Obligatory spider queen is a blog focusing mainly on the imagery and representation of women in videogames, from the perspective of a lifelong female gamer with industry experience making art for popular videogames.

I am a white bisexual woman in her mid 20s. I am married to a white man who is also a videogame artist. My favorite videogames are Silent Hill 2, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and Planescape Torment. I used to play a lot of Unreal Tournament 2004 and Team Fortress 2 but drifted away from FPS gaming because of the increasing popularity of cover systems and the culture of harassment. (If only I could have ducked behind the former to protect myself from the latter.) My current game of choice is Diablo 3.

Here are some of my beliefs:

  • Women and minorities are underrepresented in videogames and in disproportionately sexist and racist ways.
  • There is nothing inherently wrong with sexy or sexual depictions of women in videogame art. However, these depictions are overrepresented, often careless and problematic, or unacknowledged as having erotic intent.
  • More women and minorities in videogame productions will only solve the problem if the men who represent the majority are prepared to welcome fresh perspectives.
  • Problematic patterns and imagery have can have a damaging psychological effect if the viewer is unaware that it is even problematic.

And here are some arguments you shouldn’t bother making if you want to start a debate:

  • Videogames don’t matter.  – Videogames are stories and ideas. They have an influence on young peoples minds, on the culture as a whole, and can showcase cultural issues that need addressing.
  • Sexism is over.  – Please go read this : http://www.shakesville.com/2009/10/rape-culture-101.html
  • Girls don’t play videogames. – Hello, I am a girl.
  • But videogames should be about fun fantasies. – That’s right, but different people have different fantasies. White heterosexual men’s fantasies are not more important, even though I can understand why you’d have that kneejerk reaction because it’s what you’ve been being presented your whole life. Plus white heterosexual men aren’t all alike. I don’t have any actual statistics to back this one up, but for every man drooling over sexy night elves, I’d bet there’s a man who finds the expectation that he’s going to be aroused by a 3d model to be condescending.

Unfortunately, this topic can be so inflammatory I have decided to remain anonymous. Women who speak out about these issues often receive harassment that bleeds into their personal lives, and so for my sanity and my career I choose to hide my identity.

There are tradeoffs to that. Not sharing my identity means trolls will accuse me of being ugly fat loser, but from what I’ve observed, no matter what a woman looks like or what her level of experience on this subject is she’s going to get called an ugly fat loser, so that’s a pretty fair trade.


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