Note from the author: In this article, I will use the term “women gamer” as a broad term that includes all female/womxn-identifying gamers of all ages.
The Nintendo Super Smash Bros community is under heavy fire due to recent allegations of sexual misconduct. In early July, survivors came out with stories of sexual misconduct. Some of these incidents happened years ago when the victims were minors. Just a few of the popular gamers in the hot seat are ZeRo, D1, Cinnpie, Keitaro, and Nairo.
The heat all started when a gamer by the name Jisu tweeted and exposed her story and the story of a girl named Katie.
Jisu created a document containing her and Katie’s experiences of harassment from the gamer ZeRo. The misconduct happened when they were both minors. Jisu was fifteen, and Katie fourteen. The professional gamer admitted to sending inappropriate messages to minors and quit creating gaming content after this exposure.
After Jisu published this document, both men and women took to twitter about the harassment they faced from other popular gamers. Online harassment was most common, but situations also took place at IRL gaming events and after-parties.
Content creators are people
This is yet another example of content creators abusing the power and influence they hold. In the eyes of young fans, internet influencers are their heroes. The hierarchy of content creators and fans can be a dangerous one. Younger fans reach out in a state of vulnerability, seeing the creator as an idol. We are learning the personas content creators put out is not always who they are behind the screen. As viewers, it’s important to remember the human behind the screen. A human is capable of doing a lot of good or a lot of bad.
Women in gaming
This brings us to one of the underlying problems in the world of gaming. The sexualization of women in gaming runs deeper than the stories that recently surfaced. Women in the gaming industry deal with sexism, bullying, and harassment on a smaller scale every day. Women gamers are not taken as seriously as male gamers, even as their numbers on the internet rise to almost 50%. They are often called ‘fake gamers,’ called less intelligent or capable than their male counterparts, or accused of only seeking male attention. Nearly half of the community are women, yet male dominance is still prevalent. The mentality surrounding most women in male-dominated communities is to simply ‘take it because that’s the way things are.’ They say “boys will be boys,” instead of “boys will be held accountable for their actions.”
The women in the gaming community are passionate about playing or creating games, and being part of something bigger. Some of them simply want to play for entertainment without being bothered. These women are not there to fulfill male fantasies that video games created for them. The gaming community has long been gate kept by men, making it difficult for everyone else to feel included (POC, LGBTQ+, among others). Gaming companies are seeing the toxic environment surrounding certain games and are working to make changes to provide safer spaces for women and minors. The industry is slowly changing to be safer and more inclusive, but the world of gaming still has a long way to go.