I’m about to tell you a story about videogames, kitchens, and internet forums that has a happy ending. Stop laughing, I’m serious.
What happened here has never happened to me before in my life, or to any other woman I have ever heard of, so listen up. Listen well all of you. If you’re a Game Dev or you moderate an internet community, or you’re a bunch of women who know how this usually plays out–no matter who the hell you are I promise you that you’ve never seen this before.
As you well know, I recently beat the ever-loving bizzle out of Lord Dredmor the hardest way ever (pre-Wizardlands expansion), and these kinds of things (ie: beating a roguelike at all) don’t happen every day, so I visited a number of forums to see if I was really a badass or if maybe everyone already did this. Apparently, no, they had not. It was awesome to be called a badass so many times in one day. This was the greatest feeling ever, and a fine welcome after my long days of dying every time I play a roguelike. I wanted to know and interact with everyone else who loved Dredmor as much as I do. I wanted to be among my people and rejoice.
As you also might have noticed, this took a foul turn. What happened is documented in the link there but essentially my first day on the forums I was told to return to the kitchen, in what must have been what guys who don’t know any women think is a normal activity for us.
I was really glad when shortly after my post went up I saw a supportive comment on my blog from the forum moderator. Friends, this is highly unusual. For those who don’t know, in the best-case scenario, here’s how forum moderation normally plays out:
Human Female: Hey all, I’m here and I play this and I’m not putting effort into hiding my gender for some reason.
Human Forum members: Oh, Hi! How can you play that in the kitchen?
Human Moderator: Ok, that guy is banned, let’s never speak of this again alright?
This sucks because now the problem is made invisible. The only good thing is we don’t have to look at those words anymore, but nothing about this feels like justice, inclusion, or problem-solving. Further, a lot of times garbage talk is not moderated, even on forums with moderators, because there’s this idiot idea that if we say stuff like “That’s just the internet” it will all go away and be okay again. But it’s weird because then you look at your forum and the only people there are guys who are wicked good at making kitchen jokes. I guess women just don’t play games?
The next thing that happened was a developer at Gaslamp Games named David Baumgart did exactly what has always been needed. He didn’t tweet anything, he didn’t write a singe-y blog post, he didn’t spew inflammatory angershouts, he didn’t silence me, he said this instead:
And you know, this response was perfect. I had no desire for Kitchen Joker to be banned. In general, I sincerely want us all to get along, but the price for peace should never be your invalidation as a human for no good reason. By now, we know that’s what it means when the jokes aren’t stopped. One person told me that instead of my awesome reply I should have said nothing to the Kitchen Joker and just asked the mods to ban him. No. Because if he’s a good guy and just didn’t know, maybe he will learn from this. Rather than kicking out all the guys who say stuff we don’t like why not see if they can unlearn the dumb things they think so we can all play together? Otherwise they’ll just collect somewhere else I want to post on the internet and continue annoying me there. We have to make a social change that says no. And sometimes we have to do it with “your mom” jokes.
So I was trotting along pretty happy at finally getting to be just a person at last on the Gaslamp Forums, thinking after the temp ban Kitchen Joker would just flutter off and find a better place to call home or (ideally) come back renewed with understanding that the internet isn’t just for making dumb jokes all day toward women. I logged in to see if the new hotfix for Dredmor was up and I saw this PM conversation:
When I saw this my first reaction will not come off as good feminism. Remember folks, my whole life as a female I’ve been actively trained to make nice, keep people happy, and when they are unhappy FIX IT even if they’re just upsetting themselves because they were jerks and someone said NO MORE JERKS. My Wishful Brain’s programming still booted up and pulled this out: “Awww, how NICE! He wants us to be friends, he must be so sorry, I mean, he SAYS he’s sorry, right?” Goodness. Well I am an autonomous beast so I’ve spent a lot of time reprogramming myself so my Smart Brain turned on. It was like: “You: Wishful Brain, you’re being stupid again. PAY ATTENTION. He says all this stuff about being sorry, but I think he says a lot more about the situation being overblown because his intentions were harmless. He cares more about looking good than he does about how you feel. BULLSHIT ALERT.” Cue the claxons.
(PS: in my head claxons sound like Nyan Cat.)
I was agast.
Cold tears formed in my eyes and I thought to myself what I would reply. Would I say, “Hey, this is probably something you should spend time learning about. And I don’t plan on being your friend. Ideally, you should not have contacted me just because you decided your NEED to look good and feel like a Good Guy was more important than my comfort. Next time you’re careless with women try to consider that your needs aren’t better than theirs.” Indeed, I was planning an intelligent yet compassionate response. How proud you must be, Mom.
BUT WAIT! I didn’t have to write fuckall.
I logged in today (again to check for a delicious hotfix) and I didn’t have to tell this Kitchen Joker anything. Developer DAVID BAUMGART beat me to it:
I want to say thank you to David Baumgart, to “Daynab” the forum mod, and to all the future men of the Gaslamp Games forum. I want to welcome all women who enjoy being badasses to play Dungeons of Dredmor, possibly the least sexist game in the world, made by the most inclusive developers known. (And in my opinion, a very fun Roguelike)
I also want to say to all of you who want a better games community, here it is. To those who wanted to see things done right, there you have it. I can’t say anymore. This is sincerely, tear-inducingly the best thing that has ever happened to me in the world of games. If you’re reading this and you have no idea why I feel like that, please avail yourself of the hundred years of thought that has been done on the subject of women, feminism, sexism, and see if you can’t learn. This isn’t some opinion, it’s a truth you can understand and it should count as an achievement.