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Author Topic: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?  (Read 13596 times)

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Offline Shjade

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #100 on: September 10, 2014, 01:22:04 AM »
Yes, exactly. It's not even so much about the quantity of such appearances in games; it's that they're pure titillation appearances. They're thrown in because "hey guys like tits and we want guys to buy our games so we should put tits in our games" and that's pretty much the long and short of it, as opposed to, you know, fleshing out context or having some real grounded reasoning for these things to be in the games.

I'm not suggesting there should never be a strip club (for either preference) in a video game. I'm saying there needs to be a better reason for having it in a game than, "Because breasts."

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #101 on: September 10, 2014, 04:03:32 AM »
Well, first I would say that the strip club analogy laid out by your own statement is a summation of what Anita Sarkeesian is referring to about a lack of creativity.  That instead of seeking alternative venues and settings, the gaming industry falls back on the tried and true strip club/prostitutes/women in skimpy outfits to show a sleazy area.  As for video games showing lack of creativity as a whole, I stand by my statement that writers have gotten lazy and are not producing quality storytelling.  Video games rely far too much on gimmicks and tricks over substance in my opinion.  Rehashed stories, plots and characters to the extent that they produce the same game over and over again are the norm at this point.

That, by your own statement once again, believe that strip clubs are where the bad things happen also shows the damage of the continuation of this myth.  During the recession in the United States many out of work, professional women turned to stripping in order to feed themselves, their families and continue to pay their bills.  Women with MBAs, law degrees, training and so on were taking their clothes off for money.  These women are exchanging entertainment for money, not selling drugs nor having sex with people for money.  Yet the stigma is reinforced through popular media.  So now instead of just being women that dance and show their breasts for money, these professional women are now associated with drug dealers and gang members.

I also don’t understand trying to flip the example around as if to say “how dare we say bad things happen at gambling places.”  What makes strippers so much better to single out as bad than a gambler?  That in itself should make a prime example of the sexism of the gaming culture.  Ok for strippers to be bad, but not gamblers.

Offline Caehlim

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #102 on: September 10, 2014, 04:11:53 AM »
As for video games showing lack of creativity as a whole, I stand by my statement that writers have gotten lazy and are not producing quality storytelling.

This is a complete aside, but I don't think it's entirely the fault of writers. Video games are being rushed from development to release because of the drive to use the most modern graphics engines possible, games that are longer in development tend to drain money away and then not make as much back on release so the industry keeps on churning out these mediocre works and not giving enough time, budget allocation, or pre-production scheduling as they require. The industry involves so much money on AAA games that they're completely risk averse and basically produce the same game over and over again. Showing boobs has become part of their formula to make up for a lack of genuine content.

I think this problem goes industry wide, at least within the AAA studios and doesn't just rest on the heads of the writers. We (in general) as consumers could stand to be a little bit more picky as well, rejecting these sorts of lazy games will force them to change this formula and we might start seeing some better games.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #103 on: September 10, 2014, 04:13:56 AM »
Which...is pretty much what Anita Sarkeesian is demanding of people.  To be more picky with storylines and plots produced.

Offline Caehlim

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #104 on: September 10, 2014, 04:15:49 AM »
Which...is pretty much what Anita Sarkeesian is demanding of people.  To be more picky with storylines and plots produced.

I think she's 100% right on that score.

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #105 on: September 10, 2014, 08:20:13 AM »
I also don’t understand trying to flip the example around as if to say “how dare we say bad things happen at gambling places.”  What makes strippers so much better to single out as bad than a gambler?  That in itself should make a prime example of the sexism of the gaming culture.  Ok for strippers to be bad, but not gamblers.

And as Shjade pointed out - while gambling is an equal-opportunity activity (just ask any of the little-old-ladies at the slot machines), strippers are almost exclusively women.  It's fine to see a socialite dripping with diamonds and furs at a craps table or a roulette wheel, but guys taking their clothes off for money?  It's as rare as hens' teeth.

(So... Saints Row 3, you say? Hmmm....)

Offline Assassini

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #106 on: September 10, 2014, 08:55:01 AM »
I haven't played hitman, so it's hard to comment but you bring up a good point Assassini that sometimes a location is appropriate to the level design and story arc of the game. It would be strange if no game ever took place in a strip club or brothel, in some ways that would even be marginalizing and making invisible professional sexworkers or exotic dancers which isn't any better. From your description it sounds as though the level used the setting for interesting design elements.

I personally think that it's too much of a first stop for game designers and can often be a bit of a lazy crutch. That Saboteur game for example felt gratuitous rather than realistic. The idea of never using these environments though seems worse to me. I think it's important that game designers consider these questions and ask themselves why they're using these elements. In that regard making these videos was good to have discussion on this point and to allow people to consider where and how it might be being overused.

I don't necessarily agree with her entirely, but they were points worth bringing up I think.

This is a fairly reasonable point that by deliberately never including strip clubs and prostitutes and the like it deliberately ignores a common, real-life situation and issue. However, it's not exactly the sort of point I'd make (mostly because it that's more about the politics of real life than within games, which doesn't interest me). As for games like the Sabateur (which I've never played), I'll admit that I suspect it's more common than I'd like that a developer will say "right we need an extra 'seedy' level, let's throw in some prostitutes". It can be a fairly unimaginative idea which will be used as filler when they run out of ideas. However, that isn't necessarily true for every situation. I'd like to bring up the example of Dishonored which has a level set within a brothel: The Black Cat. It's actually a really awesome level again, excellent design with some really cool ways of getting about and killing your intended targets. I also think that it's done almost tastefully (for want of a better word) in that there's no gratuitous nudity and it feels very much like a real place (you can sneak past prostitutes putting on make-up and complaining about customers for example). I bring it up because it's another example used by Anita Sarkeesian but is another example of a level I feel is excellent for what it was designed for, fits the world and game perfectly and arguing it's sexist and misogynist just seems to forget that it's good fun (i.e. the point of a video game).

