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Still from "GTFO"
Still from "GTFO"Courtesy of SXSW

The gamer girls rewriting the rules

Meet the successful gamers ready to flip the script post-GamerGate in new documentary GTFO

It’s been nearly 30 years since the NES revelation that Samus Aran in Metroid was actually a woman and, since that time, her character has become a side-scrolling inspiration to kids who had their tiny minds blown when the armour finally came off. But even Samus, an icon of female protagonists in gaming, fell victim to the inherent sexism found in the 8-bit world, when developers created a way to play the game with her wearing only a bikini (as long as you had the right password).

Shannon Sun-Higginson’s new documentary, Get The F&#% Out, gets right to the heart of the GamerGate controversy, and the sexism that is ruining gaming. To celebrate the film’s premier at SXSW last week, we’ve compiled a list of ten inspirational female figures from across the industry, whether professional gamers or subjects profiled in GTFO. Meet the people leading the fightback against the gaming-culture misogyny.


Also nicknamed ‘Swarm Zerg’ and the far-catchier ‘Queen of Blades’, Hostyn burst on to the gaming scene in April 2011 playing StarCraft II and has since gone on to win earnings north of $80,000 from more than 30 tournaments. Originally becoming champion in a female-only competition called the NESL Iron Lady, she recently stated on Twitter that the 2015 World Championship Series Season 1 would probably be her last tournament. Reportedly, Hostyn has lost interest in StarCraft 2 (gasp!) and needs some time off to allow her wrists to recover.


Probably best known for taking the title of World Cyber Games Ultimate Gamer after competing on the Big Brother-style SyFy show back in 2010, Gunn walked away with $100,000 after beating the competition. Playing everything from Halo: Reach to WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2010, Gunn’s televised gaming prowess showcased the legitimacy of female gamers and made her a bona fide internet celebrity.


From the adult world to the gaming realm, Mia Rose has now gone full-frontal nerd after making a name for herself as a porn star before deciding to make the transition from the casting couch to the chat room. A member of The Hammer Squad, Rose can usually be seen playing Heroes of the Storm on her page that to date has over ten million views. If you don’t think she respects herself because of her past, think again. The amount of abuse she’s received just for plugging in and pressing start over the last few years is staggering, and she doesn’t hesitate to instantly ban anyone who misbehaves, so be polite.


Another active user who represents the more fantasy-driven ideal of a girl gamer, Spyte’s particular poison is StarCraft – and she’s so good at it that Canada has named her a master-level player. Described as chess on steroids, StarCraft is arguably the most complex game floating around out there in the cyberverse, complete with professional teams, sponsorship deals and players that are well remunerated for their skills. Millions of gaming fans have witnessed Spyte take out a number of well-known players from around the world, making her a legitimate name even if she likes to show off a little cleavage during her bouts.


“Every message is the same. I’m either fat and ugly, or a slut.” Like a number of startling blogs pointing out the insults, bizarre behavior and downright weirdness of a majority of male gamers out there, highlights just how funny and ridiculous these comments can be. Grace, aka GTZ, exposes the full range of douchebaggery found in the online messages within gaming, because she knows that shaming these meatheads is more productive than just being offended by them.


A man wearing a skull mask recently posted a video on YouTube threatening Brianna Wu, a frontline victim of GamerGate, outlining his plans to murder her “Assassin’s Creed-style.” Wu develops video games for your phone, and has helped recently create a breakthrough game for iPad called Revolution 60 that’s fully voice acted, starring anime legend Amanda Winn-Lee from Evangelion. An amalgam of Wu and two other gamers (one of whom, Miranda Pakozdi, happens to top this list) was recently created as a character on a Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode called “The Intimidation Game” last month, fictionalising the very real lengths that some of these maniacs will go to in order to scare women out of the industry.


Another woman on the list featured in the GTFO doc, Stanton recently organised an entire game developer conference where 50 per cent of the speakers were women, something that’s not easy to do in today’s post-GamerGate climate. Stanton has seen a lot of hate and vitriol spit at her by being a vocal, feminist voice speaking out against sexist gamer culture, but as a project manager for a large video game company in Boston, she's in a position to do something about it.


Also interviewed in GTFO, Jenny Haniver founded a site called Not in the Kitchen Anymore, which provides riveting audio clips she’s recorded while she games online. Even women are occasionally heard flinging insults in the recordings which is, arguably, more disturbing than the barrage of caveman quips hurled through sweaty headsets as Jenny, quietly and often hilariously, dishes out a little verbal punishment of her own. “Wow, you sound hot, babe.” / “Well, you sound like an idiot, so…”


Sarkeesian just gave a speech entitled “What I Couldn’t Say” at the All About Women conference in Sydney. She’s produced the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series and, although she isn’t an avid gamer, she’s at the center of the controversy surrounding GamerGate, and is one of the more memorable talking heads in GTFO. Speaking at the conference, Sarkeesian gave a number of quotes that resonated during her treatise on gaming culture. “I can’t say that sometimes the harassment really gets to me or conversely that the harassment has become so normal that sometimes I don’t feel anything at all. A death threat comes through my social media and it’s just become a routine: screencap, forward to FBI, block, move on.”


Back in 2012, the incident which arguably uncovered the sexism that became GamerGate and sparked a movement occurred when Pakozdi was berated by her Tekken team coach Aris Bakhtanians during a ‘Cross Assault’ competition that was being broadcast live on the web. Even after becoming the poster girl for GamerGate and a target from the fighting game community (FGC), Pakozdi has played on, literally trying to change the game from the inside.