01.27.2015 05:23 PM

The enlightened world of gaming

I have never played a video game. Never. I just never got the hang of it, or was too busy, or whatever. It looked stupid, frankly.

I bought my sons video games, however. I could tell the games were violent, of course, because they all are. But I told them that I would never buy them games like Grand Theft Auto, which contained sexual violence. And I didn’t.

Having now read what one feminist experienced when she pointed out the sexism found in many video games, however, has me wondering whether I should just pick up the Xbox and throw it in the trash.

I have written a couple books about hate groups, but what this feminist writer experienced easily rivals what I saw when I was researching those books. You can find what she received, in just one week, here. Apologies, in advance, if it disgusts you. It certainly disgusted me.

26 Comments

  1. Tyler says:

    I have no time for games. And I stopped buying the Calgary Sun. They were censoring my comments. Quid pro quo.

  2. Kaiser Helmets 'n Motorbikes says:

    For what it is worth, I didn’t deny my kids video games, and I’m glad. It gave them a reason to develop an interest in a STEM education, they had fun, played with their friends, and grew up to be happy, well adjusted young people. I’m sure there are horrible games out there, like horror movies, leave those ones on the shelf and try to buy something else.

    Finally, if you can keep them on the Nintendo platform, do it as long as possible. Nintendo has so many games, characters, and add ons that are kid positive and wonderful.

  3. Michael says:

    I find the juxtaposition of this post with the Auschwitz photo a particularly disturbing commentary on the human race. Will we ever evolve?

    Keep up the good fight, brother.

  4. Nicolas Krause says:

    Finally! Something I can comment on with a little bit of authority. So video games generally definitely have a problem with sexism both in the industry but also in the online communities that play them. I think on the community side of things a lot of this comes from the anonymity, for a long time you’ve noted the issues with comments on news sites when they’re not moderated and everyone can be anonymous. People say awful things and get away with it with impunity. Online communities can vary a lot, but the ones with the worst issues surrounding sexism and hate speech have anonymity and no moderators. Online games like World of Warcraft that you play with a group, and that take a lot of time to advance in don’t have the same level of issues, because people face consequences if they say terrible things or are awful to play with. If the game requires cooperation you can’t get very far by being a jerk. In the case of Aneeta Sarkhesian she has faced a tremendous amount of awful abuse, but just like you noted about hate groups in Alberta a little while ago, a small number of people are driving most of the abuse. See this article from an MIT prof for more detail https://medium.com/@MikeRTrice/gamergate-in-data-perspective-part-ii-gamergate-data-versus-gaming-data-9323ed68535f basically about 500 people around the world are responsible for more than half of the abusive comments.

    I think what I’d say about video games is that they’re a medium, just like books. We didn’t ban literature because Hitler wrote Mein Kampf. Some video games and the communities around them are poisonous, but others aren’t and do a very good job of creating welcoming and enlightening environments.

    • domenico says:

      /ignore player

      WOW can teach you a lot about teamwork and connects you with players all over the world. I have seen my Jewish son playing with his guild mates in Saudi Arabia, NYC, Germany, and Alabama.

      In any game, as in life, there are going to be trolls, idiots, and the maladjusted. You ignore them, report them and if necessary alert the authorities.

      A lot of the criticisms directed towards gaming seem to be quite familiar to those of us miscreants who played D&D back in the 1980’s and heard the same things from our mystified parents.

  5. Isaac says:

    Happened to read this commentary also, and it now seems that video violence is an accepted part of growing up. Now I wonder if this violence towards the “enemy” is just planting the seeds for another Holocaust. Once embedded in the child’s mind it does become the latent norm and needs only to be awakened by some charismatic leader who’s popularity is based on bigotry and hatred.

    Explain this to your children and then convince them to only play XBox videos that are clean fun and don’t involve destruction and killing. Of course then there is the fact that teenagers crave power and control as part of their maturing process — from childhood to adulthood through violent video game fantasies. A dangerous period of growing up in a peaceful democratic society.

