The revolting sexism of video gamers - Macleans.ca

The revolting sexism of video gamers

Jennifer Hepler’s main fault is being an actual, normal woman

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Jennifer Hepler, a writer of video game plot and dialogue for the Canadian studio BioWare, has broken the rules of her industry. Sorting out the specific transgressions involved in this controversy has become needlessly complicated: did Hepler break the rules by forcing players to endure gay role-playing in a dragon game? Did she break the rules by suggesting that players should be allowed to skip through gameplay to the next narrative sequence? Did she break the rules by not facing her critics, or by firing back at them?

The gaming community is hard at work sorting this out, but their inquisition is unlikely to face up to her true offenses: Hepler broke the rules of the gaming community by being a woman who is not a sexy virtual elf warrior, and by being a woman who does not just shut up.

I couldn’t help reading the appalling Twitter attacks on Hepler, but I wish I hadn’t. Consider skipping this, it’s not safe for work and very unpleasant. Uglier than the epithet-hurling trolls in my eyes are those gamers who turn a blind eye to the harassment while insisting that Hepler does indeed represent a dire threat to their beloved hobby—a “cancer” on gaming itself. Look for these deluded individuals ranting away on online comment sections, perhaps soon on this one.

Gripes with Jennifer Hepler’s story-centric thoughts on gaming must take a backseat to the real cancer on gaming that’s been revealed. Online gaming communities are often hateful, mostly towards women and homosexuals, and those who don’t participate in the hate tolerate it.

Jesse Brown is the host of TVO.org’s Search Engine podcast. He is on Twitter @jessebrown