An Open Letter to Intel regarding their support of #GamerGate

Dear Intel,

Recently your actions regarding #GamerGate have come to my attention. First you you pulled Gamasutra’s advertising campaign specifically because of complaints from supporters of GamerGate (and then disingenuously tried to claim you weren’t “taking sides”) and then your twitter account, @intelgaming, was documented favorting tweets supporting Intel’s decision to support GamerGate by pulling the ads.

GamerGate is a hate campaigned aimed at harassing women out of the games industry; it is organized and endorsed by people, mostly men, who vocally hate women and other marginalized groups. It is not just that they have spread lies about industry professionals to further their agenda, they have also made these women afraid for their lives. They use techniques like doxxing and death threats on popular targets–like Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn–not only to intimidate those women in particular but also to send a message to the rest of us. A message that tells us in no uncertain terms that we risk our lives by being a part of an industry that they consider to be for (cishet white) men, by (cishet white) men.

You want us to believe that you aren’t “taking sides” but your actions have shown quite clearly that you side with the harassers and abusers who are eager to hurt women like me because we threaten their perceived monopoly over the games industry. These men believe that, simply because of my gender, I don’t deserve to play games and I sure as hell don’t deserve to make them.

Everything you have done, and not done, in response to GamerGate has told me loud and clear that the GamerGate supporters’ business is more important to you than my business, my job, and my safety. You have made it abundantly clear that the business of a vocal minority of misogynists is more important than the livelihood and safety of all women in the IT industry.

I have had many computers over the years and most of them have used Intel processors. I am the owner of a game-related startup and I chose Intel for my business computers. But I can no longer in good conscience continue to support your company. You have lost my business by supporting a group that wants to see me leave the industry; a group that has more than a few members that wants to see me, and people like me, dead. From today forward, none of my computers will be Intel. Even if it is a hassle. Even if it costs me more money or time.

You have made your choice, and now I’m making mine.

All the RE5 discussion needed was a Nice White Gamer

Dear Nice White Gamers,

I am glad that you, unlike the Not Nice Gamers, understand that we don’t live in a post-racial world. It’s nice that you’re able to see the the word “racism” in the same paragraph as “video games” and not launch into the “it’s just a game!”-type knee-jerk reactions that can be summed up as, “”Gamers want games to be taken seriously until they’re taken seriously, and then they don’t want them taken seriously” (hat-tip: Kieron Gillen via Brinstar).

But, Nice White Gamers, you do not deserve the plate of cookies you’re passing around. And, even if you did deserve those cookies, you should not be passing them around. This is because (among other reasons) white people patting other white people on the back for being aware of racism is, in itself, kind of racist.

If a post, written by a Nice White Gamer over a year after the first criticism (made by a POC 1 I might add) was linked in the gaming blogsphere, that offers a shallow interpretation and no links to the more in-depth criticism that has been posted is “the first time I’ve read people actually thoughtfully examine the perception problems of RE5”, you need to stop and think about why it is that you are ignorant of the plethora of writings made by POC (especially when a simple google search of “racism” and “Resident Evil 5” will at least give you a starting point). I’ll give you a hint, it’s something referred to in anti-oppression circles as privilege.

On that subject, it is a Nice Person fallacy that “considerate” conversation is praiseworthy in every situation. Yes, I know we’re taught the whole “you’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” line, but “politeness” isn’t a neutral concept. Praising someone who said something bigoted for phrasing it and/or the ensuing discussion “politely” privileges politeness over not saying something bigoted. It puts you on their side instead of the side of the non-privileged individual/group that was targeted by the bigoted remark.

Let me give you a tip, from one Nice White Gamer to another: you aren’t as nice as you think you are. Being one small step above the Not Nice Gamers, who are blatantly racist and/or deny that racism is still a problem, is not praiseworthy; it’s the bare minimum. And, as long as you continue to be satisfied with having only the bare minimum level of awareness, your continued cluelessness regarding oppression and how it operates (and how you, as a white person, benefit from racist systems) will continue to perpetuate harm on POC. In the grand scheme of things, that puts you not on the side of anti-racism, but rather on the same side as the Not Nice Gamers.

