Guest post by Mary Ellen Foley.
A threat to bomb the Game Developers’ Conference if Anita Sarkeesian gets an award there…threats to murder her and make it look like suicide because she’s a worse threat than terrorists to the country…and for what? For pointing out that it’s not good that video games exploit images of women’s bodies and of violence against women as scene dressing in the backgrounds of games? Really? A veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq says she’s worse than terrorists because she suggests that it might not be a good idea for game developers to show an animation of a man slitting the throat of an anonymous woman just to get the pulses of game players racing?
I tried to watch one of Sarkeesian’s pieces about the use of images of women in games, and I had to stop pretty quickly — I don’t have a strong enough stomach — though I must point out, not least because my husband makes a living in the video game industry, that not all games are violent and not all games are misogynistic — but of course Sarkeesian doesn’t say they are.
There’s been quite a backlash from misogynist video-game fans over suggestions as mild as that the industry should, in addition to the violent misogynist games the fanboys love, make games that women like to play, too, or more games that maybe offer the possibility of playing as a female character — not that you have to play as a female character, but that other people can if they want to. They so want the Girls Keep Out on the clubhouse door that they can’t imagine life in which women play games, too; they threaten to punish the industry by not buying games at all if the developers go wild and make some more games in which players can, if they want, interact with the virtual baddies as female characters. Women, it seems, just shouldn’t play games, and female characters should be abused, killed, or rescued but certainly ought not to be heroes. Fortunately, as statistics and estimates my husband has pulled together show, the guys who think the world of video games revolves around them are wrong; the money they spend on games makes up a surprisingly small proportion of the funds that keep the industry rolling—hard to believe, but that’s because the violent action games get the press.
And they should at times get the press, and Anita Sarkeesian is part of that press, but she’s getting death threats serious enough to bring out the police and the bomb-sniffing dogs, and the FBI is now looking into who’s threatening her. I wish it were unbelievable…
Mary Ellen Foley blogs at M E Foley’s Anglo-American Experience Blog.