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Misogyny in videogames

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Post 01 Oct 2014, 20:56
MissStrangelove wrote:
Her allegation is that, in the gaming industry, female characters are more often than not in side-roles and damsels in distress. Less important than the usually-male central character, more of an object to be fought over and defined in relation to the guy.


That shouldn't be surprising. Up until recently, the overwhelming majority of casual gamers were male, while male hard core/pro-gamers still outnumber female at least 7:1. The gaming industry (with mostly male game designers) is first and foremost a business seeking to maximise profits, and so of course they're going to cater to a majority male audience's wants.

I remember talking about what a shame it is that there are no female playable characters in the Metal Gear franchises, but look at what happened when they gave Raiden his androgynous appearance, many male gamers were turned off and that contributed to a decline in profits. I've said it before that I personally love the look, and Raiden is my favourite Metal Gear character, but a business has to cater to the majority if it seeks to make a profit.

I'm not an expert on the gaming community neither am I really a gamer myself, but most of the games that have been discussed recently do have female central characters as well as female playable characters. Blizzard for example have female playable characters/plot-line protagonists in every single one of their new games like WoW, Starcraft, and Diablo. The Fallout franchise also gives the option to play as male or female upon which the storyline changes significantly based on the choices you can make in game. On this very page, the games Invisible Inc, Powerslide, and Killswitch all contain central female playable characters.

So I do believe the predominantly male gamer trend is changing, and the games are changing along with it.

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And the usual response is telling, too. "What about Lara Croft?!" A character designed as masturbation fodder and in emulation of male action heroes, who wasn't remotely relatable or developed until 2 years ago, is your defence?


I think that's pushing it. I can only speak for myself on this, but sex was the last thing on my mind when I used to play Tomb Raider games in the late 90s which was when I was going through puberty. The game's very frustrating and difficult puzzles, riddles, and secret traps that you had to figure out to advance were enough to keep you occupied without wondering what Lara Croft looked like naked. The games had very little action going on in fact. Maybe you're talking about other Lara Croft games that have developed since then that I don't know about.
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Post 01 Oct 2014, 22:21
Yeqon wrote:
That shouldn't be surprising. Up until recently, the overwhelming majority of casual gamers were male, while male hard core/pro-gamers still outnumber female at least 7:1. The gaming industry (with mostly male game designers) is first and foremost a business seeking to maximise profits, and so of course they're going to cater to a majority male audience's wants.

The overwhelmingly male focus of it also drives more female consumers away than they otherwise would, the issue is branching out was risky and businesses are risk-averse.

But that justification just won't hold up; it's much more than that. It's cultural. With movies, also, compare the amount of male leads to female leads. It's hugely disproportionate. Or the still pretty common Smurfette Principle on TV, where female characters have their personalities basically just defined by a few female stereotypes where male characters are diverse and the default. Obviously men aren't the vast majority of movie-goers or TV viewers, but we still have the widespread issue of token females, and shows/movies actually focusing on the struggles of females often having very stereotypical and vapid portrayals. Because, societally... think of a person. I'm guessing the first image that came to mind was a white male, right? Understandable, since you're one. The problem is, that's how most people in the entertainment industry (less so gaming because of the Japanese dominance of much of it; but the point stands for gender) see it too. They're writing stories that speak to them, and yes, also playing into adolescent fantasies of their main demographic. With all of that combined, it's a reflection of wider societal biases.

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Blizzard for example have female playable characters/plot-line protagonists in every single one of their new games like WoW, Starcraft, and Diablo.

Which is good.
But, all of those are male-led, in spite of having female major story characters. Jaina and Sylvanas exist in WoW, but the Alliance is led by Varian and the Horde by Garrosh. Nor are either especially developed characters, though in fairness nobody but Thrall and Garrosh are. Jaina was an ultra-peaceful Mary Sue who suddenly wants to murder everyone in the Horde because of Garrosh's war crimes. Her relevance to the plot mainly exists through people wondering whether or not there's any sexual tension going on between her and Thrall, and I guess her sitting around twiddling her thumbs while her dad's buddies act like genocidal maniacs. Sylvanas doesn't really have any sexist portrayal problems, just shaky writing ones. She was the most interesting character in the game, but is often written like a generic Saturday morning cartoon villain who doesn't seem like she'd be the respected leader she is.

Kerrigan is very well-written and an amazing character, but that's in large part because she's a damsel in distress who actually saves herself.

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So I do believe the predominantly male gamer trend is changing, and the games are changing along with it.

I agree with that, female gamers are becoming more and more a thing. And games, especially RPGs, are changing along with it. Final Fantasy is now mostly a female-led series. Lara Croft has actually been rebooted as a fully-developed, relateable character. Playing as female Shepard is as rewarding as male Shepard, something I can't say for most other BioWare games (though she doesn't show much remorse even as a Paragon, she's still a pretty archetypally masculine heroine; and male Shepard predominated in the ad campaign). But, those are still notable because they're exceptions. It isn't 50/50.

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I can only speak for myself on this, but sex was the last thing on my mind when I used to play Tomb Raider games

I think you'll find that's pretty rare. xD http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lara_Croft#Sex_symbol Sex appeal has always been used in advertising the games, and Lara Croft's outfits were very sexualized until recently. The whole marketing strategy and character design were made to appeal to horny teenage guys. Insofar as she had a personality, it was a snarky unemotional action hero thing. So, what would usually be seen as masculine traits anyway.


