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Women in Gaming Scenarios

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  • L'Etranger
    Veteran Moorcockista
    • Dec 2003
    • 4772

    Women in Gaming Scenarios

    Hi, I have never posted in this section as I don't play games, not since "Red Baron" became out-dated . Or come to think of it, since that time my job left me less time for this.

    Today I came across an article in my country's leading online magazine which reported about a lady named Anita Sarkeesian who's harvesting a terrific shit storm for her YouTube essay on Women and their depiction in video games. As a father of two young ladies I was dumbfounded how my girls could possibly seen by players whose (perhaps) view on women might be nurtured on on this alarming cynical and mysogynic stuff:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5i_RPr9DwMA#t=553

    What are your experiences?
    Google ergo sum

  • SERPNTA1267
    Dreamer of the Multiverse
    • Dec 2007
    • 834

    #2
    I understand where the video was going with the idea. Personally, I am not a fan of this happening in any game that I play. If I'm the hero and I can't save a character, no matter who it is, it bothers me. I don't think it is right for a game company to try and sell there game to people by showing a female on in their add, especially when there are not even humanoids that you play in the game. Even worse is seeing a female character wearing full plate armor that barely covers the body.
    One thing I did notice about the games she was showing is that they seemed to all be one player games; there is no interaction with real people. I personally enjoy playing online games with others and I find that a lot of players are women. Usually, there is respect given and anyone, not just men, who mistreats another player is usually frowned upon and ostracized.
    I look forward to the day when more women actually make games. I am now going back to school, looking to get into this industry in the future. I am taking a programming class that has about 20 people in it and I think there are only 3 women in the class. This to me is a big problem. Until more women get into development, I believe, there will be junk in games like what the video states.
    The video shows the problem from just one side and never discusses that, in truth, this happens to both male and female characters. It is just that violence towards women and their negative portrayal stands out more.
    Not sure if I'm getting my point across right. Will follow up on it another day.
    "The world is such-and-such or so-and-so only because we tell ourselves that that is the way it is. If we stop telling ourselves that the world is so-and-so, the world will stop being so-and-so." - don Juan

    Comment

    • opaloka
      digital serf 41221z/74
      • Jun 2006
      • 3746

      #3
      I find that kind of stuff distasteful in a game and she certainly has a point.

      At the same time, any analysis is not complete if you don't compare it to the way males are treated in any given game, and take into account the fact that the games are playable by females with, for the most part, the option to play a female character, which can change the dynamic of what is happening in the game.

      Comment

      • Octo Seven
        Aklo Tagger
        • Dec 2011
        • 1074

        #4
        All media platforms are full of misogyny. Games, music, movies, life itself is. It's wrong but video games aren't to blame, us humans are.

        Comment

        • David Mosley
          Eternal Administrator
          • Jul 2004
          • 11823

          #5
          Originally posted by L'Etranger View Post
          Today I came across an article in my country's leading online magazine which reported about a lady named Anita Sarkeesian who's harvesting a terrific shit storm for her YouTube essay on Women and their depiction in video games. As a father of two young ladies I was dumbfounded how my girls could possibly seen by players whose (perhaps) view on women might be nurtured on on this alarming cynical and mysogynic stuff:
          As ever, context is everything.

          Of the games featured in the video the only ones I've played are Dragon Age: Origins and The Witcher so I can't speak of any of the others, although I'll come back to that. In DAO, the scene 'quoted' in the video only happens if you play the City Elf Origin; if you play the Human Noble, Human/Elven Mage, Dalish Elf, Noble Dwarf or Common Dwarf origins you never see that scene. You will eventually come across the character depicted in prison where you have the choice of either freeing him, leaving him or killing him; freeing Vaughan means he will support you later in the game when you may need his vote but only in the City Elf origin would you know that he's been imprisoned for rape. That's the sort of morally grey/complex world that Dragon Age presents the player with.

          The Witcher I've only played once but again the scene quoted in the video is just one small moment out of a much larger game so I'm not sure it's inclusion is particularly representative of the game as a whole.

          At least one video response I've watched demonstrates that a scene in the Hitman Absolute game has been deliberately manufactured to produce a result which goes against how the game is actually played by gamers. I've not played Red Dead Redemption but it seemed to me that the random scene of a prostitute being beaten up and killed, which repeats later if the Player doesn't intervene, is probably designed to encourage the player to intervene. Obviously the designers have to write an ending showing the consequence if they don't but you might want to ask yourself what sort of player/person would stand back in that situation and not intervene?

