J. Haniver’s Not In the Kitchen Anymore is a Woman’s POV on Misogynistic Gamer Socialization

I tuned into J. Haniver’s Not in the Kitchen Anymore (NITKA) after it got mentioned on Kotaku. NITKA is an extension of an earlier art project by Haniver, “a 23 year old female gamer, who specializes in first person shooters (specifically, Call of Duty).” She records conversations of (male) gamers who take issue with female gamers, and she posts the audio and transcript of those conversations on NITKA. Her experiences reveal–despite the fact that the average age of gamers is 37 and there is almost equal numbers of men and women gamers [read about that here]–there are strong currents of misogyny among some male gamers. It is important to note that she prefers first-person shooters such as Call of Duty, which mirror military combat scenarios, situations, and materiel. Are these misogynistic male gamers drawn to COD and similar games, do the games re-inscribe women-should-not-be-on-the-front attitudes, or a mixture of both? Haniver’s project to bring this to light is very important work, but how can we take this and turn it towards educating and convincing male gamers that their behavior toward women is unacceptable? Games and the Internet are not separate from real life–they are a part of life, and perhaps that is the point that we need to get across to people. Also, I wonder how this translates into other gaming communities, such as mmorpgs or competitive causal gaming.

Thoughts On Gaming Journalism, Lasting First Impressions, and Ars Technica on Borderlands 2/”Shoddy Journalism”

I’m not too surprised by Ben Kuchera’s story, “Developer calls accurate Borderlands 2 report “shoddy journalism,”on Ars Technica that there is what I would call a video game developer-publicity-journalism complex. It seems that some developers and their hired marketing guns get pissy when gaming journalists actually do journalism including outing a game before it is “officially” announced. The funny thing about this problem is that so-called gaming journalists who sign NDAs with developers also get pissy when other non-NDA confined journalists beat them to an announcement. I can understand in the heyday of gaming magazines that this kind of collusion between developers, marketing gurus, and journalists promoted everyone’s interests: it sold games, it sold magazines, it kept the marketing departments or marketing agencies flush with cash, and the “story” about the game was firmly controlled. Now, however, the Internet and its new journalism is breaking down these firmly entrenched paths of information flow. The news is jumping the carefully laid tracks. This is good for news readers/gamers, but it is chaos for those who desire to control the flow of gaming news. I imagine the same is/will be true for other media creators. Bad or uninformed news early-on can sink or hurt new releases. This is probably akin to orchestrated fog of war news releases, but inverted–undesirable news released first leaves a lasting first impression.

Powers Gaming’s Texas Battlefield 3 LAN Party and the Practices of Re-Inscribing Misogyny Through Sexism

Stacie Hanes posted a link to this story by Tami B. about a unofficial Battlefield 3 launch LAN party being held in Texas that specifically excluded women from participating:

A large launch party and LAN for Battlefield 3 is being held in Texas, and women are disallowed from attending in order to protect them from misogynistic insults.

via Texas Battlefield 3 launch LAN bans women from attending | Border House.

Tami B. was responding to an earlier post on Kotaku.com, a video gaming blog, which summarized the situation as:

Enthusiasts of military-style first-person shooters are not well known for their progressive thoughts on the matter of gender. The organizers of a large LAN party in Texas, scheduled to celebrate the launch of Battlefield 3, have decided the best way to deal with any slurs hurled at female gamers is to simply forbid them from attending.

I wanted to know more about the knuckleheads who thought that the most logical way to nip misogyny in the bud was to apply a sexist attendance policy to the LAN party, so I found this response by Jason Powers full of “truth” meant to combat the “lies” perpetrated by Internet folk commenting on Power’s LAN party. Powers begins with the supposed origin of their “no girls allowed” policy: a guy named “Joe” said misogynistic things to another player named “Jane” during a LAN party. Instead of policing for idiots like Joe, Powers decided it was easier to exclude girls from the get-togethers.

Then, in order to set the record straight about how the world come to give a damn about his LAN party, Powers writes:

Fast forward to last week… Some girl from the QuakeCon forums was interested in attending our upcoming event, and read that “no women allowed” paragraph and took it the wrong way. Can’t say I blame her honestly; it was poor wording on our part. She never bothered to contact us regarding that policy; she was “just upset” and vented on an all-girl reddit forum.

[. . .]

