Girls, Guys and the Legitimacy of Games

Stand Clear everyone and clear the murky waters as I’m Finally delving into the great Sexism in Gaming Debate. I’ve dipped a toe in occasionally and even trawled a few sharks feeding remains among the bloodied shore but have never gone swimming till now.

Doone at T.R. Red Skies posted a rather good post about debating over societal issues in our games, being understanding and knowledgeable about the issues you are writing about or to at least take it slow when delving into the deep end. It has some important points to remember when blogging about societal issues but he also touches rather well on sexism in gaming. It is a great article so go over have a read and a comment.

An argument began as well between himself and the infamous Tobold about the validity of the argument itself in which you’re not able to argue against one side based on certain standards of morality. It becomes a talk about opinions and us all being assholes…is that the saying? Anyway… Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, they are vastly not our own being a product of our upbringing and environment but they are still ours. The path that has led to where you are now is unique to you and as such so are your opinions. Mostly there are no right opinions; we can argue about T.V shows, music, games and many other things regarding interests, behaviour and personality and there will never be a right way. There might be a majority, a larger group who values the same thing but it doesn’t make other opinions less worthy. In fact, doing that has become a rather popular meme.

Hipster Kitty.. Your argument is invalid

Hipster Kitty.. Your argument is invalid

However, when it comes to equality, whether it be about race, gender, sexuality, religious expression, disability etc.. there is a right opinion and a wrong one. If you think less of a particular person or feel entitled to a particular thing because of your specific demographic then you are most definitely wrong… no question. And if you argue against that well… you are an asshole. Just because these ideals are often ingrained in us by societal pressures and extremely prevalent within a particular culture does not make them any less wrong.

We all hold our certain entitlements within us, every single person. It is expected because we’re human but that is something you should always be aware of. I use the word retard rather frequently, about near everything… I call bad drivers cartards for instance. I know that doing this makes me an asshole as well. It is a way of mocking someone by demeaning a particular demographic but I am aware of my terrible nature.. most people attempting to swim in the waters of sexism are not.

It has been argued that girls do not like games, or at least the vast majority do not (disregarding those not Fps or moba’s of course). But then the question becomes why? If you have done any sort of reading or learning regarding gendered traits and differences you would know that sex, or our genetic make-up determines very little in regards to our interests and such. Based on certain biological indicators we might be better at completing certain things but it certainly doesn’t indicate any interest. Just because it is a strongly practiced interest by a particular demographic doesn’t make this any less true.

There are many forces that exert themselves on us to produce these certain ideal image. Societal standards of living are all around us; enticing us, modeling appropriate ways, and creating an image that we are constantly compared against. Gaming is a part of this at the moment and unfortunately, girls playing video games is thought of as an illegitimate past-time. It isn’t normal and deviates from what has been prescribed. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy as the imagery keeps repeating the image and surprise surprise, it mostly keeps getting acted out.

Such a thought is rather silly if you think about it. There is no protein marker for gaming, no-one on earth has a genetic predisposition for liking video games or a specific style of video game. Such an argument is ridiculously stupid and yet it keeps getting repeated, like somehow, on the eight day god said “thy boys will playeth the vidja games” then turned to the girl and said “make me a sandwich”. Maybe that’s a forgotten psalm.

God passes on his gamer cred

Passing on the gamer cred

Gaming being a boys domain is a simple fabrication, nothing more and could easily have gone the other way if other factors had aligned. Polygon recently even had an interesting article on the history of video game marketing and the creation of a particular male orientated image within gamer culture. It is a strongly perpetuated image within our medium but somewhere the improbable nature of it has been forgotten and now it’s worshipped as dogma.

The issue of course is that players and the developers themselves now believe this as an indisputable fact. Games get designed, artwork created, marketing planned with this in mind unbeknownst of course that they are continuing to perpetuate this pervasive image. Each image of a female presented as an object for men creates a non-inclusive space. This then, is what I mean by a self-fulfilling prophecy; these games become less popular with women, the idea is once again validated and the image persists. Games should be thought of with a broader player-base in mind and a greater sense of equality in the images they portray and the focus of their intent rather than towards this one particular stereotype but of course then it takes people to break the cycle which, for such a risk averse industry is probably not going to happen any time soon.