          The Assassins Creed example (I think the mission is 'Damsels in Distress') shows a killer taking random women hostage and then killing them if the Player gets to close before running to the next hostage and repeating until the Player eliminates them from a distance. Again, ask yourself what sort of player would deliberately play the game wrong like that? I suspect the answer is a feminist trying to prove that video games are misogynistic.

          It would be wrong to suggest that there isn't a long-standing anti-female/pro-male bias in video games (which we can discuss more fully if we want to) but I don't think anyone's cause however justified is well-served by presenting deliberately slanted arguments as in that video.
          _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
          _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
          _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
          _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

          Comment

          • Heresiologist
            Mothra Worshipper
            • Jan 2012
            • 982

            #6
            I thought one of the major points of her latest work was how pervasive sexualized violence against women is in video games in aggregate (though the dominant theme is the notion of women as background decoration, where the sexuality or victimhood of female NPCs is used to add edge or risque elements to a game). And a related point is how tired, lazy and shallow all this stuff is, or at least can be.

            So, given this larger context, whether or not a scene in a particular game is representative of that game as whole is not exactly a telling criticism. For her purposes it's enough that the game uses the trope, no matter how passingly. And in that sense it also doesn't matter that she played AssCreed "wrong" because whether it's one or a dozen women the villain kills, the game is still using female "victimhood" to add edge or shock value (and cheaply show how bad the villain is). That the victims are all courtesans and the player runs through a veritable gauntlet of women in low cut bodices reinforces her critique.

            Given the absolutely vile abuse she has been subjected to (shit storm is a severe understatement), I'm currently finding myself unable to make it through more than a few minutes of that "busted" vid. Also the guy's Hitman counter-punch is rather wide of the main body of Sarkeesian's critique. And the overblown claims in the intro were hard enough to get past.

            Here's some criticism I do appreciate though:
            http://thelearnedfangirl.com/2014/06/18/digital-decorating-sarkeesians-women-as-background-decoration-part-1
            Last edited by Heresiologist; 09-04-2014, 12:56 AM. Reason: obsessive rewriter

            Comment

            • Octo Seven
              Aklo Tagger
              • Dec 2011
              • 1074

              #7
              I'm just going to throw Bioshock Infinite in the mix here too as an example of a modern game with a strong female protagonist who isn't sexualized or depicted as a damsel in distress or a trophy to be acquired upon beating the villain.

              Comment

              • L'Etranger
                Veteran Moorcockista
                • Dec 2003
                • 4772

                #8
                Obviously even in real fights certain men refuse to drop the sexism ... what a**holes.

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrqaw7lB76c

                Okay, it is Fox, but what a rotten symbol of the Free World we mean to defend against ISIL is that?
                Google ergo sum

                Comment

                • David Mosley
                  Eternal Administrator
                  • Jul 2004
                  • 11823

                  #9
                  Women in Gaming Scenarios

                  Jon Stewart rips Fox News a new one over their 'false patriotism':

                  (Apologies for the sound quality, this was the best clip I could find that would play outside the USA)
                  _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                  _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                  _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                  _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

                  Comment

                  • Nathaniel
                    Champion of the Balance
                    • Nov 2006
                    • 1989

                    #10
                    I think Sarcasian's stuff is great. She might overstate the significance of a particular element here or there, but that is the case for any argument that someone puts forward. Having said that, I think that there is more justification than usual for doing so, because what she is talking about is not just confined to the instances she brings up, but exists in an unending wall of female stereotypes.

                    As for our own experience... having played online games like WoW, or other MMORPGs, and taught a few girls who identify themselves as gamers , I think the environment on many online games is absolutely horrific. Hell, it is bad enough for me, and that only happens because after the 4000th racist/sexist/homophobic joke in a chat channel I have asked for people to dial it back a little. This almost always results in an absolute shot storm of vile invective. I have the option of just ignoring it at keeping my mouth shut, I can't imagine how bad it must be for those that don't have that option.

                    Comment

                    • Liquidshadows
                      Denizen of Moo Uria
                      • Jan 2009
                      • 183

                      #11
                      I'll make a serious post here when I don't need to get some sleep. The woman who made this hasn't looked very hard at the games she uses in her critique. Some have very strong female characters, and at least one scene that she uses is (IMHO) a very effective attack on the idea the women need to live up to an objective (and male dictated) ideal. Way to miss the point, or (more likely) just ignore it. I'll get into it tomorrow or the day after.

