December 20, 2011

To My Someday Daughter: a great article about gaming culture

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 11:55 am
Tags: , , ,

Geordie Tait‘s article To My Someday Daughter is well worth a read. Tait examines the prejudices and double standards of male gamers using the community’s reaction to Alyssa Bereznak’s piece about dating a MTG champion. He’s honest and funny, and that helps the medicine go down. If you’re still considering clicking the link to his piece, I invite you to read this quote:

“Feminism is an actual field of study. As with any field of study, it should be entered with an absence of preconceptions. If a woman has strong feelings about women’s issues, it doesn’t mean she spends all of her time sharpening her castration tools. Talk to women about what’s important to them. As you learn more, you’ll understand more, in the same way that a budding engineer might gradually grow to understand a complex blueprint. If your first instinct when you hear the word “feminist” is to say “those man-haters want equality, but they still want me to pay for everything, hurf durf!” then you currently have as accurate an understanding of feminism as a confectioner would have of a Titan II missile schematic. You know those congressmen who say that Grand Theft Auto IV is a “crime simulator” that is “training new felons?” That’s you, and feminism.”


Now go read the rest of the article.



  1. Great stuff!

    Comment by lukedolan — December 20, 2011 @ 12:00 pm | Reply

  2. My 2 cents: painting Alyssas article (the original one, not the nicer new one) as something other than mean strikes me as odd. The reactions to the article are fucked up, the idea that anyone is “entitled” to a date is equally fucked up (although its a subtler and more insidious kind of fucked up), and so is “outing” your failed date as the “king of dweebs” on the internet. Admitting to the last point does not invalidate the first two points.

    “I was so sick of the avalanche of sexism that I wouldn’t have criticized Alyssa if she’d set Jon on fire during the date” – Jesus, man; don’t diminish your otherwise good points with this thoughtless white-knighting. You come of as just the kind of “nice guy” you’re criticizing.

    Comment by Aksel Westlund — December 20, 2011 @ 9:13 pm | Reply

    • I quote: “The article had a negative tone. It did not attempt to tell “both sides of the story” or give Jon the benefit of the doubt. There were no caveats, no attempts to qualify the many forceful statements in it. That uncompromising tone, combined with the community of readers to which it was published, resulted in a maelstrom of negative feedback.”

      I don’t think that’s giving Bereznak any extra credit. I think Tait is agreeing that the article was less than nice, just not to the amount of responses or the severity of the reactions it got. That being said, I agree that admitting the last point does not invalidate the first two.

      I didn’t react to the second example. Are you sure you’re not Krounering?

      Comment by nascentnovelist — December 21, 2011 @ 12:05 am | Reply

  3. I agreed with most of his points, but felt he started to contradict himself towards the end particularly about stereotyping. I got the impression he identified with those who were out of line and started to over correct for their actions.
    In his 8th section he seems to argue that not wanting to date a guy because of a stereotype is not shallow, that people who play this game justify that stereotype. I admit that I do not play this game, but I find it hard to believe they are all overwhelmingly “obsessive”, and more prone than the general population to treat women “like a mere accessory.”

    I am glad he said most of what he said. Many responses to the original article were angry, and cruel over-reactions. Some Magic players read a hurtful article placed in a website that many people with that same interest view on a daily basis, and reacted hatefully. Do they need to grow up? Yes, …about as much as the rest of society does.

    Comment by Matthew Smith — December 20, 2011 @ 10:01 pm | Reply

    • I didn’t read his article that way. I read it as an attempt to show that Alyssa’s three strikes might actually be acceptable: if you play anything 60hours a week, it’s no wonder your significant other will end up second fiddle. It’s the same with competitive sports, and several careers. It takes a special kind of partner to put up with that.

      “Do they need to grow up? Yes, …about as much as the rest of society does.”

      – Exactly! (But I think that was Tait’s point).

      Comment by nascentnovelist — December 20, 2011 @ 11:59 pm | Reply

      • Of course they are acceptable! There are no “unacceptable” reasons for not wanting to date someone. Sure, there are reasons that make you seem like an asshole, but they are still acceptable. Hell, Alyssa’s article pissed me off, but I don’t think she should have dated him on principle. That’s creepy “nice guy”-logic.

