Look, I wasn’t going to jump into the PAX East/ Dickwolves fray, but the ever-awesome Genevieve Valentine called me out on it.
It all began with a mediocre joke from a nerd comic that I find pretty hit-or-miss in general. But dickwolves isn’t a one-off mediocre joke. It’s the next example in a long line of game-related content that starts with the assumption that gamers are angry young men, and goes on to make sure that games appeal only to angry young men. (The original joke also says something about rinse-and-repeat MMO quests. Or I might be thinking about work.) This was followed by a backwards sort of apology, which acknowledged that the joke was mediocre, without acknowledging the reasons it was upsetting.
There was the inevitable blog fray, but I couldn’t really connect to either side. I was infuriated by the willfully-inconsiderate mentality that rape’s just a word, that somehow the user of words isn’t responsible for how the reader feels about those words. (Seriously, is there a reason to share words that doesn’t take the reader into account?) That somehow calling it a joke makes the offensive attitudes and assumptions behind it acceptable.
But I also didn’t connect to the stridently PC backlash, which seemed to be saying that all creativity needs to be bunnies and kitties and topics that will never ever make anyone upset. Or that one needs, somehow, to be a rape survivor in order to take offense.
And I’m shocked and saddened by the huge embrace of the word Dickwolves on gaming blogs and on T-shirts. It’s not, as some have claimed, a pro-rape sentiment, but it’s still offensively anti-woman. The guys embracing it are, I think, trying to say that it’s stupid to get worked up over the whole thing. The attitude is “Don’t be so uptight! It’s just a joke! In a webcomic! Get over it!”
I’m annoyed that somehow saying that I don’t find horrible things to be all that funny means I’m uptight, and I’m really annoyed that this kind of joke can still find an audience in the games industry, in a field I love. I expect better than this in a field that should be focused on fun and creativity.
So, I’m adding dickwolf to my vocabulary. Not to mean comic strip rape, but to mean the type of bro who wants to keep gaming the he-man women-haters clubhouse.