My Gaming in American Culture class has taken me all over the proverbial map when it comes to consuming all different kinds of media.
From tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons or Barbie to re-reading books like Ender’s Game or Ready Player One with new lenses. From watching terrible video game-based movies like Tom Hanks’ Mazes and Monsters to documentaries like Second Skin that touch on the psychological effects of an increasingly isolated digital culture.
For my upcoming class, I had to watch a kickstarted documentary from 2015 called GTFO.
But this time I was not alone. GTFO is all about the treatment of females in the video game industry — both in production and play. That particular subject matter drew interest from other members of the Rochlin household:
I’m assuming they would have otherwise rolled their eyes at the prospect of a documentary about video games (or at least Aly would), so it’s nice that we all had a subject to collectively appreciate.
… Well, it’s not nice that we had to appreciate the examination of sexual harassment/discrimination/misogyny/insert-buzzword-here in any industry.
That’s about what you can expect here, if you’re interested in the subject.
Subjects ranged from women being pressured in professional eSports, the distinct lack of females in game production (only occupying about 10 percent of the industry), the day-to-day harassment in the voice chats of games like Call of Duty, and more large-scale harassment public scandals like Gamergate.
Though Gamergate was a smaller subject, as the major example of harassment highlighted was Aris Bakhtanians’ treatment of Miranda Pakozdi on a livestream marketing campaign for Street Fighter x Tekken in 2012.
I wasn’t privy to that particular story prior to the documentary, but luckily journalists like Jason Schreier have always done their jobs well.
It’s crazy stuff, but not that crazy. Which is an unfortunate takeaway of the documentary to me.
When interviewees shared and even read out examples of terrible rape- and death-threat filled messages they’d received while gaming, my mom and sister seemed pretty shocked.
And yeah, there was some pretty graphic and intense shit read out.
Yet I’ve been gaming for a long time and saw the proliferated multiplayer days of Halo 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on the Xbox 360 — before I refused to fix my broken console to spite my friends for some ultimately forgotten comment that annoyed me.
I’ve seen that kind of stuff happen, and I have a lot of female friends who play video games that have similar stories to tell.
So I can’t say I was surprised by anything in the documentary.
Which is unfortunate in itself, but the reality of the situation.
However, it’s not a reality that everyone knows about as multiple subjects remarked. The fact that such a well-composed and thorough documentary exists is great in that regard.
I’d definitely recommend watching it for that reason: More awareness is never a bad thing — even if it might put you back $5 for the day.
Especially given some interesting ideas fielded, such as hoping that encouraging more women to get involved at all levels would cause the toxicity to recess. It’s much harder to attack a woman if there are eight in the voice chat than if there’s only one or two.
But that’s enough of me sucking the oxygen out of the room.
I watched a documentary about treatment of women with a couple women, so it only seems right to let them have the last words.
I’ve always been aware of misogyny and how it is used in the video game industry. However, I was not prepared for how deeply pervasive it really was portrayed in this documentary. It think a lot of the problem stems from the anonymity allowed, and like my husband says, “on the internet, no one knows you are a dog…”
(And Introducing) Aly’s Corner:
Yayyy I finally get one of these! I walked into watching this thinking I’d be bored out of my mind, but it was actually super well done and intriguing for me. I never really considered myself a gamer, mostly because I can’t just sit down and spend hours finishing a game (Jason can attest to that), but the treatment that women in gaming go through is everywhere in society, and it’s kinda scary to see.