Kotaku’s Sensationalist Exploitation of the Sexism in Gaming Debate

You might have heard about or even read an article recently posted on Kotaku, written by Patricia Hernandez, entitled Why Were There No Women Present At The Playstation 4 Event? Conveniently, its title essentially summarizes its content and purpose. I’d encourage you to read it, if only for context, even though doing so will provide the pageviews which I think they were hoping to court in response to its sensationalism. If you would rather not add to their ostensibly ill-gotten gains, don’t worry because I mean to address what is said and shown in the article a little further down the page.

To give some backstory: when I originally came across this article whilst browsing Kotaku, I reluctantly and very wearily clicked it. I’m not familiar with Patricia’s writings, but I’ve heard her name mentioned in conjunction with a growing trend of games writers who supposedly lace every other article with feministic rhetoric; whether this is the case or not, and in my ignorance I dared not give any credence to that suspicion, it was the only context that sprang to mind when I saw her authorship credited. Additionally, I had already heard some (unassociated) grumbling and grousing from a few people regarding there being no female presenters at Sony’s Playstation 4 reveal event and, considering this complaint a baseless one, I had spared it no more thought. So, when I saw this article title, I had hoped against hope that this would be an article either parodying the complaint in order to ridicule it or perhaps even objective reporting merely conveying that such controversy was taking place.

I was momentarily disappointed, but certainly not surprised, when I was greeted with neither.

So, let me describe what did greet me. Patricia begins by pointing out that there were no female presenters at the Playstation 4 event, and that some people are unhappy about it. An objective statement of fact. So far, so good. However, she then goes on to illustrate this point by posting a tweet, by somebody else, which says “No women in Sony’s #ps4 presser yet, because this is what Sony thinks they’re good for” accompanied by an image apparently from a PS Vita advertising campaign, in which a female’s corseted upper body is shown with a pair of breasts on either side of it coupled with the caption ‘TOUCH BOTH SIDES FOR ADDED ENJOYMENT’. This advertisement is undoubtedly not okay: it is a pretty inexcusable faux pas by Sony considering how easily it might reasonably be interpreted as objectifying women, portraying them as simply sexual objects. Sony has a long history of its advertising campaigns (which run the gamut of stupidity from implicit racism to animal cruelty to imagery suggestive of gamers being Nazi sympathizers) becoming embroiled in massive controversy, and it’s pretty indubitable that they intentionally utilize utter insensitivity and controversy baiting in order to gain attention – a tactic whose short-term gain of achieving a fraction more mind share is clearly enormously outweighed by the way it will negatively color public perception of the video game industry. Basically, if an argument was presented that this image is sexist, I’d certainly cede that it has considerable basis and merit, but is such an argument even relevant to the PS4 event? No. Is this tweet attempting to argue from one thing to another? Yes. Is choosing and highlighting this tweet’s image an appropriately unbiased way to set the tone for the yet to come fair and balanced reporting on the facts of the matter? No.

Moving on.

Patricia goes on to post nine further tweets decrying Sony’s all-male composition of presenters and thus its apparent sexism. Nine tweets all confirming that this was, in fact, a choice informed or motivated by sexism. Nine of them. Nine. Were these corroborators perhaps notable figures in the gaming industry to keep things relevant? No. Some of them appear to be involved in the game industry, whereas others just seem to be unrelated opinionated twitter users. Something tells me that these tweets were sourced from the writer’s own twitter feed, which, it should go without saying, is where all good journalists go fishing for leads or corroboration.

So now that we’ve seen a few Twitter users agreeing that the absence of women at Sony’s PS4 event constitutes blatant sexism, we can comfortably assume that theory’s validity, right? Well, no. Not at all. Well, can we at least extrapolate from this sample that there was essentially universal agreement on the point? Nope, that’s not even nearly the case. No, the writer has merely cherry-picked tweets that outrightly concur with the notion that Sony’s women-less presenter line-up is inarguably the result of overt sexism. This biased, one-sided reporting, in which only the proponents of one side of the argument are even shown to exist, is purposefully composed as to convey to the reader that there was universal consensus concerning Sony’s supposed sexism, which there, of course, was not – not even remotely so. This is conscious and unashamed deception on the writer’s part.

