In Kotaku’s grand tradition of shoddy reporting and lack of any decent research, Brian Ashcraft has written an impassioned but so supremely hypocritical article on the RapeLay controversy (link roundup) that I felt compelled to briefly bring this blog temporary out of retirement in order to take it down. Since this topic is triggering, the rest of the article will be behind the cut. Continue reading
Melissa Batten was a Software Development Engineer for the XBox team. Before that she was a Harvard-educated lawyer who worked as a public defender, handling domestic violence cases, in North Carolina. She was also a victim of domestic violence (DV). Her abusive husband killed her a few weeks ago in a murder-suicide after she had moved out and taken out a restraining order on him.
Domestic violence is a pervasive, deadly problem that affects us all. This incident is not an isolated act, nor can it be viewed in a vacuum. We lost one of our own. But there is more to take from this tragedy than it simply being a woman in the industry who died. Batten’s murder wasn’t an outside incident; it was part of a greater pattern of violence against women. It was enabled by a culture of misogyny that all too often trivializes domestic violence and puts obstacles in the way of the victim who tries to protect herself. Even in this case, where Batten did everything she could to get out of her situation and stay safe, her abuser had no problem shooting her outside of her workplace.
As gamers and game industry professionals, it’s our responsibility to take a deep look at ourselves, and our industry, and think about the ways that we’ve enabled a culture where violence against women is not taken seriously. Many gamers think that greater societal problems such as domestic violence and violence against women has nothing to do with their beloved hobby, but they are wrong. For one, games like the GTA series rely on sexualized violence and otherwise reflect sexist dynamics in order to add to their realism. Tying it into an example closer to real life, consider the harassment of Jade Raymond. The violence may have been verbal rather than physical, but it was rooted in the same sense of ownership of women that was the root cause of Batten’s husband killing her before he killed himself.
One way that we can honor Batten’s memory is to get educated on issues such as DV and violence against women and stop denying that they have nothing to do with us and our hobbies/careers.
More on Melissa Batten
- Husband’s rage not contained by piece of paper
- Xbox Developer Killed In Murder-Suicide
- Domestic violence claims XBox Developer
Domestic violence resources
- The Domestic Violence Handbook
- What is Domestic Violence?
- Domestic Violence at SafeCanada.ca
- The Domestic Violence Handbook
The Late Show handles the controversy over Night Trap by creating a snarky “game” where the game designer gets attacked by dogs. Unfortunately the game designer was not featured in a speedo, nor were the dogs zombie dogs.
Although, really, I find it infinitely more satisfying that the game is on a “Worst Videogames of All Times” list than to see a “turnabout” game that doesn’t even come close to approximating the way that violence against women is sexualized in many traditional horror games.