For those of you who want to raise the bar and confront your own racism and privilege (in the process hopefully becoming an ally), I’ll give you some advice. Take a breather from posting your thoughts on racism and start doing some reading on the subject. Lurk in forums that regularly have discussions on race, racism, (and for bonus marks, other issues such as gender and sexuality), but don’t participate in those discussions until you have at least a base level understanding of how racism/oppression works and how people (including you) wittingly and unwittingly contribute to it.

Even if you aren’t interested in raising the bar, for the love of little green apples, at least have the decency to keep your thoughts (as they are on something you know very little about) to yourself. If you think a discussion on racism is something you want to post about on your blog, then link what other people (preferably POC) have said on the issue. But don’t act as an authority on the issue (or allow yourself to be praised as one) and don’t act as if your thoughts are new or revolutionary when they’re not (hint: linking other people who have said similar things avoids this misconception).


A Pissed off Anti-oppression Activist Gamer Nice White Lady

1 POC stands for Person/People Of Color; it is the current standard in most anti-oppression movements for referencing anyone who isn’t white. Sometimes, especially in feminist spaces, you will see the term WOC, Woman/Women of Color. Note to Nice White People: know these terms, use these terms.

* My title is a reference to the “What These People Need Is a Honky” trope, which can be summed up as:

White guy flees from his own culture for personal reasons (to set him up as different from those with white privilege). White guy meets natives. Natives educate white guy. White guy learns the way of natives, possibly also converting a native person who was originally doubtful of him, thereby proving white guy’s worthiness. White guy fights for naties. White guy makes dramatic escape while the native guy dies, possibly trying to help the white guy. The movie then ends with a dramatic coda and captions that inform the audience that despite white guy’s triumph, the Situation Remains Dire.

The key to all this is that the entire movie is about the white guy’s personal growth and realization and that people of color serve only to further the white guy’s epiphanies.

I leave it to you, Nice White Gamers, to figure out the connection between that and my open letter.

Highlighting the responsibility of online community leaders

I know I haven’t been around much; my life is busy and I don’t have the time to blog that I used to. Unfortunately, this probably isn’t going to change anytime soon.

Anyway, I’d just like to highlight a post I read today, The Importance of Leadership on Gaming Websites.


The point of all of this is that, despite claims by games bloggers that they have no control over what random people say on the internet, they actually do have a lot of control over the community on their sites, without even getting into moderation: it’s all about tone.

Tone is why Destructoid and Kotaku are sexist cesspools. When you post sexist headlines like “Jade Smells Pretty at London Games Fest“, when you post pictures of booth babes that are completely irrelevant to your post, when you think the height of humor is using the word “pussy” as many times as possible, you are not only engaging in sexist behavior, you are inviting sexist people to your site and making them feel at home, while simultaneously turning away most women and non-sexist men. It is truly the editors that build their site’s communities.

Joystiq generally does not do the above things, so things are marginally more civil there. However, any time a relevant picture of a woman accompanies a post, there are always a slew of sexist comments that go unchecked. I saw this happen to two posts that went up within hours of each other; the first was about a new executive at EA, who is an older woman, and many of the comments were extremely violent and objectifying (one charming example: “I’d hit it… with a crowbar”). The other was about the Lara Croft model, and since she’s young and beautiful the comments were instead about how much they would like to fuck her. It’s true that the posts did not encourage this sort of behavior the way they might at Kotaku, but at the same time, allowing these comments to remain up does–silence is the same as agreement.

For those of you interested in issues such as video games, online communities, and/or moderation, I would highly recommend giving it a read.

Nothing to buy. Not yet.

[As one speaker said today, “Pretty much all the games today are the same five games in different packaging.”]