The decidedly one-sided article (or, if you will, the glorified slide show of unanimous tweets) is finished by saying that “[p]eople will notice if, like [at the PS4 event], there are no women presenters at your event. The question is whether or not that will change. I admittedly didn’t even notice there weren’t women presenters until someone else mentioned it, which probably says something about how used to situations like this we all are. Some won’t even bat an eyelash.” [The emphasis is mine.] The implication that some people “won’t even bat an eyelash” clearly suggests that something bad is going on, but people have become so complacent to it being so that they cease to even notice it.

So that’s the first article. It bears the pretense of a news story rather than an opinion piece, but goes about reporting on the situation by solely showing one side of the public reaction, and then letting you know that if you don’t concur, you’re part of the problem, part of the complacent masses who have turned a blind eye to this troubling issue. A Pulitzer prize winning instance of journalism it is not; but that may be fine, assuming that Patricia Hernandez doesn’t – and she shouldn’t – consider herself a journalist. This article’s presentation is undoubtedly biased and very misleading. Whether that bothers you as much as me will greatly depend on what standard you seek to hold games reporting to.

In response to the allegations of sexism that this article implicitly posits and endorses, there was a veritable eruption of vehement arguing back and forth in its comment section. A controversy, and resultant massive influx of pageviews, which Patricia was no doubt happily anticipating. Along with the expected trolling and ad hominem attacks, I couldn’t help but notice that, scanning them over, it seems that a lot of comments were written by people who had legitimately took issue with the implicit accusation and with Patricia’s apparently habitually unbalanced focus on issues of sexism in gaming.

To continue the backstory, I read this article and realized all of the above. I was mildly incensed by its misleading aspect and flimsy argument, and, in all honesty, briefly thought about writing a response to it. Of course, Patricia doesn’t say a whole lot about her stance on the issue, so I figured that, even though there’s a fair bit I could say about the allegation of sexism itself, there just wasn’t enough material from her to go on.

As I closed that article, with a bad taste in my mouth I might add, I somehow knew that there would soon be a follow-up article which would provide me with the lengthy opining I needed to source a rebuttal.

I was not, as it turns out, going to be disappointed.

The second article came two days later, penned by Patricia Hernandez again, and was entitled The Lack Of Women Presenters At The PS4 Event Is Bigger Than Sony. Once again, I’d encourage you to give it a read through, even though I’d prefer to deprive them of the clickthrough, but I will be describing it in great detail if you’d understandably rather not.

Patricia begins this second article by addressing the many unhappy – perhaps because she so grossly misrepresented them with her one-sided account of the reaction to Sony’s ‘sexism’ –  commenters on the previous article by mischaracterizing their argument: “The consensus on Wednesday’s post about the lack of women presenters at Sony’s PS4 event was rather uniform: there were no women at the PlayStation 4 reveal, because obviously there aren’t women in high positions and the project leads just happen to be male.” [The emphasis is mine, to show the mischaracterization seeing as most of the arguments she’s referring to actually posited that there weren’t many women in such high positions.] She then quotes a comment from the previous article.

She goes on to state “To add to that, a common perception seems to be that there aren’t women in high positions like the project leads that were featured, so that’s why it happened. That’s just the reality, some people said, while ignoring why things like that happen in the first place and what it has to do with gender.” [The emphasis is once again mine, and simply used to denote words she used to link to a blog post criticizing an EA employee’s comments about women in the games industry.]  Ignoring how she ‘subtly’ describes the argument in question as if a misinterpretation of the situation’s reality (both because it is “a common perception” and because it “[ignores] why things like that happen…”) and how her summary of it greatly oversimplifies the argument’s reasoning, Patricia, in linking to that blog post, resumes her attempts to portray opinion as fact by referencing other concurring opinions as reinforcement and in order to make it seem as though there is consensus on the issue.