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The game's very frustrating and difficult puzzles, riddles, and secret traps that you had to figure out to advance were enough to keep you occupied without wondering what Lara Croft looked like naked. The games had very little action going on in fact.

But what differentiated it from other complex puzzle-driven adventure games? This one also has a half-naked girl on the cover.
Last edited by MissStrangelove on 02 Oct 2014, 17:47, edited 8 times in total.
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Post 01 Oct 2014, 22:35
I don't know much about Anita Sarkeesian, but I've been told that she doesn't even like games. Why watch her videos if they contain footage from Let's Plays made by other people? Isn't it just the trashing of other people's fun and work, just to earn money and sympathy? Hey, sounds like the 21st-century feminist movement in general. Okay, so Lara Croft had big tits. We're sorry.
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Post 01 Oct 2014, 22:39
No 14 wrote:
I don't know much about Anita Sarkeesian, but I've been told that she doesn't even like games.

Whether she does or not, I don't know. But either way, that's pretty ad hominem. It wouldn't say anything about her arguments one way or the other. But of course, in gamer-land, not being a part of a certain subculture is totally a valid argument against them.

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Isn't it just the trashing of other people's fun and work, just to earn money and sympathy? Hey, sounds like the 21st-century feminist movement in general. Okay, so Lara Croft had big tits. We're sorry.

It has nothing to do with anyone's fun and work; most people who watch her stuff also like the games she's critiquing. I love Zelda to bits, that doesn't mean "she can't free herself in girly-mode even though she can sneak around as an awesome ninja and even show up Link" isn't a problem.

What it is, is analyzing prevalent sexist tropes, in games, movies, TV, wherever. Raising questions, which are obviously important because you're resorting to colossal strawmen like that.
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Post 01 Oct 2014, 23:00
I'll happily concede all the details and factoids, since I have never watched and will never watch any of those videos, but why are these questions important?
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Post 01 Oct 2014, 23:04
No 14 wrote:
I'll happily concede all the details and factoids, since I have never watched and will never watch any of those videos, but why are these questions important?

Noticing gender disparities is important? Pointing out cultural reinforcements of patriarchal ideas is important?

And if you ask "why?" to that, women having equal social footing is self-evidently good for women. Raising awareness of attitudes blocking that, attitudes like "men are more important and women matter less," helps it along. And it's good for many guys for a number of reasons too. Like, reducing social pressures that force masculinity into a particular box where public displays of sensitivity and compassion end up mocked, helping any guy who doesn't fit a "grrrr me big caveman" stereotype. Meaning most of y'all.
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Post 01 Oct 2014, 23:18
Maybe I like my box of masculinity and I like mocking public displays of sensitivity and compassion. Jokes aside though, how does it give women "equal social footing"? It's just vidya gaems. We can use stolen Youtube footage and Wikipedia/TVTropes entries all day to point out all the horrible depictions of women, but what do these depictions actually do? How would we go about arguing this without going into some Jack Thompson-style moral crusade?

I'm not being obtuse here. Obviously I'm aware of all sorts of sick culture wars going on around gaming recently. I'm just surprised to see it end up here, so maybe I'm being a bit too incredulous.
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Post 01 Oct 2014, 23:30
No 14 wrote:
Jokes aside though, how does it give women "equal social footing"? It's just vidya gaems. We can use stolen Youtube footage and Wikipedia/TVTropes entries all day to point out all the horrible depictions of women, but what do these depictions actually do? How would we go about arguing this without going into some Jack Thompson-style moral crusade?

Cultural depictions reflect the society that made them and, in turn, help codify the norms of that society. They help to influence the way we think about things, so nothing's "just" anything. Video games are an entertainment medium that reaches millions of people, with distinct stories and characters, and thus the tropes that go with them. Just like literature, or movies, or TV, or music, or art.

Honestly, I wouldn't be opposed to official censorship or "going Jack Thompson" in egregiously bad cases (the Zelda example wouldn't count for me; a game like Vampire: Bloodlines where you can drink hookers in alleyways dry of blood might since that's kind of Ted Bundy), especially not by a revolutionary government since I'd trust them more to not abuse that censorship pursuant to some crazy Religious Right agenda. But realistically, in the short-term, what things like the videos are doing is how sexist tropes in the gaming industry are being combated. Raising awareness, breeding social media pressure, getting game writers and developers to think about at the very least how completely cliched what they're writing is. If not actually think about the consequences of it, whether to society or (more likely) their own checkbooks if backlash sets in.

And even more than that, causing people in general to think about the wider social causes that make these tropes so common in the first place. Their prevalence in the entertainment industry is a symptom, and one that can drive the wound deeper, but it's not the root issue. So at heart, the whole thing is using a popular subject (games) to start a wider social discussion on gender disparities.

It's a process that's already underway, thanks to increased numbers of female gamers. But as the big gap in male-centered movies versus female-centered movies shows, widening the audience isn't quite enough when you're dealing with a systemic cultural problem.
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Post 02 Oct 2014, 00:24
Honestly, I've never been a part of one particular culture, much less a western one so a lot of what is being discussed is quite foreign to me, and makes it hard to understand. The cultures I'm a part of are mainly of the third world where more serious existential problems are the focus instead of cultural ones.

