Sunday, February 13, 2011

Andy: Fires May Be Raging, But The Kids Are All Right

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The following is a guest post by Andy. He offered to launch a “rallying call” for gamers and feminists divided over the Penny Arcade “dickwolves” controversy, and I offered to post it here. (See previous guest posts by Zon on the matter here and here.)

Fundamental game symbols bumper sticker

Let’s take a step back for a moment and look at this dickwolf debacle from another angle:

What are gamers and feminists really like? What are their real ambitions? What do they want?

  • Gamers want to make gaming excellent. We want to play awesome games with awesome people.

  • Feminists want “equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women.” (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

  • Feminist gamers want games where women are portrayed realistically, and not in the way that some marketing guru thinks appeals to teenage male libidos. We want to women feel welcome in gaming culture. We want the sexist attitudes in gaming culture to go away.

These goals are complementary.

Of course, I don’t really have to tell you this, because you already know it. You want these things as well. That’s part of the reason we all feel so hurt: It’s much more upsetting when our friends fight each other than when our friends fight common enemies. You know that this debacle is not what our world should be. You know that gaming and feminists communities should allies. They already ARE allies to some extent, and that friendship should be strengthened, not broken.

To that end, let’s stop trying to wrest apologies from Mike or Melissa or the screaming trolls. They might have been the ‘most paid-attention-to’ in this affair, but they’re not the important participants. They are, in fact, lost causes; everyone has defensible positions, and everyone has done things that are indefensible. There’s nothing more to be gained from hashing out right and wrong. There IS however, something to be gained from doing what should have been done in the first place: uniting these two groups in their common cause.

How can we do that? What can we, as commentators, critics, artists, feminists and gamers DO for the thousands of people so dismayed by this idiotic conflict? What can we do for the communities that we love?

Give them a new symbol.

Give them a new banner of righteousness that proudly declares: “I am a feminist AND a gamer. I bring respect and openness when I game, and the world is better for it.”

We will make t-shirts. We will make buttons. People will wear them at PAX, and at Gen Con and DragonCon (we love buttons). Other people will see them and say:

“There’s someone who understands the importance of art and satire. There’s someone who treats girl gamers like they treat guy gamers, with amiability and respect. ... I want one of those buttons. I want to be one of those people.”

So, if you want something good to come out of this mess, if you reject the idea that there is a divide between gamers and feminists, if you want to do something great for the communities you love:

Give us a sign. Give us a slogan. Give us a song.

Well, give me your signs, slogans and songs, at, and we’ll vote on them, or use them all, but most importantly, we’ll do some good.

A note to the skeptics: Will this solve the world’s problems? Cure cancer? Change the past? No, but it’s a solid and necessary step in the right direction. How can people rally for good, if there are no colors to rally behind?