The Silence Is Deafening - shootist2600 Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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The Silence Is Deafening

There is a nascent movement in our industry led by a few brave women who have my admiration and respect. That is in stark contrast to their male counterparts who, for the most part, have remained conspicuously silent. I'm not talking about the rank and file, of whom more than a few have joined the rising chorus of discontent. My issue is with those men in positions of power in the video game industry. Where are their voices? Where is their outrage?

Women in the industry, whether game characters or professional contributors, long have been objectified by the patriarchal attitudes that seem to dominate corporate culture. Of course, institutionalized sexism is common in many industries but it has a higher profile in entertainment mediums that can perpetuate negative gender stereotypes. The problem is that until recently, the silent majority has allowed such attitudes to fester.

Former Game Informer staff member Meagan Marie, in her clarion call "What would you do if you weren't afraid?", is one of a few who of late have raised their voices against the perception of women as sexual objects whether in our games or in our industry. GIO member Theora Craft likewise issues a powerful statement in her blog "A Survivor's Take on Tomb Raider and the Controversy That Will Not Die." Thankfully, others here and elsewhere have taken up their protest.

These are strong, determined and selfless individuals who are leading the charge for change and we are all of us in their debt. We can only hope to live up to their enviable example. Thankfully the rest of us are not burdened with having to identify the problem, formulate an argument or otherwise take action in a vacuum as they have. The trail has been blazed in impressive fashion and we have only to take up their gauntlet and challenge the status quo.

And as indicated, some have. Regretably, too few. In fact, where are the like-minded, influential men among our industry's elite? Where are their public condemnations of such primitive attitudes and behavior? To read the variety of exposes that have surfaced and confirmation from all quarters of the industry suggests that such stereotyping not only is endemic but in fact epidemic. But to judge by the silence of men, it either doesn't exist or is not a problem.

Why? Their silence suggests that at best they are oblivious to the problem, which given these testamonials and public debates recently would be shockingly disturbing. Worse, they know it exists but they don't think it's a problem, which of course would be upsetting that such notions could still prevail in this day and age. But at worst, they are complicit in the very attitudes and behavior that their female counterparts are decrying so remain silent.

So, what are they waiting for? In the vacuum that is their silence, we can only surmise their motivation. Such speculation only can do more harm, especially when it will be fueled by these testimonials and stereotypes that persist in the industry's products. Of course, I have to believe that most men in the industry are decent, respectable human beings, and we do have plenty of examples of positive female characterizations.

But this does not diminish the rising chorus among women in the industry who are fed up with being treated like objects or portrayed similarly in too many games. Whether anecdotal evidence in the form of such public revelations or empirical when considering some of the fictional portrayals in the marketplace, the problem exists and on a scale that deserves not only the attention of our industry leaders but that demands their voice.

I don't care if the cold calculation of sales numbers gives them pause, or the perceived lack of consequence outside the looming public relations disaster fuels their ambivalence, or their ignorance has shielded their conscience from taking responsibility. I don't care what motivates their continued silence. They have a responsibility as industry leaders to take a stand against such inhumane treatment. More importantly, they have a moral obligation as men.

When confronted with such appalling behavior, we men cannot stand idley by. Nevermind the moral imperative for the greater good of society. We are born of women. We have grandmothers, aunts, sisters and female friends. We have daughters. I have daughters. And I'll be damned if I'm going to sit back and let this self-perpetuating abomination known as sexism continue to harm those I care deepest about or even those I have never met, after all, they are someone else's grandmother, aunt, sister, friend or daughter.

I've been gaming for over 30 years and have no doubt this problem has been festering since the first days. But now, with the testimonials of more and more of our female colleagues, none of us can afford to sit by any longer and allow such archaic and destructive elements continue to do harm. Join me in calling on all men, especially those who wield influence in our industry, to speak up now, lest our continued silence make us further complicit in the abuse of others.

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