(Or: I can’t believe I got sucked into blogging about gaming again)
So here I am again, blogging about gaming – even after I swore that I was done with all of that. After all, been there, done that, got the t-shirt. So how did I fall off the wagon? And how did all of this happen anyway? Well.
If you’ve spent any amount of time trying to talk about gaming on the internet, you’ll notice a trend. Periodically, someone will try to talk about privilege, or something that tangentially touches on privilege. Almost always, this turns into a shitstorm of privilege, entitlement, and bile that is depressingly predictable in its progression. Representatives of the marginalized group will try to speak up about their experiences before being drowned out by a flood of privileged denial of their marginalization, defensiveness, flailing at strawmen, intentional derailing, and personal attacks. (My personal favorite is when privileged gamers attack marginalized gamers who attempt to speak up for being guilty of “reverse” marginalization against privileged gamers. That’s always a classic.)
Eventually marginalized gamers give up the conversation as a lost cause, privileged gamers conclude that they have Solved Sexism (or Racism, or whatever else is being discussed) On The Internet and give themselves back-pats all around, and nothing is ever resolved or achieved – save for some members of the marginalized group choosing to abandon the field all together.
Last week was apparently time for one of those threads on a forum that I used to post on, and the annoyance spilled out onto my Google+ feed. Giulia got the ball rolling with an exasperated observation on the fail-worthy nature of this latest shitstorm thread. And that’s when Kira upped the ante with a G+ thread of her own in which she asked:
Do any of you guys run blogs/internet places that talk about women in gaming? If not, know any good ones? I’m lookin for intelligent, savvy, maybe even academic discussions about gender, queerness, feminism, and gaming stuff. Tabletop RPG in particular. Ongoing discussions or regular active posts preferably!
But of course the problem is that while there are lots of spaces on the internet devoted to discussions of gaming of all stripes, there’s not really any internet space explicitly for women who want to talk about RPGs or other types of analog gaming. This begged the question, again posed by Giulia in (yet) another G+ thread:
Dear fellow gamers,
If you feel that the current environment on the Internet is not friendly to women in gaming, I have a question for you: Do you have suggestions on how to make it better? E.g. would you like to read group blogs, or a G+ page or whatever, written by women in gaming? Or a forum on the topic? Or do you have some totally different and cool proposal? Let me know!
And here’s where a bunch of people stepped forward and said some really smart things, including pretty much all of the people that Giulia recruited to get this thing going. (I could quote a whole bunch of people here who said a whole bunch of super-intelligent things, but that would make this post way too long and also incredibly boring.)
The main points that were raised were that women needed spaces where discussions were controlled and heavily moderated in order to contribute to having safe spaces. More important, moderation is important to having successful conversations that don’t get derailed into the same old feminism 101 conversations every. Single. Time. It was also important to have a space specifically for women to provide support to each other in dealing with these issues, so as to encourage women to come out of the woodwork and be more vocal about their enthusiasm for games.
From there the conversation turned to how do we go about creating such a space? There was initially some debate over what form such a space should take. Should it be a shared G+ circle? A facebook group? A forum? An email list? A group blog? There were several people who advocated something limited in access or scope, such as an email list or a private forum. But, given my history of being loud, obnoxious, and outspoken when it comes to talking about sexism in gaming, that rubbed me the wrong way. Which is why I had to go and open my big fat mouth:
I think a shared blog or forum would be much more useful than a G+ group or mailing list. There are lots of private support networks for geek women out there. We need to put ourselves out there and create a public discussion space that is moderated heavily and doesn’t tolerate privilege, entitlement, or other asshattery that predominates pretty much every other public venue for discussion of gaming.
That’s not to say that we couldn’t have a private, women-only thing like a list or a segregated forum in addition. But I feel like the private list-thing is kind of what we’re already doing, and that’s nice, but it’s not going to take us anywhere new.
Within 24 hours, Giulia had decided to create a group blog and I had volunteered to participate. D’oh! So much for not blogging…
Now I don’t want to sound like I’m taking credit for the format of Gaming As Women. (If anyone deserves a lion’s share of the credit, it’s Giulia for prompting the conversation that got us here and for organizing all of this in an astonishingly short period of time.) Giulia had been leaning toward a public-ish space all along, and once consensus settled on a group blog we had a lot of great group feminist blogs to use as a model (Jezebel, Feministing, and Skepchick, to name a few of our foremost influences.)
But still, given that I had advocated so strongly for a public space with a large base of female authors writing about games, it seemed a little dishonorable to not step up to the plate when Giulia called my bluff and said “great! A public space for women to talk about games is what we need, so I’ll make one!”. Given my experiences in my past blogging life, I feel very strongly about the importance of safe spaces for women in gaming both online and offline, and I think Gaming As Women is an important step toward creating those spaces. They say “be the change you want to see”, so here’s me jumping back into blogging about gaming again. What’s important, though, is that this time I’m not doing it alone, and I’m truly excited to have a group of smart and excellent women to back me up.
Let’s do this thing.