It hasn’t exactly been a great time to be a gamer lately—except for huge, gross gaming trolls, who seem to be having a blast taunting people, making threats, and generally being the worst. But those trolls are now the target of an open letter from the gaming community’s creators to its fans, asking them to end intolerance for the good of everyone.
For those of you playing ostrich lately, game developer Zoe Quinn and Feminist Frequency‘s Anita Sarkeesian have been on the receiving end of a lot of harassment lately, which has even resulted in threats and the latter fleeing her home temporarily. (More on that here.) While this recent outbreak is particularly hard to stomach, it’s only a part of a larger trend of harassment of women any time they dare challenge their treatment in games.
So, indie game designer Andreas Zecher put together an open letter to the gaming community asking for an end to this kind of behavior, and he’s already gotten hundreds of signatures from those in the industry including indie developers and high profile outfits like BioWare, Traveller’s Tales, Ubisoft, and many more. Here’s what they have to say to gamers:
We believe that everyone, no matter what gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or disability has the right to play games, criticize games and make games without getting harassed or threatened. It is the diversity of our community that allows games to flourish.
If you see threats of violence or harm in comments on Steam, YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook or reddit, please take a minute to report them on the respective sites.
If you see hateful, harassing speech, take a public stand against it and make the gaming community a more enjoyable space to be in.
Andreas Zecher (Spaces of Play)
Whether you agree with Sarkeesian’s Tropes vs. Women in Video Games on everything, some things, or nothing at all, harassment and threats are not an acceptable response, and the same goes for anyone in gaming who’s different from you in any way—including opinions. Here’s a good test: If you disagree with someone, ask yourself, “Who would I be defending if I started an argument?” If your only possible answers are, “People who don’t need defending, because this opinion isn’t hurting anyone,” or, “Jerks, probably,” then take a step back and realize that you don’t need to start the argument, even if you think you’re right.
It’s fine to have differing opinions and express them, but the bottom line is that despite what anyone thinks of individual points (as an example) in Sarkeesian’s arguments, she’s fighting for better representation of women in media and gaming, which is a good thing. Even if you disagree with her on an individual point or game, is that something that’s really worth arguing, harassing, and making threats about?
This behavior needs to change, gamers, and it’s up to each and every one of us individually—not just the ones who commit the harassment.
The letter is addressed to everyone in the gaming community. If you see harassment, hate-speech, or anything else harmful going on, it’s time to speak up and tell that person to stop. That kind of behavior can only continue as long as the bulk of the community views it as acceptable, and it’s going to take positive voices to end it—the negative ones aren’t just going to stop because of a letter.
If you’re involved in gaming and would like to have your signature on the letter, tweet to Zecher with your first name, last name, and company and university name, and he’ll add you to the supporters.
(via Polygon, image our own)
- The full account of the Zoe Quinn & Anita Sarkeesian issues is disheartening
- Here’s an illustrated guide to issues of harassment, representation, and media criticism
- Twitter finally decided to do something about harassment after Zelda Williams quit