Rock, Paper, Shotgun Apology For Using Female Writers

By John Walker on March 27th, 2013 at 9:00 pm.

We made a mistake. It’s important as a website that readers can trust that we are up front when this happens, and willing to admit to our failings, and promise to address them. And as recently as last week, Rock, Paper, Shotgun let a woman write an article. We would like to apologise to our readers for any offence caused.

Perhaps what makes what’s becoming known as #PeaSoupGate so serious an error on our part was the apparent subterfuge used in the run up to this article. The author and – we now confess – woman, Cara Ellison, had been writing articles for us for a few months in advance of this particular piece. And with no appropriate warning, the article finished with an image revealing that Cara was in fact female. Clearly many readers were upset, and we now hope to redress the balance over this unfortunate incident.

The piece, an interview with someone else we have since discovered to also be a woman, Rhianna Pratchett, finished with a picture of Ellison in the foreground, with a pot of pea soup in the background. What is so particularly problematic with this picture is that rather than containing the face of a man, as readers trust to expect, it seems we published what is identifiably a picture of a woman.

Naturally commenters expressed their shock and rage. Most were in fact so upset by the situation that they forgot to even mention that their horror was born of Ellison’s apparent lack of a Y chromosome, and instead in their confusion simply argued against the use of an image of the writer at all. With RPS’s male writers having frequently posted their own faces on the site over the years – and of course to no complaint – it just shows quite how wrong it was of us to allow this situation to occur, so upsetting and confusing as it was that people would become so muddled.

Some have observed that it is deeply peculiar that none of RPS’s male writers have ever been so vitriolically criticised for featuring picture of themselves, if it’s even happened at all. Others have claimed that rarely do readers feel the need to comment on whether they find the male writers of RPS attractive or not when images of them appear. Also that complaining about Cara’s writing about herself seems peculiar on a site that is proudly self-indulgent before it’s informative. Lines like “it’s almost like women in games journalism have something to prove” applied to a style of writing used by all of RPS’s male writers since we launched nearly six years ago, they say, appear incongruous. But this is a very insensitive argument that does not take into account the severity of the trauma our interview has caused.

RPS would also like to apologise for featuring other female writers, both born and identifying as female, on a regular basis. Clearly by being women they are imposing their agenda on an undeserving audience, in a way that is inexcusable.

From this point going forward, we will ensure that if a woman is somehow writing on the site, that during the process they will be required to wear a top hat, false moustache, and steely, manly glare as they type, in order to eradicate the unpleasantness so many have had to experience. No longer will they be allowed to “play the gender card” by openly having their gender be so not-male.

__________________

« | »

, , .

752 Comments »

  1. Lambchops says:

    I notice this has acquired a #peasoupgate on that Twitter thing. After #doritosgate this is becoming a habit for Scottish gaming journos.

    Next up Craig Pearson posts a photo of him adding marijuana to a popular baby milk product. They soon call it #hashandgategate

  2. N1kolas says:

    Wait, you mean there are non-females writing for RPS?

  3. BruceFnLee says:

    Oh, man. I have no idea what’s going on. All I wanna do is get high.

  4. Zepp says:

    Force all female writers to wear stylish moustaches and problem is almost solved. True thing is tho that game reviewing is only for manly males, it’s not sport for women.

  5. Chris D says:

    Personally I’d like to see RPS follow this up with an article that consists solely of pictures of all the writers extending their middle fingers towards the camera and the tagline “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

  6. Godwhacker says:

    My God. There truly are a lot of pricks reading this site

    • Llewyn says:

      Indeed. But at least it has comment blocking, and I’m grateful to John for regularly rounding up all the pricks into a single comment thread for easy cleansing.

  7. Tridae says:

    Woo! So many comments, I’m adding mine to be a part of the club :) And whilst I’m here I might as well say something.

    I love RPS and read it daily, one of the few sites I feel that is genuinely opinionated. The scoreless subjective reviews is what I come here for. I want to read what ‘someone’ thinks of a game, not what the generic masses might think. If a review is sometimes above my head then I’ll head over to gametrailers for their bulletpointed review for straight forward look at it.

