Dear PC Gamer:

From your Left 4 Dead review: “…you can’t choose which survivor you play as, so someone will be stuck playing the girl.”

Please explain this joke to me? How does one get “stuck” playing as “the girl”, and why is this a bad thing?

Seriously, I really want to see you explain how this is funny without just coming out and saying girls and women are inferior. Because that is the entire point of the joke… someone gets “stuck” playing as the female character because no one WANTS to play as the female character, because girls suck.

The “joke” makes especially no sense because you go on to say that the characters are entirely cosmetic since they all play exactly the same. So in this case the ONLY reason someone would feel that they were “stuck” playing as Zoey is because they are sexist assholes.

Clearly you didn’t take into account that some of your readers would actually WANT to play as “the girl”. But, you know, keep on keeping that boy’s club sealed up tight.


5 thoughts on “Dear PC Gamer:

  1. I hate this kind of “humor.” The moment you challenge it, privilege starts getting defensive and insisting that “It’s only a joke, I didn’t mean anything by it/you’re being oversensitive.” But like, what is ever funny about a “joke” like that? Where is the humor in it and why would someone laugh at it?

    I really like the Racialicious method of responding to bigoted humor: play stupid.

  2. I actually find that amusing in that I play with my bf and my 2 guy friends and I usually play the girl, but one of my guy friends and I sometimes fight over who plays the girl, lol.

  3. While the joke is perhaps in poor taste, I personally read it as ‘since most groups of fours gamers playing this title will not include a girl, someone will have to play with a character they probably won’t indentify as stronly with’. The joke works perfectly well by subsitituting ‘the bikie’ or ‘old man’ into it, so in this case I feel your interperation might’ve been unintentional on the writer’s behalf.

    Sorry for the necropost and keep up the thought provoking work, your Mass Effect piece really caught me by surprise. It’s amazing how (having grown up within the culture of post 1999 games) something as mahor as the lack of female representation could’ve escaped my notice.

    • Thanks for the kind words. I normally don’t answer these sorts of comments, but you seem nice!

      The thing is, in our culture women are considered inferior to men. And the worst insult to men is to be called a woman (or “gay”, because in our homophobic, misogynist culture gay men and women are basically the same). ie. “You throw like a girl.” So PC Gamer’s joke is not just what you said, but that the guy playing Zoe is somehow lesser because he is playing a female avatar (which I’m sure you’ll agree is just plain stupid–that is my point).

      I dislike doing making these comparisons in general, but think of it this way: what if the article had said “Someone will be stuck playing the black guy!” instead? That would be really fucking offensive, too. Whereas saying “Someone will be stuck playing the biker” isn’t because bikers aren’t an oppressed group like women and men of color are. In addition, bikers aren’t considered inferior the way women and men of color are, so the joke wouldn’t really make any sense. The joke only makes sense if it is generally considered bad to be a woman (or a man of color, in my example). Ergo, it is a misogynist (or racist) joke.

      And why would they assume women don’t play L4D? It is one of the most female-friendly online multi games out there.

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