A Response to Gamergate — by Caleb McEntire

#Gamergate, #StopGamerGate2014, #EverybodyGames

From the partners of Beyonder /Flying NightBear Games: Robin McEntire, Simon McEntire, Caleb McEntire, and Jordan Campbell

“Gamergate” has generated a lot of heated discussion on the internet and beyond about the role of women in gaming. As game developers and world creators, as well as people living in the real world, this subject matters to all of us at Flying NightBear Games.

A lot.

It has been present during all the years that we spent developing the game of Beyonder. It is reflected in our words and artwork, in our characters and creatures.

Although the partners of FNB Games are men, we live in a world shaped by strong women; feminist mothers, wives, and partners; and friends of all genders. They have always been a part of our worldview. When my father, Robin McEntire, first created Beyonder in its first form back in the ‘70s, he played it with my mother, their friends, and their family (brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins). When my brothers, friends, and I developed the current version of Beyonder, women were an integral part of our test-play groups – partly because when we game ourselves, women are always part of the adventuring party.

Much of the world of Beyonder is fantasy: the Six Energies that underlie it; the strange and beautiful species that populate the world; the supernatural Powers that some characters can use to wrap the laws of physics around their little fingers.

One thing that is anything but fantasy, though, is that all genders and sexes contribute powerfully to our world. Two of our ten Races reflect this in their essential makeup: Heola, the star-born desert wanderers, have no biological sex; kamaris, children of the forest, can be a tree as well as a man, woman, or any other point on the wide and wonderful spectrum of sex and gender (to be clear, just as in the real world, a character from any race can fall anywhere on those spectrums the player desires). Imbelnhi Ulanwey, the intrepid zoographer and in-game author who “wrote” our Bestiary, is a male zweyjen (one of the Ten Races of Beyonder); there is commentary is by Kuemwan Alomla, another male zweyjen who was his longtime partner and lover. We didn’t write our books this way in order to be politically correct; we wrote the story we wanted, and this was the result.

Hearing about Gamergate was not a shock to us, and that’s really the worst part about it: Gamergate is an embarrassment to the gaming community not because of how exceptionally awful it is, but because of precisely the opposite – because it is so frighteningly commonplace. Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian, and Felicia Day have become the very salient faces of the same misogyny in gaming that has existed for decades.

As men, the FNB partners don’t presume to know what it’s like to be frequently harassed on the street, to have concepts we understand perfectly well mansplained to us, or any of a hundred other microaggressions. We do know that we will provide any and all support we can against the hateful misogyny that exists in gaming – both in the worlds we craft as game makers and in our actions as people in the world.

We are all for expressing your beliefs, even if we don’t agree with them. However, it becomes unacceptable when people threaten violence, invade privacy, or otherwise ruin lives. And while we would love to convince everyone that women (and every other group) are an essential part of the gaming world, the essential transgression is the real-world actions of people acting in the name of gamergate.

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