavy regards to the friendzone. Even if I have grown since then, I should apologize for that now and for anything else I have done that was sexist no matter my intention in those moments. My intentions do not overrule how I made someone feel.
Ok, now that’s out of the way:
These tweets express disgust and rage that this scandal raise the probability of “whataboutisms” exploding online. A “whataboutism” is a flawed counterargument used to disregard and pivot the conversation from the main point of the conversation. In this case, it’s a conversation about a well-founded issue that needs drastically improved, to a separate issue that, even if there is a legitimate concern to fix it, takes away from the main point of the conversation. Further, it’s one thing to consistently raise awareness about an issue in the gaming community, but it’s another thing to only raise that issue during a conversation about a prevalent issue like the harassment women face in the gaming industry. That latter scenario, shown below, is a copout because you show that you don’t care about both issues.
That last one clearly is not aware of how badly Christine Blasey Ford’s life has been decimated since testifying against Brett Kavanaugh, or how much mental strength the USA Women’s Gymnastics team had to testify against Larry Nassar.
Men don’t listen to that tweet. Instead, here are some things that we need to do to be better:
Shut up and listen
When a female gamer you know speaks up about the harassment she has faced while playing online, don’t counter it with “it happens to men too.” That doesn’t make said gamer feel better knowing that other people go through this experience too, it makes them feel worse because they don’t feel like they can talk about it without being seen as emotional. Let them express what happened, and take them at their word. Next:
Call out harassment, even when you don’t see it.
If you’re in a game where someone is being sexist towards a female gamer, or you become aware of a specific issue primarily affecting female gamers, call that shit out. Don’t let the harasser feel in power, and don’t stay silent on an issue where the harasser is in power. Regardless of whether there is a female gamer in the game or not, the less someone is called out when they say derogatory things about women, the less likely they’ll stop doing it when eventually called out. Finally, and it angers me that I even need to type this out:
STOP HARASSING AND DELEGITIMIZING WOMEN BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT MEN.
There’s really no other way I can call this out other than that.
I know that there is a lot that I haven’t covered in this piece in regards to repeated instances of women not being believed as authentic in gaming when they are, especially Geguri, but I will dedicate a post for them and other minority gamers because men are not the only gamers.
Make this the rarity, not the norm.