To a world where female gamers can play free of misogyny!
Feminist ACTion! Famerz (Part 2)
Female gamers are people too!
This is the situation from which Famerz emerged. The name means that today’s feminist gamers will fight for the female gamers of the future. With this resolve, we began engaging in activism to create a space where female gamers can exist without worries. This space spontaneously took on the shape of a private community for feminist gamers.
At first, it was simply a space from which we searched for feminist gamers to play with, but now a real community has developed. We study together in a book group, meet up and play board games, and, since the beginning of 2017, we’ve participated in a variety of demonstrations: “Moving Forward Like a Femi”, “Black Protest for the Abolition of Abortion Laws”, “Citizens’ Chaos on the 100th International Women’s Day”, and others.
Along the way, we became aware of the movie GTFO: Get the F&#% Out (2015, directed by Shannon Sun-Higginson). A documentary exposing the misogyny of the game industry in the USA, it includes scenes of GeekGirlCon, an event where female game developers and female gamers meet.
In our country, too, there are events where game developers and gamers can meet. The premier domestic game trade show, G-Star, has been held annually since 2005, and, though its scale is much smaller, a game industry event called PlayX4 has been held in Gyeonggi Province since 2009. But female gamers at these celebrations of gaming cannot avoid unfriendly stares, evaluations of their appearance, and sexual harassment.
One of my fellow activists really likes gaming events, so she took the plunge and went to G-Star one year. But what she encountered there were exclusionary attitudes towards female gamers and overwhelming sexual harassment. When she was playing games at the booths, nearby male gamers waiting their turn to play would glare at her and complain, “Why would a girl come here?” and, “I’d be playing already if it wasn’t for her.” If you look up post-event reviews of G-Star, you’re sure to find evaluations of the attractiveness of the female attendees and sexually harassing comments about them.
These aren’t the only ways in which gaming events are unwelcoming towards women and girls. At G-Star, many (most?) companies employ “booth girls” to promote their games. Booth girls, who stand in front of the games wearing skimpy clothes, are examples of both sexual commercialization and sexual objectification. Sometimes, when I see the litany of sexual objectification that comes up when you search for “G-Star booth girls” online, I feel distressed. There’s no such thing as a “booth boy”, and I doubt that the idea that there could be has even occurred to game companies. Ultimately, even at the gaming event that boasts the largest scale domestically, women can’t simply exist alongside men as human.
So this is why the other Famerz activists and I really wanted to have a GeekGirlCon-type event in Korea. Desire rose within our hearts for a place of exchange where female developers and female gamers could take center stage and share our opinions, and we decided to make it a reality.
So on Nov. 25, 2017, roughly a year after our organization was formed, Famerz held our own kind of GeekGirlCon titled “FeGTA [Femi-Gamers Take Action]: A Gathering of Feminist Gamers and Game Developers”.
We said, we are female gamers living in South Korea!
After FeGTA’s successful completion, we stood at a crossroads, trying to decide what to do next.
As people who had become activists in 2016, we knew as well as anyone the misogynistic and exclusionary atmosphere that marked the gaming world. We had seen it with our own eyes, and we wanted to continue to call it out. We had a great desire to raise awareness of the evils of a gaming culture ruled by misogyny by exhibiting its problems online. It was also our goal to revive the voices of female gamers who had suffered continual erasure.
With this kind of resolve, we worked without rest planning the renewal of the “Girls Who Play Overwatch” Twitter account. And in February of 2018, we began this reporting-focused form of activism, under the name of ‘Gaming World Misogyny Reporting Account [Geimgye Nae Yeoseonghyeomo Gobalgyejeong]’.
We’ve updated the account consistently since then, and these days, we’re also working on a project whose goal is constructing a gender-equal gaming culture for people in their teens and twenties. As part of the project, we held a forum called “‘Don’t Move!’ Arresting Misogyny in Games” for that age group, and we’re writing some pamphlets. In addition, we’re simultaneously making a website out of the Gaming World Misogyny Reporting Account. In short, we’re working hard on these projects with passion and heart as activists who want to raise awareness of misogyny in the Korean gaming world.
When I look back at our activities over the past two years, there’s a point at which I get lost in thought. This may be obvious, but people outside of our group only look at the results of our activism, not its process. To these people, we must look like we are moving very slowly. So I can’t help but wonder, “Are we creating noticeable change?” Famerz doesn’t have any members who do activism for a living. It is a small group of 10 or so feminists who are living as best they can and who have gathered to tell their stories and change their words into action.
But I believe in myself. I, who chose to face my fear of violence against women and be a part of this group, am becoming a spark that will ignite change through making my presence in the gaming world known and raising my voice in criticism of it. And the conversations I’ve had over the past two years about misogyny in the gaming world – I want to keep having them with my fellow activists.
So onward, until future female gamers enjoy playing without fear of misogyny! The other activists of Famerz and I will continue what we are doing and carry on the feminist movement in the gaming world.
When this project ends, Famerz is considering cranking the wheel of feminist activism just a little more slowly. We’ve been so busy doing feminist activism and basic life stuff that we haven’t been able to sit back and enjoy gaming - even though we’re called a feminist gamer organization. After we made the decision to slow down, the other activists and I all got very excited thinking about the game would play. We considered the release schedule and have planned out what we will play for roughly the next year. We are women who truly love games.
“Feminist female gamers, if we should meet in the gaming world, have fun playing games with us activists who are superfans of all types of games, whether board games, computer games, or console games. If you’re going to play, then (though winning would be nice, before that) enjoy it!”
Published Sept. 28, 2019
Translated by Marilyn Hook
Original article: http://ildaro.com/8558
◆ To see more English-language articles from Ilda, visit our English blog(https://ildaro.blogspot.com).
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