ABC recently did a Nightline piece featuring feminist culture critic Anita Sarkeesian about what it’s like to be a target of GamerGate. In it they spoke to Chris Scott, Manager of retro gaming store 8-bit and up in New York. Since the show broadcast, Scott had commented on the fact that most of what he said had been cut from the piece, so TechRaptor reached out to him to talk about his experiences in full and unedited.
Who are you and why did Nightline contact you?
My name is Chris (phire) Scott and I’m a manager at 8-bit and up in NYC. I think they(the Nightline staff) came in earlier during the week to talk to some people who work at the shop. The other staff told them to speak to me on Thursday or Sunday as those are the nights I do events at the shop so there were other players there
Do you think being a racial minority encouraged Nightline to contact you to give a different perspective?
I don’t know if my race played a part. I think it was a male perspective and maybe that they were hoping for something to drive home their story. You know an angry gamer or just a weak argument.
We noticed Nightline spoke a lot for you instead of letting you speak. Do you think your opinions were fairly represented? What more did you have/want to say?
The interview was about 20 minutes maybe 30. They asked a ton of question and I did elaborate on all of my answers. Maybe I gave too many facts or things that weren’t related to the attacks on the women in the segment. I was kind of bummed out that 20 mins was reduced down to like 30 seconds. I wanted to talk more about what can we do to fix the problems that Anita people who share her view felt were inherent in games and also why games journalism is the way it is. I offered some offhand theories as to why there wasn’t much diversity in games. I think the portrayal of women in games is a symptom of that.
While there are many hit or miss female characters, women have a luxury that many people don’t have when it comes to games. They are represented. The average gamer can fire off at least 20 female characters and give you solid 5 who have had their own game. That becomes pretty tough if you try to do that for women of color. Even harder for other groups. She said that games can’t be seen as just games because they potentially reinforce stereotypes, wouldn’t it be more damaging to an entire generation of children to see no one that looks like them or that they can relate to on the cover of a box? I guess some forms of oppression hurts more than others?
More than the issue of the portrayal of women in gaming, do you think it’s more important to increase the depiction of minorities in games such as LGBTQ, people of color, and disabled characters?
I think it is. Games have come a long way from the 70s. The demographics and who has access to a console/PC has grown. Why shouldn’t games reflect this? And why is it when these groups do appear more often than not it’s a tired stereotype? You can say this about the depiction of women in some games but it’s some and not most or almost all in some cases for other groups
Do you think it is a problem at the moment if these minorities are shoehorned into a game just to increase diversity, Janey Spriggs from Borderlands: The Pre-sequel! comes to mind where her sexuality was her only defining characteristic, or do you think it’s more important for these characters to be depicted at all?
I think that would be even worse. I would much rather have a full cast of well written characters and it makes sense for every character to be there. Take the new Final Fantasy for instance, much of the early promo stuff featured 4 dudes in a car. Many people I know started freaking out about it like ‘Where are all the fem playable chars’ and things of that nature. I mean would they want a woman shoe horned in so that she appeases but she’s not developed fully or has a interesting enough back story? You know what that does put us right back at square one (about the representation of women). I feel that many people are scared to try and make a game featuring other groups because they are afraid of the backlash that they may get. So they keep the norm.
I wasn’t too happy initially with Lee from walking dead being a convict but as the game progressed, I don’t think lee would have been as complex of a character if he wasn’t. So black guy criminal stereotype but they used it to set up some conflict within the story.
There were some other things too that bothered me. Like Tim Schafer’s games for girls talk. What exactly would be a game for girls? What are you implying about girls? They don’t have the motor skills to play the same games boys can? We as a society are moving past the whole gendered toy noton that contributed to the gender roles that many have a problem with but gendered games are ok? I understand that he wants to play games with his daughter but he doesn’t know how he’s going to explain lord knows what he’s choosing to play. I wish I could call him and ask him to tell me how to explain to my kids (when I’m a parent) why no is there no one that looks like them saving the day.
Is there a topic that’s just for boys? What would that be? There are female soldiers, fighters, racers, musicians, while there are male fashionistas, chefs, nurses, etc. I grew up in the 80’s watching Jem and I’m a straight black male.
What do you think the way forward is for developing better and more diverse characters? Are critics like Sarkeesian helping the cause?
I think a part of it is discussion. We need more groups in the conversation. The other part is action. We need to do better as a society with encouraging boys and girls of all colors to pursue their interests. It seems like a no brainer but it’s harder than it sounds because of things like the educational system and community. You can’t really call for boycotts because people will do what they want. They will agree with you online and then still go into store to buy the latest game.
It seems like all she has done is drive a wedge into various communities but I do think criticism is needed. The people have to have a better grasp on the content because there are some nuances that an outside observer would miss.
Finally is there anything you said to Nightline that you wish was broadcasted?
There was so much, I think that the sheer lack of diversity in the industry is what’s hurting it the most right now. I think things are going to get better, the indie scene is proof of that. You have all sorts of people making games, the big budget studios are going to get there.
TechRaptor would like to thank Chris for taking the time to talk to us. You can find him on Twitter.
What did you think of the Nightline piece? Comment below.