A ranty, funny, dead-serious intersectional feminist blog.

A Call to Arms for Decent Men

My friend and former EA colleague Ernest W. Adams writes a column over at Gamasutra.com called Designer’s Notebook. Today’s column will not appear on Gamasutra as the editorial staff declined to publish it in its current form. Ernest has kindly given me his permission to publish it here, and I’m grateful, because this subject–and cry for change–is close to my heart.

I hope Ernest reads this at GDC one day.

Normally I write for everybody, but this month’s column is a call to arms, addressed to the reasonable, decent, but much too silent majority of male gamers and developers.

Guys, we have a problem. We are letting way too many boys get into adulthood without actually becoming men. We’re seeing more and more adult males around who are not men.They’re as old as men, but they have the mentality of nine-year-old boys. They’re causing a lot of trouble, both in general and for the game industry specifically. We need to deal with this.

Why us? Because it’s our job to see to it that a boy becomes a man, and we are failing.

When we were little boys we all went through a stage when we said we hated girls. Girls had “cooties.” They were silly and frilly and everything that a boy isn’t supposed to be. We got into this stage at about age seven, and we left it again at maybe 10 or 11.

Then puberty hit and, if we were straight, we actively wanted the company of girls. We wanted to “go with” them, date them, and eventually we wanted to fall in love and live with one, maybe for the rest of our lives. That’s the way heterosexual boys are supposed to mature, unless they become monks.

My point is, you’re supposed to leave that phase of hating girls behind. Straight or gay, you’re supposed to grow the hell up.

What might be temporarily tolerable in a boy when he’s nine is pretty damned ugly when he’s fifteen and it’s downright psychopathic when he’s twenty. Instead of maturing into a man’s role and a man’s responsibilities, a lot of boys are stuck at the phase of hating girls and women. The boys continue to treat them like diseased subhumans right through adolescence and into adulthood.

Men are more powerful than women: financially, politically, and physically. What distinguishes a real man from a boy is that a man takes responsibility for his actions and does not abuse this power. If you don’t treat women with courtesy and respect – if you’re still stuck in that “I hate girls” phase – then no matter what age you are, you are a boy and not entitled to the privileges of adulthood.


  • If you want to have some private little club for males only – like keeping women out of your favorite shooter games – you’re not a man, you’re an insecure little boy. A grown-up man has no problem being in the company of women. He knows he’s a man.
  • If you freak out when a girl or a woman beats you in a game, you’re not a man, you’re a nine-year-old boy. A man doesn’t need to beat a woman to know he’s a man. A man is strong enough to take defeat in a fair game from anybody and move on.
  • If your masculinity depends on some imaginary superiority over women, then you don’t actually have any. Manliness comes from within, and not at the expense of others.
  • And if you threaten or abuse women, verbally or physically, you are not a man. You’re a particularly nasty specimen of boy.

When this puerile mentality is combined with the physical strength and sexual aggressiveness of an older boy or an adult male, it goes beyond bad manners. It’s threatening and anti-social, and if those boys are permitted to congregate together and support each other, it becomes actively dangerous. Yes, even online.

Of course, I don’t mean all boys are like this. Most of them get out of the cootie phase quickly and grow up just fine. But far too many don’t. If we don’t do something about these permanent nine-year-olds pretty soon, they’re going to start having boys of their own who will be just as bad if not worse, and life will not be worth living. Life is already not worth living on Xbox Live Chat.

Arrrgh, I say!

In addition to the harm they do to women – our mothers, our sisters, our daughters – these full-grown juveniles harm ustoo. A boy who refuses to grow up has lousy social skills, a short attention span, and a poor attitude to work. Furthermore, all men – that’s you and me, bro – get the blame for their bad behavior. And we deserve it, because we’ve been sitting on our butts for too long. We let them be bullies online and get away with it.

Some of you might think it’s sexist that I’m dumping this problem on us men. It isn’t; it’s just pragmatic. Women can not solve this problem. A boy who hates girls and women simply isn’t going to pay attention to a woman’s opinion. The only people who can ensure that boys are taught, or if necessary forced, to grow up into men are other men.

Let’s be clear about something else. This is not a political issue. This is not a subject for debate, any more than whether your son is allowed to swear at his mother or molest his sister is a subject for debate. There is no “other point of view.” The real-world analogy is not to social issues but to violent crime. Muggers don’t get to have a point of view.

So how do we change things?

First, we need to serve as positive examples. With the very little boys, we need to guide them gently but firmly out of the cootie phase. To the impressionable teenagers, we must demonstrate how a man behaves and how he doesn’t. Be the change you want to see. Use your real name and your real picture online, to show that you are a man who stands behind his words. Of course, you can’t prove your name is real, but it doesn’t matter. If you consistently behave with integrity online, the message will get across.

Secondly, we men need to stand up for courtesy and decency online. We can’t just treat this as a problem for women (or blacks, or gays, or anybody else the juvenile bullies have in their sights). Tell them and their friends that their behavior is not acceptable, that real men don’t agree with them, that they are in the minority. Say these words into your headset: “I’m disappointed in you. I thought you were a man, not a whiny, insecure little boy.” Don’t argue or engage with them. Never answer their questions or remarks, just repeat your disgust and disapproval. Assume the absolute moral superiority to which you are entitled over a bully or a criminal.

Finally, we need to put a stop to this behavior. It’s time for us to force the permanent nine-year-olds to grow up or get out of our games and forums. It’s not enough just to mute them. We need to build the infrastructure that precludes this kind of behavior entirely – Club Penguin has already done it for children – or failing that, we have to make the bullies pay a price for their behavior. Appealing to their better nature won’t work; bullies have none. We do not request, we do not debate, we demand and we punish.

I have some specific suggestions, from the least to the most extreme.