When this gets brought up though the cry’s of feminist and are heard throughout the land; like somehow pixel boobs will be sanctioned and every game will have to pass some sort of strict equality standard.. you must be this diverse to get published type thing. Yeh… realistic

strawtotoro

Not a strawman.. but definitely cuter

I actually posted this comment on a massively article that posted about the Blizzard response regarding sexualising characters and it bears repeating here too.

No one is on a crusade to completely remove any and all sexy outfits, no one is asking for developers to solely focus on their interest above all others (hmm well maybe SOME people are), we are not that egotistical. There is no femanazi agenda to rule the gaming industry.

All people are asking for is more options and for developers of large and very influential companies to be aware of this. There is a distinct lack of diversity in the woman being presented; one perfect ideal image that keeps getting perpetuated so that the can pander to a single demographic. The real world is far more diverse than that with body shape, personality, interests and what people wear.

I really would love to see more diversity within our medium, especially in the AAA space. I can’t help but think we would be getting better gaming experiences if it was more inclusive but then, I wouldn’t want to be rid of what we have now. There is a space for exaggerated design and characterisation for whatever reason whether it be to lampoon or for simple fanservice, equality shouldn’t be a global standard as our interests are diverse… and this diversity should be celebrated. Boobs and butts are a good thing, they just shouldn’t be the primary focus.

Side Thought

Thinking further you can see that girls, women and grandmothers do indeed play games, often and in great quantities but this is overlooked within the mainstream for some reason. This is when the question of gaming legitimacy comes into the debate, a highly contested argument around what constitutes a real game, gamer. The illegitimate part just so happens to be an area that is consumed by women more than men. Coincidence..hmmm This sort of gendered legitimacy for activities and interests has been seen before.

Somehow Sims, and it’s massively popular titles that sell millions are seen apart from the others. Angry Birds, a game that has spawned an entire subculture gets laughed at yet I’m guessing if you were flinging bombs at Russians, Chinese, and Arabs it would be game of the year material. The focus of those games is rather simple but then it could be argued that many others deemed valid are as well. Corridor shooters seem comparable to building a farm in their focus on a single mechanic above all else.

I don’t even know what the invisible standard things are being compared to any more is as the indie space keeps blurring the line between what is deemed an acceptable video game. The multi-million dollar projects are no longer the guide they used to be as small projects from a variety of genres gain traction. perhaps as the term game blurs further the representation of gamers will as well.

#Sexism #Gaming #Rambling

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41 thoughts on “Girls, Guys and the Legitimacy of Games

  1. First thing off my chest, Tobold’s opinion on female gaming appears to be controversial simply to be controversial. Syncaine does the same thing. So ignoring those two other than simple instigators, there are some interesting PoVs on the subject.

    My wife is a gamer but she doesn’t know it. Smurfs Village, Puzzle Quest and Plants vs Zombies have sucked a few hundred hours for sure. They are what I call “neutral games” as they have no particular gender appeal in their design. She likes the Lego series but not the fantasy games due to the atmosphere. Similar to PvP sessions where the people are a turn off. She may not game as much as I do, but she does more than she thinks and more than the market gives her credit for.

    The concept of sexism in games is really an outlier debate. It certainly does but if you were to look at games in the category of “game of the year”, there are only minor parts. The Last of US, XCOM, Ni No Kuni aren’t sexist. GTA5 is a parody of sexism so far out that most don’t even get the joke. I won’t go into the games marketed for the 16 year old boy in a comment, that’s a whole bag of doorknobs.

    MMOS are a different discussion and one I think deserves an entire debate rather than grouping all games together. The target demo is different, the resource planning is different and the type of player investment (both social and economical) is different.

    Games are evolving to be more inclusive on the whole. They are finding more success that way. There’s a lot of work left to do.

    • For some reason that’s not how tobold comes off here. He seems more like the “cooky” uncle that makes everyone uncomfortable with expressing his values…values that should have been extinct by now. It is a harmful opinion to have and he takes it to an extreme as a way of strengthening the argument. It is also so fucking annoying!
      I know that style of controversial writing, i do it rather regularly…this was not that.

      I don’t believe that sexism is an outlier. Yes you can point to a few key title that do it well, that provide either a strong female character or provide better representation but they are a small part of the whole. Just because you can point to a certain example doesn’t make the issue any less prominent. As for GTA5, and here’s just an opinion but I don’t believe it was a very effect parody. It was as self aware as a 12 year old in chat spewing vitriol at others.