Patricia subsequently posts several tweets of game developer Kellee Santiago (of PSN game Journey fame). The first of these tweets surmises this new entrant’s argument well: “There are women in high positions at Sony who were qualified to speak yesterday at or around the press conf. Sony chose not to show them.” Patricia, having shown that someone outside of the Sony executive structure presumes to know who those same people think (as it is entirely their prerogative) is ‘qualified’ to be a presenter at one of their events, then smugly writes “Hmm, that doesn’t quite gel with the common perception, does it?” Gee, you’re right, that speculation certainly doesn’t “gel” with the opposing speculation; you really might be on to something here.

Patricia, having reached out to Kellee for further comment, quotes her as having said: “The truth is, some percentage of the people that tuned in yesterday to get excited about the new console were women. And yet again, we were told “Not by you, not for you.” It feels like the industry should be past this by now, no?” Ignoring the fact that Kellee ridiculously presumes to be able to speak for ALL of the women watching this event (“we were told”), the idea that seeing a product presented by men could suggest to a female viewer that it was made solely by men and that it is not meant to be used by women is a bewilderingly absurd proposition. In fact, doesn’t such a proposition inherently insult the women watching the event? Doesn’t it presuppose that some women are so simple minded as to assume that such a small and clearly unrepresentative sample of employees can adequately, and precisely, represent the entire company’s employee composition? Is Kellee Santiago using hyperbole to distort the facts of the matter? To all three questions, an affirmative answer appears to be warranted.

The whole following section of the article is so especially confusing that I had to have a crack team of English Language PhDs spend an intensively focused fortnight in a top secret base just to decode its meaning: “[T]he conversation—for me at least—isn’t so much to say Sony or PS4 developers are sexist.” This about-face comment is so mystifyingly contradictory to everything Patricia has presented so far that it simply beggars belief. She then goes on to say “That’s an easily derailed conversation that will revolve around disputing what type of companies these are.” No, that’s an easily “derailed” (or rather, refuted) “conversation” (or rather, assertion) because there is absolutely no evidence that the event’s all-male presenter composition was the result of sexist ideology or decision making on the part of Sony. That there were no women is not in itself, no matter how much disparity is present in how disproportionately it reflects the larger ratio of male to female employees or gamers, proof that such an absence was motivated by sexism. Nor, for that matter, would the entire body of employees which Sony maintains being male represent, in itself, direct evidence of sexism. These things could simply be (admittedly unlikely) coincidences. You could argue that although the event’s absence of women doesn’t definitively represent proof of Sony’s sexism, it still, most likely, signifies it, but this would also be an entirely baseless claim reliant on a veritable matchstick foundation of assumptions, and the circumstantial evidence it derives its conclusion of probability from is of very questionable significance and validity at best. Unless you can prove that a man was chosen over a women to present at that event, that they both possessed all of the requisite credentials to do so and that the decision was definitely motivated by sexism, there is absolutely no proof to substantiate this proposition. So, well done. Well done for attempting to distance yourself from the failing argument you are clearly proposing, that is obviously the exact focus of this controversy, in light of the likely quite troubling fact that it is both unsupported by any direct evidence and an unfounded allegation potentially bordering on libel.

Next Patricia reiterates the fact that “[t]here were no women presenters… the reality remains the same: there were no women presenters and it wasn’t for a lack of having women executives.” [Her emphasis] It’s hard to respond to this because no actual points are made. Despite apparently not arguing that Sony are sexist, she wants to make it abundantly clear that they chose (for some unknown reason) not to feature their female executives as presenters. Yes there were no female presenters, and yes there were probably female executives who might have been appropriate choices to act as presenters, but there is still no actual evidence that these women were not chosen simply because of their gender. The circumstantial evidence can certainly lead some people to believe so, but it signifies very little, and proves absolutely nothing concrete.

