Jennifer Hepler is a writer for BioWare who has worked on Star Wars: The Old Republic and the Dragon Age series. She’s also the latest target of gamers’ misogynist rage for the crime of being a woman with an opinion about video games that some assholes on Reddit didn’t like.
How the whole thing appears to have started is someone posted a combination of quotes from an interview from 2006 that doesn’t exist any more, as well as quotes that were entirely made up, on the gaming sub-Reddit in order to have a rant about how Hepler is “a cancer that is poisoning BioWare.” The thread was eventually deleted because of the attacks and the false attributions. But that wasn’t enough: angry gamers took to Twitter instead, harassing both Hepler and the people who offered support, and apparently even going so far as to make harassing phone calls to her home. Things escalated further when Hepler dared suggest that sexism played a part in the hatred. Right, and sexism played no part in the harassment of Jade Raymond, either, did it?
There’s a homophobic element to the attacks as well, with gamers (TW) accusing Hepler of “screwing up Mass Effect by making Shepard gay.”
The bulk of the outrage appears to have stemmed from two interview answers where Hepler talks about not enjoying playing games and offering up the idea of skipable combat for players who are more interested in a game’s dialogue. Notice the title of the thread where the quotes in question come from: “BioWare aims to get rid of gameplay from games.” Because someone on the writing team is going to have that much control over game development. The outrage here speaks of both jealousy–she gets to make games and she doesn’t even like them!–and a complete ignorance as to how game development actually works.
But more importantly, she’s talking about making games more inclusive and suggesting that people play games for different reasons and in different ways. This is at the heart of why the misogynerds are so angry: the industry is changing, it’s been changing for a long time, and it’s no longer the sole domain of misogynist nerds like them. The sheer entitlement that these people have, that games should cater to them and only to them, is astounding. For them, making games more accessible and inclusive is the exact opposite of what games are for: bragging rights. It’s not cool to tell people you beat a game when the option to skip combat entirely is there, is it? But games aren’t just skill challenges any more; some games are more interested in telling a story with the player, rather than blocking most people from even finishing them.
As Thess puts it:
So … to the immature dipshits: You are going to have to share your toys now. You are going to have to share your video games and your comic books. You are going to have to accept that we like these things, and that they will become more inclusive and not just cater to insecure, homophobic, insular fuck-knuckles on the basis of that liking. You are going to have to go back to fucking kindergarten and LEARN TO SHARE. And if you don’t like it? You can actually ignore the fact that it’s there and play it the same old arsehole way you want to. The potential for story-heavy or story-only play; the possibility of male LI for male Shepard; storylines that actually involve some depth and do not entirely rely on blowing people’s heads off and being lauded as a hero for it? THEY DO NOT HARM YOU BY EXISTING.
To summarise the summary: GROW THE FUCK UP.
This sort of immaturity is misogynist for the same reason people calling The Sims not a real game or talking about how casual gamers are ruining video games is misogynist: it’s based on a fear of girls getting into the clubhouse.
Update Feb 21, 2012: BioWare co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka released a statement in support of Jennifer Hepler here. In addition, BioWare made a donation to Bullying Canada and encourage others to do the same.