      MMO’s are the same discussion although i think it’s a little worse in a way. They are a genre with a much higher female demographic yet the still focus mostly on design and marketing focused on men. It’s getting better in recent times but it’s still a group that is rather ignorant of their effect.

      • I get that GTA5 opinion. I get the same thing when I get a link from The Onion and have to double take as it sometimes is too close to reality. It exemplifies absolutely everything that is wrong with gaming, culture and revels in the crassness.

        I wrote a post that goes more into the MMO problem, there’s a pingback here somewhere.

        Sexism is a problem. It should get called out when found (often does). My opinion is that it’s a dying breed OUTSIDE the MMO space.

        Perhaps we’d do more justice to the topic if we found cases of gaming done right? I dunno, highlighting the positives seems to have a stronger effect than drawing more attention to the negatives.

  2. Pingback: Sexism in Games | Leo's Life
  3. “f you think less of a particular person or feel entitled to a particular thing because of your specific demographic then you are most definitely wrong… no question.”

    What about the ‘people who don’t help their supports ward’ demographic? It’s ok to hate them right? Those guys are dickbags.

    Moving on to the topic at hand.

    Horrifically, I kinda agree with Tobold. It’s all but impossible to have a sensible fucking discussion about sexism, and by extension, feminism. Even his off the cuff diagnosis in the first comment isn’t too pigheaded. Of course, everything is a downward spiral from there. The whole “is this concept art sexist or not” thing was hilariously unproductive and entirely misses the point that women characters have been systemically undervalued, underrepresented, and misused in WoW since forever.

    Regardless, there are a lot of issues about trying to discuss such topics, especially in an open environment like the internet. It’s such a hot fucking issue, especially with all the press ‘sexism in gaming’ gotten this year, that almost nobody can or will even try to objectively speak on it. Everything you say will offend some segment of people and cause particularly vocal members to dogpile on your statements; no matter if your statement was correct or truthful or vile or batshit insane. They all cause pretty much the same reaction, just from different groups with different views. But it’s exceedingly difficult for the casual speaker to understand that. To them it can all seem so very arbitrary and random. It’s hard to having meaningful discourse when your feedback seems to consist no real consistency.

    The root problem seems to be a lack of education. I know that here in the US sexism is not something that gets touched in public schools beyond yelling at little boys for pulling on little girls hair. No, it doesn’t come up until university courses, which, by and large, are self selecting and therefore inevitably filled with the people who probably don’t really need to be there.

    And of course there are few creatures more smug and self satisfied than university students, especially ones who take sociology courses that expound on things like sexism. I still have a hard time not immediately disliking anyone who uses the term ‘privilege’ just because I cannot help but associate it with immense smugness, dismissal, and condescension; and I like to believe I have a fairly good ability to self review my thoughts and correct wrong opinions.

    Which doesn’t seem to be an isolated thing. My experience has taught me that a large percentage of the more public writings on sexism; blogs, mass media stories, forum/youtube/facebook comments, political cartoons, etc; have a tendency to possess an undercurrent, or even an overt display of aggression and insults. The instinctual response to feelings of being attacked and threatened is to be defensive and spiteful. It’s easy for me to see why so many other men who are less inclined to examine their ethics and mores would be poisoned on the subject of sexism when most of their encounters with the topic are handled so poorly. For a good example of this look at the first comic Doone links in his post.

    This isn’t even going into the disturbingly large percentage of women who also don’t know what the fuck sexism actually is or what the goals of feminism are. Every time I see someone saying something about how you cannot be sexist against men or that men can’t be feminists it makes my fists itch.

    • “almost nobody can or will even try to objectively speak on it”

      I would argue that outside of an academic environment, there is no need to objectively speak about sexism. If we assume objective means “facts only, no feelings”… well sexism itself is hardly objective! The same applies to any “ism”, really.

      Objectivity requires distance, and distance is almost impossible for marginalized people in particular. It’s 10:30am here, and this morning I was told that I’d be “prettier if I smiled” by some random dude at the bus stop. I’ve already seen at least 3 scantily clad women in advertisements, and one ad implying that I should feel terrible for not being 19 and a size 2. Now I’m at my job where I am paid less than my male colleagues and people make comments like “well women aren’t good at computers” (not with malice, but because they just haven’t thought about it).

      To then be told — not by you specifically, but generally in these conversations — that I should try and be more objective about feminism or sexism or whatever is incredibly frustrating! This isn’t science, it is my life!

