If you’ve been around the game industry for more than ten minutes, you’ve probably seen how misogynistic it can be. Crystal Dynamics’ Meagan Marie, formerly of Game Informer, made a step forward this last weekend when she refused to suffer awkward sexual comments towards her Tomb Raider cosplayers.
I moved in closer and inquired “Excuse me, what did you ask?” with a forced smile on my face, so to give him the benefit of the doubt. He laughed and didn’t respond, moving a few steps away as I repeated the question to the group of women. Turns out he’d probed what it felt like “knowing that none of the men in this room could please them in bed.” Yes, I’m aware it’s a poor adaptation of a gag told by a certain puppet dog with an affinity for insults. Lack of originally doesn’t excuse this behavior, however.
My anger flared upon hearing this, and for a moment I almost let it get the best of me. I attempted to calm myself down before walking towards him and the cameraman, and expressing that it was rude and unprofessional to assume that these young women were comfortable discussing sexual matters on camera. I intended to leave the conversation at that, but his subsequent response escalated matters quickly and clearly illustrated that this ran much deeper than a poor attempt at humor. He proceeded to tell me that “I was one of those oversensitive feminists” and that “the girls were dressing sexy, so they were asking for it.” Yes, he pulled the “cosplay is consent” card.
Marie followed up on the incident with PAX officials, who assured her that the press member would not be bothering anyone at PAX again.
In response, a friend of the accused has posted on Facebook, claiming that the banning was “unjust”. Be warned that the comments on all linked pieces may be considered triggers for those who have suffered abuse of this kind in the past, as things spiral out of control fairly quickly.
What’s most appalling is that this isn’t anything new. Sexualization and a lack of respect for women in the game industry, while less acceptable now than it was 20 years ago, is still an issue. Even with my limited show-floor experience, I’ve been witness to some utterly reprehensible treatment of women, including propositions for sexual favors and some outright fondling. It’s unacceptable, and it needs to stop.
Before you pick up the pitchforks and jump into the comment wars, however, heed the advice of Susan Arendt, Editor-in-Chief over at The Escapist, who drops a final bit of wisdom via twitter:
Ok, everyone that I’ve gotten riled up about those Facebook comments – don’t yell, don’t attack – educate. Inform. Spread understanding.
— Susan Arendt (@SusanArendt) March 28, 2013