Still this is interesting to me. Could you give me one exact example of a game that you have a problem with and would like censored? If there is one, could you explain what exactly is the threat you deem dangerous enough to merit censorship? Also, what exactly as a woman would you like to see changed?

More female leads in cinema and games? If so, what kind of characters would you like to see them perform? If I understood you correctly, you believe that the damsel in distress and the tough masculine sexy female cater to a male audience, and make it difficult for females to relate to. So would you simply like more variation in female personalities portrayed in the media?

For example I don't agree with you thinking that Kerrigan is a damsel in distress. I understand a damsel in distress as someone helpless waiting for prince charming to save her or something like that. I see Kerrigan as a person who went through much hardship as a child, a freak, an outcast who's abilities caused society to shun her with powerful forces trying to exploit and enslave her. But she certainly was never helpless. I didn't find anything particularly feminine in her storyline besides her romantic connection to Jim Raynor. If her role were to be replaced by a male, it would fit in just as well.

Your examples of WoW characters seem more like you having problems with the plot, just like we viewers/readers each subjectively have with one form of media or another, as opposed to you having a problem with a certain cultural depiction.
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Post 02 Oct 2014, 00:58
Yeqon wrote:
Still this is interesting to me. Could you give me one exact example of a game that you have a problem with and would like censored? If there is one, could you explain what exactly is the threat you deem dangerous enough to merit censorship? Also, what exactly as a woman would you like to see changed?

I actually edited the post to give a possible example, murdering prostitutes in Vampire: the Masquerade - Bloodlines. It's a pretty minor part of the game, you are penalized for it too (you lose humanity points) which is why I'm less than sure, but it's something which a lot of women would find disturbing. Since it's something that occurs scarily often in real life. I can't think of any other examples off the top of my head.

Something like just giving women a backseat in the media instead of equal footing is a systematic problem, not something that warrants banning any particular work in my view. Since I'd expect, under an ideal society, women would play supporting roles in about 50% of works anyway and males would in the other 50%. Which I don't think should be done by centrally managed work quotas, that'd just inspire hollow and vapid works made just to meet those quotas. Instead, by addressing the wider socioeconomic and cultural disparities that breed the gap in media portrayals, along with (if need be; it's better than quotas) awards for positive leading portrayals of women or just for passing the Bechdel Test (a huge number of major films don't). Think of it as... cultural revolution. ^~

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More female leads in cinema and games? If so, what kind of characters would you like to see them perform? If I understood you correctly, you believe that the damsel in distress and the tough masculine sexy female cater to a male audience, and make it difficult for females to relate to. So would you simply like more variation in female personalities portrayed in the media?

Partially, along with more leading female roles. Of all varieties, as varied as real women are or as male leads are. If guys can have leading personalities ranging from Woody Allen to Arnold Schwarzenegger, why can't women have a range equally wide? And why shouldn't female and male main characters be equally prominent?

The damsel in distress and "strong independent woman(tm)" (name totally ripped from the Nostalgia Chick) are, yeah, roles catering more towards male audiences in my opinion. One displays a very old-fashioned view of femininity and a person who mostly just exists to further a male's plot arc, the other displays a hyper-sexualized and frankly unidentifiable (e.g. masculine) cultural stereotype. Is there room for those roles? Sure. But should the majority of important female roles fit very neatly into those two boxes? Not at all. Women are varied and diverse people whose stories matter just as much, and the vast majority of us neither fit and nor idealize either one.

But if you want ideal character examples, some current media that I think present interesting, identifiable, and empowering female leads: Veronica Mars, The Hunger Games, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, The Powerpuff Girls, Final Fantasy XII and XIII, Starcraft now, Tomb Raider now. Characters who are identifiably feminine (with widely different personalities; from Katniss' stoicism and shyness to Veronica's cutting snark), but who are also undeniably the hero and who do kick ass in various different ways (using the same examples; from Katniss' skill in combat to Veronica's sneaky tech savvy).

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For example I don't agree with you thinking that Kerrigan is a damsel in distress.

She's a damsel in distress in that she was captured by the enemy and a huge part of Jim Raynor's personal story arc in the first game was trying to save her. So, at first she seems like a tool for Jim Raynor's character development rather than a truly independent character, as that character type is usually used. I said she's a remarkable and well-written example because she saves herself. She isn't helpless in the slightest and in fact is arguably the series' main character now.

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Your examples of WoW characters seem more like you having problems with the plot, just like we viewers/readers each subjectively have with one form of media or another, as opposed to you having a problem with a certain cultural depiction.

With Syvlanas, that's about right, and I said my problem with her writing isn't really sexism-based. I do think Jaina's issue is partially a cultural one, though. She doesn't really do anything, does she? When fans talk about her, it's "is she interested in Thrall or not?" So, her worth in the eyes of the fandom is her relation to a more important male character. That may change soon with Apparently Crazy Jaina coming onto the scene post-Pandaria, but right now it's how she is.
Last edited by MissStrangelove on 02 Oct 2014, 09:35, edited 1 time in total.
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Post 02 Oct 2014, 01:37
Yeah, I see now where you're coming from. Thanks.

