Author Topic: Gender issues and gaming  (Read 36624 times)

Snique

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Gender issues and gaming
« on: June 13, 2012, 06:42:31 AM »
Then you might want to look at this Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/566429325/tropes-vs-women-in-video-games

Anita Sarkeesian is a pop-culture blogger/critic getting funding for her second series of short vids on how women are portrayed in video games - gender and sexism issues feature prominently.  She's hit her first goal and has a few days left to hit stretch goals.

I heard about it because she's getting harassed (AUGH!).  See
http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/internet/2012/06/dear-internet-why-you-cant-have-anything-nice

She's been really viciously attacked and a number of people I know (particularly male gamers like myself) are tossing in to help her Kickstarter as a way of saying we don't agree with what was done to her.

Between the Tera Beta thread and the Diablo discussion thread (which I am not further threadjacking) there seems to be an interest in the Cupcakes community in this kind of thing.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2012, 09:35:38 AM by Edalia »

bleunienn

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Re: Gender issues and gaming
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2012, 07:04:43 AM »
Thanks for the link, Snique, I'll check it out when I get home tonight.

Leahnidas

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Re: Gender issues and gaming
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2012, 07:52:04 AM »
I have several issues with the accompanying article but the project itself deserves kudos. It's obvious a subject that is deeply imporant and personal to a lot of people and to have a goal of 6k and end up getting almost 100k (with time still left!) reflects that. It's just a shame that the article only wanted to talk about the bad instead of, ya know, focusing on the positivity of the project that the artist is trying to get made.

Wren

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Re: Gender issues and gaming
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2012, 07:57:04 AM »
This also popped up in another thread see:
http://borderhouseblog.com/?p=8586

Also related-  Ben Kuchera wrote a great article about E3 and booth babes today:
http://penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/banning-e3-booth-babes-isnt-good-manners-its-good-business

Vylin

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Re: Gender issues and gaming
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2012, 09:47:25 AM »
I'm of many minds on this subject. On the one hand, video games are entertainment and video game characters are the epitome of charicatures. So its hard to get offended about characters that are blatantly over the top. But on the other hand, I can understand how this can be offputting to female gamers (and sometimes tiring to male gamers as well).

I'll be interested to see how the subject pans out. If its going to just go over the classic female roles in video games and list examples and say how sexist it is...its going to be a boring project. All of the subject titles leave me with one thought, "duh". I'm already aware of the cliches and stereotypical roles, and I suspect so are others. So what is the goal of the project if not awareness?
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bleunienn

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Re: Gender issues and gaming
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2012, 10:25:50 AM »
I've seen some of Anita Sarkeesian's other work.  I sort of doubt this is going to be a boring project, though it may well start with a rundown of the various sexist stereotypes that exist in games, just to establish the context.  It is also very likely that the sort of people who didn't like her putting together the Kickstarter will have similarly idiotic things to say about the final project.

Seeing female characters constantly reduced to boobs and butts isn't just offputting, it's dehumanising.  There is more to me than my cup size, ya know?

Vylin

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Re: Gender issues and gaming
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2012, 11:31:09 AM »
I'll have to watch an episode once they're completed to see the style the author is going to take. Is it just going to be example after example of "damsel in distress" characters, or will the author provide potential solution examples as well. And more importantly, will the narrator "preach" (nothing turns me off more than someone preaching to me, al la Bill Maher) or weave an entertaining video presentation?

To take a popular documentary for example, Supersize Me told us something we already knew...fast food makes us fat and unhealthy. Nothing new there. But it took a storyline and entertaining narrator to get people to watch it. And by getting people to watch it, the film was able to get enough attention that McDonalds paid attention. Did it solve any issues longterm? Nope.


Quote
Seeing female characters constantly reduced to boobs and butts isn't just offputting, it's dehumanising.  There is more to me than my cup size, ya know?

As I've stated many many many times on this forum, I am big into stories and games that tell a good story. To do that you need good characters who are more than just eye candy. That is my argument that is neither for, nor against Anita's project. You CAN tell a good story with a "damsel in distress". But the stories stop being interesting when they are ALL "damsels in distress" stories.

