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The events that unfolded over the last month have, I believe, touched every woman who works in the industry in some way, whether they've been directly involved or not. And certainly not just women. I have spoken out against the harassment and abuse, although not as loudly as others, perhaps, but at the same time I consider myself a gamer and have no shame in that. The attacks against me personally have been, blessedly, minimal. There have been a few angry and misinformed tweets aimed in my direction, but not really any more than what the regular churn of the Internet throws up when you're a woman doing anything in the public eye. The harassment and abuse I've seen thrown at others, however, is just abysmal, unwarranted and deeply disheartening.
Also, as a developer, I feel that my most valuable contribution is to just continue to help develop great games, and increase the awareness of women in the industry by being one and talking about what my job involves. It's important for the industry and important for those young women seeking to enter it. I've been doing this for over a decade now and no one, absolutely no one, is going to push me out.
But it's so fucking sad, isn't it? To see an industry you love and players you've devoted years to entertaining, just imploding into a giant ball of anger and bile. Whilst it's certainly true that developers and the press have perhaps become a little too chummy over the years, (though it is certainly not as widespread as #GamerGate might have people believe) even that issue has become so mired in abuse that it still feels too painful to talk about. The fact that so much of it has been leveled at the struggling indie scene, where so much good stuff stems from at the moment, is also a crying shame.
Likewise, I also feel that some of the 'gamers are dead' articles were misjudged and unhelpful, and kicked the already angry hornets' nest for the sake of clicks. Too much, too soon, perhaps. However, as a gamer, I didn't take them personally. I didn't feel they were attacking the type of gamer that I am, but instead those bad apples that are spoiling the barrel. The ones that are hurting gamers and gaming for everyone.
When I look at the hate thrown at SJW (and indeed the hate thrown back, since I certainly wouldn't suggest that it goes all one way) I wonder what the hell it's all about. What do gamers think SJWs can actually do when it comes to games? Developers already have hundreds of clamoring voices, many of whom pay their wages, to listen to before internet critics. From a developer's point of view it's maybe getting a team to put a bit more thought into their female characters, from what they look like to who they are and how they relate to the game world (something I push for anyway.) We might get another couple of heroines, a few unusual gaming scenarios and some better realized female secondary characters. That's really it. And is that so bad?
That is not to say we don't listen. We do. Even if you don't agree with the 'Tropes' series, and I don't always, it's important to be able to step back and think to ourselves 'What can we learn from this?' To not be open to new perspectives, and different ways of looking at our beloved entertainment form, is folly. Games growing up as a medium means being analysed by critics (just like every other entertainment form). It might be an uncomfortable mirror on our blemishes sometimes, but to deny they are there, or they can be problematic, is just nuts.
No one is advocating for censorship, they are advocating for thought, for empathy, for respect on a wider scale than it currently is at the moment. Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn or whoever, are not going to take away the games you love. If you don't like their work or their politics, then don't buy their games, don't support them. Find other ways to support women whose contribution you do value. You have a choice here. Just like you have a choice in whether to abuse someone online or not. Just like you have a choice about how close you get to those you write about.
We have to be better than this, all of us. The abuse, the harassment, the doxxing (on all sides) has to stop before we can ever hope to have a proper conversation about these issues. As for me, I'll still be here, even if that might annoy a few people. Because I believe in the power of games as a medium and I believe that the good in gamers outweighs the bad. I will be here to support those already industry, and those seeking to enter it. In my own small way, I will always strive to make this a better place for everyone.
Editor's Note: Please consider how your comments and reactions to these statements on this website or on social media can affect people. It is never OK to abuse, bully, harass or threaten people who have the courage to share their thoughts and opinions. I'm placing this note at the bottom of each page to urge all who read it - regardless of their opinions of the statements presented - to do what they can to reduce the amount of bile and toxicity we all encounter on the internet.