The Sexism Problem Gaming Won’t Let Go

You have likely heard of the controversy involving Elias Viglione. The indie developer of Hero Siege recently went on a sexist rant on Twitter that lead to a huge backlash from the gaming community. The kerfuffle led Elias to release an apology that blamed his sexism on, among other things, being drunk and having temperament issues. However, the fact that he went on this tirade at all suggests he believes he could get away with those sentiments. This shines a light on a problem embedded within the industry.

A screenshot of his tweets, which shows him insinutating women are not fit for the game's industry

Systemic Sexism

It’s been four years since GamerGate rose from the darker corners of gaming, and nearly two since it seemed to morph into more subtle ‘right-leaning’ opinions. This has left many to believe that those sentiments have mostly left the industry. However, that is not the case. Female Twitch streamers, game developers, and everyone in between still receive harassment for being “fake geek girls”. So when someone as entrenched in the industry as a game developer makes these kinds of comments, it can be quite damaging.

It’s not that Elias went on a rant for a bit and then released a half-assed apology; he voiced the dated, trite, and sexist opinions that are held by a large group of gamers. People that are (or were) respected within the industry saying things like this validates the opinions of sexist gamers. Individuals who then go on to carry those ideas into the games they play and the communities they are a part of.

Many gamers have become predisposed to thinking that their past time is exclusively for them, and some will even lash out when anybody else tries to interact with it. I personally know women who are apprehensive about taking their skills into video game production, because it can be so toxic and sexist at times. Keeping sentiments like this alive is what keeps good people from realizing their passion and making the industry a better place. Saying women don’t have what it takes to be CEOs is not only sexist but is genuinely damaging to those trying to break into the industry.

The apology that Elias released, which reads "I was recently in an argument about 50 game compames In Germany havlng no female CEO's and I came out pretty wrong with my words with my words which offended a lot of people. I also did get heated and angry as I do have some temperament issues. On top of that I was drunk which shouldn't be an excuse for anything but it is what it is. I love making games and I embrace people of every gender, age, and social status who also love it to do it. And I hope that everyone who believes in themselves have the equal chance of succeeding and being happy. I am cincerely sorry that my comments offended so many people, that was not my intention at all. Peace and love to all."
the statement Elias released

Simply put, Elias said the horrible things he did because he thought he could get away with it. Elias thought he would get a minimal reaction from his peers, so he went ahead and said it. What he did not expect, was a huge backlash from almost everyone else in the industry. Elias has said things like this before, and he will probably say things like this again because these people in the industry think they can get away with it.

We need to start calling sexism like this out more, and doing this with Elias was a significant step in the right direction. He immediately backed down when confronted with backlash, and is desperately trying to change the narrative. If gamers continue to call this out when it happens, it’s made clear that these attitudes aren’t welcome. If these people remain uncriticised, they will believe that their opinions are acceptable and continue to voice them. We can’t risk preventing the creation of future programmers, artists, or CEOs

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Drew James

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