    • Isaac says:

      OPPs, forgot to say that most of those vicious and violent video gamers are not only illiterate, they are cringing cowards too. They are all damaged minds and never will amount to anything much. Allowing your children to associate with such losers is problematic. Of course a child’s curiosity will make them experience everything that confronts them, so a parents influence must be measured and reasonable, as well as constant.

  6. Ridiculosity says:

    We told the kid early on there would NEVER be a gaming console in our home. We also told her we would NEVER say no if she wanted to buy a book.

    Our only regret? We now have over 3,000 children’s and young adult’s books in our basement – and most of them were only read once. Wish we could find them a good home.

    • Tired of it All says:

      I would argue that is a nice regret to have…

    • MedEditor says:

      If you’re looking for a good home for used books, try the CP Foundation. In our area, they will accept donations of many household items, including up to two boxes of books monthly, and they will pick it up at your door. If that’s not an option, try your local library. Some will take books to add to their shelves or for sale at annual events that help to fund new acquisitions. Your nearest children’s hospital might also be able to use donated children’s books. Or use Google to search for “donate books,” specifying your geographic location. I’ve done all of these, and also given some very treasured volumes to my eldest kid for his (anticipated) offspring. He was thrilled to get his old, very oft-read copy of Pickle Things.

  7. Sean says:

    I remember as a kid begging, grovelling for Nintendo. But now I wonder if I would give in if I were a parent, especially with the crap they are putting out now. Personally, I confess a continued adult addiction to the Sim City series but have never been inclined towards the shoot’em-up stuff. On the positive side, video games have made my generation the most computer adaptable ever. On the negative side, my generation is becoming the Borg generation, IE hopelessly computer dependent, moving towards social ineptitude.

  8. Patrick says:

    You are going to define your attitude to gaming by a small percentage of miscreants. I doubt most of the scum bags are actual gamers because responding to the woman’s efforts means that they are paying attention to what she is doing and not actually gaming. Really, there are miserable, ugly people in the world and now social media has given the failure of their character and life a place to flower. We are not better off but if we’d just block the rejects at every turn their venom would go no nowhere and they’d be left festering at their kitchen table.

  9. Steve T says:

    Granted, most gamers are not like the criminals (which is what they are) who posted those things against FemFreq. However, many people play games like Grand Theft Auto, and don’t seem to mind the misogeny and brutality. This isn’t a movie – this is an interactive experience, in which you commit these crimes via your game character.

    No one would ever try to sell a game called “Concentration Camp”, or “Child Rape”, yet somehow games that depict murder and (adult) rape sell millions of copies. Shame on anyone who enjoys playing that crap.

  10. Marc-André Chiasson says:

    My son has a university degree in history and, furthermore, is a real history buff. He has been playing video games since he was a young lad including some of the more controversial ones but now enjoys primarily one game: Assassin’s Creed. This historical fiction action game, developed by Montreal-based Ubisoft, has sold over 73 million copies. You might want to Google it and get your kids to check it out. It looks really interesting.

  11. MississaugaPeter says:

    WK, you mean you never bused/drove downtown to play pinball on 7th Ave? You never played Galaga at Westbrook Mall hoping there was not a spot check at BC?

    Don’t play any games anymore, but seen both my sons addicted to them. Daughters could care less. The first, I let him play as much as he wanted. When he went to the U. Of A., he was gamed out, and just played when he was bored. But he said that 1/5 of the guys living at St. Joe’s were gamers. Most flunked out. Some were on scholarship.. Their gaming had been restricted in high school so once they got their freedom, they played, and rarely attended classes.

    Trying the same with the second son. Now in grade 11. Can tell he is addicted. Affected his marks this fall. Had to curfew the game playing during school nights so he would study. Will see if his marks improved when I see the report card next week. Sat down and discussed with him about his obsession. He agreed, but it is like a drug. Many of his friends are online. Worse than the killing is the language they use messaging one another while playing. Fortunate there is no foul language in the house. But plenty of it online and when parents not within earshot. Asked older son what he would recommend. He says hopefully he will get it out of his system in the next eighteen months, or my younger son will be the first of the four not going away for university.

