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Sarkeesian’s treatment, being accompanied by discussions about “how to kill a troll.” And many people are calling for the gaming industry to do more.
James Portnow, a game designer who has worked on titles including Call of Duty and Farmville, wrote an episode about harassment for his animated Web series “Extra Credits.” In it, the narrator says: “Right now, it’s like we gave the school bully access to the intercom system and told him that everyone would hear whatever he had to say. He met with a team of executives, including a vice president, for four hours, and they discussed how Microsoft was developing better algorithms for things like automatically muting repeat offenders.
“The gaming industry is actually in the process of changing,” Ms. “That’s a really positive thing, but I think there is a small group of male gamers who feel like gaming belongs to them, and are really terrified of that change happening.” When Sam Killermann, a gamer in Austin, Tex., saw the reaction to Ms.
Sarkeesian’s project, something “broke through,” he said.
But the Cross Assault episode was the first of a series this year that have exposed the severity of the harassment that many women experience in virtual gaming communities.
And a backlash — on Twitter, in videos, on blogs and even in an online comic strip — has moved the issue beyond endless debate among gaming insiders to more public calls for change.
Jessica Hammer, a longtime player of video games and a researcher at Columbia University, said the percentage of women playing such games online ranges from 12 percent to close to half, depending on the game type.Portnow, who will be speaking on a gaming convention panel later this month called “Ending Harassment in Gaming.” “But that’s not true any longer,” he added.“We are a real mass medium, and we have a real effect on the culture.He also blamed “my own inability in the heat of the moment to defend myself and the community I have loved for over 15 years.” But the issues raised by the Cross Assault episode gained more attention with Anita Sarkeesian’s campaign in May to raise ,000 on Kickstarter to document how women are portrayed in video games. Supporters of her efforts, aghast, donated more than 0,000, further angering her critics.Her You Tube and Facebook pages were instantly flooded with hate-filled comments. A man from Ontario created an Internet game where players could “punch” her, layering bruises and cuts on her image until the screen turns red.
Just as on the broader Internet, there are people who delight in piquing anger or frustration in others, or “trolling.” For trolls, offensive language — sexist, racist, homophobic comments — are interchangeable weapons that vary with the target.