                      Comment

                      • Nathaniel
                        Champion of the Balance
                        • Nov 2006
                        • 1989

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Octo Seven View Post
                        I'm just going to throw Bioshock Infinite in the mix here too as an example of a modern game with a strong female protagonist who isn't sexualized or depicted as a damsel in distress or a trophy to be acquired upon beating the villain.
                        Actually she is all those things bar one, but we shouldn't really discuss that because spoilers. Elizabeth *does* subvert all those things as well. And from my memory of the Sarkeesian vids she is quite open that there are games with strong female characters, but is talking about the prevalence of particular negative or demeaning portrayals of women in games.

                        How strong or weak her argument is, the reaction people have had to her is just horrific, and something I find really depressing. A small minority has engaged at an academic level and critiqued her selections or the arguments she constructs, which is all to the good. However, most people engaging with this seem to be personally offended by what she is saying, and respond by getting defensive about their pastime or aggressive towards Sarkeesian, sometimes in really nasty ways. The responses are also far more patronising than I think they would be if it was a person of colour talking about the depictions of ethnicity in games.

                        Comment

                        • David Mosley
                          Eternal Administrator
                          • Jul 2004
                          • 11823

                          #13
                          Anita Sarkeesian cancels talk at Utah State University over threats of ‘the deadliest school shooting’ in US history

                          The feminist pop culture critic Anita Sarkeesian has been forced to cancel a talk at Utah State University, after a threat of a “Montreal Massacre-style attack”. Sarkeesian, who is best known for her YouTube series “Tropes v Women in Video Games”, assessing various anti-feminist trends in gaming, was scheduled to talk at the university on Wednesday, when the unsigned email was sent.

                          The author of the email threatened that if the talk was not cancelled, they would carry out an attack in the style of the 1989 Montreal massacre, when Marc Lépine murdered 14 women, claiming he was “fighting feminism”.

                          “I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs,” the letter said. “This will be the deadliest school shooting in American history and I’m giving you a chance to stop it.”

                          “You have 24 hours to cancel Sarkeesian’s talk … Anita Sarkeesian is everything wrong with the feminist woman, and she is going to die screaming like the craven little whore that she is if you let her come to USU. I will write my manifesto in her spilled blood, and you will all bear witness to what feminist lies and poison have done to the men of America.”

                          Initially, Sarkeesian stated her intention to hold the talk despite the threat, but was forced to back down after the discovering that it was impossible to prevent guns being taken to the event.

                          “Forced to cancel my talk at USU after receiving death threats because police wouldn’t take steps to prevent concealed firearms at the event,” she tweeted. “Requested pat downs or metal detectors after mass shooting threat but because of Utah’s open carry laws police wouldn’t do firearm searches.”

                          The school confirmed Sarkeesian’s explanation in a statement. “During the discussion, Sarkeesian asked if weapons will be permitted at the speaking venue. Sarkeesian was informed that, in accordance with the State of Utah law regarding the carrying of firearms, if a person has a valid concealed firearm permit and is carrying a weapon, they are permitted to have it at the venue.”

                          Sarkeesian was the subject of a hate campaign before she began the Tropes v Women in Video Games series. A fundraiser on Kickstarter two years ago led to vandalism of her Wikipedia page, a DDoS attack on her website, and the creation of a game called “Beat Up Anita Sarkessian”.

                          As well as persistent low-level harassment for the past two years, the attacks stepped up a notch in August 2014 when Sarkeesian was identified as one of the key targets of “#gamergate”. Ostensibly a campaign against corruption in journalism but in practice a grassroots attack on feminist critics in gaming, Gamergate has led to at least three prominent women in gaming having to take action over threats of violence.

                          Zoe Quinn, an indie developer and one of the women targeted, has said that “discussing ethics and fairness is antithetical to a campaign originated in and motivated by a fair bit of misogyny and harassment”.

                          The state of Utah will issue a concealed carry permit to any applicant who is at least 21 years old, mentally competent, and hasn’t been convicted of a felony or crimes involving violence, alcohol, narcotics or “moral turpitude.” The permit costs $46 and lasts for five years.
                          Misogyny and gun culture in America. Who'd have thunk it?
                          _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                          _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                          _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                          _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

                          Comment

                          • Heresiologist
                            Mothra Worshipper
                            • Jan 2012
                            • 982

                            #14
                            It's not strictly about Sarkeesian, but the whole debacle has acquired its own name: #Gamergate.

