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[Gamer Diary] From Indie Camaraderie to “Get back in the kitchen, slut!”: recent ups and downs of the internet gamingverse

2012 July 5

Hello my darlings!  This month I’m back to my mid-month gaming post (as last month I wandered into the realms of TV) and I’ll be presenting to you the Humble Bundle V, after which we’ll be taking a bit of a negative turn… you will see.  Potential trigger warning, mind you, of the Epic Rage descent.

Humble Bundle V

The Humble Bundle is a nice little concept: a collection of indie titles for you to pay what you want for and then decide how much of that fee goes to a) the developers, b) Humble Bundle themselves, or c) charity.

I got it on the first day (and, sorry, but by the time this post goes live I suspect the window will have closed) so I only got the first five games that were included.  Since then there’ve been three more titles added if you paid over the average.  These were added in light of this bundle making over $1.8 million in the first 15 hours.

Included in the Bundle were:

  • Psychonauts
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent
  • LIMBO
  • Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery EP
  • Bastion*
  • Braid*+
  • Lone Survivor*+
  • Super Meat Boy*+

* denotes games that were unlocked if you paid over the average; + denotes those titles added at a later stage.

Like I say, I only got the first five, but I’m not too sore as I already have Braid (not a big fan) and I’m not overly interested in the other two.  I’m not going to discuss the games themselves here because that’ll be coming in a “Playing…” post later on.

I thought it would be nice show you that sometimes, somewhere out there, someone does something good.  A lot of money has been raised for charity through this: not least through Big Names of Gaming competing to be the top contributors (Notch and HumbleBrony Bundle have been vying for the top spot: when I bought the bundle they were dueling around the $3000 mark, now they’re on $12,345.67 and £11,111.11 respectively).

Taken from Humblebundle.com at 10:40am GMT, 13/06/2012

Of course, as the popularity of indie games continues to rise, it’s nice to be able to have the choice to decide how much of your cash goes to the developers as opposed to not really knowing for sure how much just gets kept by various third parties.

Sigh, Misogyny

From that nice little snippet of camaraderie, I regret that I must now depress the tone somewhat and talk about InternetFail, and more specifically, how it’s been discussed recently with regard to the world of gaming.

At the start of June BBC News Magazine ran an article highlighting the constant, abhorrent abuse that female gamers get in online play: here.  It mostly focusses on the experiences of one Wisconsin gamer called Jenny, of the CoD ilk, and the abuse she gets daily on voice chats.  She records them and uploads them to her website, Not in the Kitchen Anymore, and I gotta say, she handles this shit pretty well but the point is she shouldn’t have to.  Especially, as the article points out, 42% of US gamers are women, and adult women outnumber teenage boys quite considerably.

There’s also a BBC World Service programme based on her experiences and those of other female gamers.  If you read the article or listen to the programme you might hear some charming young fellows claiming “freedom of speech”, but here’s a point of interest for any such time someone tries to use this smokescreen of an excuse if you call them out as misogynists (or racists, homophobes, etc… the list, depressingly, goes on).  In both American and European (incl. British) law the “freedom of speech” excuse doesn’t fly.

Why’s that?  Well, if you actually read the laws you’ll see there are exclusions to what the precious First Amendment protects: look here.  What’s that?  Obscenity?  Threats?  Defamation?  Intentional infliction of emotional distress?  They’re all excluded from protection by the First Amendment?  OHGAWDNO!  It’s like living in a world where people treat each other with respect!  How horrible.

And, Euro law?  Just for starters you can consult Article 10 and Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights.  Yeah.  Human rights.  But be careful out there: trying to educate these fools in the error of their ways and the legal flaws in their defence might offend them.  The fact you’ve done some learnings (that aren’t centred around how to make tasty lunchtime treats) is clearly a work of pure evil!

Although Jenny of Wisconsin might be able to deal with it, there are a lot of people out there who can’t or don’t want to.  It takes a lot of effort, seriously.  I’m an antisocial gamer – we know this – I like playing games on my own, I hate chat and I hate voice-chats even more.  I don’t want to listen to somebody’s inane drivel while I shoot stuff, regardless of the content.  I ditched the one MMO I played a long time ago because of the racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic crap that occurred on a daily basis.  Not directed at me, just there – and no one really ever objected (if you did, you got the abuse turned on you).

My solution is not one that everyone can adopt.  I just avoid the social elements, even if it’s online team-based play like TF2, and I refuse to disclose any information about myself.  Generally, I am the wallpaper: I keep quiet and ignore chat.  This is mostly because I’m a misanthrope and do not care for being social, but partly it’s also because I know that a lot of people on chat are going to be dicks.  I just don’t understand why banter has to be offensive, even if it doesn’t go near questions of gender.

Kickstarter screencap

Taken from Kickstarter.com at 11:30am GMT, on 13/06/2012

But back to the specific point of misogyny in the gamingverse.  I mentioned the KickStarter from Feminist Frequency in May’s “Playing…” post and the woman behind it, Anita Sarkeesian, has been yet another figurehead victim of abuse.  She put her head over that parapet, so to speak, and has had it all but shot to smithereens.  Gladly, however, this isn’t going to stop her making those videos, nor has it stopped people pledging (when I last checked, she was on $87,000+ with 68 hours left to go).  But this sort of thing does make me want to adopt a superhero persona, fly all over the world, and stand in defence of these women.

I was going to say “brave women” just ther, but that, to me, gives too much credit to these scum-sucking parasites of the internet.  It shouldn’t have to be brave just to identify as female and like games.  FFS.

At least – if we’re to take anything positive away from this – this all-too-common abuse is being given more and more of a public face.  A site that BBC article mentions is Fat,  Ugly or Slutty (because that’s pretty much all you are if you’re a female gamer, apparently) where you can upload screengrabs of sexist abuse/harrasment.  So, if you can catch the abuse you receive, or see, in a screen grab or a recording, make it known!

4 Responses leave one →
  1. Stephen B permalink
    July 5, 2012

    That’s really interesting about the first amendment exceptions, cos I’ve heard that used as an excuse on particularly vile politics forums for years. The threats and intentional distress are broken several times a minute in some cases.

    And that bundle is amazing – Bastion is worth it on its own!

    • Rai permalink
      July 7, 2012

      I knew it was contravening the ECHR as I had to study that in my time at uni for other reasons of discrimination but wasn’t sure about the First Amendment. I’m not a lawyer or a legal-type but even a very basic reading of the exclusions seems to (at the very least) bring into question the plausibility of using it to get away with this sort of abuse.

      Also, I agree, Bastion has been awesome – so far – I haven’t finished it yet but I don’t expect it to let me down.

  2. July 6, 2012

    I’ve always found it vaguely disgusting how this sort of behaviour is considered “the norm” and something that, you know, people shouldn’t be ashamed of.

  3. July 14, 2012

    Thanks for the information on exceptions to first amendment etc. I wasn’t very clear on that and it’s good to have it laid bare like this.

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