It’s not just gamers. Over the last weeks, a vile pestilence has bubbled to the surface of the video game world. Female developers, journalists and writers have come under attack from the vicious mouth breathers. Those people who have decided to make a last stand against the encroaching reality of “games for everyone” are a backwater sort. Basement dwellers undeserving of the time it takes to even type these words, and yet it’s important that we all type them. Steven covered the story here on Pajiba yesterday, offering an important recalibration of the definition of terrorism.
I want to add to Steven’s stance, and the position of others like Leigh Alexander at Gamasutra, who have discussed the impending end of “the gamer.” It’s not just gamers. The whole of so-called “nerd culture” is a sick wasteland of consumerist kowtowing to a large but insular minority who use their perceived social rejection as pretence for extreme hatred, misogyny, racism and homophobia. It’s a problem at the heart of where our social culture has shifted, aided in great part by the Internet, technology and the embrace of niche-ification. We’ve given everyone a voice, but some people don’t deserve one.
Anita Sarkeesian has had to leave her own home due to threats of violence against her, simply for creating a video series which points out the sexist and misogynist features of a great many popular video games. She has had it worse than most, but I assure you there is no difference whatsoever between the zeroes attacking her online, and the sick fucks who have threatened female film critics with rape and death for giving the latest Marvel piece of crap a middling review. There isn’t even much of a difference between them and the largely female cohort who attacked Joanna Robinson when she dared speculate on Vanity Fair that the marketing of Outlander might not be doing the series any favours.
The ‘nerd culture’ we have all so openly embraced brings with it those disgusting people who believe their own love for a product gives them sole right to possessing it. They lose their minds at even the suggestion that their passion might also belong to others, or worse, that it might be worth criticizing. There was once a stigma attached with being any kind of nerd. Now, those people for whom the stigma applied, feel threatened because their insulated land of escape has opened up to the rest of the world. We, the normals, have stolen the things with which they created a stable identity. We are the problem in their eyes. They are delusional.
There isn’t an easy way to escape this, but we can start by refusing to pretend that the opinions of these people matter. If ‘true nerds’ can’t function civilly in society, even online society, then they should have no place in society at all. They should be banished from comments sections, banned from social media, and websites, even this one, should stop giving them the time of day except to register absolute and unequivocal disgust. Meanwhile, we must share videos like the ones created by Anita Sarkeesian, and all the stories and opinions and personal experiences and the whole range of what the Internet can produce for good and positive change.
I’m a nerdy white guy gamer. I fit the bill. But in the eyes of those sociopathic freaks I am neither a real nerd, nor a gamer. You know what? That’s perfectly fine by me. Those are tainted words, and the people who still want to identify by them and all the ill they’ve come to stand for can go right ahead. I’ll be over here, watching movies and TV, reading books, and playing Candy Crush if I damn well want to (though I don’t want to), happy to distance myself from the twisted thing we’ve all grovelled to for far too long. The game is over.
Here at the end I’ll leave you with Anita Sarkeesian’s second video in her “Women as Background Decoration” series, covering the brutal sexual violence afflicting female non-characters in video games, and which has earned her such despicable scorn. It’s necessary viewing, and not just for those who play video games. The exact same concerns apply to all media, including TV series we love, like Game of Thrones.
Corey Atad is a staff writer for Pajiba. He lives in Toronto.