    Cara is the best thing to happen to RPS ever. I wish I could be her friend, always imagine her as the that one friend at a party who’ll tell dirty jokes to push people’s comfort levels. MOAR plz.

    If RPS wants to post the occasional sensationalist article then let them, Jim needs a new TV, Alec wants a shiny bike, John can’t get enough cakes, Adam needs more money for strippers and Nathan needs to complete his collection of bobbleheads. This is a business, as long as the article is entertaining to read then carry on. If you don’t like it, go somewhere else

  8. Kid_A says:

    Well, I’m sure this needlessly hostile article leaping to the defence of someone who didn’t need defending over a barely-existent slight has generated plenty of pageviews for RPS by now, which presumably was the point.

  9. Longrat says:

    What a fucking joke this website has become, I wish 2008 RPS could see the kind of crap you guys write. If only the people that wrote Go Team! Could see this bullshit.
    Fuck, I’m done.

    • codename_bloodfist says:

      This is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. You’re professional victims now? I don’t know if this is the result of the relationship with that sensationalist pile of crap Eurogamer, the fact that Kotaku is doing so well despite having dedicated authors like that idiot Hernandez who only publish nonsense like this or something else, but this website has really gone down the gutter. This happened to ye olde reddit after all the idiots from Digg flooded it with their politicised crap and now it’s happening to RPS. Don’t even get me started on the whole le funny pun meme, the cheap attempts at humour and arguments so simplistic and so reductionist even TotalBiscuit would be ashamed to put them forth that infest the comment sections of every single article.

      Enjoy your new community, RPS, and don’t follow me where I’m going. You’re as easily replaced as a blog as I am as a faceless reader.

      • RodHope says:

        Sometimes these comments are like the sensationalist comments on a Daily Mail article. “this is the end of journalism! ” “It’s not like it was in my day!” “Bloody Liberals!”

        • codename_bloodfist says:

          I’m glad to see that you’re so versed in the manners pertaining to Daily Mail and its comment sections. This sums up the kind of community this website has attracted recently quite nicely.

          Please, don’t let me distract you from your favourite pastime then.

          • RodHope says:

            I think you might be missing the point on purpose…

          • codename_bloodfist says:

            That would make two of us.

          • Llewyn says:

            Please, to you and all your ilk, once you’ve announced the end of RPS and your intentions to take your patronage elsewhere just go. Regardless of the content of your comments, posting that you’re out of here and then continuing to comment just smacks of desperate attention-seeking.

  10. Tridae says:

    RPS – The internet loves to hate stuff, comment anonymity encourages ass-hattery. Let them be and carry on. If they’re really so whiny they can start their own site.

    Internet tip = If you’re about to comment something think – would I say this to someone’s face in the street?

    if yes.

    Go ahead.

    if not.

    shush

  11. h4mst4h says:

    Where are the videogames Walker?

  12. Megakoresh says:

    I am sorry, did I miss something? Is this a hidden message about some big videogame?
    Does this actually have anything to do with videogames?
    Should anyone actually care who writes articles, man, woman, cat, aliens? Am I missing something here?

  13. Sc0r says:

    By the way, thanks for your article, it gave me the best possible morning ever.
    I hope it scared off some idiots.

  14. Ny24 says:

    RPS has this really cool community. Yay, you! Pat yourself on the back, community. You are one of the most advanced communities of them all. But that’s also the problem here. I think John was just a bit disappointed to see even the slightest bit of sexism (saving the princess sexism) in this mass of fine folk. I don’t think his action is over-exaggerated. It’s a fight for an ideal. For a better world. A better tommorow. And he wants to encourage female writers to speak out. That’s cool. And so is RPS. And you! Yay, you!

  15. MOOncalF says:

    Why is that Iron Man in the photo standing in such a girly pose? This is what happens when you let women touch action figures, they make them look like dolls.
    Anyway RPS readers can’t be sexist, you just don’t have the balls to acknowledge their superiority to the mainstream media blouses. Game design isn’t cake decorating, that’s my rule of thumb… Yeah I can’t think of any more clubhouse nonsense right now. Write on all you crazy diamonds!