      I’m not trying to pick on you, but I think a lot of the problem is the insistence on objectivity in these conversations. The only objective statement that I can see here is that “it is morally wrong to marginalize people”, and everything else is feelings, experiences, things we learned from family and society, and other completely non-objective things.

      • Random honest question from the gay male in the room. While I agree with most everything you wrote here, why is the “You’d be prettier if you smiled” comment sexist or marginalizing? I’ve heard that said to dudes all the time, too. There are plenty of guys who would be prettier if they smiled.

      • It is asking someone to be pretty for their benefit. The underlying message and intrinsic thought is that women are there to look pretty for men.. like that is their main purpose. Obviously when being used people don’t even think it’s sexist but you really have to be aware of how the message is perceived.

      • When discussing facts objectivity needs to be the goal. Recognizing ones own biases and attempting the factor them out in favor of objective reasoning is an important step in discussion, debate, and problem solving. Failure to do so largely limits both parties to having a non-constructive argument (i.e. a ‘flaming row’) instead.

        No good comes of dragging emotions and other assorted baggage into such things. The amount of times in the history of the world where people have been swayed to change their behaviour simply because some stranger is angry or upset about something is minuscule when compared to the number of times they were roundly ignored.

        I can tell you that I commiserate with you. I find the language and make up of advertising flagrantly insulting as well, I tire of people repeatedly questioning my sexuality purely because I’m not terribly interested in any sort of relationship with anyone, and I hate that I’ve lost jobs because of affirmative action polices or insane experience requirements. But really that accomplishes very little, even within the context of internet blog post comments.

      • those lovely fat ugly slutty comments are not a one off… they aren’t an anomaly they are very much the norm. I would suspect every women you talked to who has been involved in mainstream gaming has a wealth of experiences they could tell you. Most no longer even bother with a mic for online stuff… unless with friends because it’s just not worth the aggravation. This extends into all domains of our life at times, people telling you how you should be.. and it’s infuriating at times. Well it is either be mad at the ridiculous and succumb and be depressed.
        As far as I know there is also no way to quantify how bad a comment is or the damage and harm it can do. We have a causality between such things and depression and suicide as well as other mental health issues. A statistically based argument would be about the fields women are in and how many, the pay discrepancies but then even that misses many confounding variables regarding why. The cause and effect surrounds experience and that will always be hard to quantify.

        Actually, historically, it is when people get angry that things see the greatest change. African american rights for instance. Women’s right to vote, gay rights, the apartheid and many more were all very aggressive movements that elicited change and that’s the tip of the iceberg. It is once you elicit change in which cretaing a more positive debate is important as a way of maintain the new image.

      • @Talarian
        I would presume the objection would be directed towards the assumption that she gives a flying fuck about how pretty she looks to random people at bus stops because she is a women and women worry about such things.

        As I guy, nobody in public has ever given voice to how pretty I look. For good or ill.

      • But that’s the trick here, right? Facts involve things like sexism in the courts and laws, or in the statistics of the glass ceiling, and they’re absolutely important to the discussion, but the culture of language isn’t just about facts, but feelings. And it’s also not just about explicitly bad words like “retard,” “bitch,” or “fag.” It’s about the subtle turns of phrase the reinforce cultural stereotypes, and how those make you feel as a person.

        You talk about people questioning your sexuality because you aren’t terribly interested in others. But how are people going to understand that’s how you feel unless you (tirelessly) explain yourself to them? And I’d be surprised to hear that you don’t get fed up on occasion having to explain that point of view to others. Now imagine having to see the cultural norms in your face everywhere you turn. In fact, you probably don’t have to imagine. Marriage is everywhere (don’t I know that firsthand), and if you’re not married you’re a social deviant, so people question you all the time.

        For ladies, it’s like that all the time:

        They don’t like video games. They can’t have a career because they prefer babies over working. They aren’t good with technical fields.

        It would be absolutely exasperating, hence why feelings do come into play, and you cannot just ignore them. Yes, sometimes I get fed up by being attacked on the Internet, and sure, some folks hurt their cause more than help by being inflammatory or outright dangerous (see death threats on Twitter in response to Mike Krahulik’s completely ignorant response to transgendered folk), but I don’t think you can blame them for being angry at times.