Then comes this additional pearl of completely baffling backpedaling: “Noticing this fact isn’t a call for affirmative action, and it’s not about getting enraged about sexism.” Really? Because it seems, objectively, as though that is undeniably the case. It is a call for affirmative action because despite there being no evidence to suggest that Sony neglected to feature female execs because of their gender, you, and your fellow proponents, seem to think that they still ought to have featured them, for some reason. Perhaps because it would be more representative of the composition of the company, or of the gaming public? If that’s the case then you’re essentially arguing that Sony ought to have opted for token female presenters, simply because they are female, in order to appease some people’s misguided advocacy for gender representativeness. Also, it’s not about “getting enraged about sexism”? I think that this part bespeaks an insultingly low approximation of the reader’s intelligence. You didn’t post these articles anticipating and hoping that they would cause controversy and net a massive influx of readers, comments and pageviews? Please. I think otherwise. And I doubt that anyone else will be fooled. You are not a guileless champion of gender rights, rallying against sexism; you are a writer for a popular website who appears to be sensationally espousing uninformed opinions, conveying them as though factual, and hoping to bag as many pageviews and as much exposure as possible. Don’t insult the reader’s intelligence by believing that you could somehow deceive them into thinking otherwise – how dare you.

So, now we know what this is not about, what is it actually about? Well “[i]t’s about opening up a conversation as to why this happens at events like the PS4 unveil—perhaps, to talk about women in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) and the issues they face.” Well, of course it is. Why not. It’s certainly not about relevance, about fully explaining or evidencing your argument about one thing before leapfrogging to a different one anyway. But please ignore my interruptions concerning silly requirements of a logical structure to your argument, pray continue: “Because whether or not there are some women working in these fields, there still aren’t enough, and it’s an issue.” There still “aren’t enough women” in STEM fields? Is there a fixed number of such women that there ought to be? Perhaps a proportion slavishly and arbitrarily dictated by consideration of the ratio of women to men in society at large? This is not about affirmative action you say? I see… Are you even going to provide any evidence to show that there “aren’t enough” (whatever that ambiguous appraisal means) women in STEM fields? Evidence that shows that women qualified in STEM fields are refused positions they are perfectly qualified for solely because of their gender? No. I thought not. A trend is emerging: you don’t like to back up your assertions with evidence or facts do you?

There are entire programs created by educational institutions and the government to get more women in these fields-because yes, it’s a problem.” That sure does prove that it is a ‘problem’. When someone purports to fix a ‘problem’ it must certainly be existent, right? “EDIT: including programs made by Sony itself, yes.” Thanks for deigning to point out that little fact after a commenter pointed out that “Sony has had a successful scholarship program, since 2008, that rewards $10,000 and an internship to women interested in the video gaming industry [called the] Sony G.I.R.L. (Gamers In Real Life) scholarship program“. Thanks for doing the requisite research Patricia. Whilst this revelation doesn’t, in any way, prove that Sony isn’t sexist, it signifies it in the same way that the PS4 event being female-less proves that they are. No, better to omit that little incongruent fact, and post, what, 9 tweets unanimously confirming the theory of their sexist tendencies.

Get ready for some paltry pretenses of evidencing. “There are fewer women in these field than men, and they earn less, to boot. Recent years have seen a decline in female representation, according to a survey Harvey Nash.” [The emphasis is mine, and used to denote links.] The first link is a U.S. Department of Commerce document describing the “Gender Gap” in STEM fields; of course, nowhere does it show that this is caused (solely or otherwise) by sexist discrimination. The second is a Forbes article commenting on a survey (READ: anecdotal evidence) concerning the underrepresentation of females in CIO (Chief Information Officer) positions. Neither proves that the underrepresentation of women in the fields their examination pertains to is due, even in part, to sexism, just that the underrepresentation exists. Also, neither is particularly relevant. So congrats Patricia, you’ve managed to link to certain examples of evidence which suggest that by certain understandings of the term ‘underrepresentation’, some fields are ‘underrepresented’ by women.

