When professional victims attack
The advent of impressive graphics in the ‘90s allowed videogame developers to depict realistic violence and gore. This presented itself as a great opportunity for US senators such as Joe Lieberman to fabricate a link between videogames and violence as a quick and dirty vote grab. The senator colluded with the establishment media to create a campaign of scaremongering to this effect. His dubious argument was that violence in videogames is somehow directly responsible for real life violence.
This campaign of paranoia led to the establishment of ESRB rating system, which can be perceived as a means to implicitly enforce (self) censorship on videogame makers by limiting their audience and thereby punishing them monetarily for incorporating violent or mature content. While the impact of rating systems on the creative freedom of videogame developers is open to debate, the original intent of senator Lieberman was to unequivocally restrict the creative freedom of the videogame industry as a whole.
The good news is that the baby boomer generation has already begun dying out. Unfortunately, the bad news is that their place is quickly and silently being taken over by a new and even more serious threat – Feminists and Social Justice Warriors (SJWs).
Feminists and SJWs
The modus operandi of the Feminist/SJW brigade is a familiar one. Just like Lieberman’s original argument was hinged on how videogames cause violence, the radical Feminists and SJWs claim that videogames are inherently sexist and perpetuate an alleged phenomenon that they like to define as “rape culture”. In case you don’t happen to be a Gender Studies major, what they essentially mean is that some videogames denigrate women, intimidate them by promoting an unrealistic body image, and result in them being oppressed in real life. For those of you looking to dig deeper for the truth, refer to Time Magazine’s piece on rape culture.
The million rupee question being: is there any merit to their scaremongering? For all intents and purposes, the Feminist/SJW campaign is nothing but an iteration of Lieberman’s original assault on videogames. The basic premise of both arguments is that gamers tend to replicate what they experience in the videogames they play. Feminists and SJWs are convinced that scantily clad women in videogames brainwash male gamers into becoming dastardly purveyors of “rape culture”. Unfortunately for them, their already tenuous argument can’t stand up to scrutiny when it’s merely a rehash of the same ol’ videogames-cause-violence malarky. After all, Lieberman’s videogame/violence fallacy has long been debunked after much deliberation and study of the subject.
Statistics don’t lie
The world still has to witness any documented link between violence and videogames despite the presence of violent videogames for nearly two and a half decades. Meanwhile, there have been numerous scientific studies proving that videogames do not cause violent behaviour. However, there isn’t any greater validation of such findings than empirical proof evident in actual real-world crime figures. Violent crime, you see, has nothing but dwindled over the past two decades within all First World countries.
For example, the violent crime rates for the US, recorded in the year 2010, were a fraction of rates recorded in 1994. In other words, the kids who were exposed to violent videogames in 1994 certainly didn’t add to the violent crime rate by doing in real life what they do in games, as shown in this study. To put this into perspective, another study conducted by the US Secret service had found that only 12-percent of those convicted of school shootings were interested in violent videogames. Interestingly, a whopping 37-percent of those criminals “exhibited an interest in violence in their own writings, such as poems, essays or journal entries”. By that logic, we should ban children from writing poems, essays, or maintaining blogs instead of banning violent videogames.
The fact that the videogame industry has grown large enough to eclipse both film and music industries within the past two decades (that too without any increase in violent criminality) is a far better indicator that videogames don’t necessarily contribute to crime in the real world.
The myth of rape culture
Just as violent videogames don’t prompt gamers to commit criminal activities in the real world, attractive virtual women don’t cause gamers to oppress real women. Furthermore, videogames do not promote unrealistic body image for women, just like muscle bound male videogame characters don’t do the same for male gamers. It must be amply evident and clear by now that gamers have exhibited the ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality thus far.
Videogame characters, in general, tend to be more attractive and desirable than the average person in the real world because these fantasy characters are supposed to be aspirational. There’s no crazy conspiracy on the part of videogame makers to put women (or men, for that matter) down by featuring attractive characters with generous physical proportions. The typical SJW refrain painting female videogame characters as “unrealistic” is all the more ridiculous.
To put this into perspective, take a gander at Bodybuilding.com’s Bodies of Work photoshoot. It features real women and men, who appear even more “sexualised” and possess far more “unbelievable” and “unnatural” proportions than any videogame character. Extremely fit and beautiful people exist in the real world. There aren’t too many of them because achieving that sort of physique requires hard work and dedication. In case you haven’t noticed, these are the same qualities that we expect from our heroes, which explains why superheroines and female videogame protagonists tend to exhibit these desirable physical attributes.
Furthermore, no amount of sensuality or nudity can be held responsible for promoting “rape culture” either. The Renaissance, for example, is considered the intellectual bridge between the barbaric Middle Ages and the modern world. The core aspect of this cultural movement predominantly comprised of nude paintings and sculptures by the great European Renaissance artists and sculptors. We all know how Europe went on a path of intellectual enlightenment despite all the rampant nudity.
This brings us to the actual merit of the Feminist/SJW propaganda against videogames. Celebrated Feminist Anita Sarkeesian has been credited with spearheading the SJW movement against the “rape culture” within videogames. Her website Feminist Frequency and propaganda videos dubbed Tropes vs. Women in Video Games have pulled the most weight in this battle. These videos essentially dissect popular videogames with the intention of proving how videogames perpetrate typical Feminist talking points such as sexism, misogyny and rape culture, among others. After all, these are rather tall claims based purely on conjecture. The same kind of conjecture and fallacious reasoning involving simplistic principles of cause and effect used against films and videogames in the past. Rather unsuccessfully, I must add.