Still, I thought Jim Raynor willing to go through fire and brimstone (quite literally in the game) for the love of his life was romantic as frag! And the instantaneous and unexpected choice he had to make between the death of his best friend and his lover was something I hadn't seen before.

I won't deny that the final scene with Sarah in his arms with him saying "It's ok, I gotcha", made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I'm a sentimental romantic, what can I say, not to mention a Starcraft fan.

I even have the Starcraft "Children of Aiur" track as my ringtone.
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Post 02 Oct 2014, 02:04
Yeqon wrote:
Yeah, I see now where you're coming from. Thanks.

Awesome!
Yeah, it's mostly normal feminism; just wanting women to have equal representation.

Admittedly some of what I focus on might seem a little weird, like your average gender-abolitionist or liberal feminist wouldn't be attacking something for being unfeminine/unidentifiable from the perspective of a social construct. But, I don't see "strong independent woman (tm)" as empowering at all (the more sexually objectified versions are even degrading in my opinion), see "you have the right to be exactly the same as guys; capitalist workhorses" as just another form of gender oppression, and do think there's probably some extent of cognitive difference behind gender identity (like nurturing versus protective instinct, and estrogen/testosterone levels). Which all skews my perspective against the more common gender-abolitionist and liberal types of feminism, in favor of wanting to equalize males and females as they are. And yeah, loosening the binary for those people who don't neatly fit within it too, but not blurring it all together. That's where I'm coming from, if you want a full explanation.

Quote:
Still, I thought Jim Raynor willing to go through fire and brimstone (quite literally in the game) for the love of his life was romantic as frag! And the instantaneous and unexpected choice he had to make between the death of his best friend and his lover was something I hadn't seen before.

I won't deny that the final scene with Sarah in his arms with him saying "It's ok, I gotcha", made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I'm a sentimental romantic, what can I say, not to mention a Starcraft fan.

Oh no, don't get me wrong, I completely agree.
I think it's insanely sweet and flat-out beautiful. It's a great story, and his behavior is worthy of humongous respect. It's just, the way it looked like it was headed also is a very common (and, when overwhelmingly common, oppressive) literary trope, but I'd still love it even if it did go in that direction. It'd still be an absolutely amazing example of that sort of story. And with the way she was characterized beforehand, it at least felt more like he wanted back the woman he loved than he felt guilty for losing his property.
Last edited by MissStrangelove on 02 Oct 2014, 14:44, edited 1 time in total.
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Post 02 Oct 2014, 10:46
MissStrangelove wrote:
Cultural depictions reflect the society that made them and, in turn, help codify the norms of that society. They help to influence the way we think about things, so nothing's "just" anything. Video games are an entertainment medium that reaches millions of people, with distinct stories and characters, and thus the tropes that go with them. Just like literature, or movies, or TV, or music, or art.

Honestly, I wouldn't be opposed to official censorship or "going Jack Thompson" in egregiously bad cases (the Zelda example wouldn't count for me; a game like Vampire: Bloodlines where you can drink hookers in alleyways dry of blood might since that's kind of Ted Bundy), especially not by a revolutionary government since I'd trust them more to not abuse that censorship pursuant to some crazy Religious Right agenda. But realistically, in the short-term, what things like the videos are doing is how sexist tropes in the gaming industry are being combated. Raising awareness, breeding social media pressure, getting game writers and developers to think about at the very least how completely cliched what they're writing is. If not actually think about the consequences of it, whether to society or (more likely) their own checkbooks if backlash sets in.

And even more than that, causing people in general to think about the wider social causes that make these tropes so common in the first place. Their prevalence in the entertainment industry is a symptom, and one that can drive the wound deeper, but it's not the root issue. So at heart, the whole thing is using a popular subject (games) to start a wider social discussion on gender disparities.

It's a process that's already underway, thanks to increased numbers of female gamers. But as the big gap in male-centered movies versus female-centered movies shows, widening the audience isn't quite enough when you're dealing with a systemic cultural problem.


It all sounds very reasonable, but you already lose me when you seriously suggest that Bloodlines may have to be censored because it lets the player (including female characters, I might add) kill prostitutes. It's heavy subject matter (as is most of the game), but it's also rated 18+ to reflect this. These are mature themes for mature audiences. It's interesting how in video games, these things are always player actions, rather than just a depiction that you can't affect.

But even if the act was glorified in some way, then I would still point out that cultural depictions are not injected into our veins directly. People are not just passive dupes, taking it all in wholesale. They can just as well make a subversive reading. That's what a lot of people do every day when they watch the news. In Grand Theft Auto games, killing hookers is not only possible, it's actually a means to get your money back from them. Sick, right? But what percentage of players will actually think that's OK and something they should try sometime?

I don't think the number of female gamers automatically helps this feminist project. You can already see that there is a massive backlash to it, which you alluded to when raising the subject ("trashing Anita Sarkeesian"). I don't see it going anywhere except for academia on the one hand (for those smart enough to make careers out of this stuff), and shouting matches on Twitter on the other hand. In response to all the snappy hashtags, we're already seeing things like "I don't need feminism because...", #notyourshield, #womenagainstfeminism, #Gamergate, blah blah blah. For those who don't get paid to do all this, it's increasingly turning into a colossal waste of time.