  16. Optimaximal says:

    I don’t find you attractive John.

    Sorry, it’s the hair…

  17. buxcador says:

    Don’t worry. I never trust photos or womanship claims from Internet.

    • Droopy The Dog says:

      I-no-rite?! Burnt too many times man…

      …*Sniff* I still remember Steven, it broke my heart when I found out her lies…

  18. Chalk says:

    662 COMMENTS feeding the troll!!!!

    Must be some kind of record?!

  19. Branthog says:

    Oh, good. The sexism (and incorrect usage of the word “misogyny” conversation, again. It has been almost six hours since I’ve had the displeasure of stumbling across one of these, again. Excuse me if I don’t give the slightest fuck who is writing what about what, as long as it’s good, and go back to reading a different article than this one because I’ve already spent too many hours of my life giving a fuck about shitty behavior and navel-gazing that I can’t change in other people.

  20. datom says:

    Is this the thread about the Jaffa cakes?

    One of the three things has happened here:
    1) RPS is engaging in OUTRAGE for OUTRAGE’s SAKE. John’s having a go at the readership for no reason at all.

    Or

    2) RPS is reacting to some nasty comments that the majority here didn’t see because they were deleted. This is good, but of course, the point of the attack is missed, and it just looks like John’s having a go at the readership for no reason at all, when actually there are some people that should be ashamed of themselves.

    Or

    3) This was a hilarious joke that missed it’s audience by implying the people reading it are sexist idiots, which we may find reasonably offensive.

    Critically, readers don’t like being accused of doing things that the majority of us haven’t done. Taking a whole post on the front page implying your readership are sexist loons, when the idiot parties at fault would be better mocked and berated in the thread were this took place, sounds awfully like snark at the readers that help pay your advertising revenue.

  21. ZHsquad says:

    Actually, if top hats were to be worn by all readers, each article produced would be filled with the words of lovely, countryside English gents. Smashing.

  22. Yuri says:

    What in carnation is going on here?

    Cara’s cool. Objective fact. End of discussion.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Cara writes well. RPS is an excellent site. Tomorrow is another day. We’re all going to die.

  23. GyroMaster says:

    I may be new here but I think that dude in the picture is totally right. Y’all need to stop hating on the soup.

  24. WhatKateDoes says:

    This probably won’t be read as the comments have reached critical-boredom-mass, but for those vexed by what this article alluded to, it was a minor follow-up post by Cara *after* the Tomb Raider interview, which comically pointed to the fact that during Cara’s skype interview with Rhianna she was embarrassed to discover her gloopy mysterious pot of Pea Soup was visible in the background. For effect, she posted capture of her Skype thingmabob. It was funny, we laughed. Then some people asploded. That post has been removed. Probably because too many asses wailed “WHERE IS TEH VIDEOGAME IN THIS ARTICLE?”

    • Droopy The Dog says:

      Did I miss something? That paragraph’s still there at the end of the article as well as the picture.

  25. 11temporal says:

    You people just don’t understand. That interview is simply overflowing with nasty sexist comments! It’s just that as white straight males we simply cannot see them. Neither can John for that matter (I think) but his superior experience in fighting internet baddies certainly gives him the idea of the scale of misery that must be hidden there and informs his harsh judgement!

  26. Skeletor68 says:

    I didn’t see many objectionable comments either. Cara is great though, so if people were being assholes then deletion is fine in my book.

  27. Donisaurs says:

    I just love each and every one of you. Thank you very, very much for my daily/hourly doses of entertainment!

