It’s been difficult keeping up with what is perhaps the most embarrassing weeks in the history of the video game community. From Zoe Quinn, to Phil Fish, to John Smeldey, to Jordan Mathewson, to Anita Sarkeesian; they have all been victims one way or another of internet abuse within just a short span of two weeks.
While we are a little more than a week away from the eruption, I feel terrible that I overlooked Zoe Quinn’s kerfuffle while focusing on the mainstream’s media coverage on Phil Fish and the news of him announcing that he was selling his company and its property. Understanding that sites such as IGN and Polygon likely chose to ignore the controversy in efforts to avoid sensationalizing the topic whilst remaining uninvolved with Quinn’s alleged personal life, I dug into some of the crevices of the internet to peer into this personal conflict between Zoe and her ex-boyfriend.
Don’t think I’m going to provide commentary on their relationship, because as it’s been stated, it’s not our place or platform to discuss private matters; and I respect Zoe’s decision to instead of retaliating against Eron Gjoni publically, to nip it in the bud that she will not exacerbate this discussion into a “he said/she said” debate.
“I will not negotiate with terrorists”
But the irony and “slut-shaming” stands. Though the writer in question, Kotaku’s Nathan Grayson, was accused of writing a favorable review for Zoe’s Depression Quest, this review doesn’t exist. And even if it did exist, why wasn’t it Nathan’s butt who was crucified instead of Zoe’s? It’s the internet abusers' golden opportunity to reinvigorate hatred against a developer (a WOMAN for that matter) who took a chance to offer others some insight into mental illness. Because a Twine multiple choice game on depression is offensive, is hostile to the greater game’s industry, will take your games away like Obama tried to take your guns away earlier this year, because the shrinkage of the AAA publishing model bent at the existence of games such as Depression Quest.
Because all of that delusional bullshit makes perfect fucking sense.
Bringing down airplanes off of some grievance that I don’t know or care to explore at the moment, and calling men with guns to a streamer sitting behind his computer playing Counter Strike, form the narrative of the complete lack of adult rational, foresight and consideration. But coupled with the “slut-shaming” of Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian’s death/rape threats paint gamers as a bunch of rabid, masturbatory monsters.
It just takes one.
The deranged mind behind the truly traumatic tweets directed at Sarkeesian that were so alarming, she took precaution to ensure her safety, colored a very ugly picture of gamers; despite how racially, morally, and genderly diverse we are. It represents the low end of the totem pole that is the “Anita- spiracy” (doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well as “Quinnspiracy").
I get it. Tropes vs Women in Video Games is not a pleasant thing to consume. Opposing perspectives rarely are. After watching a few episodes, I’ve grown very critical of some of the games I play. “Oh that’s sexist”… “Oh that’s misogynistic”. That’s what you’re afraid of, viewing the games that you love and hold to a completely sanitized standard in a negative light. Rockstar and Nintendo can do no wrong right? But we are capable of acclimation. Even through Anita’s critical gaze, she can still enjoy video games. And if you don’t believe that she plays video games, then I can personally attest to this as one who’s apart of the underrepresented demographic. I too can still enjoy video games despite the under/misrepresentation of Black characters in video games.
I hope this discussion doesn’t ignite another debate as we have reached what feels like the calm after the storm.
But do us a favor, and don’t ever embarrass us like that again, internet.