What makes this even worse is that severe personal allegations against (pro-)feminist indie developers, reviewers, PR agencies, etc. have emerged. To quote a relatively recent Coen brothers film: "They all seem to be sleeping with each other", and that doesn't even touch on all the other backslapping, the way money changes hands between people who should have different interests, the 10/10 review scores and awards given to blatant non-games as a result, the private networks between "journalists" who are officially competing against each other, the blurred lines between journalism and PR, the coordinated cross-media offensive against "gamers as an identity", the publicity assaults against people who are feminist but who are tolerant of opponents, the censorship efforts on several fora and social networks, etc. I must say I'm more sympathetic to that backlash as well.

It seems clear to me that there's not a "cultural revolution" going on in this area, but rather a cultural trench war, followed by a mutual retreat into one's comfortable hugbox. New media have made it easier to engage with opposing viewpoints, but they have also made it easier to use ignore/block functions to shield yourself from them, or even to impose censorship on discussions for those with admin powers and no ethics. Consider, for instance, the practice on Reddit of banning people without telling anyone, including the user themselves. So I don't put much stock in any kind of cultural revolution from this corner, and in some subjects, would even consider myself strongly opposed to it.
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Post 02 Oct 2014, 12:25
No 14 wrote:
It all sounds very reasonable, but you already lose me when you seriously suggest that Bloodlines may have to be censored because it lets the player (including female characters, I might add) kill prostitutes. It's heavy subject matter (as is most of the game), but it's also rated 18+ to reflect this. These are mature themes for mature audiences. It's interesting how in video games, these things are always player actions, rather than just a depiction that you can't affect.

But even if the act was glorified in some way, then I would still point out that cultural depictions are not injected into our veins directly. People are not just passive dupes, taking it all in wholesale. They can just as well make a subversive reading. That's what a lot of people do every day when they watch the news. In Grand Theft Auto games, killing hookers is not only possible, it's actually a means to get your money back from them. Sick, right? But what percentage of players will actually think that's OK and something they should try sometime

GTA is another big example I can think of, actually, and mostly for that same reason. The argument for censoring it is better than the one for Bloodlines even, since you're right, it's rewarded. And that's not even getting into how the ending of GTA III implies the nameless self-insertion protagonist shoots a woman to shut her up. Damsel in distress plotlines are one thing, that just reinforces "women = weak" and seeing us as conduits for guys' stories first, at their present level of prevalence. Otherwise, humans get captured, sometimes they need help. What GTA has (just gender-wise; GTAV, from the clips I've seen, seems surprisingly great on criticizing the endless drive for consumption) is, in my view, a lot more problematic.

And the issue isn't that players will automatically go "y'know, I should try that" while playing it; that's just a strawman to deflect criticism and nobody actually thinks games do that. The issue is that it desensitizes people to actual instances of it and helps institutionalize it as just the way things are, dulling the emotional impact of a very real and serious issue by simulating it. The way around that is to portray it for the harmful, painful thing it is instead of that killed prostitute being basically some nameless object. If that were done, I'd have no problem with showing it.

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I don't think the number of female gamers automatically helps this feminist project. You can already see that there is a massive backlash to it, which you alluded to when raising the subject ("trashing Anita Sarkeesian").

Which only proves its necessity in the gaming community, exactly because it gets so defensive about the issue, entrenching it.

And more female gamers won't solve it, for the reasons cited related to the film industry, but it's helping to make things better at least because alienating a chunk of your market does exert economic pressure. As you can also see in many modern games, especially recent installments in franchises compared to past versions of them. Tomb Raider is the best example.

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I don't see it going anywhere except for academia on the one hand (for those smart enough to make careers out of this stuff), and shouting matches on Twitter on the other hand. In response to all the snappy hashtags, we're already seeing things like "I don't need feminism because...", #notyourshield, #womenagainstfeminism, #Gamergate, blah blah blah. For those who don't get paid to do all this, it's increasingly turning into a colossal waste of time.

But it's bringing a societal discussion on it to a community otherwise insulated from it. Provoking that discussion is never a waste of time, because some people will be reached.

And for changing the gaming industry, backlash sets in against glaringly offensive content, and social media does allow spreading that backlash. That further alienates a chunk of their consumer base, so they want to avoid provoking it. Plus, companies can try to appeal to the widespread sentiment among female gamers by taking initiative on their own. Promoting well-developed, empowering, sympathetic female leads to pull in that market. It's pandering, but it works; it's switching out pandering to patriarchal biases for pandering to feminist ones, a cause worth supporting in my opinion. That's a cultural pivot.

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It seems clear to me that there's not a "cultural revolution" going on in this area, but rather a cultural trench war, followed by a mutual retreat into one's comfortable hugbox.

Some people will never be reached, some people are just obnoxious and obstinate. Those people will retreat and go on with reactionary grumbling about how they've been left behind. How the industry is in league with the feminazis to oppress muh poor gaemz and girlify them all and give them cooties. Even if we just score minor wins, which is what's happening, that'll be the reaction those people have, which is also happening.

