Yesterday at Microsoft’s Xbox One E3 press conference, a man and a woman demonstrated a new fighting game, Killer Instinct. The man, a producer on the game and so therefore winning easily, tells the woman at the :27 mark to "Just let it happen, it'll be over soon."
So, that thinly-veiled rape joke might upset you and it might not (it made me cringe something awful), but when combined with the gaming industry's shittiness toward women, and the fact that not one game with a woman protagonist was released at the conference, it points to a much larger issue.
At the conference, Feminist Frequency pointed out the very real issue of MIA women characters:
In response, they received all sorts of charming replies. And by charming replies, I mean over 50 heartbreakingly and infuriatingly common "shut up, cunt" tweets:
But, perhaps most upsetting of all are the tweets like this:
And that's the thing that the people who make the games — and the people who present at these gaming conferences — need to think about it. Because they're most likely not coming from a place of "women characters blow!" and "rape jokes are hilarious!", but some of the (very vocal) people who watch them are.
Andrew Ti tackled a somewhat similar issue with race satire over at Grantland. Writing about the use of blackface in modern comedy, he says the issue isn't with the people who get the joke — it's with the ones who don't.
Most people who see it understand the message, but — surprise, surprise — some people are stupid as fuck.
Feminist Frequency has 50 tweets that prove this fact. The idiots of the world will take the lack of lady characters and staged trash talk like "Just let it happen, it'll be over soon," and see it as permission to exclude and diminish women. To them, it paints one big picture of BOYZ ONLY — and worse, women are less than. That all adds up to a world where it's okay to casually threaten to rape a woman on twitter. In fact, it's the same thing with rape jokes — comedians might think their audience understands how witty (they think) they're being, but odds are plenty of people leave thinking "haha rape is funny!"
This is not a world in which women are welcome, and no amount of saying "If you want a game with a female protagonist, make one yourself!" is helping — because why on Earth would a lady want to walk into that world? Don't get me wrong, some do, but they deal with a lot of shit.
If companies like Microsoft don't start changing things from the top down — ensuring that women are heavily involved and represented in their games and explicitly condemning trash talk that refers to rape — then the shitty status quo will remain.