For one thing, the average online gamer is female*:
The confusing, nasty muck of the Gamergate scandal, in which anonymous attackers have harassed and sent death threats to women linked to the video-game industry, has morphed into a bitter culture war over the world’s $100 billion gaming empire.
But the fight has also highlighted the minefield facing an industry still learning how best to attract — and protect — a new generation of American gamer. The danger, analysts said: The fight could scare away the growing market of women the gaming industry wants.
The stereotype of a “gamer” — mostly young, mostly nerdy and most definitely male — has never been further from the truth. In the United States, twice as many adult women play video games as do boys, according to the Entertainment Software Association, the industry’s top trade group. Male gamers between ages 10 and 25 represent a sliver of the market, only 15 percent, according to Newzoo, a games research firm.
Yet America’s 190 million gamers, 48 percent of whom are women, still play in a harsh frontier. About 70 percent of female gamers said they played as male characters online in hopes of sidestepping sexual harassment, according to a study cited by “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace” author and law professor Danielle Keats Citron.
“It’s just like playing outside when you’re a teenager. It’s still a jungle out there,” said Peter Warman, the chief executive of Newzoo. Of the women who played as men, he said, “they wanted to be treated equal on the virtual battlefield.”
* Actually, the Washington Post headline mis-represents the data slightly, so this isn’t an accurate statement either.
In sp!ked, Allum Bokhari looks at #GamerGate:
The gaming community is no stranger to cultural warfare and moral panic. In the 1990s, a cohort of censorious, ‘family values’ politicians waged a ceaseless campaign to regulate the gaming industry, following a series of panics over the ultra-violent Mortal Kombat series. In the early 2000s, the socially conservative activist Jack Thompson gained notoriety for engaging in a stream of litigation against video-game companies, arguing that they were responsible for everything from gang violence to school shootings.
The tenor of moral panic has changed since then. Now, the main source of fear, loathing and general misanthropy in the gaming industry stems from the cultural left rather than the socially conservative right. Similar to the old right, the new cultural warriors argue that games promote violence and reinforce so-called rape culture. Arguments that games perpetuate sexism and racism are also fairly common. Instead of being seen as mere escapism, the tastes of modern gamers are portrayed as dangerous and subversive, a threat to right-on values. Gamers ought to be feared and shunned. In this remarkable video, a cultural warrior goes on a tirade against mainstream gamers, culminating in the destruction of a copy of the controversial video-game Grand Theft Auto V before a cheering crowd. The misanthropic disgust with ordinary gamers is palpable.
The growing contempt of the games-industry elite for the preferences of gamers has accelerated in recent months. Following a major confrontation between gamers and activists last August over allegations of journalistic favouritism, article after article has been published decrying the gaming community for its alleged bigotry, sexism and narrow-mindedness. The worst examples of ‘social-media harassment’ were used as an excuse to present gamers as a mass of hateful savages. To those familiar with the regular and sometimes absurd panics over football fans, this language will sound familiar.
You may well ask how these activists are able to sustain these bizarre beliefs, particularly given the mounting evidence that gamers are actually a pretty diverse and welcoming group of people after all. One explanation is their fondness for echo-chambers, maintained through exclusive email groups, social media blocklists and mass deletions of user comments on open forums. The extent to which the new cultural warriors will go to remove uncomfortable opinions from view is quite extraordinary. Reinforcing, rather than challenging, one’s own biases has become the norm.
My final Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. After 250 posts at GuildMag, I’m not burned out, but my new job (and the daily commute) won’t allow me enough free time to do the column justice, so I’m trying to go out gracefully. Aside from my “farewell address”, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.
Er, sorry, I mis-spoke there … Britain is big in Minecraft:
Blighty’s Ordnance Survey organisation has updated the country’s map in Minecraft, adding roads, national rail networks and houses to the digital overview.
A plucky intern at the mapping org stuck Britain into the vastly popular game this time last year. Now that he’s bagged himself a full-time position on the grad scheme, Joseph Braybrook decided to add 83 billion bricks to the map, which is now so detailed that folks can find their houses on it.
“The terrain has been doubled in scale to provide more detail. It uses 1:25 000 scale OS VectorMap District to give a smoother, more expansive appearance that is closer to real life,” Braybrook explained.
“The water features now appear in sharper detail, too, so you can see individual streams and tributaries coming off rivers. The forests and woodlands are now populated with generated trees, and the national rail network has been added. I’m looking forward to seeing if people eventually build a working railway system in game,” he added.
My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. The community’s reactions to the September Feature Pack that was released last week finally seems to be settling down: at least the ratio of complaints to compliments moved in the general direction of balance. The Fall World versus World tournament also began last week and runs for another three weeks (much shorter than previous tournaments). In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.
My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. This week features a lot of reactions to the September Feature Pack that was released earlier this week. Typically, the “sky is falling” brigade led the charge, and the “hey this isn’t as bad as we thought” corps reported for duty sometime yesterday. Later today, we’ll see the start of the next World versus World tournament, which will run for the next four weeks. In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.
My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. This week ArenaNet has been adding more information about what will be coming in the September Feature Pack to be released next week. The Feature Pack will revamp existing systems and introduce new quality-of-life items, but it doesn’t have any new playable content. A few days after the Feature Pack is released, we’ll see the start of the next World versus World tournament. In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.
John Ryan linked to this article about The Westport Independent, which puts you in the position of a newspaper editor in an Orwellian world:
The Westport Independent, a self-described “censorship simulator,” places that editorial power in the hands of players during a time of political unrest in the city of Westport. It’s 1948, and rising rebellions against the government lead to a new bill banning any news outlets that do not comply with the Loyalist Government Guidelines. You play as the editor in chief of an independent newspaper entering its final weeks before the ban.
As editor, you control the censorship of articles, pick headlines, and arrange the layout to tell the truth of your choosing. As with Orwell’s 1984, “in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” Will you abide by rules and force-feed your readers the government’s narrative? Or will you defy their guidelines, and print the rebellion’s perspective instead? The city, divided into class-based districts, dynamically responds to everything you print. By shaping public opinion with the stories you choose, you shape the current events that unfold. And by shaping the events, you affect the stories you can cover.
My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. This week is the second anniversary of the GW2 release, and ArenaNet has been spending a lot of time publicizing what will be coming in the September Feature Pack. The Feature Pack is intended to revamp existing systems and introduce new quality-of-life items, but it doesn’t have any new playable content. A few days after the Feature Pack is released, we’ll see the start of the next World versus World tournaments. In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.
My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. This has been a very fraught week for (certain parts of) the Guild Wars 2 fan community … and we at GuildMag were accidentally instrumental in heightening tensions. We published an interview with some ArenaNet developers from gamescom in Cologne, with several questions provided by members of the GW2 community. Some of the answers were perhaps not as well phrased as they could be, and in no time the agitators and conspiracy theorists were in full panicked flight. It took a while to begin to subside, and the ruffled feathers are only just settling back into place.
Next week will be the second anniversary of the GW2 release, but so far ArenaNet hasn’t dropped any hints about what celebrations may be scheduled. There will be a short WvW tournament in September, beginning right after the next feature pack is released.
Aside from the post-interview angststorm, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.
My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. The current chapter of the Living Story is The Dragon’s Reach, Part 2. ArenaNet have also made several announcements from gamescom in Cologne where they’re running a Europe vs China vs North America PvP event during the convention. Perhaps the most interesting of those announcements is that the next Feature Pack will be released in early September (more details to be trailed over the next few weeks). In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.