But that's not all gamers, and I hope it isn't most or gamer culture really does need to die in a fire. As someone who identifies as one, I hope that won't happen. I'm guessing, though, a lot of people will get the message. Actually bringing the discussion to the gaming community, actually having things like this noticed, is the most important part.
Last edited by MissStrangelove on 02 Oct 2014, 17:11, edited 5 times in total.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 08 Nov 2007, 06:31
Embalmed
Post 02 Oct 2014, 15:30
Quote:
the coordinated cross-media offensive against "gamers as an identity"


lol what?

I've only ever seen one 'anti-gamer' article titled along the lines of 'Gamers are dead' (in the sense of identity) or something.

The only thing I take away from your post is that gaming journalism is a waste of time. This is the exact same upvoted opinion I see all the time in gaming forums when shit with Zoe Quinn and such happened. I don't know how you believe this is some black mark on feminism, I thought it was a massive non-issue and as far as I can tell nobody really cares, especially with gamergate in particular.

Honestly, after the stuff with 4chan and tumblr/dashcon and gamergate, I have to wonder who is actually on the offensive.

I certainly don't feel victimized or attacked, just like things are changing. I consider myself pretty integrated into the 'gaming community' and have been for around 10 years. What about you? I know nothing about you No 14, you hardly post and this is the first I've really seen you speak on this matter.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 22 Oct 2004, 15:15
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Politburo
Post 02 Oct 2014, 18:23
Personally, I'm just a random person who likes PC RPGs, strategy games, adventures, sims, etc. Kind of old-school, really. Partly because I usually can't afford new hardware, never mind consoles. I got a crappy second-hand 486 PC in 1997, and have been playing ever since, but I certainly have no interest in being part of any "gaming community". I brought up the latest controversy simply because it figures heavily into the feminist advocacy with regards to gaming that MissStrangelove supports.

It's not directly relevant to me either, but of course I read about gaming (mainly through forums, rather than Dorito magazines or "journalistic" Gawker clickbait blogs), and then it's impossible not to read about this issue and develop some sympathies one way or another. This is pretty close to what I think, political differences notwithstanding. From what I've gathered, the controversy is still simmering on, and it's because of this that I just can't see the "change" or "revolution" that you and MissStrangelove are so optimistic about. For every intellectual denunciation of "toxic gaming culture" written by pseudo-journalists, you're going to get dozens or hundreds members of their audience phoning up companies to persuade them to pull their adverts on that website.

That's why I'm saying it's a cultural trench war. It's basically the familiar frame: snooty liberal academics vs conservative culture warriors. It's all very top-down, very upper middle-class vs lower middle-class. Personally, I feel more sympathetic towards the side that doesn't openly call for censorship of my favourite games (Bloodlines, of course, not GTA) by the capitalist state. But I certainly wouldn't rate Gamergate as more than just hashtag activism either. I can't see myself calling up Intel to get them to stop supporting some dumb website that I never read anyway. But this is just what I think from what I've read so far.

To respond to MissStrangelove's point about more female gamers, I don't know what the demographics are. Girls have been playing and talking about video games for decades, and will continue to do so. The majority probably doesn't care about all this Twitter drama, while a significant minority probably does. Game companies will continue making their own choices in this, as they've always done. The Biowares of this world will keep pandering to this demographic, and take the plaudits for being inclusive, while the likes of Running With Scissors will deliberately appeal to the lowest common denominator of cavemen. In-between, most of them will keep their distance and pull their advertisements from sites involved, because controversy is bad for business. All of them will try to maintain and expand their business, and the system wins. I don't see why we should be excited about any of this.

Intensified efforts from one side, like the "Gamers are dead" thing, will lead to a backlash, while attempts at censorship will lead to a massive Streisand effect, where people who would otherwise be completely neutral, will resist any attempts to change if they think they're being muzzled or patronised. So there is no progress being made for any feminist cause, because the overall playing field remains more or less the same. The only progress that's being made is in the bank accounts of those people who are smart enough to seek donations or an academic position for their efforts. This isn't a movement, it's a business. I don't see why we should be buying.

EDIT: I would like to add that it's a laughable assertion to say that gaming culture needs to die in a fire if they don't obey their enlightened progressive superiors, or even respond negatively to them on the whole. In other news, the working class are still not hardcore communists either. Maybe they should DIAF as well.
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Post 02 Oct 2014, 19:30
No 14 wrote:
From what I've gathered, the controversy is still simmering on, and it's because of this that I just can't see the "change" or "revolution" that you and MissStrangelove are so optimistic about.

That's the point. If the discussion wasn't ongoing, then we would have failed. Victory for the anti-feminist side means maintaining the status quo for practically no reason beyond "you're criticizing my games!!", where victory for the feminist side means gender disparities actually being publicly addressed. That's what's going on.

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That's why I'm saying it's a cultural trench war. It's basically the familiar frame: snooty liberal academics vs conservative culture warriors.

Newsflash: most of the women complaining? We're gamers too. We're complaining exactly because we enjoy games, and want to be represented better in them.

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It's all very top-down, very upper middle-class vs lower middle-class.

So, we're elites and you're populist crusaders? I wasn't aware the gaming industry was "lower-middle-class."


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Personally, I feel more sympathetic towards the side that doesn't openly call for censorship of my favourite games (Bloodlines, of course, not GTA) by the capitalist state.

That's something nobody has called for, not even me, let alone any actual public face of the movement. Most people want internal change in the industry. It's just something I said, if it were raised, I might support. Oh no!

