July 25, 2021

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The Riot Grrrl spirit comes to video games

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My fellow music nerds will remember Riot Grrrl for its connection to a wellspring of awesome bands. From Bikini Kill to Bratmobile and Heavens to Betsy, at the start of the 1990s the Washington punk scene had suddenly exploded in girl bands, pouring out of a growing movement of informal all-girl meet-ups in the city where women of the scene organized shows, offered each other support and distributed zines – hand-crafted magazines filled with Xeroxed diary entries, sketches, song lyrics and political thought. In a world before the Internet, this was the best way to cultivate a community of like-minded thinkers who felt excluded from what was a predominantly masculine preoccupation of punk rock.

As both a child of the 90s and someone who has spent the last decade in games journalism, it’s hard not to see a parallel between the Riot Grrrl of yesterday and the games and tech industry of today. Both punk and nerd kingdoms represent a counter to the tastes, views and expectations of the mainstream – a place where outcasts can find an alternative home and commune with those who share their interests. However, as women and other minority figures of the punk community came to realize, here too they were sidelined.

In the second issue of her zine Chainsaw, musician Donna Dresch writes about this climate in the punk scene right around this time:

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