women holding up sign that says "what lessens one of us lessens all of us"

Women, Gaming and Indigenous Parallel 2014

July 2, 2014

20 Minutes
Ryan Oliver

Ryan Oliver

About the author

Ryan is the Founder of Pinnguaq. His experience includes eight years in the Economic Development and Transportation Department in Nunavut and six years as the Executive Director of Pinnguaq. He has conceptualized and delivered the te(a)ch program since its inception and has a solid portfolio of business and community relationships in Nunavut that support the project.

E-Sports vs Women

Recent events in the Game Development community have something very closely in common with Indigenous events in Canada over the last 200 years. The idea that those in charge, those in the highest positions in the land simply refuse to learn. One is left with nothing to say but, “Seriously? You thought you could get away with that?”

Today (July 2nd 2014), an E-Sports tournament in Finland came under fire for baring women from participating in certain events in an “effort to promote e-Sports as a legitimate sport.” At E3 a few weeks ago, Ubisoft got the most attention not for the work they’re doing, but rather for the work they refuse to do. Namely, animate women characters into the newest Assassin’s Creed game.

The Internet Responds

The uproar on the Internet is quick, furious and amazing to watch. Twitter plays host to some of the best responses.

“I didn’t realize girls didn’t have the physical dexterity required to sit in a chair and play a turn-based card game. How delicate they are.”

— Jack Cayless (@JackCayless) July 2, 2014”

“If you exclude half the population from eSports events, every win has an asterisk attached. No champion can claim to be the best.”

— Ben Kuchera (@BenKuchera) July 2, 2014”

“If making men-only tournaments for eSports gives it credibility then what the fuck does that say about our definition of credible?”

— David Laskey (@david_laskey) July 2, 2014”

What’s crazy about that is it took me no time to find.  It’s all from a story, published today and all of those comments were together.

How We Respond to the Industry

Why do people think they can get away with this?  Because in a lot of cases they still can.  In gaming we (the mainstream) continue to accept the female as the kidnap victim, the female as the one dressed in pink with no other defining characteristics. We still buy, in mass quantities games that feature homophobia, transphobia and misogyny as a punchline.

In Indigenous politics, the mainstream refuses to even acknowledge that such a concept as “Indigenous politics” exists. Indigenous people in Canada are seen in the same way women are in gaming. As afterthoughts that are ultimately inconsequential to the economic bottom line.

The positive side to all of this is unlike even 10 years ago, there is a loud voice and the ability of the communities to respond instantly to these decisions. Social media provides the ability to instantly respond and both communities are moving strong. The difference between the two at this point is that the Indigenous community is still not given the credibility the gaming community is by the wider media.

While large operations like Polygon and Gamasutra often report and expand upon the outrage started in the social media community, Indigenous issues in Canada are brought to the general public by the big 4/5 (do we count Sun media?) media operations and they are often as problematic as the comment sections outlined above.

The important thing is there is progress being made and the tools exist to ensure that progress moves quicker than it has been able to in the past. As ridiculous as it is that we still have to have this conversation, at least progress is being made.

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