Though this whole instinctive anti-censorship mentality is pretty liberal. Media has social consequences.

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In-between, most of them will keep their distance and pull their advertisements from sites involved, because controversy is bad for business. All of them will try to maintain and expand their business, and the system wins. I don't see why we should be excited about any of this.

It, at the very least, provides public pressure for a simple and positive shifts in demographic appeal. Rehashing the same negative stereotypes over and over, like having female characters purely defined in relation to a male character or by something that just emphasizes "guys = the default and diverse where girls = the other and all the same" like their whole personality being having a bow/wearing pink, is increasingly bad for business since it increasingly provokes outcry. It's also a very easy thing to change, to avoid that.

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while attempts at censorship will lead to a massive Streisand effect,

Again, absolutely nobody involved is advocating censorship. What I said was out of the norm, and even then it was a passing thought about something I might support. So, your whole argument crumbles apart.

What people are advocating for is pointing out and publicly discussing backwards trends common in gaming and by extension our culture more broadly, just like it's been done for years regarding music and to a lesser degree film/TV; which is exactly what's going on right now. Influencing the industry to change that is secondary, since this is a societal issue, but that comes about by them just wanting to avoid pissing off customers who can and will raise a fuss.

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EDIT: I would like to add that it's a laughable assertion to say that gaming culture needs to die in a fire if they don't obey their enlightened progressive superiors,

I'm just saying, outside of things like the BioWare and JRPG fandoms which have become more equal, it's mostly a boy's club. The backlash is showing a significant part of it is an angry boy's club deeply afraid of cooties and actively acting reactionary just because. That should change.
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Post 02 Oct 2014, 21:59
The level of discussion is declining, which I suppose is inevitable simply because of the type of discussion and subject matter. We're not going to agree on this, simply because part of the argument is about what's going to happen next and what it means: will the feminazi crusade take muh gaems, or will gaming always be an angry boy's club? BECAUSE THOSE ARE THE ONLY POSSIBLE OPTIONS. Apparently, I'm already a part of some kind of "you", a group of self-proclaimed "populist crusaders", because I admitted early on that I'm biased towards them, despite not personally participating in the whole thing.

Anyway, I think it will all fizzle out, as these internet campaigns have always done, and nothing will change. What do you suppose, that this is going to be the first time in human history that significant social change will be effected by hashtags, signal boosting, snark, detached hipster irony, and hollow phrases of the Kony 2012 "We're raising awareness!" variety? Well, there is a first time for everything, but I wouldn't hold my breath. But you think the opposite, and who am I to tell you you're wrong when events are still developing? So let's put that to one side.

As for the rest, it's up to you to determine the value of your musings on censorship. On the one hand, we're not seriously talking about it, yet on the other hand, you want to make clear that it's "liberal" to be reflexively opposed to busybodies telling grown-ups what they can or cannot watch in their spare time. Motte, meet bailey. In any case, to implement a politically correct depiction of women in gaming would require either top-down censorship, or self-censorship by large corporations that are otherwise allowed to function as usual. What a surprise, then, that people don't seem to be lining up for this agenda en masse, and that it's mostly just the usual suspects, driven by personal and financial motives.

Lastly, the angry boys and the cooties and all that. Whatever. There is obviously loads of vitriol from both sides in this controversy. This is a glaringly obvious fact that is denied only by those who took leave of their last shred of intellectual honesty ages ago. And of course that's the perfect description for the liberal-conservative culture warriors of this world. Always on hand with a pair of tweezers to take that speck out of their brothers' eyes. I'll get you someday, speck! "You guys seem very angry..."

So gaming can be a boys' club. Yet most women I know play games (and not just Angry Birds and Candy Crush Saga), great female developers were already making great games before we were even born, there have been great female (player) characters, and so on. Surely a realistic feminist "agenda" for gaming that everyone can get behind would be to simply increase the percentage of all this. But it seems that this cause is mainly being led by people who can only make text-based non-games, and by the journalists who review them, while also engaging in personal and financial relationships with them. Well, that sounds like a principled group of people that I would like to hitch my wagon to.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 21 Sep 2013, 03:08
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Post 02 Oct 2014, 22:25
No 14 wrote:
We're not going to agree on this, simply because part of the argument is about what's going to happen next and what it means: will the feminazi crusade take muh gaems, or will gaming always be an angry boy's club? BECAUSE THOSE ARE THE ONLY POSSIBLE OPTIONS. Apparently, I'm already a part of some kind of "you", a group of self-proclaimed "populist crusaders", because I admitted early on that I'm biased towards them, despite not personally participating in the whole thing.

More because you're, in this thread, pretty actively taking a side. Except when you try to frame it as you being impartial and uninvolved, except then why are you debating me?

And I really don't think the equivalence is warranted at all, it just seems like a lame excuse to seem "fair and balanced" and divest of the controversy. Like most claims of equivalence. The feminist side wants a societal discussion on sexist tropes and for games to have better portrayals of women. The other side wants them to shut up for... some reason. Partisanship is totally warranted; one side wants things better for women, the other side is status quo reaction.

Quote:
What do you suppose, that this is going to be the first time in human history that significant social change will be effected by hashtags, signal boosting, snark, detached hipster irony, and hollow phrases of the Kony 2012 "We're raising awareness!" variety?