Anyways, back on topic, this same “QuakeCon” girl contacted one of our admins (who’s also an admin for QuakeCon) and apologized for what happened in a PM. As it turns out, she’s really a nice girl who had no idea her one post would bring some 40,000+ hateful people to our sites, overwhelm our servers, and create a national fiasco. To me, that fact that she came to us (along with several of her friends), says a lot about the gaming community. We’ve been able to put this behind us, and move forward in support of something we truly love: Gaming…
I suppose someone whose logic is to exclude women from gaming events in order to eliminate the need to confront misogyny would think that a woman in the QuakeCon forums would take their “no women allowed” policy “the wrong way.” Then, as if placing the blame of the events on the event planners’ wording rather than the concept itself was not enough, Powers comes full circle to say that the “QuakeCon girl,” who is a “really nice girl who had no idea her one post would bring some 40,000+ hateful people to our site, overwhelm our servers, and create a national fiasco,” apologized for bringing this to the wider online community’s attention. First, I think it is selfserving for Powers to share a PM between that individual and the site admins. Second, and more importantly, he presents her apology in such a way that it re-inscribes the sexism that his group’s gaming policy enforces. The logic of presenting her apology to the public is essentially saying that this whole problem, as in the earlier case with Joe and Jane, is the girl’s fault. If Jane weren’t at the earlier party, Joe wouldn’t have been able to espouse his misogyny. If the QuakeCon forum member hadn’t publicized Powers Gaming’s stupid no-women-allowed policy, Powers and the other organizers wouldn’t be scrutinized or demonized in this way. Furthermore, the second example firmly places the blame on the woman and not on Powers and his friends. She supposedly apologized to them for making others aware that misogyny and sexism takes different explicit and implicit forms.
Powers Gaming is only a blip on the gaming landscape, and I suspect that this kind of policy is rare. Nevertheless, these kinds of exclusionary and sexist practices should be put in the spotlight online, because people need to know that they still take place and we can work together to stop these kinds of practices from continuing to happen in the future. Powers and his friends should rethink their policy in light of the fact that removing women from an event does not erase the misogyny of attendees. Instead, it erases women from a space where they can enjoy gaming with others. If someone wants to be a misogynistic knucklehead, that person should be kicked to the curb as Joe apparently was in the event that precipitated this policy. Simply removing women from this and future events is a sexist response to misogyny by excluding one group of gamers on the basis of their sex.

Four Days at Dragon*Con, PBS World Special, Fandom on Film

Last night, I caught the one hour documentary Four Days at Dragon*Con. It is a brief snapshot of the fandom and programming at the growing Atlanta science fiction, fantasy, horror, and gaming convention.

It was interesting to see how Dragon*Con has changed and developed since I was last there for the full convention (2000), because this documentary presented a time capsule view of the con from one particular point in time.

The emphasis of the program is on the fans and the idea that the convention is driven by fan interests. Essentially, the program argues that Dragon*Con is a convention that is more fandom generated than any of the other large conventions in the United States. As a result, the documentary focused on cosplay and robot wars, which are two of the strongest emergent fan-creative aspects of the con in recent years.

Perhaps in a longer or future documentary, it would be more interesting to see a historical approach to the Dragon*Con phenomenon. Four Days at Dragon*Con is a synchronic snapshot of the con at a particular point in time.

I want a diachronic documentary on Dragon*Con. I would like to see more about how the convention progressed from its inception to the present. There are obvious controversial topics such as Dragon*Con’s founder Ed Kramer’s arrest and extended wait for trial that deserves investigation. There are also mundane issues such as when certain tracks entered the con’s ever-expanding schedule.

If you study fandom or enjoy seeing what folks do at cons, I suspect that you would enjoy spending an hour with Four Days at Dragon*Con.

 

World of Warcraft Updates: 12 Million Members, Cataclysm, and Archaeology

 

 

There are some exciting new World of Warcraft developments just on the horizon.

Despite the worldwide economic meltdown and jobless recession recovery, folks still need to raid. Blizzard announced recently that they have not only maintained their World of Warcraft subscriber base, but it has increased to 12 million world wide players! The press release is available here.

Cataclysm, the anticipated expansion to World of Warcraft, now has a street date of December 7, 2010. Besides transforming Azeroth in fundamental ways, it adds the new playable races: Goblins and Worgen. Other features include level 85 cap, class and race changes, new zones, new raids, and the new secondary profession of archaeology. All new features are listed here.

In the upcoming Cataclysm expansion to World of Warcraft, players will be able to train in the secondary profession of archaeology. As I argue in my essay in forthcoming collection The Postnational Fantasy, World of Warcraft has cosmopolitan potential, because players are actively encouraged to explore Azeroth and engage its NPC characters cooperatively in addition to antagonistically. I suggest that a cosmopolitan ethos could be further encouraged by adding a language or translation profession so that PVP characters from opposite factions could facilitate cooperation between raiding groups for special dungeons that would require this kind of cooperative play. Now it seems that Blizzard has begun laying the groundwork for a system that I had not considered: archaeology. Learning about other cultures through the past can be positive, but it could equally be negative due to cultural imperialism and orientalism. Furthermore, it appears as if this new profession in World of Warcraft is geared for “treasure hunting.” When the expansion comes out in December, I will explore this new feature and report back. Read more about Blizzard’s implementation of archaeology in WoW here.