In April I wrote a newsletter piece with the headine ‘Abuse, Assault & Harassment – Are We Going Backwards As An Industry?’ In the article I outlined the serious problem facing the games community. Toxicity within gaming is on the rise and is particularly prevalent for women and girls playing games online where they are aggressively quizzed about their gaming skills – often leading to more violent verbal abuse and even threats of rape. More disturbingly, the abuse doesn’t always stop once players leave the game – some instances manifest into serious consequences outside of gaming, including stalking on other platforms and threats of this transferring into real life.
The UN paints a disturbing picture about Violence against women and girls stating it is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today, and a major obstacle to the fulfilment of women’s and girls’ human rights and to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It occurs worldwide, cutting across all generations, nationalities, communities and spheres of our societies, irrespective of age, ethnicity, disability or other background.
Historically women have suffered from a range of mistreatments – from subtle discrimination through to harassment and violence. Why in the sophisticated and advanced world we live in does this continue to occur? Women in Games is prioritising actions within the gaming community to make change happen and you will see in our newsletter that there is a growing impetus from forward-thinking businesses and organisations to take these matters very seriously and make change happen.
As an industry, we must challenge this toxic behaviour and keep the issue top of the agenda to protect women and girls online, and of course in real life.
Addressing abuse and toxicity brings me to the sad news of the passing of Tina Turner last month.
One of the most iconic and inspiring women in entertainment, her talent was unquestionable, but her journey of challenges and difficulties are also being remembered now.
One cannot talk about Tina Turner’s life without acknowledging the deeply troubling and abusive relationship she endured with her ex-husband, Ike Turner. Tina faced unimaginable pain and suffering during those years, both physically and emotionally. Yet, it was her ability to rise above that darkness and find her own voice that makes her an exceptional figure to be celebrated.
In the midst of her tumultuous marriage, Tina had the courage to leave behind everything she knew, and to start anew – escaping from a motel room reportedly with just 36 cents in her purse. The only thing that she wanted in the divorce settlement from her controlling and abusive husband was her name (Ike Turner had trademarked the name ‘Tina Turner’ so that he would be able to replace her with another singer if he wanted).
We often talk about ‘allies’ at Women in Games, and Tina Turner had true allies who helped her back on her feet, including Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger and David Bowie. With their help, she embarked on a solo career in her 40s, and smashed down the barriers – as a black, ‘middle-aged’ woman – with the commercially- and critically- acclaimed album Private Dancer.
What made Tina Turner truly awe-inspiring was her refusal to let age or societal expectations define her. In an industry that often values youth and novelty, Tina broke the mould and proved that talent knows no age limit. Her electrifying performances, her powerful voice, and her magnetic stage presence challenged stereotypes and defied expectations. She showed the world that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams, to unleash your passion, and to embrace your authentic self. Nor, indeed, to wear mini skirts and stiletto heels.
Tina Turner’s story is one that resonates deeply with women from all walks of life. It serves as a reminder that we are not defined by the circumstances we find ourselves in, nor the trials we face. Instead, it is how we navigate through those challenges, how we find the strength to overcome, and how we rise above them that truly defines who we are.
In the face of adversity, Tina Turner did not allow herself to become a victim. Instead, she channelled her pain into her art, turning it into a source of empowerment and liberation. Her songs became anthems of strength and resilience, empowering women around the world to find their own voices and to stand tall in the face of adversity.
Tina Turner’s journey is a reminder that it is never too late to reinvent ourselves and pursue our passions. It serves as a beacon of hope for women who may have put their dreams on hold, thinking that they missed their chance. Tina’s success in her 40s and beyond reminds us that age is just a number, and there is no expiry date on our dreams.
As women and allies, let us all celebrate Tina Turner’s life and contribution to entertainment. Let us remember to be brave and fierce, acknowledge that age is no barrier to starting afresh – and succeeding! Wear the mini skirts and live life joyously!
Here are some of her greatest quotes, and life lessons for us all:
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
“My legacy is that I stayed on course, from the beginning to the end, because I believed in something inside of me.”
“Sometimes you’ve got to let everything go – purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything… whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”
“You’ve got to take the initiative and play your game. In a decisive set, confidence is the difference.”
“Fifty is the new 30. Seventy is the new 50. There are no rules that say you have to dress a certain way, or be a certain way.”
“You know what I say to people who ask, ‘What do you do when all the odds are against you?’ I say, ‘You keep going. You just don’t stop. No matter, if there’s one slap to the face, turn the other cheek. And the hurt you’re feeling? You can’t think about what’s being done to you now, or what has been done to you in the past. You just have to keep going’.”
RIP Tina Turner