Sarkeesian at Loyola

I attended the keynote speaker of the Digital Ethics Symposium, Anita Sarkeesian. To be honest, although her ideas and topic were very interesting, I didn’t feel she was a great speaker. She seemed kind of awkward and, understandably, uncomfortable. I’m not sure if the lunch was supposed to be a separate event, or if it was meant to be included in the 11:30 – 1 time slot, but I felt her talk ended way too early. I wish she would have opened up the floor for questions, as the crowd seemed very open to her, and I don’t feel like she would have been harassed by anyone. She practically ran off of the stage and disappeared at the end. Once again, I understand why she may not be super comfortable in a crowd anymore, but she had 3 CPD officers surrounding her.
Also, I do wish she would have focused more on game critiques and what she thinks needs to be done in order to see change in the industry. I suppose I can’t blame her though. Her life, at present, is a stark example of misogyny online conducted by male game players. She knew why people were attending en masse, so she delivered an account of her experience and the harassment she has suffered. But, she did focus more on online harassment and suggestions on how to make it easier to report, than gaming.
I did enjoy her discussion on what a “gamer” actually is. We had a similar type of discussion in class, and only one person admitted to being a gamer, since the word tends to carry a negative connotation. In all likelihood, nearly everyone in our class and many people at the symposium were probably gamers. With examples like Angry Birds, Guitar Hero, and Plants vs. Zombies displayed by Sarkeesian, it’s almost impossible that most people haven’t played one of those games, or one like them, ravenously at some point. I just enjoyed that, even as a female gamer, she has not gotten sucked into the mindset that you have to play “real” games. Usually, first person shooters are the only games put into this category. It’s so difficult to be involved in a hobby such as gaming without being sucked into the boy’s club mentality that Sarkeesian, and our class, discussed.
I found some of the content that had been posted about Sarkeesian and the rumors/conspiracy theories, insane. At one point, she showed the crowd a fake tweet, accusing her of embezzling from her Kickstarter. It’s shocking anyone would believe it was real, as it was way over 140 characters. It’s surprising how Internet savvy people will begin to believe anything, no matter how outrageous and poorly executed, if it already fits into an idea they have formed in their mind.
Another thing I began to ponder during her talk was the idea that some people accused her of sending hate and harassment to herself in order to garner sympathy and further brainwash those in the game industry. I feel like the same people accusing her of this, are the same ones sending her horrible e-mails and things, so how does that even make sense? As Sarkeesian said, I guess you can’t make sense of the “logic” they’re operating from. Their responses are reactionary and emotional. After seeing Sarkeesian’s presentation, this is unquestionably true.

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