Thoughts on GamerGate

I wrote about GamerGate for JWA, just some thoughts about why the backlash against women has been so intense. But I also felt it was important to offer some constructive suggestions for how both games and gamers might be more inclusive without losing autonomy or self-regulation.

The Gaming Community:
I think Extra Credits had the right idea–if players are regularly muted or red-flagged by other players for outbursts, threats, or other inappropriate behavior, they could be set on mute as a default, or flagged as problematic (and players could unmute them or play with them at their own risk). Or they could be suspended for some period of time. As long as there is some consequence for behavior, players will regulate themselves as they would in real world situations.

The Games Themselves:
I want to see more female PCs. I want those PCs to have level caps equivalent to male PCs–you shouldn’t be denied the ability to equip certain armor or weapons because the female characters aren’t strong enough. It would be nice if there’s parity: if you have multiple character options, there should be more than one female character. For equipped armor and default clothes, there should be at least some clothes and armor that actually cover you. You can even have equal opportunity clothing: some options that cover you and make you look tough, regardless of gender, and some that are essentially bikinis or codpieces with shoulder pads that either a guy or girl can wear. (Hey, some guys may WANT to show off their characters’ pecs and abs!) And it would be nice if not every seedy joint in a game is a brothel or strip bar. I’m also hugely appreciative of games where the NPCs don’t always default to assuming the PC is a straight man, with the women flirting and the men treating you as a friend or a threat; it’s great when there’s a possibility of male NPCs flirting and female NPCs just treating you as a person.

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