Released a day before the new episode of the show, perhaps to bait a certain hate-group, the team from the show Adam Ruins Everything has released a delightful animated video explaining the history of video game sexism as a result of late-80’s marketing.
The truTV show follows comedian Adam Conover as he educates and dispels the rumors behind popular false facts, by diving into the history of social programs like the 40 hour work week or the Electoral College. This segment focuses on the collapse of the video game industry in the wake of not-really-the-worst-game-ever cartridges like Atari’s E.T. adaptation, and how gendered-based toy shelves led to a marketing segmentation that was never corrected for.
A mere hour after being posted, the comments are already a wasteland. Mostly your standard defensive shouts that there is no such thing as sexism in gaming. But just as equally it is made up of loud voices shouting things like “feminazi” and insisting that casual gaming will “never be real gaming.” Awesome work, everyone.
There is a point central to the thesis that is a little misleading, in that you have to go pretty far down the ladder before you find people insisting in 2015 that video games are not for girls, but it does get to a foundation of why dudes raised in the 80s/90s may have been subjected to a passive sexism that permeated how they first approached gaming and games culture. I, for one, remember a lot of these early NES/Sega ads used on Nickelodeon when I was growing up, and had never noticed that there are no girls to be seen in these ads, until the demographic grows up enough to stick them in lingerie. What a nightmare.
If you’re the sort of person who is angered by the accusation that women are being kept from acceptance in video games, maybe instead of attacking these videos you should be embracing the idea that this was all a clever marketing scheme and some of the prejudices you now hold are the unforeseen consequences of targeted marketing. Adam ruins lots of things, but in this case he’s actually trying to let you off the hook.