Completely false analogy, and frankly just smug condescension. Kony 2012 was an attempt to affect political change by social media, specifically trying to get Congress or the UN to invade an area on a humanitarian mission. This is an effort to start a discussion on a societal problem. We're discussing it, right here. Forums all over the internet are discussing it. Gaming media is discussing it. That's sign enough that it's working.

If you mean the auxiliary objective, changing the gaming industry itself, those people on social media are also a market demographic. The game industry makes money by what people buy. It's simple enough to not piss these customers off, it just means using a few specific tropes less often, and so they'll generally do it. That's the feedback mechanism.

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As for the rest, it's up to you to determine the value of your musings on censorship. On the one hand, we're not seriously talking about it, yet on the other hand, you want to make clear that it's "liberal" to be reflexively opposed to busybodies telling grown-ups what they can or cannot watch in their spare time.

Yeah. Is there supposed to be a contradiction there? I wasn't seriously discussing it, I don't have the power to implement it and (as I even said in the post) don't know that I would if I could. There's just a chance I would, since I do consider it more important to treat seriously cases of violence which are common in the real world than to keep a very minor gameplay mechanic. I also want to reiterate that I'm literally the only person who even raised it, but you're apparently jumping on that as a huge issue for some reason.

And yes, I find your attitude a little weird for a Marxist, since media having social consequences is generally taken for granted. What you described seems more like a liberal, individualistic attitude. "I like this game, so you can't change a thing in it, or you're some big-gubbermint busybody!"

Quote:
In any case, to implement a politically correct depiction of women in gaming would require either top-down censorship, or self-censorship by large corporations that are otherwise allowed to function as usual.

Companies, like human beings, can and do self-censor all the time. It's called pandering, appealing to market demographics, whatever words you want to use for it. There doesn't exist some natural, free, open state of corporate behavior that we just want to impose on.

Also, really funny way to describe what we want. I'd call it an equal depiction of women. Or is it somehow wrong to want us represented as equal human beings, as important and developed as males?

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What a surprise, then, that people don't seem to be lining up for this agenda en masse, and that it's mostly just the usual suspects, driven by personal and financial motives.

Isn't everyone "driven by personal motives"? Oh no, they want a discussion on it because... it's in their interest! Oh my god!

Quote:
Lastly, the angry boys and the cooties and all that. Whatever. There is obviously loads of vitriol from both sides in this controversy. This is a glaringly obvious fact that is denied only by those who took leave of their last shred of intellectual honesty ages ago.

Of course there's vitriol on both sides. But to take the "they're both wrong, whatever" cop-out from that is pretty fallacious.

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Yet most women I know play games (and not just Angry Birds and Candy Crush Saga), great female developers were already making great games before we were even born, there have been great female (player) characters, and so on.

Except proportionally, the vast majority of player characters are male, and the vast majority of female characters are sidekicks, damsels, and otherwise defined in relation to that male character. There are incredibly few female developers. The female game market is often treated as basically nonexistent in press, marketing, and discussions, outside of the RPG genre. And calls for equality in the industry are treated... like this.

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Surely a realistic feminist "agenda" for gaming that everyone can get behind would be to simply increase the percentage of all this.

Congratulations, that's exactly what we want.
That's what a more equalized industry means.

Quote:
But it seems that this cause is mainly being led by people who can only make text-based non-games, and by the journalists who review them, while also engaging in personal and financial relationships with them. Well, that sounds like a principled group of people that I would like to hitch my wagon to.

Because personal attacks totally negate the message, right? <3 Who's doing what is not and never has been the point, it has nothing to do with whether or not what's being discussed is worth fixing. I'd argue it is, and this is mostly just an ad-hominem type sidestep.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 05 Feb 2014, 00:36
Komsomol
Post 02 Oct 2014, 23:25
People on here actually support bourgeois-liberal SJW BS and Anita SarCONian? (lol, I hope you enjoy where those $140k in donations went into her Gucci San Fran hipster lifestyle)

Wow... just wow... into the trash your opinion goes. It's like debating a Hoxhaite or Trotskyite: facts=evil propaganda.

Lol it's funny too because Social Justice Warriordom has contributed to killing socialism in the West by playing identity politics and feelings over concrete economic and historical issues.

Also "incredibly few female characters, all of whom are objectified!!!!"

FemShep
Bastila
The Jedi Exile (canonically female)
FemRevan
Every girl in every Resident Evil and Silent Hill
SAMUS
Every RPG character that lets you pick your gender
Trish Merrigold
Lara Croft
Bayonetta
The Queen from Heroes of Might And Magic 1-3
Every side female character in MGS
And countless from Japanese games I don't play (up to and including all the female characters from FF 7-13. Before you go b-but muh sexualization... what, those effete but muscley men wearing no shirts isn't sexualization?)

I never thought I'd see the day I'd agree with the reactionaries at breitbart.com, but you people literally sicken me.

I could get into a board war but it wouldn't matter in the end, because MUH SOGGY KNEES

Goddamit, stop touching my vidya. It was bad enough when Bioware jumped the shark.

Shit like this is why Stalin was awesome for re-introducing a modicum of decency back into Soviet society and gender roles.
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