  1. Oh, you little rascals!

    Mockery. In 1993 50 Ku Klux Klansmen marched through Austin, Texas. Five thousand anti-Klan protestors turned up to jeer at them. Best of all, several hundred lined the parade route and mooned the Klan in waves. The media ate it up, and the Klan looked ridiculous. The hurt that they wanted to cause was met not with anger but with derision.The juvenile delinquents are just like the Klan: anonymous in their high-tech bedsheets, and threatening, but in fact, a minority. Let’s use our superior numbers and metaphorically moon the boys who can’t behave. They’re social inadequates, immature losers. Let’s tell them so, loud and clear, in front of their friends.

  2. Shut them up. The right to speak in a public forum should be limited to those who don’t abuse it. James Portnow suggested this one in his Extra Credits video on harassment. Anyone who persistently abuses others gets automatically muted to all players. The only players who can hear them are those who choose to unmute them. Or another of James’ suggestions: New users don’t even get the right to talk. They have to earn it, and they keep it only so long as they behave themselves. This means a player can’t just create a new account to start spewing filth again if they’ve been auto-muted. Build these features into your games.
  3. Take away their means. If you’re the father of a boy who behaves like this online, make it abundantly clear to him that it is unmanly and unacceptable, then deny him the opportunity to do it further. We don’t let nine-year-olds misuse tools to hurt other people. Take away his cell phone, his console and his computer. He can learn to behave like a man, or he can turn in his homework in longhand like a child.
  4. Anonymity is a privilege, not a right. Anonymity is a double-edged sword. A limited number of people need it in certain circumstances: children, crime victims, whistleblowers, people discussing their medical conditions, political dissidents in repressive regimes. But those people normally don’t misuse their anonymity to abuse others; they’re protecting themselves from abuse.I think the default setting in all online forums that are not intended for people at risk should require real names. After a user has demonstrated that they are a grown-up, then offer them the privilege of using a pseudonym. And take it away forever if they misuse it. I haven’t used a nickname for years except in one place where all the readers know who I am anyway. Has it made me more careful about what I say? You bet. Is that a good thing? Damn right it is.
  5. Impose punishments that are genuinely painful. This suggestion is extreme, but I feel it’s both viable and effective. To play subscription-based or pay-as-you-go (“free-to-play-but-not-really”) games, most players need to register a credit card with the game’s provider. Include a condition in the terms of service that entitles the provider to levy extra charges for bad behavior. Charge $5 for the first infraction and double it for each subsequent one. This isn’t all that unusual; if you smoke in a non-smoking hotel room, you are typically subject to a whopping extra charge for being a jerk.

Now I’m going to address some objections from the very juvenile delinquents I’ve been talking about – if any of them have read this far.

  • What’s the big deal? It’s harmless banter. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the game.” To start with, it’s our game, not yours, and we get to decide what’s acceptable behavior. You meet our standards or you get out. Apart from that, nothing that is done with intent to cause hurt is harmless. The online abuse I have seen goesway beyond banter. Threats are not harmless, they are criminal acts.
  • But this is part of gamer culture! It’s always been like this!” No, it is not. I’ve been gaming for over 40 years, and it has not always been like this. Yours is a nasty little subculture that arrived with anonymous online gaming, and we’re going to wipe it out.
  • This is just political correctness.” Invoking “political correctness” is nothing but code for “I wanna be an asshole and get away with it.” I’ll give you a politically-incorrect response, if you like: fuck that. It’s time to man up. You don’t get to be an asshole and get away with it.
  • You’re just being a White Knight and trying to suck up to women.” I don’t need to suck up to women, thanks; unlike you, I don’t have a problem with them, because I’m a grown man.
  • Women are always getting special privileges.” Freedom from bullying is a right, not a privilege, and anyway, that’s bullshit. Males are the dominant sex in almost every single activity on the planet. The only areas that we do not rule are dirty, underpaid jobs like nursing and teaching. Do you want to swap? I didn’t think so.

Run for your lives, boys. She’s gonna getcha.

  • It’s hypocrisy. How come they get women-only clubs and we don’t get men-only clubs?” Because they’re set up for different reasons, that’s why. Male-only spaces are about excluding women from power, and making little boys whose balls evidently haven’t dropped feel special. Female-only spaces are about creating a place where they are safe from vermin.
  • But there’s misandry too!” Oh, and that entitles you to be a running sore on the ass of the game community? Two wrongs don’t make a right.. I’ll worry about misandry when large numbers of male players are being hounded out of games with abuse and threats of violence. If a few women are bigoted against men, you only have to look in the mirror to find out why.
  • Free speech!” The oldest and worst excuse for being a jerk there is. First, you have no right to free speech in privately-owned spaces. Zero. Our house, our rules. Second, with freedom comes the responsibility not to abuse it. People who won’t use their freedoms responsibly get them taken away. And if you don’t clean up your act, that will be you.

OK, back to the real men for a few final words.

This is not about “protecting women.” It’s about cleaning out the sewers that our games have become. This will not be easy and it will not be fun. Standing up to these little jerks will require the same courage from us that women like Anita Sarkeesian have already shown. We will become objects of hatred, ridicule, and contempt. Our manhood will be questioned. But if we remember who we are and stand strong together, we can beat them. In any case we won’t be threatened with sexual violence the way women are. We have it easier than they do.

It’s time to stand up. If you’re a writer, blogger, or forum moderator, please write your own piece spreading the message, or at least link to this one. I also encourage you to visit Gamers Against Bigotry (http://gamersagainstbigotry.org), sign the pledge, are share it.

Pew! Pew!

Use your heavy man’s hand in the online spaces where you go – and especially the ones you control – to demand courtesy and punish abuse. Don’t just mute them. Report them, block them, ban them, use every weapon you have. (They may try to report us in return. That won’t work. If you always behave with integrity, it will be clear who’s in the right.)

