“We’re not supposed to be this crowd”: Cliff Bleszinski on online bullying

Game developer Cliff Bleszinski has posted something interesting on Kotaku about the Tropes vs Women controversy, which focused on the often laughably bad portrayal of women in videogames. You can guess how Anita Sarkeesian’s ideas were received by male gamers.

An army of bold (and, naturally, largely anonymous) men…no, wait, boys, because even adult males that acted in this manner are boys – proceeded to give her a digital stoning. We saw a public display that mirrored the worst of what the anonymous internet male culture has to offer.

This doesn’t just happen with videogames, of course. You see it in comment threads too.

we’re not supposed to be this crowd. We’re the gamers, the dorks. We’re the ones who were on our computers during prom. We’re the ones that were in the back of the lunch room who were playing D&D instead of tossing a football around on the quad. We were supposed to be the open, friendly ones, the ones who welcomed all into our wonderful geeky circle. We’re not supposed to be a mob that’s storming the gates with our pitchforks and torches. We’re not the bullies.

Lots of people disagree with Sarkeesian, have genuine criticisms of her work or just don’t like her, but Bleszinski isn’t writing about those people. He’s writing about the neanderthals, and unfortunately they are many, visible and vocal. One commenter, Randeh, writes:

You go to GDC, PAX, E3, etc, and you really don’t see a convention hall full of people shouting “FAG!” “TITS OR GTFO” etc. It’s just not reality.

Maybe, or maybe it’s that some of these people are completely different when you can’t see them and they have an internet connection. We’re all familiar with the “internet + anonymity = asshole” equation. I don’t think the trolls are the majority, though, and I agree with this bit:

We need better online systems that can actually punish this sort of behavior and forms of community policing. If you set up a Wild West comments section or voice chat you’re going to get the Wild West… or Xbox Live.