The short version is that I want you to read this.
–which, if you read it, will eventually drop you at the phrase “I have been here long enough to know that this article about Being A Woman will be more widely read than nearly any heartfelt work of pure games criticism I could do. That knowing is a low and constant ache.” I arrived at the link through a tweet from The Mary Sue, and here I am relinking it, so yes–I am contributing to that ache. I am sorry. I say that less to mitigate anything than because it known that I am aware of what I am doing.
However. If you take that bait and read that article–and you should–you will, first, encounter the phrase “Now I don’t remember much about those times, because the real me was not really present.”
That is why I am linking this article. I am not in games journalism. I play them, but I am currently huddling with a box of kleenexes (goddamn conference colds!) at the back of a conference hall for a totally difference industry. One where being able to mention off-handedly about the academic lifestuyle I left behind can, with the right people, open doors. When they ask about “what it was like” sutdying what I did, living in Tokyo for so long, and then coming back–“the transistion–there is a set of stories they expect, a tailored suite of anecdotes they hope I can light them up with. But while years of distance have afforded me space to craft what they want to hear, which I do in order to grease the wheels of our conversations, there are large blanks in that time period, especially once I got back and tried to subsist as an academic. Not subsist on an economic level, even, but an emotional one. I couldnot. Because I was…absent. From that life and that persona. So that phrase–“I don’t remember much about those times, becuse the real me was not really prsnt”–that was damn true. To the point where I wanted you to read it.
Back to games, though. Again, I just play them. Because of my allergy to academe and its pretensions, I have deliberately in some cases alienated those who were willing to talk to me about such things on a more critical level, and that is fine. But there is a third point in that article that resonates:
My partner is in games, and his friends, and my guy friends, and they run like founts of tireless enthusiasm and dry humor. I know sometimes my ready temper and my cynicism and the stupid social media rants I can’t always manage to stuff down are tiring for them.
Not mentioned here (well, not on the receiving end), because I assume those friends know how douchey it would be of them to do this to her, are the links we are sent, as Women Who Play Games, by well-meaning men. “Look! Look! Another Leigh Alexander article!” cries my inbox; my facebook feed. I follow her on social networks but usually it is my male gaming friends who make me aware of new articles by Women In Games, even before I have a chance to encounter them naturally. And it’s not just her, of course–what she experiences as knowing that people will read this because it’s about Being A Woman, those of us not writing in games experience as being deluged with articles because we too Are Women, and thus should either Be Moved by this, or Be Impressed By The Progressiveness of the Man Sending Us This.
I know the men who do this have good intentions. They mean to level the playing field. Or to assuage some white male guilt complex they are cognizant of and wish to address in a positive way. Or they would loudly proclaim that no no, they are gender blind, they just were moved by a piece of good writing and wanted to share it. And that is possible, it is true. It is infinitely possible. But I do not think that is what is happening. I think you are pandering to us.
We can find this stuff on our own. We can be moved by it on our own. We can believe in your not being a total shit, hopefully, on our own, without you having to take duck-footed steps toward it, quacking all the while just to make double-triple sure we hear you. It is unnecessary. It is, despite your best intentions, demeaning. To us and to all the authors you send our way. Which is, if you are to be believed, the last thing you want.
So please. Cease the giddy pipeline of gaming news of a particular gender stripe. We are quite capable of giving our own shits about it, without having to listen to yours too. Your shits needn’t be the vehicle of delivery for every piece of gaming journalism written by, or connected to, women. Understand that when you insist otherwise, you undermine your own espoused ideals. You know, the ones that are supposed to convince us you aren’t That Guy, whom you don’t want to be.