  28. Windward says:

    My problem with this article is it’s doing exactly what some have accused Cara of doing (which I have never felt from reading her articles) and making a big, giant, leviathan, supermassive issue of Cara being a woman. I generally enjoy John’s articles and I think he, in talking about gender issues, is addressing a vital issue THAT WE NEED TO CONFRONT, albeit not always in the ways I would. But in this instance he is singling out one of RPS’ own writers and painting a massive target on her back, saying ‘Look, I’m a woman, I am defined by HAVING A WOMB!’ which strikes me as really harmful to her future as a journalist who is, incidentally, a woman.

    I don’t want to come across as overly censorial because I like John and I think this piece is written in absolutely the right spirit in trying to defend a friend and colleague from hateful troglodytism, but I really feel this would have been better handled as discrete replies within the original article dealing with the perpetrators, or failing that as a more general commentary on female games journalists without picking Cara out.

  29. vai90 says:

    Am I the only one who doesn’t quite get all this fuss?

  30. Ditauni says:

    I’m far more offended by her love of pea soup. Has she no shame?

    I mean that’s my favorite soup — how dare a woman sully it!

  31. Lemming says:

    I may be alone here, but what negative comments? I realise this article is a jokey one, but surely the joke only works if there were actually buckets of negative comments in Cara’s articles. I don’t remember seeing any? I assumed the readership loved her!

    So Mr. Walker, what the blazes are you talking about?

    Apart from anything else, you are drawing attention to Cara’s sex far more than any comments (if they ever existed) would have.

  32. Blue_Lemming says:

    Whenever i see the name Ellison, i think of my toy gun collecting college stalwart, having said that I barely bother to read the names of the people writing.

    Also looking at the last 14 pages of comments It seems like the internet has been breading 101 Mary Whitehouses, all embittered and full of apocalyptic rage. Its a games website, get some perspective and if you don’t like it, the choice is very simple.

  33. dmoe says:

    tl;dr

  34. Gwyddelig says:

    I genuinely thought that RPS comments were less ass-hatish than most of the rest of the internewt. It would appear that I am wrong.

    Well said, Jawn Walker (it’s far more Hollywood that way…)

  35. finbikkifin says:

    Dear RPS,

    ilu. Please continue annoying horrible people and providing good games journalism and bad jokes and Cara’s excellent articles.

    Also drag Kieron back from whatever comics wonderland he fled to after escaping games writing. Maybe lend him back out for Young Avengers though.

  36. deke913 says:

    Man. Woman. Child. Turtle in a tophat. I could care less. I love RPS for the sum of your parts. I don’t look at the writers as anything more or less than people who write …really well…better than myself by far. And it just so happens I love to read. Keep up the writing RPS and I myself will keep up the love.

  37. analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

    No wonder Gordon Freeman is angry, having to wear blusher, lippy and a wig whilst being told that green stuff from Residue Processing is Pea Soup.

    Someone needs to write about this, maybe that Cara lass.

  38. Saarlaender39 says:

    ———————————————————-
    Commentin on RPS: Three simple rules

    1) Don’t insult anyone, whether they’re an RPS writer, reader or anyone else whether present or not. If you can’t make your argument without insults, it simply isn’t worth making. So the comment may well be deleted.

    2) Don’t say meh/boring/yawn or any kind of words to that effect (this also includes ‘old!’ and related). If you don’t care about the subject of a post, it’s openly absurd that you’ve made the effort to comment on it instead of just moving on to a story you are interested in. Commenting without reading also falls into this category: it’s trying to make the thread about you rather than its subject. So the comment may well be deleted.

    3) Don’t reply to spam messages, no matter how hilarious you think you’re being. When something slips through the net, we usually clean it up pretty quickly, so any replies to it are left floating and leave you looking like a mad’un. So the comment may well be deleted.
    ——————————————————-

    Well, last night I posted a comment.

    This comment met all three rules of yours…it didn’t insult anyone, didn’t contain the words “meh/boring/yawn/old” or related, and wasn’ t a reply to some spam message.

    To me (and my manly mindset, of course*) it seemed to be a nice compliment towards Ms Ellison.
    Nevertheless, it seems it got deleted (at least I couldn’t find it again).

    So, may I ask, why exactly my comment got deleted? Or will this question lead to another deleted comment?