I have an Xbox 360. I want to buy more games. I mainly play sports (basketball and baseball) games and I have little interest in shooters with more guns, more blood and guts. I was perusing Amazon and I came to this conclusion: Jesus H there is nothing to buy. I thought Left 4 Dead would be fun but viewing the actual gameplay made it look like CounterStrike with a zombie skin (and since when do zombies leap like the Hulk?). And I didn’t think it’d be possible, but it might be worse than Dead Rising.

But luckily, there is reason to not be so pessimistic after I went to IndieCade’s exhibit/forum/workshop at Open Satellite in Bellevue, Washington yesterday. I went with my Little Broham which meant we weren’t there for very long (he forgot to have breakfast so he had little attention span or energy left after 90 minutes or so) but it was nice to check out some of the more artistic/innovative games that aren’t rehashes of stuff we’ve seen for years and years (because seriously, how many shooters and RPG games (new story!) can people make?) and aren’t meant to be The Game that you play for 80 hours. Merci Grace from GameLayers was there and she spoke about getting into the industry, securing funding and about her team’s upcoming game PMOG. It was interesting to hear about the creative process and how you don’t necessarily have to know all the code in the world (though it does help) to be a part of a creative team. I kinda wished I was still in college so I could maybe try and join in on the video game design fun.

This event/forum/exhibition was hosted by a volunteer that I work with and since it was a cool and kid/teen friendly environment, we mass emailed it out to all of our volunteer mentors. I didn’t stay for the entire thing and some might’ve gone to the later dates, but I was a little disappointed that we were the only match there. Specifically, I was hoping that a few Big Sister/Little Sister matches would’ve shown up because it would’ve been particularly great for them to see and talk to Grace because as we all know, kids (and society in general) still see video games and those behind them as a Boy’s Club.

This is as serene as I get

I have been a semi-regular reader of the blog Feminist Gamers since its conception, but after reading this post I don’t think I’m going to be going back there anytime soon. I admire that Mighty Ponygirl wants to foster a stronger bond between feminists (don’t we all?) but I disagree with her chosen methodology.

If we’re being perfectly honest here, I have to admit that I take her words personally because I’m pretty sure that I was one of those “internet feminists” she was chiding. I say this because she and I exchanged words on a post where I said that I was strongly considering dropping the “feminist” label because I feel that a failure to address privilege in all of its forms is fundamentally incompatible with the feminist quest for equality. If you notice, she pretty clearly references the term “retard”, which was also referenced in the ableism discussion.

Mighty Ponygirl’s attitude is actually a pretty good example of what frustrates me about the mainstream feminist movement. Over the past few months, I would say that the Feminist Gamers blog has become the representative feminist gamer blog to the greater gaming culture. As such, MP has the unique power to influence (to a certain extent) mainstream gamers’ opinions of feminists and female gamers in general. As I see it, she is the gamer version of famous internet feminists such as Amanda Marcotte and Jessica Valenti. Like them, her success is owed to various factors such as being intelligent and witty, passionate, knowledgeable about her subject matter, dedicated to regular/semi-regular posting, and — of course — that ever present element of luck.

However, I would also argue that part of what makes her popular is that she’s a more palatable version of a feminist than, say, I am. As much as I would like to believe myself to be a middle-of-the-road type, I know that I get placed firmly in the “hardcore”/”militant” category because of my steadfast insistence that, while focusing on gender equality is a good thing, it’s not good enough if we don’t also acknowledge and incorporate other anti-oppression movements into our theories and actions. Simply put, someone like me is too scary to be the face of feminism.

Sure, there are times when Mighty Ponygirl can be scary (like when she’s ripping a troll a new one), but that’s a kind of scary that gamers can relate to. The way that she’s scary is the way that they’re scary: ready and willing to lob snark at people who earn their ire. In a lot of ways, she fits in with gamer culture. This is, of course, a good thing; she fits in so people like her, when people like her they listen to her, when they listen to her they begin to understand the fundamentals of feminist thought, and when that happens for enough people feminist thought begins to be normalized.

