You want this sprawling mess in a tidy package? You can’t go wrong reading this lengthy breakdown by Kyle Wagner, who is probably now on a hate list somewhere.
One thing I particularly appreciated was the analysis of the attempt to coopt the young gaming jerk group by conservative culture warriors and anti-feminists, in particular the ridiculous Christina Hoff Sommers. Here’s the bit where he tears apart her video.
The numbers Sommers cites are well known, but instructive. Among incoming college freshmen, 65 percent of women say that they never play video games, compared with just 19 percent of men. Among hardcore gamers, just one in seven is a woman. In a breathtaking non-sequitur, Sommers argues from these numbers that including fewer sexy women in games and fewer instances of violence and indifference toward women will not make men less sexist, in the same way that violence in games has not been shown to correlate with violent crime. We can pass over the misstep of comparing an active and aberrant behavior (committing a violent crime) with a passive attitude (viewing women as sex objects instead of fleshed-out human beings); that’s wrongheaded, but it’s not the main problem here. Neither is the hand-waving at "cherry picking" sexist games without offering even ballpark statistics, an argument that can be boiled down to #notallvideogames.
The real problem is her claim that because girls don’t play games anyway, and boys do, it’s only natural that game makers would tend to include sexy women in their products. This launches fundamental economic precepts so directly into the sun that it cannot be accidental. You’ve got a growing base of women playing games and evidence that college women aren’t playing games at the same rate as men; that’s evidence of a massive untapped body of game players who should be catered to directly, not that gaming should run far and fast back the way it came and hope the girls never find it. This is the shallow reasoning that allows arguments like, "Duh, video games are a business" to fester in comment sections. Of course they’re a business—and this is bad business by any measure.
Sommers’s concern trolling ought to be beside the point—this is just not a credible argument in any way, flatly, obviously, right-there-on-the-surface. But it’s taken seriously—proudly, even—because the credibility of an argument or its source isn’t the point, in the way it’s not the point of a Marine Todd chain letter. The only point of propaganda is that someone with a veneer of credibility is saying it, and that the people who want to agree are able to do so, thus ratifying and reinforcing the ideals of the group.
That’s the thing — you can’t tout Glorious Capitalism and then ignore the Giant Invisible Hand pointing insistently at the untapped market of women who play games, but there was Sommers, doing exactly that for the AEI. But never mind the inconsistency, she helped grab a collection of oblivious potential middle class voters and convince them that conservative values will help them…the same thing they did to win over the religious right, getting them to actively assist in undermining their own class.