The internet terrifies me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly happy it exists, but it’s damned scary. The internet killed my game.
I don’t know what it is, but it’s so, so easy to lose track that there really is no divide between The Internet and Real Life. All the words we say are being read by another person, a person just as real as we are. That every time you @ somebody what an awful cunt they must be, there’s a phone that pings and a person who sees those words.
Sitting here in the wake of the 1 Reason Why phenomenon, I thought it was important to share my story as someone who didn’t push through and make their game anyway. I know so many incredible women who make games, it feels a little bit like it must be my fault for not trying hard enough or not loving it enough to push through, but I know it’s not. I know if a friend said those words to me I would hug her and remind her that self-care always comes first, that we are not our friends, and, most importantly, that she shouldn’t have to push through this pile of shit if she wants to write a game. That making a game shouldn’t be sad or deeply upsetting.
That’s why I stopped, ultimately. It wasn’t fun anymore. Sure, I could design it just for myself, never publish it, but if I do write a game I want to share it as widely as I can. I want it to be a reflection of myself, and a way to give some of myself back to the community I love. The thing is, that’s an incredibly vulnerable thing.
As I sit here, I blame myself for not being strong enough to overcome the misogyny and smug comments. For not ignoring every time I heard that I’d probably be a shitty designer anyway. For not fighting through the panic and racing heart every time I got a nasty tweet or someone posted something I’d written for ridicule, and worries that maybe this time the threats were real. I blame myself for all those things because I’ve been taught that, somehow, just by virtue of being on the internet, I’ve earned them.
That’s what you’re teaching people, when you drop slurs or snark about their projects. You’re teaching them that, just because of who they are, they deserve to be told that they’re less-than. That they could never produce anything worth reading. You want to know why there aren’t more women designing games? Because we’ve been told over and over and over that we could never produce anything you’d want to play, and to have the sheer audacity to think we might needs to be punished.