    Yours sincerely,

    A man of the male kind, with no interest in sexual harrassment towards any member of humankind or wildlife

    *come to think of it, maybe that’s the problem here, hmm…

  39. Saarlaender39 says:

    Wow,…this comment section is really messed up…

  40. JamesTheNumberless says:

    To me RPS is not meant to be the most unbiased, or the least self-indulgent, or the most hardcore-games-focused. It’s become pretty much the only source I come to for games reviews and news (besides zero-punctuation) for 2 reasons:

    1) It doesn’t do review scores

    2) It’s not American

    As long as it continues to be these things, it can’t really go wrong… However, I was much more a fan of ST Action, than Amiga Power!

    ::yawn:: somehow ,there is still a level of expectation that women exist to serve the interests of men. A bunch of women, just being women, is somehow a threatening thing unless they can be easily objectified one way or another. If you want to argue that men don’t typically revel in their masculinity when writing, then you’re a bit naive. Or you’re choosing to be ignorant,of the fact that there are differences between how men share the experience of being male, and how women share the experience of being female, and that mainstream gamer culture (and internet culture!) is already overtly masculine.

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      Sir, I advise you, never go to the Bigg Market in Newcastle, I think your head might implode!

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        Been there and not sure what the fuss is about. Nottingham where my g/f went to uni, and Glasgow where I grew up have comparable scenes if you know where (not) to go. Not really seeing what the nightlife of a handful of young people who’ve had too much drink in a small town has got to do with my comment though. I guess you won’t tell me the connection either. Thanks for making me feel dense :(

  41. kerbal says:

    Love RPS for this, constructing gender/deconstructing gender- messing with my brain. keep on the fantastic writing…

  42. OfficerMeatbeef says:

    Bad news folks; if you claim to have read this article and then were somehow “confused” by it, you either didn’t actually read it or you sadly lack reading comprehension, because there is both a clear link to the article in question (in fact it’s the only link there!) and, most shockingly, the mysterious “comments” being spoken about can be found in the comments section of that very article!

    The more vitriolic comments are probably excised, sure, but many of those bewildering statements John was speaking so very cryptically about here? Those comments are STILL THERE.

    “Nah, not really, Ellie Gibson of EG does the same thing. It’s almost like women in games journalism have something to prove…”

    “Heeeeej!:( I’m 27 and I still sleep in my room at my parent’s house so you’re in a better place than me. I’m just eating better, I guess, but… …whatever. Food is overrated anyway.:) And you’re really, really cute.:) That’s a BIIIG plus.:D”

    “Well I’m going to be very un PC and say… Cara is fit.”

    “Nice reading.

    btw, don’t ever put a pic of you on a gaming site, just saying.”
    ^Again, the very first comment!

    I know this can be tricky to get, but even “well-intentioned” sexism like these things are is a problem.The fact that so many people in this comment thread still aren’t getting this only proves that this article not only should have been written, but that clearly we still need many, many more to come before it finally seeps in.

    • Hazz-JB says:

      Wait, so the first comment is somehow more indicative of the average tone of the comments section by virtue of being the first? And awkward flirting is the target of this article? I’m sorry but this was nothing but a self-indulgent rant reacting to LITERALLY 1 or 2 comments. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but that’s all it is.

    • Saarlaender39 says:

      @officermeatbeef
      /reply to your post at 12:25 (in case this gets messed up)

      Now I know, what happened to the internet…it got americanized!

      To quote the “insults” you find so “bewildering”:

      -“Nah, not really, Ellie Gibson of EG does the same thing. It’s almost like women in games journalism have something to prove…”

      -“Heeeeej!:( I’m 27 and I still sleep in my room at my parent’s house so you’re in a better place than me. I’m just eating better, I guess, but… …whatever. Food is overrated anyway.:) And you’re really, really cute.:) That’s a BIIIG plus.:D”

      -“Well I’m going to be very un PC and say… Cara is fit.”

      -“Nice reading,
      btw, don’t ever put a pic of you on a gaming site, just saying.”