        Tait just comes of a bit too… eager. The whole narrative of the article seems to be “look at me! I am the evolved nerd, for I got laid and saw the error of my ways! I come to give guidance to the masses and forgive them their sins,” and it just bugs me. If he cut away all the self-deprecating “reformed sinner” posturing and the attempts to paint Alyssas article as som kind of bold or valuable statement, leaving only the incisive analysis, the article would be much better. And not have the creepy white knight undertone it has.

        Comment by Aksel Westlund — December 21, 2011 @ 12:09 am

  4. Looks like an enormous straw man to me. Basically, pretending that the negative reactions to Alyssas article came only from male gamers is deceptive in the extreme. The story hit the main news as well, and the reactions from the readers of the LAWeekly, WSJ etc. were pretty much the same. There were more reactions from gamers, but the median response seems pretty much the same from gamers and non-gamers, females and males.

    That pretty much breaks the “geeks are horrible and no girl can be a geek except when forced by her man” message of the article hard. It is so threatening that the author brands females who disagree with him “Uncle Toms looking for a warm corner in massahs attic” !

    Way to tell women they are feeling the wrong way about something, and you should instruct them in the right way to feel.

    There is a lot of other creepy or worrisome stuff in the article. The unrelenting abuse heaped on geeks after the authors disclosure of his own geek past, the white knighting, the unsupported assertions, and the patronizing tone the articles format “Letter to my daughter” allows the author to assume towards females. And more. But those are the creepiest.

    Comment by Odin — December 23, 2011 @ 9:30 am | Reply

    • So you don’t agree with his point that the gaming community is filled with male privilege and misogyny? You don’t think games portray women as (mostly) window dressing or sex dolls? You don’t think the community overreacted to the albeit childish and semi-cruel blog post by Bereznak?

      The article didn’t say that Hollywood and the mainstream man don’t do the same thing, it just tried to say that the (male) gamers a just as bad as the rest of society.

      I don’t think there’s a straw man in sight in this article. I think although there are many wonderful geeks out there, the community as a whole is as bad as the rest of society, at least.

      (Now, the thing with the Uncle Tom-ing I agree with. That was creepy.)

      Comment by nascentnovelist — December 23, 2011 @ 11:59 am | Reply

      • No, I don’t agree with that. Granted, English is my second language, but as far as I understand it, if the phrase “filled with male privilege and misogyny” is to have any meaning, the gaming community has to somehow stand out in regards to these qualities. Which I do not in any way, shape or form agree with. Over the last 30 years, I’ve been a sailor, a soldier, a trucker, a student, and several other things. And to be honest, if the gaming community stands out in any way it is as marginally better than most subcultures out there. (And significantly better than some, such as the military).
        Nor do I agree that there has been any attempt to determine if the community overreacted or not. Instead, every negative reaction was simply attributed to the community, regardless of source. This is a misrepresentation of position -the classic definition of a straw man.

        I also do not agree that the article in any way tried to say that gamers as a community are just as bad as the rest of society. The article went very, very far out of its way to say that gamers are far worse than the rest of society.

        I’d like to add that I found it rather disingenuous of the article to imply that if you felt offended by it, it was due to being misogynist. I suspect it is far more likely due to the fact that statements like “If you’re a gamer, you voided a black pool of nihilism down your own leg at the age of sixteen and have been floundering in it ever since” or any of its many, many other charming descriptions of gamers are, in fact, offensive.
        Also, the entire notion of playing two groups socially disapproved of against each other for points is normally regarded as a shameful thing to do.

        I urge you to reread the article with an eye to what it is actually saying under all those words.

        Comment by Odin — January 9, 2012 @ 8:57 am

  5. PS: Although if the blanket description of Otaku as sex offenders doesn’t raise any red flags…

    Comment by Odin — January 9, 2012 @ 9:08 am | Reply

    • Sure, I’ll re-read, but I don’t think I’ll agree with you afterwards. But hey, maybe that’s because I’m not a male geek and therefore won’t be as offended by the things he says. I think it’s written in a deliberately provocative tone, and there are things he says that are problematic, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not at least a little bit right. There are big problems in the geek community that I as a woman have experienced first-hand. That’s why I hugged this article close. At least someone (male) saw the other side of the coin.

