All over the internet, you can find articles explaining how the video game industry and culture is unwelcoming to women and needs to change. They cite incidents like the treatment of video game developer Zoe Quinn after the Gamergate incident or how feminist Anita Sarkeesian gets a constant stream of death threats. It’s obviously a large problem that needs to be addressed.
Yet, in these articles calling for change, they don’t actually give actionable suggestions. It’s not enough to just state a need for equal rights, women need to act. When women wanted equal voting rights, they got involved in the political system. Women who want to be high level executives in businesses get the proper education and work hard in their fields. It wasn’t through voicing displeasure, it was through taking action.
Every female with a love for video games needs to get involved to receive the respect they want. It isn’t enough to let others do the work, or just think about it. Here are just a few things women everywhere can do to help improve the gaming industry and culture.
Get More Girls to Play Games
Women are no longer a massive minority in video games. In fact, the gaming population is almost a 50/50 split between men and women. Yet, more women playing games can only help the culture grow. Remember, there’s power in numbers.
If there are more women in gaming, that will help video game developers understand the types of games females enjoy, increase the number of women in the video game industry, and help the culture evolve into something even better.
Getting somebody into gaming can be a little difficult. Most people have tried out games, even if it’s just Candy Crush or Angry Birds, and may be afraid to jump into more serious games. Coaching and encouraging them to play can help somebody make that leap and eventually joining your fireteam for a Destiny Raid.
Don’t Attack the Male Gender
Have you ever watched a political debate where one candidate attacks another and it quickly devolves into a screaming match back and forth? That’s what happens when genders attack each other, stating that all men are sexist or announcing that women don’t belong in gaming. It’s no longer an honest conversation, but an argument about who can scream the loudest.
Negativity and hostility doesn’t help either side of the situation. By attacking somebody, all you do is make them angry. You can’t help somebody see your way of thinking if they are defensive. What being hostile will do is hurt their feelings and create inaccurate assumptions of your gender.
Remember that you are an ambassador for the female gender when you play online. Don’t just advocate for women’s rights, be a voice for human rights in general. Try to combat stereotypes of female gamers by just being a friendly, encouraging, real person. If people like playing with you, they will invite you to join their social circles. Then, it no longer is a battle between the sexes, but a combined effort against the evils that plague the galaxy. If you do your part, men will be more likely support your rights.
Stand Up To Hate
Sadly, there are gamers out there who are hateful people. They look to spread negativity to others and get some sort of sick satisfaction out of it. Since the internet is a public space filled with free speech, there is only one thing you can do to combat this type of behavior.
Be the person who stands up to the sexist, insensitive bullies.
Because that’s what they are. The guy who just told you to “make him a sandwich” is just a common bully who thinks they can’t get in trouble while online. That person is a classic cyber bully, and everybody in the game is a potential victim.
Take the advice we all got as children and stand up for yourself. By showing bullies that they can’t hurt you, you take away their power and reveal to others what they can do to help the situation. Hopefully, this will empower others stand up to bullies in gaming and make the world a better place.
Just be careful not to stoop to the bully’s level. Don’t mock or attack them. This pulls you into a conflict, which is what the bully wants normally. They want to get into a fight so they can walk away feeling victorious over you, no matter what you do. Be the adult and tell them to stop bullying. By bringing attention to it, others will join you against the bully.
Be An Active Part of the Culture
With the rising popularity of geek culture as a whole, it has become completely acceptable to wear your culture with pride.
By showing your pride to the world, you help influence the world around you. Be a part of online forums, start conversations about games, and share geeky pictures on Facebook. Social media is a powerful tool for creating a revolution in the video game world. Just look how quickly Gamergate spread and the impact that had on the industry. Showing your passion for games can help influence how others view gaming and even encourage others to show their pride too.
Remember, it’s a Game
Don’t try to ruin gaming for others. Don’t go out and attack other games simply because you disagree with their portrayal of women, or for whatever reason it offends. Just don’t buy the game. Let other people enjoy the games they like, and you buy the games you like. Your most powerful tool is your money, so send a message to developers by only buying games you like.
Keep playing and having fun. Don’t let the politics, bullies, and sexism ruin something you love. If you keep supporting games you enjoy and having fun, the culture will improve.
[Photo by włodi/Flickr]