But when it comes down to it, part of why she’s palatable is because her message doesn’t rock the boat too hard. Although she does help familiarize gamers with the fundamentals of feminist critique (thus giving them the tools to better understand misogyny and sexism and how they operate in gamer culture), ultimately she is asking more for the inclusion of a certain group of women into the clubhouse rather than for gamers to understand oppression and how they (wittingly and unwittingly) contribute to it.

Despite all the words about unity and understanding in the second paragraph of her post, the first paragraph is basically saying that those of us who believe in anti-oppression activism aren’t allowed to express our anger/disappointment over mainstream feminism’s seemingly inability to recognize that women come in more combinations than just straight, white, able-bodied, middle- to upper-class (etc etc). According to her, we should just STFU and accept that some people are assholes and some feminists will only see feminism as a fight for gender equality (which somehow doesn’t include groups like women of color or women with disabilities).

But, you know? I can’t do that. I don’t sit down and shut up like a good little girl when some jackass is spewing misogynist shit in my face, and I’m damned well not going to do it when I see someone who’s supposed to be a feminist contributing to the image of feminism being for rich, cissexual, straight white women only. Women of color? Women. Telling them to take race out of the oppression equation and only focus on gender is like telling them to pretend that they are white and that their experiences as women of color are the same as those of white women (hint: they’re not). Transwomen? Women. Are you really going to tell them that they should keep quiet when some asshole feminist says they shouldn’t be allowed in women’s spaces because they’re really men? What about the woman with a mental disability who has to deal with taunts of “retard”? You gonna tell her that when internet feminist #49058 called an ideological opponent a “retard” it had nothing to do with her?

If it were just one or two assholes, then maybe I could follow MP’s advice. But it’s not. It’s Seal Press and Michfest and how it feels like every month there’s another woman of color being trampled on by some well meaning white feminist who can’t bloody get over her damn self and admit that maybe she was acting from a position of privilege. As long as feminism is “just about gender equality” it will be hurting women. I took on the feminist label to help women, not just to further my own equality.

Maybe I’m just not a very good feminist. But, then, isn’t that the problem?

On RE5 and claims of "American-centricism"

In this past week I’ve gotten an influx of commenters on my Resident Evil 5 posts decrying me and my posts as “American-centric”. I did consider writing a detailed post debunking this, but I’m very busy with school and there are better things to spend my time on than engaging with commenters who are trying to use the tools of anti-oppression activists to silence activism.

So, I’m going to make this brief and say it once, and once only.

Deconstructing something from an American perspective doesn’t automatically make it American-centric. Nor is it American-centric to work within a frame that happens to involve American history where American history is relevant.

That there are other racial issues with this game does not invalidate the fact that there are also issues that involve America. Picking certain issues that I find logically or emotionally relevant to the point I am trying to make is not the same as denying the existent of other, equally relevant, issues. That I don’t mention every single possible problem with Resident Evil 5 in every single post I make on the issue does not mean that I am not aware of other issues. Indeed, a simple search on this blog for “Resident Evil 5” would produce my link roundup which links to posts addressing those issues and more.

Lastly, while I do believe that there is a valid conversation to be had regarding American-centricism and RE5, that conversation is not to be had with people who are leaving comments with no other purpose than to try and silence me by labeling me a hypocrite. It doesn’t work with the “no, you’re racist for seeing race!” arguments, and it won’t work simply because you’ve changed the language into something that hasn’t already been debunked by a thousand other anti-oppression activists.

I don’t know where y’all are coming from, but your playtime on my blog is over.

At this rate, there won't be any games left for me to play

I have been feeling rather unhappy with Capcom for a while, but this takes the cake:

Resident Evil 5 producer Jun Takeuchi tells Kotaku that calls of racial insensitivity haven’t affected the game’s design. Takeuchi tells the site that the team didn’t “set out” to make a racist or political statement and he feels there was a misunderstanding about the initial trailer.

