We believe gaming is good. Gaming is good for relaxation, for learning, for bringing people together and for your mental health. But like all media, there is both good and bad and we want to address how we make gaming a safe and healthy environment for women and minority groups (although lets not forget that people of colour are the global ethnic majority).
The Gaming the System team want to see the small steps towards an intersectional feminist future that have been made in games to go further. A character creation screen should allow for everyone to express who they are or who they want to be, and that doesn’t mean having 25 different beards to choose from. A game should show people, irrespective of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, physical or mental diversity, doing all sorts of magnificent and wonderful things. Gaming is a world for escape, not to face the harsh realities of the cruel patriarchal structures we live in. If we can believe in a world where you have talking cat as your fighting companion, then surely that world can stretch to equality.
Game developers need to move beyond lazy tropes and generalisations that make women damsels in distress. Neurodiversity needs to not be seen as only appropriate in a horror game. A disabled character is not there to be pitied, but with over 18% of the UK population being disabled you would think you’d see them more often in games. If a game has an open world you should be able to become romantically entangled in all the combinations of gender and sexuality you could in the real world. As a very basic minimum surely, we could have women with breasts that don’t defy gravity and the laws of physics?
But the changes needed in the gaming industry go beyond the content of the games themselves. Accessibility should be a given, not a rare unicorn to be praised. Subtitles, audio description, adaptable controllers, and a myriad of other well practiced solutions should be the industry standard. Games provide amazing escape and that should be for everyone. Even if you are a died in the wool neo conservative, surely it makes financial sense to not exclude people from buying and playing your game.
Change in an industry must be led from the top as well as with a groundswell movement. We shouldn’t see games companies hiring developers who were on the wrong side of Gamer Gate. Major players in the gaming world shouldn’t still be grappling with how to address institutional misogyny, racism and just straight out bullying. Templates exist for creating a safe and productive environment and gaming companies need to lead the charge.
We are Gaming the System because we want to see our beloved world of Gaming reflect the values we hold dear, and until it does we are here to shine a light on what needs to change.