But are how accurate are Sarkeesian’s theories? For starters, some of her most popular and controversial videos analysing videogames contained someone else’s gameplay footage used without consent or authorisation. That’s because Anita Sarkeesian had herself admitted that she doesn’t play videogames in a video interview back in 2010. One of her videos uses gameplay footage from Hitman: Absolution to underscore sexism, misogyny and rape culture. It does so by stating that the game encourages and incentivises players for sexually assaulting and murdering innocent women.
The only problem here is that anyone who has played Hitman: Absolution knows that this is completely and utterly false and untrue. On the contrary, the game actively disincentivises killing innocents by severely penalising the player. It’s pretty obvious that her video has been doctored to fit the Feminist/SJW narrative, or in other words use misrepresentation and spread outright lies to paint a false picture. If you haven’t played Hitman: Absolution, you might want to take a gander at this video which categorically debunks every false claim and misrepresentation made in Sarkeesian’s propaganda video.
Preying on sympathy
If there’s no link between videogames and “rape culture”, why are Feminists and SJWs such as Anita Sarkeesian spending valuable time and resources creating propaganda for the cause? The answer – like it does for everything – simply boils down to money. To put this into perspective, Anita Sarkeesian raised more than $150,000 to create Feminist Frequency videos through crowd-funding. She also gets paid $8500 to $11750 for speaking at events.
To figure out how this works, we need to understand why Sarkeesian makes it a point to stir up the proverbial hornet’s nest. Interestingly, she isn’t the only one using this modus operandi. In fact, it’s such a common occurrence that there’s a term coined for such people – professional victims. It almost seems like Anita’s plan is to antagonise gamers with propaganda videos that are all the more infuriating due to their abject dishonesty and maliciousness.
When you attack a demographic that’s populated by an audience ranging from eight to 48-year-olds, the younger and immature ones amongst them are bound to lash out in a childish manner. This is then portrayed by Anita and company as harassment. It’s also an excuse to disable comments on videos and thus silence the critics. It also causes an outpouring of support and sympathy from the white knights and non-gamers who don’t know any better. That’s how Sarkeesian earned more than $150,000 in donations. If you think this was a one-off case – an aberration if you must – the next example will drive this point across with greater authority.
Business is good!
It’s already been explained above that being a professional victim involves deliberately inviting some sort of harassment. Anita Sarkeesian did that by creating patently false propaganda videos designed to antagonise gamers. Meet Brianna Wu. She’s a mobile game developer with a single mobile game to her credit. However, that isn’t the cause for her fame. Brianna Wu is the next most successful professional victim after Anita Sarkeesian. But unlike Anita, Wu didn’t even create videos – she was a lot more direct in her approach.
She earned her professional victimhood by tweeting unprovoked insults and taunts directed at Gamergate for good effect. I reiterate: she made unprovoked attacks. Soon enough, that elicited a barrage of comebacks from the Gamergate hashtag, which were promptly used by Wu to claim that she was being “harassed”. To be fair, some people did cross the line by threatening to rape her, and then someone posted her address online… basically juvenile conduct, which we suspect Wu actually expected. This was immediately followed by setting up a Patreon crowd-funding campaign to support the poor damsel in distress in her righteous struggle against the big, bad bullies of Gamergate.
To put this into perspective, at the peak of Gamergate controversy Brianna Wu now was making more than $150,000 per year through Patreon donations alone. All because she was “harassed”, albeit after deliberately picking a fight with juvenile minds. Bottomline: being a professional victim is a lucrative business indeed.
The devious machinations of professional victims such as Anita Sarkeesian and Brianna Wu translate into big bucks for them. But how does this affect gamers and their favourite hobby? Despite Sarkeesian’s videos being rightfully debunked as outright lies and falsification, the establishment media has chosen not to convey this fact to the public.
Apart from those who play videogames, few others know the truth behind this devious campaign of professional victimhood and profiteering at the expense of gamers and videogame developers. As long as the mainstream media continues to paint these women in a positive light, videogame developers will have no choice but to buckle under the pressure.
In fact, this is already happening in the world of comic books. Both Marvel and DC Comics were forced to redact and re-commission the cover art for Batgirl and Spider-Woman comics, respectively, because the Feminists and SJWs took offense to the original designs. The Spider-Woman alternate cover drawn by celebrated artist Milo Manara was deemed too sexually objectifying and sexist. Watch a video by internet satirist Maddox on the subject.
The outrage over the Batgirl cover was all the more confounding because although she wasn’t sexualised at all, this time the SJWs took offence to her being portrayed as helpless against the menacing Joker. If this cultural Marxism perpetrated on the basis of lies and misinformation is allowed to proliferate unabated, it won’t be long before all geek art forms will be forced to censor themselves because of a vocal minority.
No artistic medium has ever thrived when subjected to authoritarian censorship and the curtailment of the freedom of expression. Like any other art form, this medium must be allowed to evolve on its own, and certainly not held to ransom by a minority who doesn’t even partake in the art form! This is the twenty-first century, it’s time we grew up and stop being butthurt by every little thing!
Nachiket "therapist" Mhatre
Nachiket has been obsessed with computers and videogames since the 8086 days. But don't you go asking him about his earliest gaming memory. Not unless you are fine with being subjected to an interminable monologue romanticising the warm monochrome glow of early DOS games and how the medium has since lost its soul at the turn of the millennium. When he isn't being a corporate slave at MySmartPrice.com, Nachiket spends his free time tinkering with hobby grade R/C, practicing archery, or just sharpening his knives for relaxation.