Takeuchi says there are Arab and Caucasian targets for Chris Redfield’s bullets in RE5 and insists they were always going to be included in the game — despite the initial trailer showing a less ethnically diverse group of zombies. We’ll have to take a “wait and see” approach on whether Japanese developers will continue to fuel the fires of black/white racial tensions across the ocean.

I know Japan is pretty racially ignorant (from my experiences, but here’s a wikipedia entry on the matter), but Capcom is an international company, serving an international audience. The fact that it seems that their research only involved going to the location (without, you know, spending like 5 seconds looking into the history of black/white relations in the US, where their protagonist is from) is bad enough. Takeuchi’s tactic of “it’s not racist because I didn’t mean it!” is infuriating, but expected. I am also not appeased by the inclusion of Arab and Caucasian zombies, because:

  1. An American killing an Arab. UH, HELLO? How is that not problematic given the current anti-Muslim (which, to the average anti-Muslim American translates to “Arab”) climate in America? And, I mean, with the Afghanistan and then Iraq wars, which made international news, it’s not like Takeuchi has an excuse not to know about those tensions.
  2. Adding a sprinkling of whities to get gunned down isn’t some magical panacea for racism. It doesn’t address the What These People Need Is a Honky problem, and it doesn’t change the way that the black people, even pre-infection, are portrayed as savages.

I have loved the Resident Evil series, even with all of its problems. I have done my best to play the games, even though I suck at survival horror (mostly because I spend most of the time thinking, “OH NOES TEH ZOMBIE IS GOING TO GET ME!!!111eleven”). I could tolerate stupid shit like Jill being sexualized and put in a dress for RE3, Ashley being completely useless in RE4, and the fact that they apparently thought there’s no difference between Mexican Spanish and Spanish Spanish. I didn’t even mind so much that all of the protagonists were dayglow white (after all, it isn’t like that’s unusual). The abominable trailer for RE5 wasn’t even enough to convince me to not buy the game.

But I can’t take it anymore. I feel like I have no other choice but to boycott Capcom because I simply cannot support what they’re doing.

Capcom/Takeuchi no longer have an excuse. They can’t claim ignorance, because they’ve been made aware of the issues and still chose to ignore it. They quite simply don’t care that their game is problematic from a racial angle. And I can’t support that. I can’t support people who willfully engage in racism even after the racism is pointed out to them by multiple people because they can’t fathom that, in their lack knowledge regarding racial tensions/issues, they could unintentionally create something racist.

I’m about to be twenty-six fucking years old. I’ve grown up. Is it so wrong for me to wish that the games I love would grow up with me?

Opportunity for gaming interviewers — No experience necessary!

Have you ever wanted to enter the field of gaming journalism, but didn’t have the time or the confidence in your writing skills to submit an article? Does the opportunity to interact with industry professionals appeal to you? If so, then consider becoming an interviewer for Cerise magazine!

What we’re looking for:

  1. Enthusiastic people who want to conduct interviews with industry professionals and game-related bloggers by e-mail, phone, or other media.
  2. Reliable people with enough time to conduct (at most) one interview a month.

NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY! You will be working with an Interview Co-ordinator (right now that’s me) who will help you with the preparation and post-interview process.

While much of the co-ordinating will happen via e-mail, we recommend that you sign up for our forums. There, you fill find a number of resources that will help you form your interview strategy, including guidelines and suggestions for future interviews.

This is not currently a paying job, but it is excellent experience for anyone interested in journalism and/or the gaming industry.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in this thread, or alternatively contact me via e-mail. All those interested in the position, please e-mail me directly at andrea [at] theirisnetwork [dot] org.

I may have to stop buying PC games…

After one Starforce scare with Dreamfall (which worked out in my favor because Ubisoft dropped the malware due to consumer outcry), and two wastes of money (one due to SecuROM with Sims 2: Bon Voyage, which I’m going to see if I can ebay for at least part of my money back — I made the mistake of opening the box before checking the copy protection — and the other due to Starforce with Obscure, which I purchased several years ago and almost installed on my computer a few minutes ago) I am at the point where I’m not sure I can continue to be a consumer of PC games.