                            Social researcher Allison Alloway ("whose work focuses on issues of diversity within the many facets of video games") has concluded:
                            #Gamergate, as we know it now, is a hate group.
                            Here's an article explaining her conclusion and how she arrived at it:

                            http://jezebel.com/gamergate-trolls-...ate-1644984010

                            Way to fight the stereotype, gamer dudes. Now nobody will ever think gamers are mostly nerdy little man-boys with problems when it comes to females.
                            Last edited by Heresiologist; 10-15-2014, 03:58 PM.

                            Comment

                            • David Mosley
                              Eternal Administrator
                              • Jul 2004
                              • 11823

                              #15
                              E3 organisers condemn Gamergate personal attacks and threats
                              The US's leading game industry group has weighed in on a roiling culture battle that's rocked the gaming world for months. Known as “Gamergate,” the controversy — ostensibly over ethics in gaming journalism, but used as a vehicle to lash out against women in the gaming industry — has shone a spotlight on the ugliest part of gaming culture.

                              The controversy, which stemmed from questions over whether a female developer's relationship with a male game journalist influenced coverage of her game, has expanded in a full-blown firestorm. What began as calls for journalistic integrity turned ugly in social media and gaming trade sites. It's gotten so serious that three women associated with the industry have been forced to leave their homes due to threats. And media critic Anita Sarkeesian — who left her home after her criticism of the industry's depiction of women prompted violent threats this summer — said on Tuesday that she would cancel a speech at Utah State University after someone threatened a shooting at the event.

                              That prompted the the nation's top trade group for video game companies to speak out yesterday. “Threats of violence and harassment are wrong," said a spokesman for the Entertainment Software Association (which organises the annual E3 trade fair) in a statement. "They have to stop. There is no place in the video game community—or our society—for personal attacks and threats."

                              It's a simple statement. But it indicates just how seriously the gaming industry is working to break free of the worst stereotypes of its community. Game culture is, no doubt, changing. The ESA now boasts that women comprise nearly 50 per cent of its audience. The push toward mobile gaming, in particular, has expanded the industry's audience at a faster rate than ever before. The Gamergate controversy has drawn attention to the worst kind of video game player — misogynistic, violent and reactionary.

                              In other words, exactly the kind of player that the industry no longer wishes to be the face of the industry.

                              Kate Edwards, the executive director of the International Game Developers Association, has been a vocal supporter of Sarkeesian and of the two other women who've been threatened the most, developers Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu. The gaming industry has taken broad steps to be more inclusive and supportive of women in the industry. But, she said, even with those efforts, some of the games the industry produces still heavily courts the type of gamer that it says it's trying to distance itself from.

                              "The industry has catered to that [demographic] in their marketing," she said. "This group is out of touch. The whole community, the world around them has changed, but they think that's not the case."

                              School shootings over the past several years may have also pushed the industry group's hand. Rightly or wrongly, the video game industry has been blamed for fostering a violent culture that appeals to troubled individuals looking to take cues from blockbuster titles such as Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. After the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, several lawmakers called for government research into the connection between virtual and real-world violence. Studies, meanwhile, have shown violent games can increase aggression, but have found no causal link between violent action and video game use.

                              In an e-mail to students, Utah State University said that Sarkeesian was particularly concerned about "the fact that state law prevented the university from keeping people with a legal concealed firearm permit from entering the event." Sarkeesian said on Twitter that she asked for extra security measures in light of the threat but the university deemed her request was not in keeping with the state's gun policies.

                              Edwards said, sadly, she was not surprised by the level that these threats have reached, but noted that quelling the debate about gaming runs contrary to the very heart of what the critics of women such as Sarkeesian, Quinn and Wu say they're trying foster.

                              "The irony of this movement is that they want journalistic integrity, but are looking to squash the voices of women at all costs," Edwards said. "The logic is completely lacking."

                              She added that the Gamergate incidents, as well as the stories of sexism in the industry described by many female game developers, have spurred some women to tell Edwards that they're thinking about leaving the industry or discouraging their daughters from working in it. That, Edwards said, signals to her that more major game studios and publishers need to speak out in solidarity for the developers who have been harassed.

                              "We've fought so hard to get women into this industry," Edwards said. "One nice effect of this sad event is that it's tied developers together. We need to be better at supporting each other not just during events like this, but all the time."

                              Sarkeesian, for her part, made very clear that while she canceled her talk, she was not bowing to the threats.

                              ©Washington Post
                              _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                              _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                              _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                              _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

                              Comment

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