Dear Video Game Industry:
In retrospect, maybe the whole video game thing is my fault. I was the one who bought him Wii. I was the one who got him the DS. I was the one who taught him how to play Lego Star Wars Wii, and yes, I was the one who got him through that incredibly difficult level, you know the one where Sebulba races young Anakin... Anyway!
I'm sure you've seen The Atlantic's scathing article about Kixeye Entertainment's new recruitment video circulating the Internet. I'm sure you heard Kixeye CEO Will Harbin say to potential programmers: "What is best in life? Is it to crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women? Well, that's a pretty good start."
There's no secret about misogynistic characters in video games. There's no secret about the misogynistic people playing these video games either -- and maybe that's the point of Kixeye's video? To be satirical? To have a laugh at your own expense. Kixeye's VP of engineering Danielle Deibler (A woman! Don't you love it?) swung her own digital sword when speaking to The Atlantic.
"Everyone has a place at Kixeye if they kick ass and have a passion for making great games. You've totally misrepresented our company and taken our video so far out of context that it's laughable."
Here's the problem with the video. It feeds into the perpetuation of sexist behavior that makes it uncomfortable and intimidating for women so that they don't feel safe in your world.
Kind of like how Miranda Pakozdi felt when she entered the Cross Assault video game tournament. She expected to play for $25,000, according to New York Times reporter Amy O'Leary, and instead got this feedback from her coach:
Over six days of competition, her team's coach, Aris Bakhtanians, interrogated her on camera about her bra size, said "take off your shirt" and focused the team's webcam on her chest, feet and legs. He leaned in over her shoulder and smelled her.
Or how about how Feminist Frequency's Anita Sarkeesian has become the target of rape threats when she began documenting her Tropes vs. Women project. I'm sure you've seen some of the comments. And the death threats. And the insults.
Look, I'm not suggesting that women have no sense of humor. Or that we don't enjoy story lines about domination, destruction and skill. Believe me, we love sex and violence just like everyone else! (Hello, Game of Thrones.) But we don't like it when you make us the target, or the victim, or the subject, or the object when there's no self-realization.
Video Game Industry, could you do us this favor? Could you try, try try to accept that this kind of sexism is real. That it's not just denigrating to women and girls, but it's denigrating to men and boys as well. Could you at least attempt to understand that because girls and boys -- like mine -- are fully engaged and enthralled by everything you do that it's crucial to encourage a healthy gaming arena.
In closing, take a look at some of the misogynist evidence on Fat, Ugly or Slutty. Just in case you didn't know, they're blogs that chart the complaints of women who have been harassed by gamers. It's updated daily.
The Kixeye recruiting video for your enjoyment.