Let’s stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the women we love, and work with, and game with, and say, “We’re with you. And we’re going to win.”


Aftermath (Not in the Kitchen Anymore)

63 responses

  1. Evisceratus

    Ok there is some truth to this article, but there is a lot of bs as well.

    First it is my opinion as well that men are less manly than they were before. I am relatively young so I can’t say for sure maybe we are all just buying into a myth that we weren’t as good as men were back in the day as my elders see fit to constantly remind me. Although apparently we are alot smarter especially in regards to technology as I am also reminded constantly (the DVD is a great technological marvel apparently and somehow my generation snagged credit for it whatever ill take it).

    Let’s assume that men aren’t growing up which may or may not be true is the marriage rate that much in decline? Are boys literally not getting married and moving into the work force? I am not sure although society hasn’t grinded to a halt so most boys are still growing up even with the economy in shambles (im still hoping for change Barrack get your shit together).

    Well what truly separates the men from the boys? That is a question that has been answered a million different ways and boys the world over are still as confused as ever. The author seems to feel taking responsibility for your actions is the true test and while I feel that is an important part of adult hood is that the only thing? From a financial standpoint if you can bring home the bacon and support your family your a man, but that isn’t really a good indicator of anything besides how good you are at making money. Some generations manned up during a war, but generation defining conflicts like world war 1 are so destructive that not every generation can afford to have it’s own. What about having power? Surely a man who can give orders and expect them to be obeyed is worthy of being called a man, but like the financial situation it really just defines how good you are at getting yourself into a position of power and possibly shows your superior leadership skills.

    Hollywood’s definition seems to be useless as they continue to hand us Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stalone blowing up cars and gunning down terrorists and say go be like that. As awesome as that is to watch no one actually does that not even real life cops.

    Ultimately I found two definitions useful although the wikihow how to be a man article was also quite inspiring and amusing.

    1. Every man has the beast inside his dark side his rage. That is actually important to have and men in the past often had to unleash it either to bring down a mammoth or to bisect a persian soldier trying to invade their land, but if you go through life with it unleashed all the time we are living back in the time of Ghenghis Khan raiding and raping what we want. A real man can control the beast so to speak.

    2. A real man is an adventurer. He exists to fill in the blank places of the map and solve the mystery that is women. He is bravery incarnate and will go over the next hill to see what is there no matter what whether that hill is on the moon or in Germany. He guides those around him like a ship captain guides his crew enduring the worst, but always remaining optimistic for the best. He gathers friends treasure and good times in equal measure.

    Now how do we create men like that? I don’t I myself have some ways to go before I can meet those definitions, and I was learning to shoot a gun responsibly while most kids were still getting time outs.

    Well we don’t do it by yelling at people on the internet. I mean the author’s ideas on how to fix the internet are laughably infeasible. I mean if a game company went and said ok give us your bad behavior deposit and no foul language/slurs they wouldn’t make it a week except maybe if it’s a game like wizard 101 designed for little kids.

    Author likes to beat up strawman and strawman deserves it, but sometimes strawman has a point.

    There need to be men only clubs and men only outings. Some of these are going to be halls of power I am sorry, but that is the way it is. You can’t expect men to behave around women or men and women if they can’t behave around men first. You need to crawl before you can walk. I realize women need women only areas for safety, but it is hypocritical to deny men their own clubhouses.

    Gamer cultures actually has been this way forever it just hadn’t grown up until now. Yeah people weren’t screaming the N word during mario, but those games weren’t being played by 40 year old men they were for kids. The fact that 40 year old men are playing video games is either a problem in itself or a sign that video games aren’t just for kids anymore. The increasing maturity of the titles would seem to point to the later. Video Games have always been male dominated and that isn’t gonna magically change over night and it might never change. Women just don’t play the games in the sheer numbers that men do and fixing the abrasiveness of the online community is not the end all be all solution for it. Women just generally have less interest in these video games at the moment. That may change with the times.

    Finally the freedom of speech the first ammendment the big one the right everyone has and everyone wants to take away. Yes legally you do have the right to deny people the right to speak freely on your property the problem is a game company that is charging money is effectively renting you their property in a loose sense and if they limit your rights too severely people take their money and walk. Also you make yourself a hypocrit and thus allow the majority of people to ignore your argument, and why should they listen to you your only willing to let people say things you already agree with? You can’t have a forward base and a safehaven in the same fort if you attack you need to defend not declare diplomatic immunity. It’s one or the other.

    It would be like a kid punching other kids, but proclaiming that it isn’t right to punch him back.

    It is legal, but it isn’t how you do business and no one does do business that way.

    Finally the right to be anonymous on the internet yes it is a right not a privilege and it is a right here to stay with the russians and chinese hacking everything they can along with every other domestic identity thief. If you use your real name on the internet your an idiot not a real man. If your a woman your even dumber. And for the love of God man or woman don’t pictures of yourself online especially if you are under 18.

    The author says that the right to be anonymous does not give you the right to be an asshole, but actually it does. It’s unfortunate, but nothing can be done about it without tearing apart the things that make the internet great and there are a lot. Putting up with assholes is the price we pay for online gaming, shopping, and email. Them’s the breaks.

    The problem’s symptoms are online, but like every sympton you need to treat it at it’s source in person not across the web. Kids are from broken families and lack good role models. Any role models they might have are being disgraced with sex scandals, steroid investigations, embezzlement and the father isn’t there or isn’t a good man to begin with.

    That’s called moral decay and the internet is not where you fight that. Society has it’s own mechanisms for that (victorian period), but I don’t wanna get to preachy.

    Anyway that is the evisceratus take on it. It’s not as shining bright as the other’s black and white solutions, but the gray area is always closer to the truth of the matter.

