Thursday, November 8, 2012

Gaming Behavior, Gender & Screen Entertainment

Anita Sarkeesian is best known for her Feminist Frequency video series and blog that explore gender representations, myths and messages in film and other media. If you’ve seen a clip about the Bechdel Test in film (to pass the Bechdel Test a film needs to have two women having a conversation with each other about something other than men), it was probably Anita’s. This year, Anita set up a Kickstarter campaign to fund her video game research. She attracted intense harassment as a result, as well as intense support and many more donations than she expected. That process exposed the anti-woman culture in gaming.

Canada’s Global News has interviewed Anita about her experience and the wider epidemic of harassment women face in gaming spaces, with Grace from the website Fat, Ugly or Slutty which offers a space for people to share offensive online messages and laugh about them, Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch, founder of game studio Silicone Sisters Interactive and James Portnow from the gaming web show Extra Credits.

As I watched this excellent program, I kept thinking that gaming harassment and bullying amplify common but less ‘blatant’ patterns of behavior towards women and towards images of women in other contexts, including the film and television industries. It’s not hard to imagine that similar but more subtly expressed behaviors underlie investor resistance to providing resources for women to tell our stories on screen and affect the content of other screen-based entertainment. The courage, clarity and good humor of the programme participants seem inspirational for anyone who works imaginatively towards better representation of women and by women.




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