If you’ve been active on Twitter lately, you’ve probably seen that there’s some controversy in the Giant Bomb community. The disagreement is over the site’s latest hires, who are white males, and whether this represents a diversity problem in game journalism.
Gender issues are nothing new to gaming, but as females are increasingly becoming a bigger segment of the audience, the need to address those issues is rapidly becoming one of the hot-button topics in the industry.
While it’s difficult to track this particular story to its source, as female exclusion in game-related media has a long history of debate and divisiveness, it seems to have started with a writer named Samantha Allen.
Here’s what happened as far as I can tell:
Samantha Allen (@CousinDangereux), a contributor to publications like The Daily Dot and The Border House, co-hosts a videocast called Sore Thumbs. In an episode posted on June 30, she and her co-host Maddy Myers discussed Giant Bomb’s hiring of two new staffers in May.
Allen and Myers brought up the fact that both new writers were white males, which featured into a larger conversation on gender politics in game journalism.
Some purported members of the Giant Bomb community took offense to the points brought up in this discussion, as well as Allen’s biting tone (something she is known for and embraces in her writing).
With the comments section closed on the video, the conversation moved to Twitter, where Allen was soon embroiled in a number of heated exchanges with those that disagreed with her.
“At the end of the day, this feels as simple as girls not being allowed into the treehouse. Except we’re all in our 20s & 30s now. So WTF,” Allen wrote.
For my part, I’m through believing in “good guys.” You’re maintaining a homogeneous games criticism that’s as boring as it is exclusionary… I’m done listening to promises of “next time” or waiting around for really talented minority writers to get little scraps…. The people in positions of privilege in this corner of the world have already decided how they want this thing to be. Game fucking over.
As you might expect, gender slurs and insults were soon flying, with Allen and her supporters clashing with her detractors.
Allen tweeted messages like, “I think in all of this I’m most angry with myself for once *honestly* believing that [Giant Bomb] would hire someone who wasn’t a white guy.”
When she was asked, “what if he was the most qualified person available for the position?”
She replied, “Go fuck yourself,” which seemed to inflame the situation even further.
The insults grew increasingly rabid as the “conversation” continued, culminating in some truly grotesque displays of trolling.
Many people in the Giant Bomb community, including several of the site’s staff, have come out in support of Allen, stating that the people on Twitter do not represent them.
“Dear people acting like shit on the internet in the name of Giant Bomb: You don’t represent us or our community. Stop it,” tweeted editor Jeff Gerstmann.
However, even a few of the more level-headed community members have found some of the pro-Allen tweets to be unnecessarily inflammatory.
For example, in a (now deleted) tweet, noted games journalist Leigh Alexander stated that, “literally everything I write is more interesting than everything most of the [Giant Bomb] staff does.”
Other members were offended that Allen was attributing the hate to the Giant Bomb community as a whole.
“Abuse in my mentions today is some of the worst I’ve ever faced. If this is what the Giant Bomb community is like, the dudes can have ’em,” she tweeted.
Allen later clarified that she had not applied for the position, and this was not an issue of her feeling slighted for losing a job opportunity.
She has since deleted many of the tweets pertaining to the recent controversy, indicating that she wants to move on with her life.
She added, “You people are getting what you want. I will leave your precious video games alone. If you could stop calling me slurs, that would be great.”
This is absolutely fair, and while the gender issue conversation needs to continue, Allen should be left alone if that’s what she wants.
In my opinion though, this was handled really poorly by both sides. Those who raced to sling hateful messages at Allen after she simply expressed an opinion are exhibiting the worst traits that the gaming community has become known for. Whether they are genuine opinions or trolling is irrelavent. It’s immature at best, and it needs to stop.
Allen, meanwhile, lashed out against these people, and whether it was justified anger or not, she did more damage to her cause than good. Her comments, written in anger, simply gave the trolls more ammunition to work with.
All in all, this situation should really be a lesson to all of us. No matter how much you believe in your stance on an issue, if you aren’t ready to discuss it in a reasonable manner, you’re not ready to bring it up at all.