Video Game Voters Network has published an official statement regarding the recent UN Women report entitled "Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls." Feminist Frequency creator and host Anita Sarkeesian and game developer Zoe Quinn were both speakers at the event in which the report was detailed. Both individuals are persons of interest in the #GamerGate controversy.
The statement by the VGVN slams the report for falling into the "tired strategy of using hyperbolic, outlandish and outdated notions of video games and gamers" and points out that the report cited an opinion article from 2000 "filled with outdated views from noted and debunked anti-video game pundits."
Here's the meat of it:
This report cites an opinion article written in 2000 filled with outdated views from noted and debunked anti-video game pundits. As an example, the report quotes Lyndon LaRouche and his wife, Helga Zepp LaRouche, and further the U.N.’s source material cites Zepp La Rouche’s work, “The Mark of the Beast: America’s Children Are in Mortal Danger,” in which she mistakenly reports that children as young as two are abusing digital entertainment. A claim that has been specifically (and repeatedly) denied by medical professionals.
It is embarrassing that the U.N. would even consider these as reliable sources for a report on video games or gamers.
The Video Game Voters Network strongly supports empowering women and minorities and creating an inclusive online environment that is welcoming of all views and perspectives. However, the U.N. does this issue serious harm by spreading stereotypes and misinformed opinions that undercut its credibility. The safety of Internet users on all platforms will not be helped by reports citing dubious sources, 15-year-old webpages and attempts to incite moral panics about games and gamers.
Medical professionals, researchers, and courts have all debunked these types of stereotypes and faulty research. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that “psychological studies purporting to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children do not prove that such exposure causes minors to act aggressively.”
We should be past the point of having to defend video games' right to exist, but as long as organizations such as the U.N. keep dredging up bad research, we'll keep pointing out their mistakes.
Video Game Voters Network is a project sponsored by the game industry's Entertainment Software Association. The purpose of the project is to provide a place for American gamers to organize and defend against threats to the medium by registering to vote and letting Congress know the importance of the issue. In other words, it's to prevent precisely these kind of moral panics from gaining a foothold in the mainstream.