No More Lost recently covered a story wherein a self-professed representative for Straight Male Gamers asserted that Bioware’s new game Dragon Age II excluded them because it contained homosexual characters. Bioware’s response was basically ”Yeah, uh, no. Stop being such a biggot.” I think the event is indicative of a shift of attitudes in the gaming industry, which finally seems to be starting to grow up.
Why the Pirate Party has such an overrepresentation of men is a common subject of debate, and as a member of Ung Pirat’s Equality Committee, I take particular interest in the issue. A common hypothesis is that the Pirate Movement is dominated by a ”nerd culture”, and since ”nerd culture” is generally dominated by men this will naturally lead to a predominantly male member base. This of course raises the question of why the netizen subculture (a more descriptive, and therefore more preferable, term in my view) is so dominated by men.
Gender roles is very likely a large part of the equation, but I think another important factor is computer games. Games, I feel, are a major pull factor, a ”gateway activity” if you will, for the netizen subculture, acting as a convenient entrence into the internet community. Convenient, that is, to some people – and those people are predominantly straight males.
See, the gaming industry is notoriously conservative, probably because its story telling tradition is derived from the preEnlightenment era, at least in the case of fantasy. Science fiction games obviously derive their story telling tradition from science fiction writing culture, which has historically also been predominantly male, possibly because of for how long women were de facto disallowed from penetrating into the higher echelons of scientific research work. Sports games are, needless to say, based on sports, which are dominated by a culture that is still largely reminicent of the Dark Ages. All in all, the gaming industry is not known for catering to very diverse demographics. Its view of women is medieval, its stance on LGBT issues nonexistant, and its appreciation of multidimentional personalities inconsistent at best.
Bioware’s attitude signals a shift in the traditional paradigm, but these things will take time, and unless the Pirate Movement is prepared to wait for an entire generation to grow up before these discrepancies are resolved, we have a lot of very important work to do. Recruiting outside the traditional netizen subculture demographic is probably one good way of doing it, and PPSE’s new(ish) leader Anna Troberg certainly seems up to the task in that case. More solutions to the problem will probably be necessary though, and in order to effectively identify good solutions, we will first need to identify the scope and severity of the problem.
Ung Pirat’s Equality Committee will be making detailed research of the organisation’s demographics over the coming years, but I have heard of no similar initiatives in the Pirate Party of Sweden, nor in any other Pirate organisation in other countries (though to be fair, I don’t keep up much with what Pirates in other countries are up to). This is problematic, since researching the demographics of the movement is crucial in-so-far the evolution of the Pirate Ideology is concerned, as it allows us to identify political issues we might have otherwise overlooked. Pirate culture being what it is, though, I expect the love for statistics will ultimately triumph in this matter, and so I consider the future outlook hopefull.