Yesterday, Matthew Inman‘s The Oatmeal was embroiled in the quickest of internet controversies: he published a comic that’s purpose was to illustrate his personal experience that female gamers who are playing badly don’t get called out on it by their male teammates, while when he screws up, he is “eviscerated” with foul language and threats of violence. Naturally, this particular perspective on online gaming culture, particularly in first-person and third-person shooter culture, doesn’t skew with most female gamers’ experience, or, at the very least isn’t the dominant trend in their experiences. And many people told him so. After clarifying his intentions when writing the comic, and the presumably hearing from a lot more people, Inman apologized, admitted the comic was “stupid” and made a significant donation to a worthy, gender-related charity.
So, the story’s over, and it turned out in a pretty satisfying way, so you might be wondering why I’m even talking about it. And it’s because I look at a lot of controversies over harassment in gaming and other aspects of geekdom every day, and not all of them turn out to have even remotely satisfactory resolutions. And let it not be said that I can’t laud a good outcome when it happens, even if most of the others are bad, so lets talk about what went right here.