    February 21, 2013 at 11:11 pm

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  3. Jackie E.

    Thank you SO much for writing this article, Mr. Adams (and you too, Rosie, for posting it!) It’s amazing how *normal* it’s become for me to expect exclusion from male gamers. I usually opt to not even use a microphone or reveal that I’m a female gamer as I’ve learned from experience that my skill as a gamer will be judged much more harshly, or unwanted sexual attention will be sure to follow. In fact, I was on my way out of a GameStop today when a customer commented “That looks like a girl who knows what to do with a joystick.”
    …. yeah. It does my heart good to read this and be reminded that there are male gamers who are as frustrated as I am, because it’s easy to feel like I stand alone. If the comments you’ve received back show anything, it’s that speaking out about it results in a lot of “You’re too sensitive” and “Quit whining.” If few guys take the same stance you do, I realize it’s probably because they’ve never had to feel the way we’re made to feel on a consistent basis, which is great. Thanks for getting those wheels turning, though – attitudes like yours remind me why there’s hope for the gaming community and how special it can be. :)

    September 15, 2012 at 7:35 am

  4. regal.

    P.S. In my opinion, the article could do without the pictures…

    September 6, 2012 at 8:36 pm

  5. regal.

    Thank you for writing this much needed article. It’s not only in the gaming community that this kind of atrocious behavior is rampant, but also in the internet community in general. I want to take the time to address some of the points made by ‘Lunias’:

    “1. The article states quite clearly that “Men are more powerful than women: financially, politically, and physically”. This is a very sexist comment! My own mother makes more money than my dad (and has been for 25 years) AND is much more physically fit. Thankfully, there is no other evidence of sexism, and I’m willing to write it off as a fluke.”

    – Men ARE, in general, on average, more powerful than women financially, politically and physically. You just need to look at the statistics and educate yourself on social structures.

    “2. The article suggests that people should bully the bullies. I know from personal experience that bullying creates bullies. If you try to bully someone into being a nice person, then you are just as bad as they are. Violence does not beget violence, and immaturity should not beget immaturity.”

    – He’s not asking you to engage in bullying. He’s asking you to speak up. When someone is getting bullied at school, if you don’t do anything (telling a teacher, intervening) – you’re just as bad as the bullies. Doing nothing might as well be the same as condoning bullying.

    “3. The idea that new users should have to earn the right to speak is a good idea in theory, but horrible in practice. First off, you would be assuming that everyone who joins is guilty until proven innocent, which is not how things should work in this world.”

    – I agree with your other remaining points. I know how frustrating it is to not be able to chat with other players right away, but ultimately if that is what is needed to weed out unwanted behavior then players will just have to adjust.

    – There are other people who will abuse their anonimity, but personally I like having the option of being anonymous. It’s just not safe to parade around with your real name anymore; you never know what kind of people you might encounter online. Also, like another mentioned, people with foreign names or transgendered are then more likely to be targeted.

    September 6, 2012 at 8:33 pm

  6. Nobody else finds it funny that by abolishing Internet Anonymity that you’re actually making even bigger targets of women? What’s easier to trace: ‘Jane Citizen’ or ‘janec420XxXsnoipa’? Forcing people to use their real names doesn’t stop them from being arseholes. And i’m sure many fascist dictatorships in our human history would applaud this man for his “principles” (“Impose punishments that are genuinely painful.”, “Free speech!” The oldest and worst excuse for being a jerk there is.”) since they used almost the exact same methods to make people enemies of themselves whilst making slaves of their nations.

    If you’ve read the comments that the author has left on Facebook, you’ll notice that the man is extremely pig-headed and refuses to take in any criticism of his words. You’re a fool and a tool of your own self-destruction if you take this man’s words seriously. The pros of Internet Anonymity far, far outweigh the cons.

    September 6, 2012 at 7:25 am

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  10. Frill Artist

    What a bunch of feminist nonsense. Just look at the picture in the article “Run boys, she’s gonna get you!” Huh??? You’re advocating for supposed “peace” yet you run with such taglines and themes that are prevalent in your article that women are somehow superior to men or that men should kiss up to you because you’re a woman.

    August 7, 2012 at 1:22 am

  11. Sheilagh

    Along similar lines, in some subcultures, even “man” has become code for awful behavior: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=td1PbsV6B80 “Tony Porter: A call to men” a TED talk.

    I really like Mr. Porter’s suggestions for breaking out of the “man box”, for “men” in that poor meaning of the term. Especially ~2, ~3 minutes in, about (not) supporting his young boy having a heart and his growth in awareness of how he contributes to the overall situation. He gets back around to the clarity of fully supporting his boy and others ~10 minutes in.

    I have to wonder if all these older perma-boys aren’t terribly fearful, deeply wounded on some level that they’ve now armored in Kevlar, cement, full fortification, no more humanizing feelings allowed.

    Not sure how to address the healing that is needed, but I think in addition to the stern call to join you & other men as *adult* men, some additional conversation and action toward healing the fear is needed.

    August 6, 2012 at 10:56 pm

  12. Lunias

    While I do not agree that this is a sexist article, I cannot deny that there is some sexism in it. I also have problems with other sections of the article. Here’s a few of them:

    1. The article states quite clearly that “Men are more powerful than women: financially, politically, and physically”. This is a very sexist comment! My own mother makes more money than my dad (and has been for 25 years) AND is much more physically fit. Thankfully, there is no other evidence of sexism, and I’m willing to write it off as a fluke.

    2. The article suggests that people should bully the bullies. I know from personal experience that bullying creates bullies. If you try to bully someone into being a nice person, then you are just as bad as they are. Violence does not beget violence, and immaturity should not beget immaturity.

    3. The idea that new users should have to earn the right to speak is a good idea in theory, but horrible in practice. First off, you would be assuming that everyone who joins is guilty until proven innocent, which is not how things should work in this world.