      So, four comments of whom only the first is on the edge to a real insult…two are (maybe a little clumsy) compliments regarding Ms Ellisons appearance and the last one is a good intended advice in foresight on possible(!) reactions from the not so mature readers (and mature has nothing to do with age).

      I know you americans have a problem with smiling at each other, due to possible lawsuits afterwards, but you know…in the rest of the world, compliments are still allowed.

      You write: “the more vitriolic comments are probably excised”…yeah, probably…but I followed the comments in that article quite a while…and I didn’t saw any “more vitriolic” ones, as the already quoted.

      That makes it somehow hard to follow John’s point.

      How can written insults, that no one sees, insult anyone, at all?

      • Llewyn says:

        “Insult” is a word you’ve inserted into this discussion.

        If you can’t see why comments treating a female writer like an exhibit in a zoo, or a circus freakshow, are just as inappropriate as “insults” then I think I might be able to see why you’ve been having a problem with comments being deleted.

  43. Prime says:

    Any girl that can eat and survive Rowies is a legend in my eyes. Cara Ellison is amazing, her writing is amazing, and I’ll glower fiercely over my mouthplate at anyone who says otherwise.

    Optimus thumbs all round!

  44. DavidJerk says:

    Is this game news? Kotaku and RPS have degenerated into politics it seems. I have no idea what this article is about, I assume your readers acted dumb.

  45. Mbaya says:

    I’m posting because it’s the first time I’ve genuinely been a bit confused by an article on RPS.

    I’m not sure if this article is witty banter about the whole ‘Women in Gaming’ scene that’s going on at the moment, or if’s genuinely a vent about the way some commenters were acting (while I was reading the thread, it seemed harmless enough, mostly talk about Jaffa Cakes and Tesco Pea Soup).

    So yeah, confused. But what I will say is I love RPS – honestly, I don’t use that word lightly. I get so much entertainment from you guys and not just the staff, but many of the commenters and forum users too.

    You bring more entertainment to a medium I’m passionate about, you bring up important articles about the industry as a whole, in depth views on well known games, critiques, darn right slatings when things are deserved, different viewpoints, indie games I’d never have found otherwise and so, so much more.

    Each of the writers bring something to the table in their own way and the site in my eyes, features some of the greatest talent in journalism (not just gaming…but informative and entertaining reading), and I felt Cara was well deserving of having a place here (her writing style reminded me of Kieron Gillen, but since he’s off saving the world one comic at a time, we don’t see him as often as I’d like). In fact, Cara’s writing here was a highlight in the last year or so for me, I was hoping to see her become a permanent member. And that isn’t because of her sex…it’s because she’s passionate about games and a bloody good writer, like all people under the RPS Roof.

    For the record, I’d also enjoy reading more things by Rab Florence, but I’m unsure what he’s up to these days. It seemed he’d be a perfect fit for RPS, and last I read something from him was on John’s Blog. Also, more Craig Pearson (I won’t lie, Craig and Jim are my favourite writers, that’s not to point out the others, I just wanted to share :D).

    So yeah, I may be missing the mark, but I wanted this stuff to be known, in fact, I might mail it to one of you fine chaps, just so it doesn’t go missed and you know how I much I appreciate all the work you all do, giving us so much, seriously guys – you’re an island of loveliness in a sea of hate and bile, and it’s a pleasure to read your articles.

    I hope noisy, relentless hate filled trolls didn’t cause too much trouble, if that indeed was the case.

    Keep up the good work.

  46. bonjovi says:

    So I am now here alone at the 15th page of the comments, a place where no one comes. Can you feel more lonely on the internet?

  47. Shazbut says:

    I can think of a lot that this article does that is destructive and nothing it does that is helpful.

  48. Dark Nexus says:

    I can’t be the only one that wants to see a picture of Cara Ellison in “a top hat, false moustache, and steely, manly glare” shoehorned into each of her future articles, am I? I think it would be a completely hilarious way of telling off the “no wimmenz” crowd.

    Bonus points for a different fake moustache each time.