A female game developer was harassed to the point of changing her phone number. Why? Because she dared to write a video game while being a woman.
Trigger Warning: Some pretty disgusting sexist comments.
There is something rotten in geek culture. I’ve posted about it before. That post was about the soft sexism of “gatekeepers”. I wanted to start a conversation. This post is different. This time, I’m trying to start a fight.
Zoe Quinn, a video game developer, posted her game “Depression Quest” to a service called Greenlight with the hopes that it would become popular enough to be sold on Steam. She was harassed by males (not men) until she took the game down. Recently, she put it back up and the animosity grew to a staggering lows.
One poster on a forum called Wizardchan had this to say:
“All females are sluts and have no right to be depressed. They can just go out onto the street, lie down with their hole open and have any man come and solve all their problems. But they would still be depressed because they’re all stupid whores.”
“The whole ‘game’ is without substance and is nothing more than an exercise in attention whoring…Feel free to contact the author here [redacted] and tell her what you think of the game.”
They posted her phone number. I don’t know how they got it, but they did. And they thought that the only thing to do with it was to call this woman and harass her. They called her at all hours, masturbating into the phone, and threatening her.
I usually try to understand things I disagree with, so that I can debate them more effectively. Well, I’m telling you right now that I don’t give a damn about understanding these animals. I’ve read a few stories about this and what is striking me and angering me is the lack of support. Where are the men? Where are the men in this world of game developers? Does no one on ‘Wizardchan’ have a spine? Because if they think they’re men, then we don’t use the word the same way.
Comments from guys on these stories look something like this:
“Instead of replying to them and giving them attention (which is what they want) why not just ignore them? Trying to make a big deal out of it only makes it worse.”
Sit down and shut up? Close your eyes and cover your ears and maybe they’ll go away? What kind of talk is that?
One final comment:
“We’re bitter because a young, pretty woman with lots of friends who’s depressed gets lots of empathy and shoulders to cry on, while us, as anonymous friendless, kissles [sic] virgins, we get called evil and sexist assholes. We don’t think someone like Zoe can understand how it feels to be us and she herself has been verbally abusing on her twitter.”
This is reality. This is a problem. I’m sure you’re wondering, after 500 words, what do you want me to do? Well, hold your nose because here comes the cold water: I don’t know. I don’t know what we’re supposed to besides calling it out whenever we see it— telling the perpetrators that this is completely unacceptable and listening to the voices of those who are hurt. As men, we need to be holding our fellow males accountable for their behavior; it’s not the responsibility of this game developer to fix her chosen field. It is the responsibility of every person to act like a decent human being.
When I say “telling the perpetrators that this is completely unacceptable”, I don’t mean telling them politely. Remember: I’m trying to start a fight.
Photo— Flickr/ Rebecca Pollard
Further Reading: Nerds as Gatekeepers