How to Protect Women from Harassment at Gaming Events: Exclude Women?
Hi, and welcome to the Player vs. Player blog tour!
As I’ve established a few times, I’m a lifelong gamer, and a lifelong feminist. And a large part of my inspiration to write PvP derived from the confluence of those two interests, when the full breadth and scope of misogyny in gaming and geek culture was made apparent by several notable incidences of harassment in gaming circles.
Sometimes, though, even I’m taken by surprise by the stuff that slips under my radar. As I research subjects for other posts of this blog tour, I just came across an issue I hadn’t realized existed.
Did you know that in gaming culture, a commonly accepted “answer” to the problem of how to “protect” women from harassment and hostility is to exclude them?
This is totally a thing.
In 2011, a Battlefield 3 LAN party excluded women, on the grounds that “Nothing ruins a good LAN party like uncomfortable guests or lots of tension, both of which can result from mixing immature, misogynistic male-gamers with female counterparts … Though we’ve done our best to avoid these situations in years past, we’ve certainly had our share of problems. As a result, we no longer allow women to attend this event.”
So, in other words, rather than telling male players to, you know, act like decent human beings and not be misogynist pigs, they simply banned women so the women wouldn’t be upset.
But that was 2011, right? A lot has changed in 3 years in geek and gaming circles, right?
Not so much.
Just a few months ago in Finland, a Hearthstone tournament also banned female players. Their excuse? “This is to avoid possible conflicts (e.g. a female player eliminating a male player during RO8) among other things.”
They literally excluded women because they were afraid men would react badly to being beaten by a woman. The policy was reversed, but only after some backlash. Until people started complaining, apparently everyone thought this was just a-ok.
Despite the fact that women wrote the first sci-fi novel and the first masked superhero, despite the fact that 48% of all gamers are women and that adult women make up the largest demographic in gaming, many men continue to view geek culture and gaming, as a boys-only club where banning women admission is preferably to being held accountable for their own bad behavior.
Let’s just be honest. This isn’t about protecting women from harassment or conflict. This is about trying to preserve gaming as a boys-only space. I know this because whenever anyone talks about the problem, the harassment gets worse. In recent months, female game developers, reporters and critics have been driven from their homes by targeted harassment campaigns. In fact, my husband and I had to sit down and have a talk about what we would do if people decided to come after me for writing this book.
One of the pivotal clues that falls in the course of the murder investigation described in Player vs. Player is the story of a character we never actually meet on-page, Keilana Savanh. Keilana is a character driven to suicide by stalking, threats, and harassment after the men-only MMO guild she joined discovered that she was, in fact, female.
And this attitude that gaming is for men isn’t exclusive to a handful of gamers talking big. It’s industry-wide, as evidenced by this ad from October 2014 by hardware manufacturing company, ASUS.
This is it. This is why I wrote Player vs. Player. Because gaming and geek culture is not, and never has been, a boys-only club.
Video game writer Niles River loves the work he does at Third Wave Studios: creating games with mass appeal that feature women, people of color, and LGBTQ characters. To make his job even better, his best friend is his boss, and his twin brother works beside him. And they mostly agree that being on the forefront of social change is worth dealing with trollish vitriol—Niles is more worried about his clingy ex and their closeted intern’s crush on his brother than he is about internet harassment.
But now the bodies on the ground are no longer virtual, and someone’s started hand-delivering threats to Niles’s door. The vendetta against Third Wave has escalated, and to make matters worse, the investigating detective is an old flame who left Niles heartbroken for a life in the closet.
No change happens without pain, but can Niles justify continuing on with Third Wave when the cost is the blood of others? If he does, the last scene he writes may be his own death.
About the Author: Amelia C. Gormley may seem like anyone else. But the truth is she sings in the shower, dances doing laundry, and writes blisteringly hot m/m erotic romance while her son is at school. When she’s not writing in her Pacific Northwest home, Amelia single-handedly juggles her husband, her son, their home, and the obstacles of life by turning into an everyday superhero. And that, she supposes, is just like anyone else.
Her self-published novel-in-three-parts, Impulse (Inertia, Book One; Acceleration, Book Two; and Velocity, Book Three) can be found at most major online book retailers, and be sure to check Riptide for her latest releases, including her Highland historical, The Laird’s Forbidden Lover, the The Professor’s Rule series of erotic novelettes (co-written with Heidi Belleau), the post-apocalyptic romance, Strain, her New Adult contemporary, Saugatuck Summer, and of course, Player vs. Player, available now. She is presently at work on two more novels set in the Strain universe, Juggernaut and Bane, coming summer/fall of 2015.
Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of one book from Amelia C. Gormley’s backlist (**excluding Player vs Player**). Entries close at Midnight, Eastern time, on December 13, 2014. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.