I’m going to start by saying that this post isn’t necessarily about Anita Sarkeesian, the work she has done or feminism in general (though I’m sure that I’ll touch on a few points as I go along). What I do want to focus on is the polarizing effect she and her work have had on the video game community.
Looking at the groups that have risen from the supposed controversy that is Tropes vs. Women, gives us a clear distinction between the types of people who react to such things and the direction that video games are going in regards to the gaming community as a whole. Should we be forced to choose sides in the potential war on what is acceptable and what is not, I’m quite comfortable in saying that I’m sticking with Team Sarkeesian.
Acting Like Children
Personally, I’m aware that picking sides is an immature way of dealing with group dynamics, but because much of the population subscribes to this then I’ll prepare my arguments accordingly. For simplification purposes, we’ll refer to these groups as Team Sarkeesian (TS), Anti Sarkeesians (AS) and the Indifference Squad (IS).
Because it’s difficult to individually categorize the types of people who make up the ranks of each of these groups, I’m forced to generalize based on the louder and more bold members of each. This is the foundation of my argument, one that deals not with the content of the material that Tropes Vs. Women has presented, but the way in which people have reacted to it. If I had to describe each group with one word, Team Sarkeesian would be bold, Anti-Sarkeesians would be hostile and the Indifference Squad would be absent.
The Devil is in the Details
Right off the bat, joining Team Sarkeesian seems very intimidating and rightfully so. It’s composed of intellectuals and advocates, the type of people who don’t mind debating a wide range of topics. At times, such debates can be uncomfortable and shed light on ugliness that may or may not exist in this world. This often alienates those that may not have the sort of passion they exhibit. You may be surprised to learn that there are members of Team Sarkeesian that don’t even necessarily agree with all the content they’re named for. If anything, they are attracted to TS because of the prospects of open dialogue and in the best case scenario, their own self-improvement.
The Anti-Sarkeesians, on the other hand, dislike anything that may be contrary to what they know or love. Any opposition to their ideals is met with psychopathic fervor; attacks aimed at subject matter and character that know no bounds. This group is as intimidating as the first, but in a scarier sort of way. Their thirst for knowledge is replaced by a tooth and nails battle to keep things as they are. As Cliff Bleszinski put it in a recent blog post, they are the “Taliban of videogaming”.
The Indifference Squad are the more lovable bunch and can fit in with either of the groups, though they’re always quick to redirect conversation away from the topics mentioned above. They are either in complete denial of the problems at hand or prefer to ignore them in hopes of things eventually clearing up so that they can enjoy their favorite entertainment medium in peace. They’re not really helping things but aren’t really adding to the problem either.
Zealots of the digital World
It’s pretty easy to see the problems with joining the Anti-Sarkeesians because, well they’re freaking insane. They’ve threatened physical assaults, rape and even murder because someone challenged their way of thinking in regards to video games. VIDEO GAMES! Video games are fun, but committing heinous crimes against someone as a result of them is incredibly pathetic. It’d be one thing if they stood behind their viewpoints with pride, but they operate in the shadows and under the control of a hive-mind fueled by ignorance and fear. They also seem to really hate women in a way that’d make members of far right political parties blush. In short, the Anti-Sarkeesians are going to get you killed and in the least prevent you from having relationships that involve more than just well shaded, high polygon count digital models. They are the Zerg and are perfectly happy with everything being covered in purple goo.
The Indifference Squad is a safe bet, but their lack of acknowledgment can be just as damaging as the Anti-Sarkeesians blood soaked assault, though in entirely different ways. Their actions could be seen as lazy, especially when the opposition to Team Sarkeesian is making the entire video game community look really bad. If they were in a video game, they’d be the ones that overlooked the bite shaped marks that were appearing on corpses in and around Raccoon City. Three months ago, I would have fit quite well into this group and at times am tempted to cozy back up with them. This is where I believe a majority of gamers lie.
The Righteous Path
Despite the ease of Indifference Squad membership, the fate of humanity rests in the success of Team Sarkeesian. Their quest may have disrupted the once peaceful landscape of video gaming, but it revealed some important talking points that needed to be discussed before it was too late. If it wasn’t for their thoroughly researched material, people might think that they’re clutching at straws. Sure, they’re attempting to overthrow the status quo, but when the status quo is full of immaturity, misogyny, and racism, isn’t about time someone comes along to shake things up? One thing is clear, however and that’s allowing the Anti-Sarkeesian’s to continue on their rampage will only tarnish the industry further. It’s bad enough people think we’re losers but adding hate into the mix makes us something much worse.
In the end, this isn’t just about feminism but about the attitudes we’re comfortable with supporting within the medium we love. We need to come to terms with the fact that our beloved industry is showing signs of a chronic illness: one group wants to make things better through a potentially painful treatment process, one is exasperating the symptoms and one would prefer to let nature run its course. I don’t know about you, but the choice seems pretty clear.
It Doesn’t Matter – We bring the gaming industry and media coverage back down to reality when they overanalyze or miss the point of a particular story or game.