    4. Anonymity is indeed a right, as stated on this page with MANY examples: http://ilt.eff.org/index.php/Speech:_Anonymity. Just to give you some ideas, note that it is legal to ascertain the identity of a person on the internet if they have committed a crime, and it could be very easy to call sexism like this “unprotected speech” or a “public disturbance”.

    Other than these key issues, I agree wholeheartedly with the article. I specifically enjoyed the bulleted section that tears apart the bully’s excuses and arguements. Thank you for writing this!

    August 5, 2012 at 3:22 am

  13. I, too, broached this topic back in February on my blog. You have my support on this issue, as well.


    August 3, 2012 at 7:20 pm

  14. The part where I read about males have to choose if they wanna be with a girl or be with a man really got me, because well I’m like this I like girls but in an Otaku level as in I like them virtual(perfect) more than real, I wonder if you know of those guys even, basically the same with guys who love their cars too much, or whatever big toy they have, and they have a family and such. I’m more of a soloer I don’t want a family yet because well I find real women annoying, they consume too much time and I don’t want that. Time is precious and everyone in the world wants to do what they like not what others force them to do, so I’m saying go beat yourself up somewhere not realising that there 7billion different humans in the world, so just accept that and live on, not whine about that some of the men aren’t like you. Anyways you better be worried about men who like real women but just abuse them as them as a sex toy. Also you have your freedom of speech, but you using to manipulate the public to think that your kind of men is the only right thing in this universe. I wonder what other humanoid forms are like in the universe then will see what should men be like, as in everybody is what they are not what someone else wants them to be.
    PS also I think I’m the total opposite of yours, I thought always damn boys are treated yeah no sex yeah and so because your underage but when you turn 18, everyones like ok guy time to mate and go the fuck nuts with that get a family and so on or just some go find a slut already and so on, totally hate that.

    August 3, 2012 at 7:08 pm

  15. There’s a lot of truth to what you say but I’m a guy who never went through the “girls have cooties stage (except my younger sister… she still has cooties and she’s turning 52 this year) and I turned out to be the “A date? But I think of you as just a friend” guy. I genuinely love and respect women for who they are as individuals and I don’t have much experience concerning on-line gaming unless you count my pitiful Angry Birds’ scores being compared to those of everyone else on the planet.

    I don’t know if it’s because I don’t fit the profile for what seems to be your target audience but I don’t buy that all men should have to share the blame for the bad guys’ behaviours any more than I would support all black people sharing the blame for the actions of Jamaican gangs or all Muslims being thrown in with the likes of Al Qaeda. Aside from punishing the innocent, including those of us who have stood up to misogynists, it allows the bad guys’ behaviours be diluted by them being lumped in with the good guys.

    Perhaps the gaming industry could implement the mandatory credit card scheme you outlined and send monthly reports on misbehaviour via snail mail to the cardholder and target all forms of on-line bullying, not only gender issues, in this cleaning-up of the games and/or forums.

    August 3, 2012 at 2:29 pm

  16. Such a great article; I hope your leadership is infectious.

    August 3, 2012 at 12:51 am

  17. Leah

    Excellent article! I really like the ideas about enforcement in gaming, too, particularly the mute one, and your explanation of the “arguments against” is great, too. If it’s okay, I’d like to include this on a post I’m writing on geeks and gender (a round-up of articles, really).

    As a foreign women in Japan, my “favorite” backlash comment from foreign men in Japan? “Why is there a women-only car during rush hour?! That’s sexist! Special treatment! What if we get groped, too?”

    That’s right. Groping on trains was such a problem that Japan had to make WOMEN’S ONLY CARS (from 7-9 am and 5-7 pm, I think).

    August 3, 2012 at 12:42 am

  18. Reblogged this on buttonpressing.

    August 2, 2012 at 11:03 pm

  19. I read this after wandering off your “Freshly Pressed” post. This is a good take on a recurring situation.

    I really agree with #4 and I have written before about the business purpose of being anonymous online. It does allow a person to create an avatar or a persona but beyond that, it only seems to become a barrier to hide behind and attack others. Often for no reason. 90% of these types would never say something to someone’s face in the real world yet they feel that this freedom gives them the opportunity to bully others. Maybe it should be earned.

    August 2, 2012 at 10:51 pm

  20. I’m doubtful of the effectiveness of mockery. Mocking them shows you’re paying attention to them. Instead, tell them they’re acting like pathetic children, then kick them out. Don’t waste the time needed to mock them.

    And how do we tell when anonymity is needed or not? If we know it’s needed for the reasons listed, then there’s already no point to it.

    Other than those things, I totally agree. Especially with providing positive examples.

    I’d also suggest the industry stop making games that sexually objectify women. If fighting games need to be so realistic that the female character’s breasts bounce just right, then they should also be realistic enough to show that women who are in good enough shape to fight like that, don’t have breasts that big. The only reason to make them that way is the sexual appeal.

    And that kind of imagery encourages the pedantic immaturity of the kind of boys the article talks about.

    August 2, 2012 at 7:13 pm

  21. Pingback: I was just reading this article – h/t to +Liz Eberhardt  | Infinitely Boundless

  22. Emmers

    Thank you so much for posting this. The only point I disagree with is the one about anonymity — if you require truenames (or government names, or whatever people want to call them) then you disproportionately affect women — many won’t stick around a server that requires true names, because of stalking. Truenames are a fine solution to some things, but not this.

    July 31, 2012 at 11:09 pm

  23. Thank you for posting this article. Mr. Adams wrote eloquently, bringing light to the issue. As a high school teacher, I deal with many of these 9-year old teenagers. There seems to be even more every year. It makes me very sad. It would be great if more of the great men were able to step in and help make the change.

