Matt Wilson has this to say about the exclusion of women in gaming:
In general terms, the biggest assumption that happens, even if it’s an unconscious one, is that the predominant group is the norm, the default.
The result of that assumption is a set of behaviors that exclude everyone who isn’t considered part of that norm. In the case of gaming, it’s a predominantly white male group, so you end up with the assumption that the ‘normal’ gamer is also male. If that assumption manifests in game texts, rules and communities, then they can all make women feel unwelcome, even though gaming might be an activity they’d really like to participate in.
Now, ideally, what ought to happen is for women to be able to say, “hey, that makes me feel unwelcome,” and get a response that boils down to, “oh, sorry, we’ll stop that, because we want you to feel welcome.” It really ought to be that simple. Except it hardly ever happens. Instead, what happens is stuff like this:
1. Denial and Minimalizing. Men will respond with comments like, “oh, come on, it’s not unwelcoming, you’re wrong,” or “is it really that bad? I don’t think so.” See, as the predominant group, men get to assume the right to interpret the experience of women and deny the validity of what they say. Then they get to impose their own views upon them, like “really, my game text that you think makes you feel uncomfortable is about this other thing.” If you can deny the problem, then you don’t have to take any responsibility.
Wow. I am disappointed that I am so easily impressed when a guy seems to “get” these issues (because I wish more people understood). Time and again I’ve read and heard the kinds of responses he lists in points 1 – 7. It’s frustrating and exasperating when you try to explain how you feel, and the majority of the general gaming populace brush those concerns off. I know people don’t want to marginalise or oppress. As Wilson says, no one sets out to do that. The problem is that people hold so tightly to their assumptions, they get very defensive, and they take it personally, that they don’t even know that their behaviours serve to exclude the very people they want to include.
As far as I know, Wilson doesn’t appear to be talking about videogames specifically, however his points are still valid. Both parts are well worth reading.
[Via The Beat]