        And sometimes it takes a lot of people being angry to elicit change. One comment on an Internet forum never changed anyone’s mind (and I am aware of the irony in that statement), but thousands of comments? They change companies’ opinions for sure.

      • @Attic Lion

        I think you might want to test your demand for ‘objectivity’ against this http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2008/05/03/feminism-friday-feminism-101-sexism-is-a-matter-of-opinion/ …I’m linking it to save time.
        To echo: Women are generally better at identifying the patterns of misogyny by virtue of having been subjected to them for a lifetime. it’s ALL about these experiences. Liore wasn’t being ’emotional’ but giving you real life examples of how sexism is nothing that happens ‘objectively’.

      • @j3w3l

        “Actually, historically, it is when people get angry that things see the greatest change. African american rights for instance. Women’s right to vote, gay rights, the apartheid and many more were all very aggressive movements that elicited change and that’s the tip of the iceberg. It is once you elicit change in which cretaing a more positive debate is important as a way of maintain the new image.”

        An important thing to remember is that all over those movements had messages that were kept quite separate from being angry. Anger is a fine personal motivation to possess, but if you allow your message to become indistinguishable and intractable from your anger then you have nothing. Unless you also posses a large amount of weapons and the willingness and capacity to use them.

        Anger is cheap and cheapens your position when you allow it to become your face.

      • @Attic: I think you’re very right about how the discussion gets mishandled sometimes. And I think you’re right that too few are willing to be really honest with themselves and/or with others about what’s happening, especially publicly (on the internet). But I do disagree about the centrality of objectivity. Let me get your thoughts on this: You insist on objectivity and you insist that emotions are a bad thing. Where do you get these notions of what is proper for ascertaining valid information? Let me explain.

        Men are taught to marginalize their emotions and to be “more objective” (they are mutually inclusive, if I marginalize emotions it is to minimize my subjectivity and maximize objectivity). Do you believe this is playing *any* part in your beliefs that we leave them out?

        Objectivity also has class implications, because historically (and even today) certain classes of people have claims to legitimacy (objectivity) than others, such as women. So in a lot of ways our culture marginalizes the subjective in order to justify ignoring the testimony and contributions of other classes of people. Of course (and unfortunately though you hate the word), there are privileged classes of people and men are one of them. It’s hard not to mention this given the discussion.

        There’s not really such a thing as “proper” handling of the topic because we’re all human and unique; we will have differing reactions to it, but that’s not the same as saying only objectivity is valuable to understanding it. And we have to endure the differing reactions if we’re to effect real change. Nasty debates are not only to be expected, but are actually essential to progressive discussion. Where would the Civil Rights movement in America be without sit-ins? Without Black Panthers? Without Dr. King’s peaceful approach? Without Malcolm X’s militant approach? Things *will* get ugly before they get pretty.

        Of course, we all want things to be as non-antagonizing as possible, but it’s hardly necessary.

        No significant social change anywhere in any part of the world happened through objectivity and withholding of emotions.

        A player can objectively know about Tomb Raider, but only those who have played the game can really tell me how it is.

      • @Doone
        I don’t fully agree with your conjecture. I believe that social mores are more concerned with men sublimating their non-masculine emotions, like sadness, into more acceptably masculine ones, like anger, and then doing one’s best to not express them. That men are supposed to be stoic, not necessarily impassive. That would seem to be an important distinction to me. Though if you have any information to the contrary I would be interested to look at it.

        Though, a thought occurs to me. If you’re correct, in theory the side that has to be convinced to change is primarily made up of men who prefer objective fact to emotional pleading. Does it not make more sense to argue the position on terms that the other party respects and responds better to?

        I also feel that it’s important that I clarify something. I don’t hate the word ‘privilege.’ What I was attempting to convey is that because I first heard the word in this context being used by people with smug superiority on their faces and contempt in their hearts I have found it difficult to fully separate the word from the stupidity of the people using it in an incorrect and inflammatory manner. Even with my awareness and acknowledgement of the fact.

        I feel that the vast majority of people would not bother trying to separate the two and thus when they are put in similar situations they only remember how the words made them feel instead of extracting and internalizing the meaning of the message. A situation caused by allowing emotional content to become entangled with and obscure ones ideas. In doing so you have done yourself and your cause no favors.

        As for the civil rights movement, I believe I already addressed that specific case above.

