Posted by Xander Pakzad
In the past few weeks, a small anonymous group has changed the discussion around video games to something hateful, archaic, and offensive. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, Google can tell you what has happened to Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn. In short, they are a game theorist and developer, respectively, who have faced constant harassment and death threats solely because they are women. The problem escalated so rapidly that Sarkeesian temporarily left her home after receiving a threat from someone who claimed to have her residential address.
Just because they’re women, that’s it? That’s it. Albeit, Sarkeesian has vocally criticized a number of popular titles for their perceived anti-feminist content, and Quinn is the developer of a controversial game that tackles mental health issues. But these people who have targeted them don’t cite their work as problematic, and they don't even really care about games. They’re just young white dudes who are extremely insecure that new voices are cropping up in a world they’ve essentially dominated since it began.
So it comes as a breath of fresh air that another young white dude is standing up and saying, “We’re not all like that.” Yesterday, independent developer Andreas Zecher posted an open letter to the gaming community calling for a stronger voice of opposition to the vicious language thrown towards Sarkeesian, Quinn, and other women in gaming. Zecher asked for developers throughout the industry to sign the open letter in a display of solidarity. In less than a day, the list of signatures has reached well above 2,000 and continues to grow.
Here is the letter in full:
"Open letter to the gaming community"
We believe that everyone, no matter what gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or disability has the right to play games, criticize games and make games without getting harassed or threatened. It is the diversity of our community that allows games to flourish.
If you see threats of violence or harm in comments on Steam, YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook or reddit, please take a minute to report them on the respective sites.
If you see hateful, harassing speech, take a public stand against it and make the gaming community a more enjoyable space to be in.
Among the list of backers are members from studio behemoths like Rockstar, Naughty Dog, Epic Games, Infinity Ward, Sony, and Microsoft. What’s inspiring is that nearly all these companies have created games that Sarkeesian has criticized in her work, and here they are publicly supporting her right to do so. The biggest names in the industry are saying that everyone is welcome to create and discuss games, especially those who have something new to say.
This letter could not have come soon enough. Over the past few weeks, the biggest story coming out of the gaming world has been the hate and prejudice of this small group of misanthropes. Now that gamers are so heavily scrutinized, and our place in society is constantly redefined by the media, we can’t afford that kind of negative press. We have to make sure we represent ourselves positively. In order for games to thrive, we have to make the noobs feel more welcome than the haters and trolls who try to keep them out.
If you'd like to sign the letter, Tweet @AndreasZecher with your full name and company name (alternatively, your university or "independent").
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.