"GTFO" Film Documents the Hurdles Faced by Women in Games

Posted by | August 25, 2015 | Opinion | No Comments

GTFO is an acronym for a very unpleasant sentiment (“Get the f— out”). It’s often used to angrily expel a person from something the person holds dear. The phrase can be applied to lots of social situations. But now the acronym has been turned on its head in “GTFO,” a documentary that looks at what is happening to women in the gaming industry. “GTFO” was started in response to the Cross Assault video, in which male players film a female player while relentlessly sexually harasssing her. The “GTFO” documentary project quickly grew into something much bigger and more comprehensive.

“I starting shooting the documentary that weekend [after the Cross Assault video], not really knowing what my ultimate goal was,” said filmmaker Shannon Sun-Higgison. “I just knew that I wanted to tell the story of what was happening to women in games. At first, I was more focused on harassment, but I soon realized that there is such a huge range of experiences. So I broadened out the topic to include all the great, positive, and creative influences that women have on the world of video games.”

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Young females gamers at a convention, as seen in “GTFO,” a new film directed by Shannon Sun-Higginson that looks at harassment in the game industry. Credit: Shannon Sun-Hugginson / “GTFO”

“GTFO” is the first feature-length film by Sun-Higginson, who says she always knew she wanted to be a filmmaker. “It wasn’t until college that I realized my love for documentaries. I took an excellent documentary course and realized that I could combine my love for the medium with a desire to create social change. I made my first short form doc in college, which aired on Current TV.”

“GTFO” made its debut at the South by Southwest film festival earlier this year. It’s also an official selection of Independent Film Festival Boston and the Doxa Film Festival. The film has made into the pages of “Time Magazine” and onto the television show “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver.

“The reception to the film has been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. From those who (like myself) were not familiar with the topic, people seem to be really affected by the film and relate it to their personal lives in a huge range of industries,” which is one of the goals Sun-Higginson had for the film in the beginning.

“I hope that ‘GTFO’ can be a 101 intro to women in video games for newcomers to the subject, and that it provides some additional insight and resources to those already involved in that world,” she said. “I also hope viewers understand that the cultural shift that’s taking place in gaming right now is just one example of something that has happened throughout history. Video games do not exist in a vacuum. They affect and are affected by our culture. As Todd Harper says at the end of the film: ‘If you think that the way women are treated in video games doesn’t affect you, you’re wrong.'”

You can buy or rent “GTFO” on a number of platforms including iTunes, Vimeo, Google Play and Xbox. If you live in the New York City area, you can go to a free screening of the film on August 27.

Nicole Tanner

About Nicole Tanner

Nicole has been playing games her entire life. Now that she's a mom, she's passionate about promoting games as a healthy pastime to other parents around the globe. She has been an editor at IGN, where she launched and hosted the Girlfight podcast. In her spare time (which is not very much, honestly) she enjoys gaming, reading, and writing fiction. Most of the time she’s a mom to a crazy, intelligent, and exhausting little girl.