    July 31, 2012 at 4:32 pm

  24. Emily

    Thanks so much for a great article :D

    I’ve run into guys who react badly when a girl beats them yes, thankfully I’ve run into more people who can mutually appreciate gaming skill in someone, be they guys or girls.

    July 29, 2012 at 7:41 pm

  25. Tia Nadiezja

    There is one significant problem with the elimination of anonymity, and that is the fact that many people use anonymity to avoid discrimination. By “real” name, I assume you mean legal name.

    This means that many transgendered people will have names that present them as the wrong gender, and if they choose their identified sex on a Sex dropdown, they will be clearly labelled as transgender. The same issues can happen to members of certain religious and ethnic minorities – Muslims, in particular, often have very distinctive names and are subject to brutal bullying.

    But, to be frank, if you think gaming as “Elizabeth” is bad, try gaming as “Kevin, who is female.” There is valid reason to seek anonymity.

    July 29, 2012 at 7:13 pm

  26. Pingback: Your Friend Wil Says “Don’t Be a Dick” « Make Me a Sammich

  27. You stated this isn’t “a political issue. This is not a subject for debate” but your wrong. 20 years ago when I was a child if I were to behave like you explain in this artical then my parents would discipline me in a way far beyond today’s laws.

    This in return I learned to respect others and treat others as I would like to be treated myself. However those days are over, if my son swears at his mother I personally don’t have the power to discipline my son the same way me father did, If I do then I could face being imprisoned or worse my child taken from me.

    (I’m not sure if laws are different in other country’s but this is how it stands here in the UK)

    This problem can’t be fixed by gamers nor the games industry. You don’t wake one day and decide your a “MAN”. If a 6 Year old child breaks a vase and admits it was them and therefore take’s responsibly for his/hers actions, does that make him a “MAN”?? NO! It shows that their parents are doing a good job teaching them the differants between right & wrong.

    Until parents have the power to discipline their children in ways of our parents, And action taken against those who refuse to discipline their children. Then our nations youth will continue to grow into the people you described in the actical above.

    The only people that can ensure that children grow into smart, respectable & reasonable adults are the two people that brought us kicking and screaming into this world.

    July 29, 2012 at 9:42 am

  28. Great read. The lack of accountability in the gaming community has always been a sore point for me. Folks feel they do whatever they like without consequence. It is up to the providers to police the behavior of the users. As the article points out, my house, my rules. I hope these changes will begin to take place, to protect everyone equally.

    July 29, 2012 at 1:05 am

  29. gameshoes

    I don’t know about this…
    I really have to disagree with you that these “boys” are hating women. Really, they don’t.
    It’s their pride of winning in video games that they’re holding onto, and it’s their only success they’ve had for a long time. Women gamers generally (not all) are generally categorized as something that inhibits victory because they usually don’t have that same drive to win as men do.

    This also would probably happen with sports. Put a female on a world-class soccer/football team and you’ll have all of the men raging at the woman because of their pride in soccer/football. Why would they be angry? Because they have all of their pride into that sport. Male gamers are no different, they have put all of their eggs into the same basket.

    The real “men” you’re describing here are only more mannered because they value something other than video games such as their career and they don’t need to rely on gaming to gain that sense of victory. Like sportsman, they have most of their pride in sports, not video games. Flip the roles around, gamers (that actually compete in tournaments) would be more mannered at sports because their pride is in video games.

    While your suggestions are valid to an extent, you must be careful in how you present these. The way you have written this out encourages others online to attempt some of the same methods; this is bad – it incites bad behavior from arguing and also inflated egos. Make sure you make it clear that the parents/guardians must do the disciplining.

    What really needs to be done is for parents to allow their children to have pride in more things than just video games. I stress ALLOW because so many parents are just too busy and just lock up their kids in the house. Also parents cannot make the child feel inferior in any of their activities. If a child brings home a bad test grade, then while some discipline is in order, the parent should never make the child feel inferior. This will only have the child turn to video games to gain that sense pride again which just deepens the issue at hand.
    This is why extra-curricular activities are so important. Give that child the opportunity to gain pride through other mediums.

    July 28, 2012 at 6:25 pm

  30. Admiral Naismith

    To Christopher Dunn–The main reason people condone all those bad behaviors, in my experience, is that they are told that religion allows or commands it.

    I do not believe Christianity or other religions condone bullying, exploitation, bigotry, intolerance, bad manners. I’m old enough to remember when the main thing church groups did in public involved helping and advocating for the poor, the hungry, the sick, the imprisoned. Nowadays, most of what I hear from church leaders claiming to speak for God involves hating people alleged to be sinners. The gays, the uppity women, the liberals, the immigrants. And the perpetual nine-year-olds are perfectly happy to self-identify as religious, as an excuse to be assholes.

    Did the rise of hate-centered religion coincide with the rise of overgrown nine year olds? Did one cause the other? It’s worth thinking about.