That being said, video games are going to follow the social climate. When sports teams stop having scantily clad female cheerleaders, when advertisements stop using [half] naked women, when movies stop relying on big breasted no talent actresses, ect...then you might see an actual change in the video game scene. And I have to scratch my head at the Booth Babes article...especially when "professional hot chicks" are hired for all sorts of expos. One would assume half of all car purchases are made by women, so why do auto expos have so many Booth Babes?
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Wren

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Re: Gender issues and gaming
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2012, 12:23:10 PM »
Quote
And I have to scratch my head at the Booth Babes article...especially when "professional hot chicks" are hired for all sorts of expos. One would assume half of all car purchases are made by women, so why do auto expos have so many Booth Babes?

A big part of it is because it a lot of these practices haven't changed since they started back in the 1950s and 60s when advertising and marketing really hit their stride. We've had over 60 years of being inundated with hyper-sexualized marketing to the degree that most people don't even question it anymore. "Oh well sex sells" But if that were true we'd see an equal pattern of sexualization, and we don't. More often than not we see women being marketed to men. (Though I am sensitive to the fact that the way men are often depicted in advertising is also problematic, this site is pretty interesting as it covers a lot of the issues in advertising from both sides: http://www.genderads.com/)

The whole thing just creates an uncomfortable atmosphere. Promote your game/convention by making interesting games, that's what I'm there to see. I'm not there to see a paid model in skimpy clothes look uncomfortable and fake being happy while getting their picture taken or getting hit on by people who can't separate fantasy from reality. And many (not all, I realize) know nothing or next to nothing about the game they're paid to promote.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2012, 12:45:20 PM by Wren »

Leahnidas

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Re: Gender issues and gaming
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2012, 12:45:09 PM »
"Oh well sex sells" But if that were true we'd see an equal pattern of sexualization, and we don't. More often than not we see women being marketed to men.

Not to turn this into a conversation about misandry, but as you know, men are slobbering idiots who only think with one part of their body. Thus the advertisers look at us poor, dim-witted souls and see easy money in marketing to us through sex because they know we'll respond. Now I'd be willing to wager that even your average knuckle-dragging fellow won't buy a game just because there's a bikini babe on the cover but they ARE more likely to have a look at it and maybe it'll sound/be good enough for them to make a purchase.

Women, on the other hand, are above such base primal urges and thus don't get marketed to the same way. If a video game cover featured a guy with ripped abs in a pair of jeans and a cowboy hat, MOST women would be no more likely to give that product a look as anything else, imo. I think that this is because when you usually do see that kind of image, it's because it's selling the female version of the pron, such as romance novels and calendars.

So in short, sex sells to guys and thus that's why you get the culture/images you see.

Vylin

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Re: Gender issues and gaming
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2012, 12:51:15 PM »
As long as the Booth Babes are drawing attention to their Booth and/or product, then they are earning their paycheck. If the Expo Participants don't pay them any attention, then they won't be hired in the future. So you can't blame the companies that hire these women when its the consumers/reporters/fans that respond to their presence.
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Wren

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Re: Gender issues and gaming
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2012, 01:02:49 PM »
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So in short, sex sells to guys and thus that's why you get the culture/images you see.

I don't really buy that, I think anytime you treat a group as a monolithic entity it becomes problematic, it has to be insulting to most men to be told they're incapable of rational thought and will do whatever they're told if you dangle a sexy lady in front of them (it also assumes they're heterosexual etc), even if we accept without question that such methods are effective does that mean we can't try to do better? Or that we have to ignore the harm they do?

Wren

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Re: Gender issues and gaming
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2012, 01:05:53 PM »
As long as the Booth Babes are drawing attention to their Booth and/or product, then they are earning their paycheck. If the Expo Participants don't pay them any attention, then they won't be hired in the future. So you can't blame the companies that hire these women when its the consumers/reporters/fans that respond to their presence.

I can totally blame the companies that hire them, I can expect and demand a company to do better and help change the culture of the consumers and fans that attend the convention. I think it has to come from both sides.

Edalia

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Re: Gender issues and gaming
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2012, 01:09:38 PM »
I'll have to watch an episode once they're completed to see the style the author is going to take. Is it just going to be example after example of "damsel in distress" characters, or will the author provide potential solution examples as well. And more importantly, will the narrator "preach" (nothing turns me off more than someone preaching to me, al la Bill Maher) or weave an entertaining video presentation?