      Did the article have to be as harsh as this? Probably not. Would he have gotten the point across better if he didn’t write it in a way that pissed off his target audience? Probably. But would it have gotten the same publicity if he watered it down? Definitely not.

      Still, though, I’ll re-read, and maybe I’ll have to eat my hat and agree with you. But that won’t mean that the geek community is any better than the rest of society when it comes to feminism. In my experience, it’s been as bad as any other community I’ve been a part of, if not a little worse.

      Comment by nascentnovelist — January 10, 2012 @ 11:35 pm | Reply

  6. Oh Martine. And you’re a writer too. That is what we call a “Hate Tract”.

    It picks a commonly accepted problem, and places responsibility on the target group. It starts out by pretending to champion women. 95 % of the popualtion on earth is either a woman or want to impress women. It goes on to hint that every man who disagrees does so due to misogyny, and bluntly states that women who disagree are Uncle Toms.

    It then points to an issue of high emotional resonance with the audience, sexism. And then it scapegoats its target, passes off assertions as facts, and homogenizes the “Other”. There are no attempts to treat gamers as people. Finally, it dehumanizes its target with a truly massive stream of abuse. It almost becomes a hate tract parody at this point, rants against muslims and gays are frequently more subtle.

    It also, in a tounge in cheek manner, supports violence against the target group. The author wouldn’t mind in Finkel had been set on fire.

    It is a textbook case. (And if I ever teach a relevant class, it will be). It rather stamps and seals itself with the way the author cannot bring himself to exempt women gamers from his condemnation, Nor can he bear to attribute the least positive trait to a gamer who is female, they are either Uncle Toms or only “wannabe frag dolls”.

    As an aspiring writer, you should have some awareness of the power of your craft, and have some ability to see through how it can be used to dehumanize. Just because you feel the author champions a cause the is “yours” does not actually change the point of this tract. It could just as easily be written charging gamers with championing the cause of feminism. the hate is the point, not the cause.

    Comment by Amalie Jensen — May 1, 2012 @ 8:49 am | Reply

    • I’m not going to spend any time defending my credentials to you, or trying to prove that I have the ability to read between lines. I’ll just get straight to the meat.

      What happened in the case he’s using as an example was vile, and I still see memes making fun of that poor woman on the internet today. It’s a sign of the prevalent misogyny in North-American gaming culture, and it’s time to deal with that. Sure, he might have gone a bit far with the uncle tomming, but look at other works of people speaking out about things they feel strongly about. Most of them go quite far. I feel it’s unfair of you to throw aside all his arguments with one, quick stroke of your pen. Call it “hate speak” and we can all go back to pretending there’s nothing rotting in the world of gaming.

      Remember that he is a gamer too, not someone who’s denouncing gaming from the outside of the culture.

      For another example of the problem of gender in gaming, please see my blog post about the new Shadowrun game:

      As someone who claims to be well versed in deconstruction of arguments and knowledgeable about the impact of words, I must say the tone in this comment was poorly chosen. Unless, of course, your intent was to be so condescending that I would in no way be interested in your point of view. If that was the case, good job. You almost succeeded.

      Comment by nascentnovelist — May 1, 2012 @ 11:06 am | Reply

  7. I think the problem here is that the connection to feminism is spurious. The author tries
    very hard to establish a connection between gamerhood and misogyny, but brings no evidence
    to the table. Ironically, after using the phrase “Feminism is a real field of study”, the only
    evidence presented is hardly even anecdotal. Its all about assertions and appeals to emotion,
    in quantity. And lots of invective.

    I’m afraid I have to go with Amalie: This is a hate tract. He appropriates feminism as a
    weapon to use against his object of (self)hate, and won’t stand for anyone touching what he
    owns. That is why he has such a strong reaction against women who disagree.

    It is a bit chilling how he goes into the asymmetry inherent in men and women’s greatest fears,
    and then goes to great lengths to defend Alyssas right to subject Finkel to men’s greatest fear, at no provocation. Because he considers Finkels hobby to be sufficient provocation!

    Comment by Jenny — August 27, 2012 @ 2:51 pm | Reply

    • Thank you for reading and commenting. I guess I tend to agree with people who bring up the trouble I see in society. The way women are treated in gaming culture is a real issue. This might not have been the best article to point to though.

      Comment by nascentnovelist — August 29, 2012 @ 9:51 pm | Reply

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