Friday, 20 September 2013

Anita Sarkeesian is Not a Real Gamer

I should've written about this sooner but, for the very first time, I can legitimately say, "I have a lot going on in my personal life right now", which is the blog-writer's way of saying, "college is time-consuming".

So let's get right into it with this: Anita Sarkeesian is not a real gamer. In her own words.

Back in 2010, Anita gave a lecture at Santa Monica College in California, where she stated, "I would love to play video games but I don't want to go around shooting people and ripping off their heads. It's just gross". So there we have it. In her own words, Anita states she doesn't -- or didn't, at least -- play video games. In spite of the photo of herself playing a Nintendo game as a child that she likes to show at every opportunity.

The video above became popular enough to gain 140,000 views (and counting). I'm a bit out of the loop so I don't know how this happened or who linked to it but I'm pleased it has received so much attention. In fact, it was popular enough for Anita to actually make a response (of sorts) to it.

A bunch of other tweets followed these that were in a similar vein. If you want to read them all, Anita helpfully posted the tweets to her Tumblr account, for reasons I'm not quite clear about. To clear the air, perhaps? Regardless of the reasons, it's silly that even while Anita herself said she wasn't a gamer and the original uploader of the video made it very clear he didn't hold any malice towards her, she still feels the need to blame "angry gamer dudes" (and games themselves, later on). I suppose it's natural to want to go on the attack when you're against the ropes.

It's worth noting that Anita may be telling the truth when she says she fell in and out of love with gaming. It's possible but we just don't know and the video footage of her saying "I would love to be a gamer" is greater evidence against her being a gamer than her word is for her being a gamer.

So what does this prove? Well, as the creator of the original video said, no, the fact that Anita isn't a gamer doesn't disprove or debunk her arguments in any way. People with no prior involvement in a subject can still research and investigate it. So if her arguments could be acceptable one way or the other, why go as far as to pretend to be a gamer?

My theory is that it adds legitimacy to her claims. Critics of Anita, like myself, have compared her to Jack Thompson in the past because of her insistence that video games have some non-descript influence on real-life behaviours and attitudes. However, Anita's arguments have been accepted and praised by mainstream sites and publications while Jack's were condemned and ignored. There are a few reasons for this; Anita doesn't make claims as outlandish as Jack's, for example, and isn't as aggressive in her delivery. There's still plenty of hostility and condescension but no claims that video games are "murder simulators". Her view is also politically correct, while Jack was openly homophobic. That's a big reason for it.

Anita being a gamer is certainly a factor here though; let's say someone was in her shoes who admitted to not being a gamer. "Feminist gamer criticises sexist tropes in games" is going to be given more coverage than "feminist criticises sexist tropes in games, in spite of having never held a controller in her life".

I've already ran into comments on Youtube defending Anita, obviously, although I suspect the ones I've seen are trolls. Naturally, I haven't seen any mainstream gaming sites pick up on this -- although the number of views for the video suggests that somewhere with a large readership reported on it -- and I doubt they will. They'll just quietly file it alongside the misquoted studies and use of other people's footage to continue to portray Anita as a figure who can do no wrong.

Still, at least we know why Anita doesn't like her lectures to be filmed now.

In other news, I've been doing a bunch of gender issues-related things at college. Today, we dealt with the stereotyping of certain groups in games. It wasn't at all in-depth, unfortunately, and men weren't mentioned. It was just basic stuff and the reason we were told not to do it, rather than because we should care about offending people, was because large-chested female characters simply aren't used in a portfolio when trying to get a job in the games industry. The same goes other things, including T-Rexes, for reasons that we haven't been told yet.

Also in college, a prick ruined GTAV for the entire class by revealing parts of the story. Just thought I'd mention that.

Oh, and I found an eyebrow-raising Jade Raymond quote from Develop magazine that I'll write about next time.