    July 28, 2012 at 3:07 pm

  31. ladydawnya

    *Curtseys* Well said indeed sir, it seems infact chivalry is not dead. Moreover, as a Real Woman, I understand what you do for what it is. Ladies, this is not of itself a form of chauvanism, This is not a matter of ‘needing’ protection. Yes, we are strong, yes we are capable… that aside, the day we started punishing men for being decent and chivelrous was the day we started bolstering, encouraging and accepting the bullying these boys put us through. Don’t accept the abuse and eschew men being decent out of some over inflated sence of pride. The fact is, up until very recently Gaming was a “boys only club”. It’s only been within the last decade or so that women have started to appear on the scene at all. Certainly some resistance is to be expected, but when the men who are willing to embrace us as part of their community, or worse yet those who are willing to risk reputation to defend us from bullies come to our aid and find us not only ungrateful but find that they get punished and ridiculed for their efforts, makes them not want to do so in the future.
    As women we have a responsibility to aid these men in this as well. Our obligation being to raise not only men, but gentlemen and not rewarding this intitled “me first” “screw you n00b’ behavior in our sons, boyfriends, friends, and guildies. We have alot of power, if we’re willing to stand together and use it rather then prove ourselves seperate from our fellow women gamers.
    As much as we want to be “one of the boys” Gamerwomen need to understand that they are not. We are our own creature, our own entity and different from the Guys. We bring a unique perspective and unique strengths to the gaming community. For instance, did you know that though males outnumber females 5 to 1 in online gaming, that female guild leaders/officers outnumber male guildleaders 3-1? – We provide a sense of community that otherwise may not exist. We demand aspects that enrich games beyond the simple “bang bang your dead”, Go from point A to point B kill everything and get the next quest mentality of the ‘boys’. Things like community forums, Role-playing, and community events are quickly becoming feminine domain in these games and make their worlds grow into something greater.
    So, as women, We need to support the men (and eachother) who are actively standing against these bullies. Reward their stand by accepting thier good intentions with grace and dignity and aiding their fight. After all every Tank needs a Healer, and women are Damn good at our own special version of DPS :P.

    July 28, 2012 at 12:43 pm

  32. Mathew

    This article is the exact sort of thing that won’t help achieve anything you are standing for. Yeah, gender discrimination is a problem and girl gamers aren’t usually a part of the problem (most of them don’t even let you know they are a girl), but to solve it, you need to look at the root of the problem rather than just the problem.

    Take an example from the Norwegian criminal system. They focus on looking at a problem and fixing it. The recidivism rate is around 20 percent. Now look back at the United States criminal system. They focus on punishing (like all your “solutions”). The recidivism rate is 67 percent.

    So why is gender such a big issue in anonymous settings? It has less to do with them not growing up and more to do with frustration. I can speak from personal experience that large amounts of time online stem from a lack of self confidence most of the time. Online is the perfect place to present yourself exactly how you want regardless of your social skills and/or physical insecurities (which is why heavy internet users tend to have a total lack of social skills). With social skills and confidence being such big factors in your ability to “get some” so to speak, why not teach people some damn social skills and how to present themselves in public rather than ridicule them?

    July 27, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    • If you and five other big dudes see someone being mugged, do you sit down and discuss the roots of crime, or do you step in and stop it? I’m not interested in what causes jerks to be jerks. Someone else can deal with that. I want action from the game industry, NOW. Policing, not criminology.

      July 28, 2012 at 1:06 am

    • `Frustration`? That’s an excuse for misogyny and bullying? Also, how is this kind of behaviour any kind of presenting oneself exactly how you want, as you call it? Do people actually want to be misogynistic creeps or something?
      It may be acceptable for a child to feel sorry for himself and mourn his lack of confidence UNTIL he hits a certain age, at which point cruel behaviour to others is no longer the error of a child, but a scary and threatening matter. Growing up means taking responsibility for yourself, not expecting society to be responsible for trying to “fix” you. Expecting people to grow up or get out is not that tough a medicine relative to the harm it is intended to prevent. Not at all.

      August 3, 2012 at 12:49 am

    • Helen

      Surely this is a way to teach them…the individuals are not being attacked they are being told ‘This behaviour is unacceptable, if you behave like this there will be negative consequences, if your behaviour is positive the consequences will be positive’. As a parent of 2 boys and teacher of numerous more teenagers this is the approach that works for the good of everyone. Always second chances but boundaries always clear and consequences always followed through.

      February 16, 2013 at 7:28 am

  33. I very much enjoyed your article and have now included it along with the Gamers Against Bigotry as links on my streaming page. I have a twitch.tv streaming page where I am using gaming to try to help spread awareness and raise money for a local shelter. If you would like to take a look, it’s here: http://www.twitch.tv/ercfrtz

    July 27, 2012 at 2:41 pm

  34. Christopher Dunn (dunniteowl -- the only one on the Internets (sic) so far as I know)

    I have never understood how anyone can condone:
    Temper Tantrums
    Exploitation for Power
    Exclusion of Others out of Fear
    Trying to be Reasonable with Unreasonable People

    I am a forums moderator for a major gaming company’s game. I do this as a volunteer. I, too, have been gaming for 40 years +. I don’t take shit from anyone about coming down hard on asswipes, children or belligerant jerks who think that saying, “Freedom of Speech” is good enough to allow them to be complete assholes.

    Oddly enough, when I punish someone for acting in this manner, I get four times as many “Thank you’s” from those who felt the behavior was awful and deserved some form of hammer banning, as I do “You’re a hypocrite” sort of PMs or emails from the hypocrites who I have punished for being hypocrites.

    And you’re absolutely right: When someone is punished and it is done with a consistent and integrity based set of rules, your chain of command will always completely support your actions to the hilt.

    I use a pseudonym in the forums and in other places, but I don’t hide behind it. Anyone that knows me, either via my pseudonym or my real name can figure out who I am with a single comparison of posts from both. More importantly, anyone that knows me knows I act on the principles I espouse all the time, either online or in the “Real World.”

    Anyone that claims your article is sexist or panders to the women is either:
    An Idiot
    A Bigot
    A 9 Year Old Insecure Little Boy

    Rock on!

    July 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm

  35. “As long as it doesn’t affect me then who cares?” I guess my call to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those who would fight abuse was lost on you.

    Please tell my how my article is sexist.

    I do not advocate bullying. One does not bully violent and cruel children; one prevents them from doing it further and one punishes them. It is our moral obligation as game developers to put a stop to this, and our moral authority over our own game spaces is absolute.

    July 27, 2012 at 1:05 am

  36. I refuse to game with children… even 40 year old children. Anyone who’s threatened by women is a pathetic little boy. Enough said.

