I just had the best birthday ever. My wife bought me a Wii U and a copy of New Super Mario Bros. U, and I picked up a bunch of titles at my library to try out. All of a sudden, my home has become a gaming space. My wife is a fan of Paper Mario and Animal Crossing, so a new Nintendo system is certainly a welcome addition. Best of all, my soon-to-be-five year old daughter is really beginning to develop a love for video gaming. I’m so thrilled to be able to usher her into my favorite hobby; dreaming of a day when we can team up against a zombie horde or high-five over the ruins of an opposing team’s Ancient. I’m thrilled, but to be honest I’m also a little worried.
I’m not talking about violence in games or anything like that. I’m pretty conscientious about what she is exposed to, and she’s actually pretty self-censoring anyway which is to say she gets easily scared. She loves brushing Rapunzel’s hair in her Tangled game on the 3DS, she’s very excited for the upcoming Captain Toad, and lately she’s really been enjoying Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. We’ve been playing it one mission at a time each night; it’s become her de facto bedtime story.
No, what worries me isn’t video games, it’s the video game community. It’s certainly not a newsflash to anybody who is part of this world to say that the dark underbelly of video game fandom has been prominently on display these past few weeks. It’s certainly nothing new; this kind of hostility towards women in the video game industry is our dirty little secret. Yet it’s really come to a head in the past month or so, and it has definitely got me re-evaluating whether this is a safe space for my daughter to occupy.
Then again, there is no shortage of female role models in this industry. Hell, Twinfinite alone has nearly a half–dozen amazingly talented women representing. I think there are a ton of creative, kick-ass women out there playing, making, and writing about games, and it is only making this industry better. Furthermore, in spite of the loud voices on forums and social media, I do genuinely believe that the community-at-large of video game fans is as warm and inviting as any other.