We reach the end of the article now, where Patricia quotes the aforementioned Department of Commerce document and its hypothesis about the factors that might influence the ‘underrepresentation’ of women in STEM fields, all of which are supremely devalued by the telling flight-by-night disclaimer “[T]his report does not and cannot explain why gender differences in STEM exist“. She cherry-picks the “crucial” factor of “a lack of role-models” and then, inexplicably, tries to shoehorn in a lazy conclusion where she ties this all back to Sony, uh, somehow: “And as the PS4 event shows us, the role models that do exist? They’re less visible thanks both to smaller numbers, and in some ways, outright erasure. Because what else would you call wrongly saying there are no women in high positions in game development except erasure?” Four things jump out at me here and I must humbly ask you to bear with me as I go about elucidating them all. Firstly, of course someone would be wrong when you thoroughly and intentionally mischaracterize their argument as the assertion that there are NO women in such high positions. Secondly, I thought this was bigger than Sony, so why must the macrocosmic importance of gender disparity in STEM fields be tied back to their supposed sexism? Thirdly, Patricia, are you proposing that Sony ought to have featured female presenters due to a roundabout obligation they have to exhibit female role models in order to inspire female STEM majors and thus somehow rectify the apparent ‘underrepresentation’ of women in that field? Even though your reasoning and wording leads me to this conclusion, it’s so indefensibly, absurdly ridiculous that I’m actually inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt by assuming this is not the case. Lastly, and crucially, you say that Sony’s female ‘role models’ (e.g. female execs that might have been presenters, for those of you understandably lost in Patricia’s unwieldy chain of logic) are “less visible” (e.g. kept behind the scenes) because of “in some ways, outright erasure”; if these women, as you continually posit in varying levels of explicitness, have suffered “erasure”, have intentionally been prevented from acting as presenters, solely because of their gender, it would constitute an instance of sexism by Sony, and yet you said earlier that this conversation, for you, wasn’t about accusing Sony of sexism.

Following this second article, another civil war of comment infighting occurred and it once again became overwhelmed with over-emotional verbal sparring between resolutely opinionated proponents and detractors of Patricia’s argument. Despite Patricia’s transparent and clumsy attempt to distance her failing argument away from the issue of Sony’s possible sexism, the commenters were not dissuaded from discussing it, as it is clearly the actual point in contention.

I noted a problem with these comments that was also present in the first article’s even greater mass of comments. This problem revolves around the fact that there were equally fallacious and facetious generalizations made on both sides of the argument as to what kind of person essentially comprised their opposition. The group of people who agreed with Patricia’s sentiments about Sony’s sexist tendencies were often characterized as being so-called ‘white knights’: a term coined to describe men who defend women embroiled in some sort of controversy either in hopes of courting their gratitude and/or affection in response or merely to impress upon other women their apparent chivalry. Their remainder who couldn’t fit this description (because, presumably, they were female) were frequently characterized as irrational, angry feminists whose blind hatred for men meant they weren’t to be taken seriously. Whereas, the people who disagreed were characterized as being maladjusted, socially inept and angry young men with an irrationally inexorable resentment for women probably caused by their still intact virginity.

So, yes, there was petty mudslinging all around in the form of these laughable mischaracterizations – or rather appeals to ridicule meant to discredit the opposition – which represent the sort of immature foolishness that has no place in this argument.

However, something else caught my eye in the comments. Stephen Totilo, Editor-In-Chief of Kotaku, decided to throw in his weighty two cents on the issue. You see, a lot of the commenters angrily reviling Patricia’s articles also stated that they would cease browsing Kotaku permanently in response to them. This wasn’t one or two disgruntled and histrionic commenters either, this was a considerable number of them. This is also a sentiment which I have seen echoed in commentary on this story from users of other sites. Totilo, however, does not look kindly on this potential exodus of a sizable portion of his site’s readership, not kindly at all: “Go ahead and call me a white knight, but those of you who enjoy attacking Patricia–who can’t be bothered to read her articles or tolerate her opinion or respond to what she writes about in a civil, intelligent manner–are not part of any community I want on this site. To those wishing she would leave, she’s not leaving. But I hope you leave. I won’t miss you.” So, ol’ Totilo is glad to see these readers go. He hopes they leave actually. Still, he can’t help but mischaractectize their argument whilst expressing this sentiment of ‘good riddance’. Most of the comments I saw where people were complaining about the articles and claiming that their days of reading Kotaku were over actually stated that they took issue with the sensationalist ‘click-baiting’ more than anything – being unwilling to “tolerate her opinion” had nothing to do with it. These rational objections to the actual nature of the article’s purpose were – this is the internet of course – juxtaposed with a handful of trolls and idiots spouting the expected misogynist rhetoric, which is, needless to say, completely separate and completely unacceptable.

