Kotaku has an excellent article up today and it's a topic often discussed among the gaming community. It's an important one that I feel everyone's attention. It's a fairly long article, so as such, I'm not going to post the entire thing here, but I'll try to highlight important aspects and be brief.
Last week, an abridged screencap of Mercier and Mattingly's Facebook conversation made its way around social media and then gaming news sites. It's shocking and uncomfortable to read: a stark illustration of the kind of treatment of women in the games industry that gets glossed over or discussed in general terms, but rarely gets exposed in so raw and ugly a form.
When we finally talk, I'm struck immediately by how much Mercier feels obliged to qualify. Without asking, I learn how she dresses for work and professional events; how she acts in professional contexts; the image she strives to project; her boundaries for friends and friendly acquaintances and colleagues. She also tells me, unprompted the exact scope of her previous contact with and relationship to Josh Mattingly leading up to the conversation where he told her repeatedly and explicitly what he'd like to do to her vagina. She's seen the comments on Mattingly's apology post, and she's acutely aware that, in the court of public opinion, it's she, not necessarily Mattingly, who is on trial.
"I know there were people saying that I was leading him on, or that I should have shut it down," Mercier tells me. Anonymity has let her follow the conversation around the Facebook thread as it unfolds. Few of her peers know whom they're discussing.
"Even right now, my mind is still blown over it," Mercier says, then pauses. "I've had people in this industry say things to me, but I don't know what it is—that one in particular just really threw me off."
She goes on: "It gets difficult, because you're in shock, and your brain isn't really thinking, 'I am going to tell this guy that this is not appropriate.' It's more of 'I'm just going to ignore this and hope that it gets dropped.' Because, you know, there was the original intent to his conversation, which was trying to get information about another studio and their game—which I legitimately know nothing about—so it was more of, 'okay, well, I don't want to be rude. I don't want to potentially burn a bridge here, because what if there's a future where I need that press contact, or a professional relationship, and the industry is so small?"
There is FAR more in the article -- and it's well worth the read.
I hope that this kind of misogynistic behaviour goes away sooner rather than later. It's not appropriate on any level. Period. This type of behaviour is absolutely disgusting, but I think what irked me even more is the fact that people are blaming the victim. Are you serious? You can't be serious. Pardon my language, but please sit the fuck down. How is this at all the her fault. This guy is clearly an asshole and thinks this is appropriate and acceptable conversation? This is also not the first time this topic has come up for discussion and it's a problem. If people in the industry keep thinking it's totally fine, it's going to continue happening.
I feel like a lot of male straight men also get scared of trying to defend anyone from the LGBT community or women. Seriously, are you 12? Defending them is not going to affect your masculinity. Grow up. I'm highly passionate about this industry and I appreciate the work people put into it, regardless of your gender or sexual orientation. So hell yeah, I'm going to defend those people for disgusting acts like this one.
That being said I'm well aware that this incident is not isolated to the games industry. It happens everywhere, but the amount of stories I've seen pop up lately about it happening in this industry -- and the way in which some of these individuals have acted towards others, is shameful. I'm embarrassed being associated with you, being clumped as a gamer with people like you.
Maybe this isn't even about gender, but a larger issue. Maybe gamers are just assholes. I mean Patrick Klepek speaks his mind, reports so well, and people shit on Patrick for no reason. He gets his own amount of hate online, so maybe it's not isolated to just women and the LGBT community -- maybe gamers just need to grow the fuck up. I hope they do soon, because this type of behaviour is embarrassing and truly disgusting.
My one and only hope is that there are people who actually took the time to read the article, and have realized you know what, I've done this before to people and it's terrible. I'm going to stop being an asshole to people in the industry because of their sexual orientation or gender.
I don't even know what else to say at this point, but I'm utterly disgusted. Gaming and the people in the industry are better than this. Smarten up.