Yesterday, the Border House wrote The Evolution of Anya Stroud, a piece about Anya's development in the Gears franchise. They've linked to my coverage of Gears before, and they were one of the blogs that actively agreed with my claims of gender unfairness. Border House and I certainly don't run at cross purposes when it comes to wanting more inclusiveness in games.But there is one thing we disagree on, and it has to do with Gears.Border House and other inclusive gaming communities consistently refer to co-op shooters as "bro games." For example, in Border House's wrap-up post about E3, Alex complains about "narrow focuses on “bro games” – gritty multiplayer shooters like Gears of War." Any gendered classification of an activity is dangerous. You're pretty much asking for commenters to pipe up with "I'm a girl, and I play it" or, in the case of a "feminine" game: "I'm a guy and I play it." The latter is less likely, since most gaming spaces are dominated by both genders engaging in performative masculinity -- not inherently bad, but definitely intimidating to those who don't conform. (More on that if I ever do a post on stereotypical "gamer culture," and to what extent I am part of the problem by having been a "one of the guys" type of girl for most of my life.)
Ultimately, calling Gears a "bro game" is a coded way of saying that it's sexist. And, yes, parts of the game are offensive -- but it's an oversimplication to write off the entire franchise as something that only a misogynist can enjoy. There's a reason why I'm still going to buy Gears 3.
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