No, Totilo wants a mature and uncensored dialogue: “But to those who want to agree or disagree with her articles in nuanced, smart, clever, funny, interesting way… keep it up. I don’t look for uniformity in the voices of Kotaku’s writers, and I’m pleased to see a diversity of opinion among the readership.” This champion of conversation, this defender of debate, this friend of free speech seeks to encourage openness and diversity, to – no, wait, this is the same Kotaku head honcho who, when the Lauren Wainwright scandal hit late last year, and despite being earnestly beseeched by his readership, said that it didn’t warrant discussing, that it was a non-issue, and that he would rather focus on real games industry reporting (for example, a concurrently featured Halo 4 unboxing). In point of fact, he’s not exactly an exemplar of journalistic integrity or open discussion.

Kotaku, you see, has been sustaining an ever-growing number of detractors who decry, what they describe as, its increasingly dumbed down, sensationalistic and ‘click-baiting’ nature. It’s an explicitly articulated sentiment which I see all the time whenever Kotaku is mentioned or linked to somewhere where such discussion may take place. In a more general sense, people routinely deride the Gawker network of sites, which Kotaku is part of, for precisely the same reason. In fact, I’m a little surprised that these articles weren’t part of some sort of cross-site participatory collaboration between Kotaku and its cousin, itself an exemplar of the poisonous radicalization of and capitalization upon misguided feminism, Jezebel (I debated linking to it, but I couldn’t in good conscience do so, and I would STRONGLY suggest you not support it by giving it the pageviews if you can help it). All in all, I’ve never been party to this fervently unabated hatred for the Gawker network or Kotaku. I actually thoroughly respected and habitually frequented Kotaku back when Brian Crecente and Luke Smith called it home and went about noticeably moving the needle when it comes to video game coverage. Since their departure, and after a very long stint of mediocrity, I think that its editorial output has slowly, but very distinctly, deteriorated in quality, moving ever closer towards abject and shameless sensationalism. In recent times, I still occasionally visited it, in blind optimism for a return to previous glory, mostly for features, but, with the notable exception of its much lauded, in-depth and insightful piece on Silicon Knights’ downfall, I have only been greeted with the kind of sensationalist article titles and content which even an editor for a low-rate celebrity tabloid would raise a quizzical eyebrow at. His response to those critical of these articles is merely the latest entry in the lengthy saga of Totilo arrogantly refusing to heed his readership’s disdain for Kotaku’s sensationalism. This pigheadedness, to keep some perspective, does not exactly represent reaching a new point of unscrupulousness, but it is simply the straw that broke the camel’s back for me and (evidently) many, many others. This exodus of discerning readers probably won’t change anything of course: Totilo will up the ante of his sensationalist agenda and recoup his site’s losses with a new influx of incidental or curious clickthroughs borne out of what I consider to be his carefully cultivated brand of melodramatic and hyperbolic articles.

The reason why I took such great umbrage with these articles in particular (though believe me, it’s not the first time that a Kotaku article’s disgraceful mimicry of games journalism has made me want to write 5000 words in response) is because the site’s normal brand of sensationalism is, whilst questionable in terms of journalistic ethics, essentially mostly harmless when ignored, but now they, through Patricia Hernandez, mean to up the attention seeking ante by accusing people of being sexist, with only circumstantial evidence to back it up, and a line is clearly being crossed. When you make accusations of that sort – whether true or not, or even evidenced or not – you can detrimentally affect somebody’s professional, social and personal life and that’s totally unacceptable, and certainly enough to rile up any conscientious person.

