A new frontier has come to light where women continue to face discrimination and it has a name: Gamegate. Like so much in the electronic age, games have largely been the province of males, both as consumers and designers. But lately a few women have entered the field and their presence has ruffled more than a few rooster feathers. Until now, a woman’s place in the electronic game world was as a victim with cleavage who is caught in a scene of never-ending violence. But as Susan Rohwer of the Los Angeles Times points out. women now make up nearly half of all video game players. Their numbers are increasing as some of them become game developers as well, a situation which threatens the ‘boys club’ that for years been the industry’s main demographic. (“The disturbing misogyny of ‘Gamegate,’” The Week, 10/31/2014 pg. 22)
As women become consumers of this genre, developers are changing their focus, and using more of them as designers. Take the example of the fictional heroine, Lara Croft. In the past, as Nick Winfield of The New York Times notes, Lara was “the exaggerated, busty stereotype of a female game protagonist,” but today she is, “more emotionally complex and modestly proportioned. (Ibid, pg 22) Old guard gamers are riled by this and other changes and especially by the number of female game critics who are have also entered the field. The influx has produced a culture war that has turned nasty.
Recently, three women in the field with large followings have become targets of vicious harassment, so much so that they have had to change their addresses as a precaution. (Ibid pg 22)
Women have long been subjected to bullying when they encroach upon all-male bastions. Fortunately, when they have stood their ground, the result has been positive. No doubt it will be the same for video gaming. Nonetheless, let young women everywhere be reminded that “feminism” is neither ancient history nor a dirty word. Around the globe, there are painful reminders of the work to be done – reminders that the playing field is not equal whether it be located in Saudi Arabia or New York, New York. To be a feminist is to take risks because whenever a woman breaks a glass ceiling, she is endanger of being injured by the fallout.