      • I was about to write something along those lines in that a valid style of debate is usually based on certain positive male characteristics. Emotionless and based around objectivity. I agree that when trying to change the opinion of a certain demographic then you would want to present yourself in that particular way i order to get the best message across. The issues is thoat those people resistant to the message are unlikely to be swayed regardless of how the message is presented. At that stage it’s more about getting his friend to punch him the arm and say stop being a douche.
        Usually to invoke more serious change it has to be the in group that instigates this. We are the outside force here but what we can continue to do is get those in the in-group to further take on this message and pass it along. The more the message gets repeated the more it spreads further and amongst other channels. It all starts from humble beginnings.

        haha. we all have words that rub us the wrong way.. mine’s formulate…unnnh

      • @Attic: We are in agreement on all that you said. I only wanted to raise the question of what informed your suggestion that the discussion of sexism stay away from emotions in a way that gives us both a little awareness of what we’re implying when we frame the discussion this way.

        The thing with debating something like sexism is that men want to define and control the terms on which they address it. No, I don’t think that’s proper at all as framing the conversation goes. If slave masters got to define and control the terms on which they addressed slavery, we’d still have it in America (in fact Reconstruction is decisively illustrative in that regard). Men have to let go of their privilege and that means understanding and accepting that we do not solely get to define and control those terms, if at all. That’s part of what is necessary to get rid of sexism. It entails a helluva lot more than it seems on the surface.

        This does not mean that we don’t get to share our thoughts, or that we can’t make significant, even landmark, contributions to the work (there are men throughout history who already have). It means that we don’t get to determine how it’s going to go down. In a lot of ways, when we try to dictate those kinds of things, it is inevitably one of the ways that we hold on to traditional notions of masculinity and in which we assert our sexism. I think it’s a defensive component of the discussion that we simply have to get over, because these kinds of concessions require a radical change in how we see ourselves, in our identities. This is at the heart of the difficulty for men in my opinion. I remember the anxiety of questioning who I was and what I had been doing all these years, the people I’d hurt, even in games. That shit doesn’t feel great at all. But it’s necessary because combating sexism is *supposed* to be transformative.

        I do not think it proper that we try to frame the discussion on our terms. That’s the reason we have sexism right now.

      • @Doone
        I reject your notion. Truly solving the sexism issue is something that will involve give and take at pretty much every level of society. It is something that cannot be worked on purely by one group. Such a pervasive effort is bloody well going to get a whole load of input from everybody, as it should.

      • @Attic: I never stated, or implied that it is the work of one group. I actually said otherwise. I said men don’t get to dictate the format and I observed that we historically have also seemed to think this the better approach (slavery).

    • There is an interesting talk called the perils of indifference by elie wiesil out there that touches on that feeling. Also, if you’re not part of the solution….

      OK so you notice the systematic under-representation and misuse but then say it’s unproductive to talk about it. How is something going to change when you’re not actively bringing it up and creating dialogue.
      Yes talking about it is a mindfield of misinformation but it is always up to the speaker to educate themselves before they speak. BY and large the worst offenders are those speaking in defense. Privilege gets brought up not just because of academic reasons but just because it is the right descriptive word. Those saying it’s not an issue or to not get offended because I’m not is a position from a position of privilege, your assuming that your opinion is the right one because that’s how it’s always been… and that’s how a lot of people are approaching the debate.

      I’m also with Liore on this in that the argument can not be objective since it is based on the real world application and implication. It is a position based on feelings and experiences that do harm people…I’ve been on the receiving end of a number of rather abhorrent comments and mail while gaming by virtue of being female. The sexist imagery is a part of that, it perpetuates the feeling of.. wait for it…privilege in that these games are and should be designed for men because that’s the way it’s always been. We can’t overtly change how others think by ourselves, there is no clockwork orange type arrangement we can submit them too. All that’s there is to add a voice in trying to change gaming culture itself.

      I do agree with you that this negative focus does create a climate wherein people just close there minds, being attacked like that does make you a little defensive regarding your opinions, I even said as much when I talked about the original tropes video. You need to create a positive image and representation to repeat within the media as a way of combating the negative one although I’m starting to believe you need that positive image as well as a certain amount of aggressive campaigning in order for the message t be more effective.

      • I don’t recall saying that it was unproductive to talk about sexism, just that, because it’s such an emotionally charged subject, it was unproductive to talk about it without keeping your emotions in check.

