Yesterday I found the most appalling, gross article I read in a long time. I’m not going to link, because they don’t deserve our clicks. A gaming website thought it appropriate to dedicate a feature to women in game journalism. It sounds great, but it wasn’t. Because how were these ladies ranked? Based on good looks, sassiness and sex appeal. Good lord. God forbids we would highlight a marginalised group for their actual merits, right? Women don’t always have it easy in the world of videogames and videogame journalism. The last thing we need is a bunch of dudes discussing which one is the sexiest.
“Oh but are we not allowed to find people attractive?” I hear you think. “Don’t these women enjoy to feel sexy?” And I say: absolutely. There’s nothing wrong with finding someone pretty. But in a world where women still have to battle to be recognised and taken seriously as game critics, it’s nothing but degrading and harmful to reduce them to nothing but a pretty face again.
The whole thing reminded me of an issue that Felicia Day wrote about a couple of years ago. Felicia decided to trim her hair to a pixie cut. Many of her fans liked it, many others didn’t. Felicia received a lot of messages saying “I’m not watching your videos again until you grow your hair back.” She described this as particularly hurtful. Because it basically meant: “I don’t care for what you have to say, for the hard work you put in your videos. I’m just here to look at you.”
I got so pissed off at this nonsense that I decided to put together my own selection of great women in video game journalism. Is this list complete? No far from it! There are so many fantastic women critics out there, and they deserve our support for the great content they provide. Here’s just a few whose work I really enjoy.
Formerly a face you could regularly see pop up on your Xbox One dashboard, Kate now is a self proclaimed ‘video lady’ at Gamespot. As part of the Xbox team she would often introduce us to upcoming games or goof around with co-star Graeme Boyd in her trademark dead pan British style. Kate is a chipper, dry witted person that adds a flavour of humour and positivity to the Gamespot team. That’s what I enjoy most about her style, she reminds us that games are, y’know, fun. But don’t let the light hearted style make you think she hasn’t anything meaningful to say. She has a sound opinion on things and you definitely want to follow her on Twitter. Kate also does the Toku Podcast with freelance journalist Holly Nielsen.
As critic for Gamespot, Carolyn made headlines when she dared to give Grand Thef Auto 5 less than a perfect score. Angry gamers demanded her resignation because she called the game “politically muddled and profoundly misogynistic” – the fact that her review still handed the game a 9/10 and praised it for a great many things was largely overlooked. To me she is a hero. It takes courage to take on one of the most popular games ever, and call it out for its flaws. Carolyn is a master at detaching the emotional bond we have with games from analysing the moral complexities of their narrative. She currently works with Anita Sarkeesian and reviews games for the YouTube channel of Feminist Frequency.
You can follow Carolyn on Twitter.
Kotaku did the best thing imaginable and recruited Keza (then IGN) to lead their UK branch and build their British website from the ground up.
She is a well opinionated, outspoken person with a background in languages and a ton of experience in entertainment journalism. Often you can find profoundly written, well thought out editorials from her hand on Kotaku UK. MacDonald is also writing a book about Dark Souls.
This is a familiar name for readers of the US version of Kotaku. As senior writer Patricia takes care of many every day news reports and background articles. She is not shy of controversial subjects and has worked on pieces about porn machinimas, the allegedly homophobic joke in Far Cry Blood Dragon, and nude mods for Bethesda games. Patricia has a typical, straight forward, no-nonsense style and can reflect on herself and people she’ll disagree with. Her writings are a perfect example of taking game journalism to a higher level and explore the social and cultural impact of their themes.
As editor at IGN you often read about her thoughts on games and movies on their Australian website. She writes solid, sound reviews with a typical sobering realism. She doesn’t fall for hypes and dogmas. With a dash of self deprecating humour and a sharp tongue when it comes to bullshit, Lucy is a delight to read; both her work on the IGN website as her personal thoughts on Twitter.
I would love to hear your comments, tips on who else’s work I need to read and how else we can work together to make things better for women in the video game world.