Her other videos (she did a series like this on tropes before, so you can get a taste) are a decent mix of basic equality speech and suggestions on how to think about tropes and images in a different way. Quick example: The Real Reason Guys Should Hate Twilight. Not preachy, but it does identify some of the classic "macho" ways to put down another man.
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Kharvek

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Re: Gender issues and gaming
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2012, 01:13:55 PM »
I actually read an interesting blog from an auto show booth babe and it was kinda interesting.  The main difference is the video game booth babes know nothing and don't care about the product.  A lot of the auto show gals actually know an awful lot about the product.   The blog has a lot of fun anecdotes about this girl utterly schooling a bunch of guys on basic auto knowledge when they tried to get all macho with her and throw some lameass pickup line.  Also the auto show gals aren't as ridiculously underclothed.  It's generally short skirts, tight dresses and such...but they all know the cars inside and out.  The game show ones I think generally are utterly clueless about the product and are just there to make a buck and deal with crap.

I have a couple general questions about this.  First I don't think sexy is inherently a bad thing.  I don't think we need to start some crusade against bare mid-rifts and I think a larger issue is a sexy character is often only defined by being sexy.  When you make a female character sexy and in revealing clothing they pass on any other character development and leave her as the 'sexy' archetype.  Which isn't really a character at all.  I think there's a few good examples of a character who wears revealing clothing or is sexy, but also is a fully realized and developed character so when you're asked "Oh?  What is that character like?"  The answer isn't solely "Oh, she's hot."  I'll offer Morrigan from Dragon Age and Chloe from Uncharted 2 as sexy characters that are more than just looks.  Morrigan actually has a full background and even a reason for dressing the way she does.  If you ask someone about Morrigan your'e sure to get a laundry list of what they thought of the character and motives.  She was in revealing clothing, but she was also a fully realized and well written character.  Chloe is the same way.  She's not in as revealing of clothing but has a sexy attitude, but also again...is a fully realized character in that world.

I think the argument is a bit less "Cover the girls up" but "Make them have reasons, motives and traits like any other character should."  If they're wearing revealing clothing?  We should know why, and the reason can't be "Oh, she's the sexy one."  

Similarly in a game where the players have a bit more control on what their main character is I wonder about that.  Like, lets look at TERA.  The female character armor is ridiculous. ..however, the male armor is ridiculous too.  They show a ton of skin.  The gals show more I think?  But it's not a case of heavily armored guys and skimpy girls.  It's skimpy guys and skimpier girls.  It's an aesthetic to the game.  It's extremely polarizing but it's consistent.  Now I agree there no options in the game if you want to be covered up or armored, and a lack of choices is generically bad so players can't be what they want to be, but is it sexist in this context?  EVERYTHING is sexualized and objectified.  Where does this fall on the scale?  Is it more okay if the guys are just as sexualized/objectified or is it more bothersome if it's a gal character is and the male character is not?



Edalia

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Re: Gender issues and gaming
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2012, 01:22:54 PM »
I think a larger issue is a sexy character is often only defined by being sexy.  When you make a female character sexy and in revealing clothing they pass on any other character development and leave her as the 'sexy' archetype.  Which isn't really a character at all.  I think there's a few good examples of a character who wears revealing clothing or is sexy, but also is a fully realized and developed character so when you're asked "Oh?  What is that character like?"  The answer isn't solely "Oh, she's hot."  I'll offer Morrigan from Dragon Age and Chloe from Uncharted 2 as sexy characters that are more than just looks.  Morrigan actually has a full background and even a reason for dressing the way she does.  If you ask someone about Morrigan your'e sure to get a laundry list of what they thought of the character and motives.  She was in revealing clothing, but she was also a fully realized and well written character.  Chloe is the same way.  She's not in as revealing of clothing but has a sexy attitude, but also again...is a fully realized character in that world.

I think the argument is a bit less "Cover the girls up" but "Make them have reasons, motives and traits like any other character should."  If they're wearing revealing clothing?  We should know why, and the reason can't be "Oh, she's the sexy one."

I don't want to speak for Anita Sarkeesian, but this assessment is one I've heard countless times from feminist gamers. There's nothing wrong with dressing sexy if there is more to the character-the problem is that many female characters in games (and film) don't go past the tropes like Morrigan, Tali, or that chick from Beyond Good and Evil do.
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