So I have a twitter now…
tl;dr I made a twitter so I could “argue” with Randy Pitchford. And by “argue” I mean be polite and reasonable. Hopefully. So feel free to tweet @SpiderQueen4U
This recent news story has me in a bit of a funk. I’ve often felt fortunate that my boyfriend was about as skilled at me at video games. We’re both generally good, and in some genres one of us will be a little better than the other, but never so much so that it makes direct competition boring. The expectation that girlfriends will be shittier at video games always feels like a big middle finger pointed at me. With current demographics, yes it is more likely that a boy will end up with a girl who doesn’t play video games than it is for a girl to end up with a boy who doesn’t. But that doesn’t make it acceptable to reinforce that stereotype in a culture that already disproportionately underestimates, excludes, and demeans women.
“Hardcore gamers” who like to argue that feminist issues shouldn’t be brought up in regards to the video games that they enjoy often rationalize the high percentage of women who play games by assuming that all those women are simply ‘casual gamers’. Calling an easy-mode ‘girlfriend mode’ encourages those kinds of assumptions. The alleged internal use of the phrase at Gearbox is troubling, because it implies that they are comfortable viewing men as their dominant market and women, even those who are not simply attached to a man, as a bit of an afterthought.
It was nice of Randy Pitchford to tweet about what good gamers his female employees are, but there’s always been sort of a troubling dichotomy between ‘girls’ and ‘girlfriends’ in gaming culture. Even as we increasingly accept girls, girlfriends are still stereotyped as being in direct competition with gaming for the attention of their boyfriends. In a way, they’ve assumed the mantle of the mother figure who never understood why she couldn’t shut down the console before you reached the next save point, a fun-hating responsibility-demanding harpy who might be placated if you could only show her the sheer joy of a game full of explosions and bright colors. And along with that stereotype crops up a kind of “girl gamer” with internalized sexist leanings, who is only too glad to present herself as the contrast to that kind of woman and by doing so is complicit in her unfair demonization.
Sometimes I don’t know when to stop extrapolating. Calling a button-smashy easy-mode ‘girlfriend’ mode is stupid and insulting and if you can’t see that I don’t know what to tell you. The guy who said it isn’t an isolated sexist pig, he’s probably a nice guy who’s simply gotten a little complacent within a sexist environment. And I don’t mean Gearbox itself, I mean the industry as a whole. The marketers, the mainstream gaming publications, and the consumers who are more than willing to circulate this kind of sexist crap while claiming that it’s just a joke so you aren’t allowed to be angry.
Hey you, you suck. Just kidding.
Oh btw I have a twitter now.