“The video game industry caters to a straight, white, male demographic,” said Anita Sarkeesian, the keynote speaker of the 2014 Digital Ethics and Policy Symposium. Ms Sarkeesian touched on the topic of what it means to be a gamer and what the demographic of gamers looks like; however, the portion that most stuck me was the amount of abuse and lash back she has received through her commentary on the video gaming industry. Gaming has changed over time. What started out as a way to detox for the male testosterone has turned into a universal way to release stress and relax. Anita has noticed that game makers and certain people within the original demographic do not appreciate her YouTube channel dedicated to changing this perceived view point on what gaming is and the view of women players, as well as, female game characters.
Anita speaks through her YouTube channel Feminist Frequency on the issues of women inside and outside of gaming. However she has received more than just hate emails as a response. Vandalism to her Wikipedia page, threats of car bombing, rape, and death, hateful tweets and YouTube videos, and subscriptions to porn sites are just a few of the types of abuse she has suffered from. She has been named the “villain” of the gaming world. And why? Because she feels that women should be perceived appropriately in video games and as gamers, along with trying to help people accept that gaming is for everyone. She went on to talk about how there are conspiracy theories of her bleaching her skin, she has mind controlling powers, and that she makes up all these threats to get attention. Her response to the threats and conspiracies was a shaking of her head and a long laugh. She blows off the thought of being hurt or abused and seems to fear nothing. How? If I was placed in her shoes I would request a security guard to walk me everywhere I go.
Anita fears nothing. She sees these hateful people as whimsical children. Sitting there listening to her make fun and laugh at these hateful, menacing people was intimidating but empowering. She is so passionate and dedicated to what she is talking about that she doesn’t care who tries to hurt or stop her. Her belief in the equality for not just women but everyone to be included and treated fairly by the video gaming industry is so inspiring. However as someone that agrees with her my fear to stand up and support her frightens me. I could not handle the amount of abuse she goes through daily. Death, rape, and car bomb threats would make me want to go into hiding, not broadcast myself further. Anita’s speech was fantastic, but what truly stuck with me was the fact that this woman seeks equality so much she has no fear when it comes to spreading her message. She is an icon for the future development of video games and opinions that surround them. I can only hope that her work helps equalize the place women have inside and outside of the gaming world.