    July 27, 2012 at 1:00 am

  37. T

    Gamesutra just gained a lot of respect from me for refusing to publish a sexist article.

    And bullying as a solution to bullying? Did you think that through before writing it?

    July 27, 2012 at 12:01 am

    • Sexist? In what world?

      You know, when I read this, I thought: Surely no one can argue with this! But once again, the internet has proven me wrong.

      Too bad I don’t know who you are, T, so that I could put you on an ignore list.

      July 27, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    • Carmiel

      Wow, your ignorance is impressive. You think telling a bully to knock it off is bullying? Just, wow, there are no words.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:51 pm

  38. Janelle

    Reblogged this on Janelle Sheetz and commented:

    July 26, 2012 at 11:29 pm

  39. Welp

    Generally whenever someone talks some shit in my general direction I just ignore them either via in-game chat features or just literally ignore them. Idiots will always exist, it’s not that they don’t think what they’re doing is wrong, they’re just hateful idiots. As long as it doesn’t physically affect me (meaning it’s just verbal shite) then who cares.

    July 26, 2012 at 8:52 pm

  40. Thank you so much for writing this!

    And especially for addressing the often heard excuses for keeping it all as it is.

    July 26, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    • Yes, that bullet list is pretty useful, isn’t it? I want to print it out and put it in my pocket. I’ll make sure Ernest gets all the thanks and comments.

      July 26, 2012 at 8:00 pm

      • Thank you so much!

        Brave of him to write that post after Sarkesian and the page you link to at the bottom of the post met so much resistance.

        A shame that Gamasutra didn’t want to publish this article.

        They did publish an article about the problem with the Male Gaze in gaming a few weeks back, which was great.

        July 26, 2012 at 11:18 pm

  41. Jeshe

    As a female gamer, thank you. Thank you so much for this. I’m in the minority as I have not really been overtly harassed in the “normal” sense (I think this is because I play MMO’s and the communities are *generally* nicer). But I have experienced sexual harassment (I compliment someone, they see that as invitation to cyber with me). It makes gaming very awkward. I’m also not the type of girl to hide from guys on the internet. I don’t believe I should have to hide who I am online.

    That’s why articles and blogs like this are so important. So women and girls can stop hiding who they really are online because of fear of abuse.

    So thank you. Thank you so much for this. We need this message spread far and wide and hopefully it will change.

    July 26, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    • It’s so great to hear men speaking out on this. I know many men who feel this way, and I hope they’ll take this opportunity to add their voices. Thanks for reading.

      July 26, 2012 at 7:59 pm

  42. Nika

    Thank god, someone actually expresses taking action instead of just complaining. Rock it, Mr. Adams.

    July 26, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    • Hear, hear. :)

      July 26, 2012 at 6:01 pm

  43. Sing it, Ernest. Thanks Rosie for posting this, and I’m glad it has led me to your site!

    FYI, the ‘Gamers Against Bigotry’ link in the article is and has been under constant hacking assaults since it went up. In fact, the bigots managed to destroy the first version of the database.


    They need our support and help. (Here’s their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/GAB648)

    July 26, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    • Thanks, Jason, and welcome!

      July 26, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    • That is very interesting; the ones who perpetrate this hatred online consider the right to bully and denigrate others to be of such a great value to them that they would go to all that trouble to prevent any change. One would have initially thought that they just do it because they can, without expecting them to feel it is a `right` so worth protecting! Bizarre.

      August 3, 2012 at 12:36 am

  44. SRSister

    A comment/elaboration on misandry vs misogyny: When people talk about misogyny, they’re talking about the *systemic* hatred of women. Our society tells women, constantly and in a multitude of ways, that they are of lesser value than men.

    There is no such hatred towards men. Some individuals may say hateful things towards men, but this so-called “misandry” is *not* equivalent to misogyny.

    July 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    • YES! Thank you for putting that thing that has been niggling at me into words. There are so many layers to this shit, the mind boggles. At least, mine does. These conversations help me so much in formulating my points for future debates. Thanks again.

      July 26, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    • Gloria S.

      That is a profoundly ignorant comment. The patriarchal structure demand a very strict set of behaviors out of men in order to be considered a member of their gender. Misandry takes a multitude of forms and a *true* feminist would fight for equality of gender and not dismiss the issues of one gender over the other. Women continue to have issues in every arena of society, but then again so do men.

      You cannot count yourself as someone fighting for gender equality while dismissing the issues of one of the genders. It’s hypocritical.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    • craig

      As mentioned, It’s constantly brought up that we’re of less value when it comes to taking care of children, teaching and just working with children in general which is just as much of a misconception as if women would not be able to be as good doctors as men.

      Where I live, (Sweden) women have it a lot easier to get good high class jobs, mainly because of the lack of women in these positions. It’s the new “thing” to hire women instead of men.
      And that’s also something that is unfair.
      I want equality, but the equality I want is equality, not punishment because people of the same gender as me abused their physical strength for thousand years before I was born.


      November 26, 2012 at 10:23 am

  45. You’re awesome.

    Incidentally, if I tried to share this on the forums of some games I visit, I get told to “lighten up.”

    :( It’s hard to fight a fight when people take away your voice right from the start. That’s why I think it’s so helpful for these ideas to come from men – your voices are at least heard amongst other males.

    Thank you.

    July 26, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    • Thanks, Jenn. I know just what you mean, and I understand not wanting to be the target of that BS. I’ll pass along your compliments to Ernest. :)

      July 26, 2012 at 5:09 pm

  46. Great stuff. Here’s something I wrote back during the Sandra Fluke fiasco. We will be shooting real men reading it it next month.


    July 26, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    • Thanks, Jason! I’m SO glad men are speaking out about this. Let us know when you’ve got some video to share!

      July 26, 2012 at 5:01 pm

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