Feminists critics of the video game industry — and gaming, in general — have lost their minds over the news that one of the world's top gamers, Tyler "Ninja" Blevins, won't stream alongside women out of fear that any seemingly flirtatious exchange, or perceived sexist insult, could land him in hot water and ruin his lucrative career.
Ninja, as he is known, plays Fortnite, an online 'battle royale" game that pits players from all over the world against each other in a massive fight to the death, and Ninja earns well into the seven figures playing Fortnite — mostly from selling ads on his Twitch streaming channel, making endorsements and personal appearances, and playing in tournaments.
But the gaming world is fraught with social justice warriors (mostly women who identify as "feminists") looking to skewer male gamers, whom they consider sexist, misogynistic, and unfairly aggressive, Ninja included.
So, when asked why he doesn't have more women on his stream, Ninja was honest: he doesn't want to earn himself a feminist backlash.
“While I understand some people have implied my views mean I have something against playing with women, I want to make clear the issue I’m addressing is online harassment, and my attempt to minimize it from our life,” he said, referring to himself and his wife, a fellow gamer.
"[E]ven if there’s a hint of flirting, that is going to be taken and going to be put on every single video and be clickbait forever," he added.
He simply doesn't want to be harassed.
“[Harassment] is something that affects all streamers, especially ones that make their relationships public,” Blevins continued. “I wanted to bring attention to this issue and my comments should not be characterized as anything beyond that.”
The problem is, of course, that feminists don't like to be criticized, even by implication — and they certainly believe that Ninja is criticizing them by implication. In response, they unleashed a volley of insults, calling Ninja a sexist, and claiming that "there’s something poetic about Ninja thinking ‘wow women in gaming have to deal with a deeply toxic culture of men attacking them and speculating about their lives. I wouldn’t want that in my life sooo I won’t work with women phew problem solved’ then tweeting that without irony.”
Feminist "nerd culture" rag, the Mary Sue even went so far as to call Ninja, "Mike Pence," comparing him to the Vice President who will not dine alone with any female, suggesting that Ninja owes female gamers access to his audience, and implying that he's oppressing any woman who doesn't get to game with him by "effectively denying all female streamers, no matter how talented, access to his 10,000,000 followers."
"By refusing to play with female streamers, he may feel like he’s staying out of things. But in reality, he’s only reinforcing the idea that female streamers should be avoided, that they come with drama attached, and that there is an inherent sexualization when playing with them," they whined, obviously not realizing that with their own reporting they were making the argument for Ninja's position.
For his part, Ninja is, at least, unfazed.
"I look forward to the opportunity to meet and play with all kinds of ‘Fortnite’ players in future tournaments and events,” Ninja wrapped, probably to no avail.