I am not a criminal.

I am not a pirate.

And yet, companies treat me as if I am. The onus falls on me to make sure that I am not buying malware from so-called legitimate companies, rather than on those companies — and some of the biggest offenders are corporations like EA and Sony — not to silently bundle increasingly invasive and harmful copy protection products with their games. Products, I might add, which always get cracked within a few weeks of their release.

Sure, with a very simple google search I could access step-by-step instructions on how to bypass the software. And you can bet your buttons that I looked into it when trying to figure out if I could salvage the 20 bucks I spent on Obscure. But, in the end, I don’t want to have to jump through hoops just to safely play my legitimately purchased game. I also don’t want to risk damage to my machine, seeing as maintaining gamer-quality computers takes a lot of money.

Which means that I will most likely no longer be making any PC gaming purchases, excepting those that use different approaches to copyright protection such as MMO’s and games such as Galactic Civilizations II. I love PC gaming, but it’s just not worth the hassle anymore. I feel like telling all those gaming companies, “Congratulations, assholes, with your bumbling and futile attempts to stop pirates you have just lost yourself a customer who — despite having the knowledge and ability to pirate — has been making a conscious and concerted effort to be a legitimate consumer.”

Oh well, at least I still have console games.

Crecente fights the boy's club of gaming… ORLY?

Now, I’ll be honest here. I think that Brian Crecente is an unprofessional misogynist who doesn’t have the writing skills to match his journalism education. Given his track record, I don’t think he’s fit to write articles, much less be put in charge of a majorly influential gaming news site.

Part of this is personal, seeing as he’s tried to take credit for the Iris Gaming Network that Revena and I founded, not to mention was the source of the misattribution of a quote by Guilded Lily to Iris/Cerise that has caused no end of misunderstandings. Oh, and I was none too thrilled that he felt that it was appropriate to allow commenters to make rape threats about the cover model for the first issue of Cerise, especially since the “model” was my friend who posed as a personal favour to me.

The other part of it is just my general aversion to misogyny, which he’s directly responsible for as the senior editor of the site (it’s his job to moderate both the posts by other editors and the comments by readers) and the fact that he thinks it’s appropriate to refuse removal of a dirty picture, posted without permission, at the request of the model. Really, it doesn’t take very much to earn a place on my “misogynist shit list”, but Crecente has really gone above and beyond the call of duty.

So, you can imagine my snort of disbelief when I was reading Nick Douglas’s article, I’m Not Offended, I’m Just Bored: Why Gaming Journalism Should Stop Treating Women Like Meat (via this month’s Gaming in the Media), and came across this quote:

Gawker Media’s gaming site Kotaku, says editor Brian Crecente, goes out of its way to stop boy’s-club coverage.

So, I follow the link to Feminist Gamers in the Gaming in the Media article (they express a similar disbelief that Kotaku is turning over a new leaf; they also link this article by Amanda Marcotte which is worth reading) and come across the following quote from this article by Crecente:

Wow, there are a lot of hateful women out there. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are just as many hateful men out there too, but none of them have been given the space in large newspapers to spew their anger at video games and the men who play them, so I’ll limit my ire to them in this post.

The post generated comments such as:

if she wouldn’t be such a c*%t then maybe the child-men she’s hangin with would put down the controller and shag the hell outta that dried up ol prune. — ROYAL_HIGHNESS

Let me guess, last guy she met stood her up for a videogame? I would too lol — IRENICUS-THE ONE AND ONLY

My God I want to slap her in the face. — INTELSILVER

Way to “[go] out of [your] way to stop boy’s-club coverage”, Crecente and Kotaku! I don’t know what I’d do without men like you to champion women’s rights by never bringing up women’s gender when it’s completely irrelevant to the topic at hand, cracking down on threats of violence against women, and distinguishing yourself from other game journalist sites out there by refusing to make inappropriate references to women’s body parts in your titles!