And you thought comics had it bad. It’s been a banner year for video game sexual harassment—or at least video game sexual harassment awareness. The Anita Sarkeesian Kickstarter and subsequent online abuse has been well documented, and it’s been discussed so much that the Times is ON it with a piece that nonetheless serves as a good roundup. This is the last frontier, as anonymity and youth add up to a culture of harassment—which spills over into the real world as when a female gamer was harassed by the captain of her own team IRL (above.) The Times says it’s gone so far even video game makers are trying to do something:
Executives in the $25 billion-a-year industry are taking note. One game designer’s online call for civility prompted a meeting with Microsoft executives about how to better police Xbox Live. In February, shortly after the Cross Assault tournament, LevelUp, an Internet broadcaster of gaming events, barred two commentators who made light of sexual harassment on camera and issued a formal apology, including statements from the commentators.
Even so, Tom Cannon, co-founder of the largest fighting game tournament, EVO, pulled his company’s sponsorship of the weekly LevelUp series, saying that “we cannot continue to let ignorant, hateful speech slide.”
“The nasty undercurrent in the scene isn’t a joke or a meme,” he said. “It’s something we need to fix.”
Elsewhere the article brings up some statistics that are quite interesting in light of the whole “cooties” discussion we’ve been having at The Beat.
Jessica Hammer, a longtime player of video games and a researcher at Columbia University, said the percentage of women playing such games online ranges from 12 percent to close to half, depending on the game type. Industry statistics from the Entertainment Software Association say 47 percent of game players are women, but that number is frequently viewed as so all-encompassing as to be meaningless, bundling Solitaire alongside Diablo III.
Even the lower number—12%—is greater than the percentage of women who read comics in most surveys — 7% being the DC number. Are comics even more of a boys club than video games?
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.