Chris Suellentrop, of the New York Times, wrote an interesting piece concerning GamerGame, the online movement that seeks to bring about better ethics in video game journalism
by intimidating and harassing female video game designers and critics. I think Suellentrop makes some valid points, but not when he compares video games to comics.
If this continues, the medium I love could go backward into its roots as a pastime for children. Instead of being a mainstream form of entertainment, it could end up being something like comic books, a medium that has never outgrown its reputation for power fantasies and is only very occasionally marked by transcendent work (“Maus,” or the books of Chris Ware) that demands that the rest of the culture pay attention to it.
Roots, or more like its present form? I ask because it certainly seems to me that video games, as a medium, perpetuate male power fantasies a lot more than comic books. Look no further than the so-called mainstream, top-selling video games. If the Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto franchises aren’t about power fantasies, especially alpha-male power fantasies, I don’t know what is. It doesn’t matter what your male fantasy is, killing Nazi soldiers in 1944 with a Russian sniper rifle or murdering prostitutes with your bare hands in the streets of fake Los Angeles; video games have got you covered. And not just weird, hard-to-find video games that have to be ordered out of the back of a fetish magazine. These alpha-male power fantasy video games are sold at Wal-Mart and Target in special displays at the front of the store, and routinely make more money than Hollywood blockbusters. Within 24 hours of its release, Grand Theft Auto V made $800 million in worldwide revenue.
Video games are were pro-GamerGate pretend-alpha-males go to feel good about themselves, to feel powerful. They aren’t turning to comic books.
If mainstream video games currently enjoy a better reputation then mainstream comic books, then it’s a reputation undeserved and not based on fact. If you don’t believe me, go ask a murdered prostitute from Grand Theft Auto V.
Of course you can’t do that. She’s dead and she was never real in the first place, but you get the gist.
EDIT: My opinion on GamerGate has evolved, mostly because I’ve become much more familiar with the actual facts involving the movement. What I wrote about GamerGate on October 26, does not necessarily represent what I currently thing about GamerGate.