You see, in penning this sort of silly article, Patricia has allowed herself to be counted amongst a new wave of crusaders against sexism, who like to label themselves ‘feminists’. This new wave of ‘feminists’ believe that they are actively making a difference in the global fight against sexism by making effortless gestures like, say, emphatically retweeting a particularly incensed tweet about a perceived instance of misogyny or liking a friend’s self-righteous post about the tyranny of societal patriarchy on Facebook. They seize upon every opportunity to be indignantly offended by the supposedly sexist transgressions of men they encounter, like complaining about being “sexualized” when asked out for coffee in an elevator. Or, for example, they pen two whole articles based on the flimsy assumption that Sony might have exercised sexism in choosing their presenters for a particular event, expending the potentially valuable and productive reach of their site’s popularity in the most trivial way possible. They do this, of course, whilst sex slavery, gender segregation, arranged marriages, female genital mutilation, constraints on female sexuality and reproduction, the stoning of females guilty of “adultery”, laws forbidding women from being outside without a male guardian or voting or driving or dressing as to expose any part of their body, et cetera continued unabated. It is in this way that they thoroughly degrade the struggle against actual sexism.

I imagine that the instant response will be ‘well, no matter big or small, shouldn’t we be fighting sexism in all its forms and in anyway possible, no matter how small the effort required?’ Absolutely. Sexism is abhorrent in all its forms, but I think that prioritizing is severely in order here: the most egregious examples of it should undoubtedly be tackled first. So if you’ve already expended great effort to fight the most terrible examples of systematic, dehumanizing sexism (e.g. the many, many actual human rights violations), sure, go ahead, array all the indignant, self-righteous ire you can muster at Sony’s possible sexist tendencies and let loose without hesitation. However, somehow, I don’t think that this is the case.

If you care about the struggle against actual sexism, you should shun the half-hearted, mealymouthed efforts of ‘feminists’ like Patricia Hernandez because they debase it without remorse. If you care about reading good games writing, you shouldn’t accept the sensationalist tripe that Stephen Totilo and Patricia Hernandez would unashamedly have you swallow in its place. Either way, you deserve better.

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  1. This article is frustratingly verbose. You seem to be more interested in slamming the Kotaku writer rather than remediating her journalistic failings or rebutting her admittedly feminist perspective on the gender landscape of the industry. This was an opportunity for you, Mr. Finch, to demonstrate how to approach this topic neutrally and with journalistic etiquette but you’ve done no better than Hernandez. It’s hard to imagine why you spent such a great amount of time to compose these many, many paragraphs only to achieve so very little.

  2. hopdaddy

    Thank you for the kind words. I agree that by diverting focus onto such trivial and baseless matters, she’s damaging the efforts of other feminists.


    I didn’t say that image was sexist, just that I could potentially see some merit in such an argument. I also don’t assume (or assert) that Sony is sexist against women, and that image was “cherry-pick[ed]” by the tweeter who posted it. I just commented on it because it was part of Patricia’s article.


    Honestly, I don’t understand the complaint (which I’ve seen in other discussion about this piece) that I’m verbose. Aiming to be as concise as possible is a worthwhile and justified goal when writing a news story or the like, but this is an opinion piece. Though I meant to point out the logical flaws in Patricia’s argument using objective criticism, I also meant to entertainingly convey my opinion on the matter during the rest of the article. That’s what this article was mainly intended to be, entertaining. Whether you found it to be is another matter, but I didn’t intend to be succinct and unbiased in pointing out my problems with her argument because I think that pointless: if you’ve read her articles, you’ve most likely already come to your own conclusion as to whether she’s right or wrong, and I don’t presume to be able to persuade you otherwise. I just mean to explain my problems with her articles and my opinion about them in a way that is enjoyable to read. I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything, I’m just trying to write something that the reader will enjoy reading – even if that means they love to hate my opinion.

    I understand that some people may not like my particular style of writing, and that’s fine, but there’s certainly nothing artificial about it. When I write, I do not ever use a thesaurus to over-inflate my vocabulary; since I was a young teenager practicing my writing, I knew that to be a foolish substitute for genuinely expansive diction which only dilutes the voice of your writing. Maybe a cursory glance at one piece of my writing could suggest that I do so, but I don’t think it could seem like the case when you look at a larger sample of my writing and observe the unerring consistency in how I write. The vocabulary I have coming into writing an article is the one I use.

