Generally geeky Internet magazine boingboing.net is giving video games a home once again, by creating offworld.com as a “place for happy mutants who love to explore new worlds.” The new site is being run by Leigh Alexander and Laura Hudson, both of whom have pretty impressive credentials as journalists and critics of the video game industry.
Offworld isn’t just a space for boingboing to share articles about video games though. It was specifically constructed to be a safe space for women and others who don’t feel represented or, sometimes, welcome in the video gaming world. The last year has proven incredibly toxic for women in the video game industry or it’s peripheries, especially in the online sphere. The GamerGate “movement” has fought hard and fought dirty to silence women who criticize the overwhelmingly white male power fantasy narrative of mainstream video games. They’ve succeeded in driving some women from video game culture, and they’ve certainly dragged that culture through the mud and made it look foolish and even dangerous to outsiders.
But a lot of women and their allies have fought back. The core assumption of GamerGate is that video games shouldn’t represent diverse people or appeal to them, and Offworld rejects that stance with every fiber of it’s being. The bulk of the articles are, and will continue to be, written by women, people of color, differently abled gamers, and so on. And it will feature articles that speak to this diverse audience. Young, straight, white male gamers aren’t the majority of video gamers out there, and as the medium continues to grow and evolve, they will continue to shrink until they’re such a small group that appealing only to them become financial suicide, instead the status quo.
Offworld is going to help that process along, and it’s going to contribute a lot of really great stuff to the discussion of that evolution, and the evolution itself. It’s worth following, and it’s worth contributing to, if you have something to say.