Yesterday I was on Twitter when I saw Wil Wheaton telling off someone who had obviously been attacking Felicia Day. This morning the ripples are being felt throughout the internet. (FYI Wil’s motto is “Don’t be a dick”)
Chuck Wendig wrote up the story. Ryan, a loser with 50 twitter followers, made repeated unprovoked attacks on Felicia Day not just to his 50 followers but to Felicia Day herself. When he didn’t get a reaction from her, he kept going – until he got a reaction from other people.
I saw Wil Wheaton’s reaction on Twitter which was chivalrous as well as appropriate, telling the guy that his behaviour was inappropriate in terms that hopefully he could understand. Wil also contacted the site for which the guy freelanced, Destructoid. A quick look showed that Destructoid is a pretty ordinary website; my opinion confirmed by their response to Wil Wheaton contacting them about their minion’s behaviour. Destructoid said ‘be cool’ or something equally lacking. The fans raged. Ryan got sacked.
The outcome for the webz? Attitude toward women in general but especially in gamer culture, is once again the topic du jour (of the day). The below comic seems to be dated 2008, so we really haven’t come very far in the past four years :/ (Thanks Foz Meadows for the link.)
According to Chuck Wendig’s blog, this debacle appears to have started here:
Ryan Perez @PissedOffRyno Does Felicia Day matter at all? I mean does she actually contribute anything useful to this industry, besides retaining a geek persona?
[Note: the above Twitter account appears to have been closed and replaced; the new account appears to be @OfGloriousLife.]
When that didn’t get a sufficient reaction, he went on to tweet Felicia herself.
Whether you’re a fan of Felicia or not, the facts are indisputable:
1) Felicia is an actress, having had parts in SFF series such as Buffy and Dollhouse, and don’t forget the memorable Dr Horrible’s Sing-along Blog. This is as well as her work in various comedy companies. See her CV on IMDB.
2) After realising that she wasn’t going to get the big parts, Felicia decided to create her own webseries, The Guild, thus creating her own persona and connecting with a huge fanbase (8.6 stars on IMDB for season 1). Felicia wrote and performed Do you wanna date my avatar, a hugely popular song about relationships in MMORPGs (massive multiplayer online role playing games, e.g. World of Warcraft). She was the fairy in the Legend of Neil, a spoof of Zelda.
3) Felicia created her own comic book series as a spin-off from the Guild as well as a range of merchandise.
4) Bioware hired Felicia Day to star in and work on the DragonAge webseries.
5) Bioware created Talis, a character in DragonAge, based on Felicia’s webseries character and voiced by Felicia.
6) Felicia’s career has taken off in recent years, with increasing diversity of opportunities such as her role as Dr Holly Martin in Eureka and her new YouTube channel, Geek and Sundry.
7) Last year, Felicia was dubbed ‘Queen of ComicCon’, that little event they have in San Diego that no-one has ever heard about. Joss Whedon was dubbed the king, which shows how much clout you need for that kind of popular acclaim.
In short, Felicia was a leader in the new wave of webseries, tapping into geek culture in an unprecedented way with her series. Her current success is hard-earned, built on creativity and hard work. Her geek persona is a result of her creative contributions to geek culture.
It seems to me that a loser whose career was struggling decided to get attention by attacking a woman, someone he considered a ‘soft’ target. Presumably he felt safe in doing so, feeling that the risks outweighed the benefits. What concerns me is that he’s been rewarded by people on the webz: he now has 2,245 followers as of a minute ago. Chuck Wendig says they’re just rubber-necking; whether they are rubber-necking at a train-wreck or whether they’re in agreement with Ryan’s position is irrelevant. His rapid rise in follower numbers could lead to future work due to his rapid rise in popularity. A douchebag is being rewarded for his misogyny.
The best way to treat people like this is to, firstly, tell them their behaviour is inappropriate. Secondly, take other actions like contacting their employer, the police, block them etcetera. Finally, though, ignore them. Ostracism is the best way to deal with trolls.
UPDATE: End of show writer Kevin Beaumont writes about Perez‘s attempt at career suicide via twitter.
UPDATE: Mark Serrels of Kotaku talks about Hitman: Absolution and the army of girls that will change gaming.
The problem is that the gaming industry caters to and encourages objectification of women, creating a vicious cycle of ever-increasing misogyny and male-elitism while actively excluding women through male-oriented content and bullying. Someone has to break this vicious cycle by creating games for girls that aren’t patronising ‘princess’ games; games need to feature kick-ass strong women taking their places as equals in the world or even – heaven forbid! – rescuing the guy.
UPDATE: This. By Birmo, a man who says men should show the ‘tiny penis’ brigade how it’s done, and thereby change gaming culture.
UPDATE 10 July 2013
Ryan Perez closed the twitter account he used to cause offence and has replaced it. Apparently Ryan lost his job – for a couple of months. His post-offence reappearance on Venture Beat featured an apology dated 21 September 2012.
I didn’t know about Ryan’s apology or claimed reformation until I decided to update due to continued visits to this year-old blog, even though Ryan attacked me personally after I published this blog.
Ryan Perez is still an asshole. More about his ongoing campaign against equity, diversity and common decency in my upcoming blog.