    Additionally, most people who complain about so-called thesaurusitis, I think it’s fair to say, are often just immaturely irritated or threatened at having encountered unfamiliar words, and would seemingly prefer that the author somehow mystically cater to the exact specification and limits of their own vocabulary. When I’m reading something and I encounter an unfamiliar word, I don’t begrudge the author for having used it: it’s not the author’s responsibility to only use the words that a reader will know, they ought to search the words they know and use whichever one they believe best describes or expresses their idea (which is what I try to do). I think that the reader should consider it their own onus to be willing to expand their vocabulary to accommodate the use of unfamiliar words – besides, how else would you ever discover new words?

  3. I have to admit that the quality of this article went from “piss-poor” to “brilliant” very quickly. You fumbled trying to explain the PS4 conference “sexism” debate, and I think you seemed to be somewhat overcompensating verbally.

    Yet your analysis of kotaku’s and jezebel’s unabashed journalistic recklessness was very sharp, I think. Still, I can’t help but suggest that perhaps “Gawker” Media is a little more self-aware (and cynical) about what it does and what its aims are. I suppose one can consider this an offense equal to ignorance, though – and it doesn’t make the potential for chaotic growth of these impassioned, half-baked socially critical ideas any less worrisome, especially considering the impressionable readership.

  4. @annathebot:

    You complain about sexism, yet then go on to degrade males? Your hypocrisy is the cornerstone of misguided feminism and is completely illogical. True feminists want equality and equity, not superiority. You’re a cliche ignorant feminazi(someone who perverts feminism to their own view for gain) who had a weak father and that caused you to internalize an illogical hatred of men. You’re a petulant and pathetic human.

  5. Hey, man. I got a link to your article on 4chan, nice job. Very well-worded, a good read. I used to frequent Kotaku years ago but rapidly felt like it had become a shadow of its former self, and Patricia, I think, is a symbol of this change.

    I dunno, I think that for a while video games existed in a sort of bubble away from modern issues like equal rights and political ideals. However that’s not to say people’s beliefs and concepts weren’t a part of it. Everything from Final Fantasy to Command and Conquer has been able to add a little something to think about, but it hasn’t been pressured to. You don’t HAVE to have a game dealing with things like that. Or at least, you didn’t.

    These days it feels like everything is being torn apart at the creative roots and stuffed full of outside opinions, or gutted and turned into a shell for someone’s ideas. And now it’s turned into how the people who make games are somehow at fault. I just… It’s an industry, not a religion. There’s no real blocks for women to enter the industry, it’s just that guys play videogames and to computer stuff more than them. Women are welcome to create stuff they want to play but they should butt heads with the rest of the staff. Men and women should work together not as genders but as developing teams and cater to their market while still challenging them. And that’s exactly what happens, a few companies (cough bioware cough) excluded. The modern industry is producing some very nicely-written titles.

    So why is there this massive parasite-like crowd of internet feminist journalists who constantly pick at any tender spot they can find? I honestly don’t believe it’s about seeking attention or just pageviews, I think it has more to do with a misguided sense of social justice, in that they see something that needs to be “fixed” so they can slot it in with other issues of varying importance. The problem is that this is still something that from what, 2006? was mostly a market for men with a few girls who were into that sort of thing. Suddenly there’s this crowing that videogames have to cater to the needs of a minority. That would be fine if it meant creating new products to target this minority, which does happen and that’s cool. But there’s plenty of guys who just want to shoot stuff with guns, and I don’t think this needless crowing does anything but irritate developers, gamers, and everyone else who is sensible.

    Ultimately it just feels like hot air, you know?If you want to change things, you start by doing, not talking. Get into the industry, work hard, produce games targeted at women if you genuinely think that is what’s needed. The consumers vote with their wallets, but having a nice variety of titles is the best for a healthy industry. What you shouldn’t do is sit on the sidelines and throw stones. That doesn’t help anyone.

    Sorry if I sounded sexist, btw

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