        By definition societal issues are complex because society is a complex system given life by the complexities of people. In order to have rational discussion that doesn’t devolve into the normal idiocy that pervades interpersonal communication in general and the internet in particular reducing the level of complexity helps a lot. Thus removing emotional subjectivity from the equation helps foster reasoned discourse.

        I’m not saying that it’s wrong to have such emotional reactions and attachments to things, that would be an insane position to take, just that they do precious little good when trying to have an actual discussion.

        For an example, suppose you were talking to a guy who claims that sexism “isn’t that bad anymore.” What would you do to convince him otherwise?

        Would you link him Syl’s blog post there? I wouldn’t, because it takes the existence and severity of sexism for granted and makes little to no effort to support such a position. Instead favoring the tried and true “trust me, I’m an expert” line of reasoning.

        Would you rattle off Liore’s list of things that annoyed her this morning? I wouldn’t, the dude’s most likely thought process would probably skip listening and go straight to “wow what a whiny bitch.”

        Would you provide statistics on fashion trends in super models vs the prevalence of eating disorders in teenage girls? Or perhaps several case studies of the glass ceiling? Those seem like winners to me.

        To be sure, there are exceptions to this. Emotions can be a useful tool in debate after all. And hell, having real passion for a topic can be a powerful way to sway hearts and minds alike, but one should be able to put such things aside when they are of no use or counterproductive and be able to recognize when this is so. If you let your emotions control your speech instead of your head, you run the risk of tangling your message up with them and the emotions of the other party. Which pretty much always leads to a flame war.

    • @Attic: I never stated, or implied that it is the work of one group. I actually said otherwise. I said men don’t get to dictate the format and I observed that we historically have also seemed to think this the better approach (slavery).

  4. Thanks for stressing that there’s such a thing as wrong/ illegitimate ‘opinions’ on certain matters here. It annoys me to no end when, after a long-winded dismissive WoT on the subject of sexism, some guys will pull the ‘…but it’s just my opinion and they’re all equal’-card. to which my standard answer is usually this lovely quote:

    “Every opinion is “just an opinion” is the mental state of the untrained mind. All persuasion is not the same. There are good, sound arguments, and there is spin. There is Socrates and there is sophistry.”

  5. Attic Lion said above, “Recognizing ones own biases and attempting the factor them out in favor of objective reasoning…”

    Yes, I am biased towards being treated like an equal human being! Am I supposed to ignore that in order to be considered as having a rational, calm discussion on the subject like we’re doing right now? Having to set aside a lifetime of experiences with sexism to discuss it “properly” seems like an impossible request, if not entirely counter-productive.

    For what it’s worth, Attic Lion, my personal approach to these conversations is to avoid being aggressive, assuming everyone is discussing the topic sincerely. That is generally just how I roll. But I think that being angry is also an appropriate response, and I would never tell someone that their anger is inappropriate or ineffective. Sometimes shit just makes ya angry.

    • As I said, I can sympathize. I am not a particularly kind person, but I am not fully blind or indifferent to such things.

      But, consider. If you wanted to try to argue your point to someone who truly did believe in the maxims of “father knows best” “barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen” “women are emotional messes who need a mans strong hand to withstand the stresses of the world” what would you use to get your point across? What weapons should the arsenal of debate be comprised of?

      Or perhaps less seriously, what would you tell Metzen to try to make him realize his “Draenor: Boys only Club” is stupid?

      • Money. There is no need to waste words trying to convince someone of something they don’t believe in. It never works. How many conversions of belief/opinion have you seen from someone reading a persuasive argument?

        Vote with your wallet. Support games which display the principles you want to see, walk away from games that do not. Over time, the industry will shift in response or they will die out. Look at the movement of games with cash shops over pure subscription games. It won’t be as fast a change, because plenty of males are going to see something with exposed boobs and drool and throw money at it, but we just need other males and females who care about the problem to throw money in the other direction. The majority will win. Look at the preponderance of supporting soloing options over a pure group-only MMO.

        MMOs (and other games) with better clothing options and better-written female characters will eventually win out over sexist ones. Once players have options, they’ll want it in all the games they play – look at them twitch on a more restrictive character creator.

        It’ll just take money and time.

      • I can agree but also disagree there. Voting with your wallet is a powerful thing.. but then I can’t help but see certain issues with that too. They are already focusing less on female interests because they aren’t getting female players and they usually don’t care about the demographic either, wouldn’t doing this just cement that view further.

