Monday, July 20, 2015

Gatekeeper Geeks Don't Get Diversity

A large sticker echoing the parental advisory labels on records that reads "Fandom Advisory: Fake Geek Girl"
Sheva wrote an essay earlier in the month called "Fight Club: How Masculine Fragility is Limiting Innovation in Video Games", which ruminated on why so many video games have some sort of violence-as-gameplay-mechanic baked right into them. The responses she read lead to her writing a follow-up, entitled "Exclusionary Geek Culture Misunderstands Diversity On A Fundamental Level". Sheva writes that some of the responses...
that kind of blew my mind. “I actually prefer violent video games,” wrote one. “It’s a great way to blow off steam after a stressful day at work. Completely doing away with violence in video games would make them really boring.” That’s all well and good, I think … except that I never suggested completely doing away with violence in video games. In fact, I didn’t really decry violence in video games at all, except to mention that there’s a lot of it, and it isn’t the most efficient vehicle for storytelling, and that maybe we should think about making new games with new mechanics that aren’t violence. So where were [they] getting this ridiculous interpretation from?
The source, as Sheva outlines, is rooted in a sort of reflexive idea that any changes that would make gaming more accessible to a broader audience would mean that gaming as a hobby might be taken away from a group or maybe it would take something away some how. Sheva contends that :

...there’s this weird thing about the gaming community that’s a part of most permutations of geek culture: it’s incredibly exclusionary. There’s a lot of weird gatekeeping and geek policing that goes on; there’s a ton of unspoken expectations and rules for this behavior about who can be a part of the community and who can’t. If you’re a woman—and especially if you’re a queer woman, a woman of color, or both—you probably experience a lot of this firsthand... This gatekeeping behavior is rooted in the idea of women as interlopers and invaders. People love to act as if gaming was a boys-only treehouse by design... when we start talking about opening the gate—expanding the criteria by which we classify “gamers” to include everyone in the community the gate never opened wide enough to accommodate—people get uncomfortable. There seems to be this mentality that if the gaming community changes (that is, if it changes to acknowledge how diverse it’s actually always been) it will cease to be a space of belonging for those who have always belonged in it.
In this article, by the way, you should actually read the comments because there's a lot of great discourse going on, too.

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