    This is a big, big problem. Girls have gravitated to education. Boys have not. Massive problem in South Africa 10-15 years ago. Now here. Only about 40% of university bound students are male. Less than 1/3 of university graduates are male. At my son’s graduation, at one point, there were 13 female graduates in a row. Don’t get me wrong. I am happy that this will force more organizations to fill all levels of management with women, but thinking of South Africa, I fear a society where males can’t get jobs or mates.

    Would love to hear, and I am sure you would too, what to do.

  12. Winterpegger says:

    Check out the research on the subject. It isn’t what you expect. Gamers are more creative, able to make better decisions in shorter intervals compared to non-gamers.

    Moderation, like with just about anything on the planet, is necessary. Should we judge all groups by their extremist fringes? Probably not.

    Should they be dealt with accordingly? Yup.

  13. Al in Cranbrook says:

    FWIW…

    Play C.O.D. for several years now, usually couple times a month with sons-in-law online. We all have to admit, what started out as Pong and PacMan has become pretty amazing stuff. Graphics are incredible, and play happens instantaneously with gamers from all over the world.

    Yet to ever have encountered the opposite sex getting hassled in any way. Indeed, many of them are just as good (meaning wicked) at it as anyone.

    That said, we make frequent use of the “mute” feature, as some of the banter gets downright inane and/or vulgar.

    What bothers me more is the apparent prevalence of kids under 10. Begs the question: Parents, do you know what your kids are doing? Or do you just not care? C.O.D. ain’t a game for children.

    What’s really wrecking C.O.D., and I suspect a lot of online gaming, are the hackers and their modified controllers designed specifically for cheating. And YouTube is awash with vids on precisely how to do it, while modified controllers sell big on Ebay. I can’t handle cheats! And those who have to do it to win at video games are, IMHO, about as pathetic as it possibly gets.

    End of the day, the universal law of polarity/duality applies to video games, too, eh? For every positive, there’s the negative shite to go along with it.

    (…the C.O.D. screen in lobby includes a global map, lit up to indicate locale of players online. I’ve observed that there’s only ever one little light in the entire country of N. Korea, so I figure it’s a pretty safe bet who that likely is, eh? 🙂 )

  14. S Stuart says:

    Speaking as a gamer myself, there’s plenty of wonderful people in the gaming community but racist and sexist harassment is a widespread concern in gaming culture. It’s pretty common in both the comments sections of websites about games and in online games (single player games not so much for obvious reasons). The policies against it in various games/on various sites and the enforcement of these policies can be really hit and miss too. Back in my day I used to ignore it as back then many computer games only allowed you to message other players by text, not voice, and I wasn’t really reading the in game chat while playing. I have no idea how people deal with it in newer games that have voice chat, although I believe there’s sometimes a “block” function.

    The harassment Feminist Frequency receives manages to stand out from the “background racist and sexist remarks” you run into online because she’s so well known among gaming’s anti-feminists and they encourage people to harass her. Unfortunately, these people are very good at exploiting the social insecurities many gamers (whom, let’s face it, tend to be kind of nerdy) have to get them to lash out at feminist critics. Conspiracy theories (the feminists are coming to take away your games/smother them in political correctness!”) are often employed.

    Personally speaking, where I a parent of a teenager I’d probably be more concerned about the other players they were interacting with being a bad influence than the games themselves.

  15. Tiger says:

    Gaming is an interesting subculture.

    Re the hate mail, etc.: it’s essentially kids acting out and pissing on the rug. Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taken seriously — kids acting out can do serious harm to people. Track down a few who thought they were sending threats anonymously, and charge them. Remind everyone that there are standards for behaviour in the real world, and correspondence with people you don’t like assuredly IS the real world.

  16. Aurelia says:

    Many games are not violent, or competitive. They also have no link to men committing acts of violence towards women, whether it’s verbal, written on the net, on the street or in the home.

    That violence has existed forever, and we hope someday it ends.

  17. Darren says:

    The “Mute Player” function is grossly underused. Muting abusive players greatly improves the gaming experience.

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