        It’s very hard to change an opinion, it’s far more the effect of when you have a cultural shift which is kind of what it’s working towards. Everyone’s voice, while small adds up to a much larger issue that can’t be ignored. In this regards I think every opinion and voice of dissent can count

      • Here’s the thing: The cultural shift is already happening. Slowly, yes, but steadily. Every day, I log onto two voice programs while playing GW2 and hear gamers who happen to be females speaking, and no one remarks on this as anything out of the ordinary. I doubt that the Tarnished Coast public mumble and the 11-guild TTS teamspeak are exceptions to the rule, but rather more representative of the average.

        Let’s look at popular games who get it right (or at least don’t just include women in more skin than clothing). The Mass Effect series. Skyrim. Walking Dead. Sims 3. Even the FPSes are starting to dip a teeny tiny toe into the pool by including (or thinking about including) female avatars, after having copied nearly everything else from MMORPGs via xp, leveling up and class-based systems.

        I’m not sure who this “they” who are focusing less on female interests are. If anything, if one can appeal to both demographics by including options for both, one stands to make more money.

        That’s not to say that we can’t discuss these issues, voice our opinions and make some noise to bring them to public attention. By all means, do.

        It’s just that I see all too often that people get distracted down a rabbit hole arguing with or trying to persuade an extremist on whichever end of the spectrum, who aren’t at all likely to change their minds anyway. Some of them are pretty much trolling or out to cause controversy, which just results in heated feelings, bad blood and negativity, rather than any cultural mindshift. After a point, it’s best to not engage them and just continue covering the issue via other angles instead.

  6. I work in games. I’m a happily married white male, blessed with a wonderful wife and four children (who like to play games). I’ve worked in the industry for eight years. I could have had a job in the Pixar or SFX world, but I chose games. I’ve always loved games.

    And yet… I’m also horrified by them sometimes. I do not buy M-rated games. I refuse to work on them when possible (I’ve worked on two, but in minimal, non-offensive material). Something like Bayonetta or Catherine just makes me shake my head and pity humanity. There is a lot of filth out there.

    The industry is a cesspool in a lot of ways, a self-perpetuating mosh pit of dumb, single young males who think a career in games will let them play out their puerile fantasies. It’s not just the business guys or the players who are stuck in the idiot male demographic, in other words, it’s also the production floor crew.

    All that said, I’ve worked with a few women in the industry, and a few more actually mature men, and they tend to be great assets to a dev team, simply because they aren’t stupid young single males. (The ESRB has no idea what the word “mature” means.) There’s hope yet. The industry, for all its financial success, is still relatively young. There’s a lot of room for it to grow into something other than a frat boy fantasy. Just recently, a Jane Austen MMO funded on Kickstarter. Who saw that coming?

    The change is likely to be slow, but it’s possible, and in the 8 years I’ve been in the industry, I’ve seen hopeful signs. The thing I’d stress, though, is that trying to impose “diversity” on the industry is just going to lead to a bunch of checkbox, lowest common denominator design, which really doesn’t help anyone. It’s something that has to grow out of creative types who want to make great games that tell great stories… that just happen to not be stupid. It has to come from people buying games that appeal to something beside teenager hormones. We have to speak up about it, definitely, but not because we want some marketing type to tell the executives to throw a token bone to the demographic groups. That’s demeaning and counterproductive. We have to be more than shrill shills, agitating for a day in the sun. We have to be persistent, polite, and consistent. It has to be about building better games that connect with bigger audiences, not simply about opposition to the status quo.

    …because “wouldn’t it be cool if” goes down better than “you’re doing it wrong”

    • You’ve reminded me of an interesting statistic I saw once. That since the burn out rate in the video game industry is so great but the potential pool of new blood is so high, the average developer is something like: white, male, mid-20s, with no spouse, and no kids.

      You have to wonder how much that colors the industry.

    • thanks for sharing that… I doubt most even know the extent to which the rabbit hole goes.
      I just wanted to be clear that I wouldn’t want any sort of asinine restriction and publication checks based on diversity indicators. That would be extremely counter-productive. The only thing I wish out of the entire debate is for the developers, modellers, artists, screenwriters and anyone else developing games and media to take a moment and reflect on what it is they are producing. I don’t even expect them to enact change or alter their vision because that would harm the variety of experiences as well… all I want is more thought on the matter before they throw it out their. Enough with the “oh yeh, women. I forgot”

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