Tag Archives: Carolyn Petit

It’s Not Personal

Why do people take things so personally? Why are comments made by others internalized and dwelled on? Why do they cause some people to lash out? So much of the hubbub that’s taken place in the gaming community over the past months can be blamed on people just taking things so damn personally.

Why do we do this?

From LookHuman.com

From LookHuman.com

From a psychological standpoint, it’s because humans are egocentric animals. Some more than others. We think the world revolves around us. We think that what we deem good, worthy, or correct, should be that way for everyone. We like to be right. When someone else’s viewpoint or experience doesn’t line up with ours, they are wrong. They have some bias they aren’t overcoming, some emotional issue, some intellectual dishonesty. What’s important to me should be important to everyone. What I don’t care about or know about should be ignored.

Egocentrism (and maybe narcissism) turns Carolyn Petit’s otherwise glowing review of GTAV that docked it a single point for sexism and character inconsistencies into an outright attack on the people who love the game. Well, I loved this game and had no issues with it at all and if you disagree with me, the problem is you and you should never review a game again.

Egocentrism is what makes a person read an article suggesting that the small segment of the most negative and immature gamers, the outdated stereotype of a gamer, doesn’t need to be the audience that gets catered to; and take away the message that ALL gamers are fucking terrible people. That they are under attack. They think Leigh Alexander, a gamer herself, is not advocating for more and better gaming with a broader audience, she’s calling them an asshole. Prime example of egocentrism and likely an unhealthy dose of insecurity and lack of reading comprehension.

Those same things are the reason why someone can watch a series of clips taken directly from games and listen to Anita Sarkeesian say something like “…game creators aren’t necessarily all sitting around twirling their nefarious looking mustaches while consciously trying to figure out how to best misrepresent women as part of some grand conspiracy. Most probably just haven’t given much thought to the underlying messages their games are sending… engaging with these games is not going to magically transform players into raging sexists. We typically don’t have a monkey-see monkey-do, direct cause and effect relationship with the media we consume. Cultural influence works in much more subtle and complicated ways” (source) but hear “ALL games are sexist! Game developers are sexist! If you play games YOU ARE A MISOGYNIST! Games and gamers should be DESTROYED! AAHAHAHA /wailing of banshees /cha chinging of cash registers.”

No one is immune to taking things personally. I’m not. The difference is how you act on it.

I just watched Leigh Alexander’s talk on culture and though I found the talk great, she did say a thing or two that made me bristle. Near the end of her speech she mentions the AAA games and how they may not be worthy of the praise they get. We can do better. It put my back up a little. I like AAA games, I love my XBox. Don’t talk down on the things I like or say that meaningless fun isn’t worthwhile in a game. But what did I do? I didn’t immediately send her an angry tweet or record a 10-minute YouTube rant about how she should stay the hell out of my games, she doesn’t speak for me. I kept listening. I thought critically, considered those couple of sentences that rubbed me the wrong way in the context of the rest of her speech. I realized that her having different opinions on some of the things I like is not a personal attack.

I’ve obviously spent too much time in the wrong corners of the internet lately, but it’s just depressing how many people are so quick to take opinions that have nothing to do with them so personally. And rather than taking a second to calm down, contextualize, consider “does this opinion affect my life in any way?” they get defensive, which can quickly turn into offensive vehemence.

I sort of doubt anyone who reads my blog needs this advice (at least in this context), but please, just slow down, think, and don’t take things so personally.

Recommended Reading and Listening

It’s almost Christmas, and Dragon Age: Inquisition was my whole gaming life for a few weeks, so I think it’s time for some link love. I haven’t done this in a while. Here are some blogs, sites, and podcasts that I heartily recommend.

The Toast – One of the few non-gaming related sites on this list, The Toast is where I go when I need a laugh. Or a reason to have an evil smirk on my face (though I’m usually pretty good with coming up with my own reasons). The Toast does amazing things with classic works of literature and art, from dark rewrites of childhood favourites, to turning classic characters into dirtbags, to the fantastic Western Art History series. Also, amazingly for a larger site, it’s a place where it’s totally fine to read the comments.

Critical Distance aims to find all the great writing about games on the internet. Their This Week in Video Games feature is a great place to start if you want to find a good read and discover new blogs and writers.

A Game of Me is Carolyn Petit’s tumblr, where she writes a lot about video games and video games culture. Carolyn is a fantastic writer. Whether it’s a best of the year list, a quick piece of what games mean to her, or thoughts on the feminist agenda, I always find these posts worth reading.

Go Make Me a Sandwich focuses on sexist imagery used in geek spaces. Not just video games, but also tabletop, pen & paper, and comics. Some of my favourite posts involve criticism from an artist’s standpoint, and breaking down just how unrealistic and ridiculous the design of women’s bodies in games often are.

Podcasts

I only listen to a handful of podcasts, so I can recommend them all.

Justice Points is the podcast I’ve been listening to the longest. It’s a really great look at feminism and social justice in video games. Over the past year, Tzufit and Applecidermage have had some really amazing guests and have covered some topics that I don’t get to hear much about otherwise. Always worth a listen.

Cat Context features Liore, Arolaide, and Ellyndrial talking about the games they’re playing. They cover a wide variety of games and sometimes movies in a nice, short podcast. One thing I really enjoy is that the hosts don’t always agree, and the arguments are great to listen to. Aro in particular has a way of arguing that makes me feel like everything I once thought is wrong.

Isometric looks at video games from a different perspective, and these different perspectives are the highlight. Bri, Maddy, Georgia, and Steve all have wildly different tastes in games and it’s refreshing to hear about a game from many different sides at once. Occasionally too much time is spent on in-jokes, but it’s a very entertaining podcast and the hosts work really well together.

Less Than or Equal pursues equality in geekdom. Aleen Simms hosts a number of great guests who bring diversity to their chosen fields and hobbies. From the video game industry, to tabletop gaming, to books, Aleen and her guests bring something new to the table and give me things to think about.

Polygamer is a podcast I just recently discovered, that focuses on diversity and equality in video games. I’ve only listened to a couple episodes so far, but I think it’s going to be a mainstay in my podcast list. The conversations so far have been very frank and thought-inspiring.

I’d also recommend Contains Moderate Peril, though sadly they’ve just announced they’ll be ending the podcast soon. Still, if you’re not overly concerned about timely topics, the episodes are worth a listen.


 Do you have any recommendations for me?