Let's compare how many games have strip clubs featuring women vs strip clubs featuring men.

Female strip clubs/strippers:
Duke Nukem 3D & Forever
GTA 4
Mass Effect series
Mafia 2
Game of Thrones
Max Payne 3
The Saboteur
Morrowind
Hitman: Absolution
Saints Row 3
Ride to Hell: Retribution
Metro: Last Light

I think that's a fair start off the top with minimal search time. Now the flipside.

Male strip clubs/strippers:
Saints Row 3

...and that's the only one that comes to mind. And Google isn't helping much.

I'm sure it's about making sure sex workers aren't marginalized, though. Nothing to do with showing off the ladies.

Of course there is some elements of sexism within video games. While I personally think sexism within the industry is something of a non-issue and is vastly over-sensationalised by media outlets such as Kotaku (god I hate Kotaku)... It does exist, I can't deny that. However, I still think that while more and more women are playing games, it is still a male-dominated culture (or at least mainstream gaming is) and so it makes sense that developers will cater to that. It's an issue with the industry, the whole "sex sells" thing. However, of the things you mentioned I would argue that half of them are generally considered to be appalling anyway (Ride to Hell: Retribution shouldn't even be mentioned in the same breath as classics like Morrowind, and Duke Nukem forever was widely panned by everyone), others like the original Duke Nukem was largely satirical. And the remainder again simply fit within the setting and the game. GTAV for example, has a strip club and hookers within the poor district of an American city. Frankly it would be more noticeable if they were absent. And Game of Thrones... Well... It's in a medieval setting where women were considered inferior to men. Any attempts to call this misogynist simply clearly don't quite understand that there was no equality in medieval times (and it actually tends to bother me when you have those ultra-politically-correct TV shows that have to have a women within the band of heroes, just to prove that she is a strong independent women who don't need no man).

So as Shjade says, I will agree that perhaps there is an element of "because breasts" but I would also say that if we look at it from a critical point of view regarding the games, the games which are not gratuitous or overly pandering towards the audience also tend to be the ones which receive better reviews. So that takes me to argue against what Pumpkin Seeds and Caehlim are saying: i.e. we clearly are picky, because we play games which are fun and not games which throw boobs at us because they can.

Well, first I would say that the strip club analogy laid out by your own statement is a summation of what Anita Sarkeesian is referring to about a lack of creativity.  That instead of seeking alternative venues and settings, the gaming industry falls back on the tried and true strip club/prostitutes/women in skimpy outfits to show a sleazy area.  As for video games showing lack of creativity as a whole, I stand by my statement that writers have gotten lazy and are not producing quality storytelling.  Video games rely far too much on gimmicks and tricks over substance in my opinion.  Rehashed stories, plots and characters to the extent that they produce the same game over and over again are the norm at this point.

That, by your own statement once again, believe that strip clubs are where the bad things happen also shows the damage of the continuation of this myth.  During the recession in the United States many out of work, professional women turned to stripping in order to feed themselves, their families and continue to pay their bills.  Women with MBAs, law degrees, training and so on were taking their clothes off for money.  These women are exchanging entertainment for money, not selling drugs nor having sex with people for money.  Yet the stigma is reinforced through popular media.  So now instead of just being women that dance and show their breasts for money, these professional women are now associated with drug dealers and gang members.

I also don’t understand trying to flip the example around as if to say “how dare we say bad things happen at gambling places.”  What makes strippers so much better to single out as bad than a gambler?  That in itself should make a prime example of the sexism of the gaming culture.  Ok for strippers to be bad, but not gamblers.


I disagree again and can, and will if necessary, come up with many, many examples of video games which continue to push boundaries and create novel and exciting worlds all without resorting to "titillation". Your suggestion that they rely on gimmicks and rehashed plots makes me think you simply haven't been playing good games... (Apologies if that comes across as a little antagonistic, but I feel like you are lumping together a few cherry picked titles with an overwhelming array of evidence against).

As for your next statement, I can't really draw that back to Anita Sarkeesian, but I feel sort of like you are perhaps being a mite naive. It's almost like you are saying that it should be considered a noble and honest profession for one thing. I personally have absolutely no opinions on prostitution or stripping, I'm not against it, but I'm not going to go on a rally to demand it be taken seriously. To deny the connotations of crime, poverty, drugs, gangs is to clearly be looking at this through rose tinted spectacles. I'm not saying that every stripper/prostitute does so because she is being forced (via circumstances or otherwise) and I am very willing to believe there are many establishments which have excellent reputations and have women who are all doing so because it is their choice. but there is a reason stereotypes exist and that's because they have a basis in truth and fact, maybe a long distant and disappeared truth but it was there. And, bringing it back to stereotypes within video games, frankly I think that if you have to pause at the entrance of a strip club in a video game in order to read the sign that says "None of these women have been forced to work here, they are all in fact working here merely to pay their way through college so that they can all become Doctors and Lawyers" well... That's boring...

Also, it seems you may have misunderstood my point I was making about gambling. Oniya had earlier suggested a gambling "den" as a "seedy" setting for a level within a video game, in place of a strip club. And my argument was, that if we shouldn't include a strip club because that assumes that all strip clubs are bad, then we also shouldn't include any places of gambling, because that draws the assumption that all gambling is bad. Equally, if one were to use the back alleys of a poor district of a city, that would then imply that every back alley and every poor person is bad. We can't apply one standard for one setting and not for others... That's sexist because it implies that the women need special consideration.

And as Shjade pointed out - while gambling is an equal-opportunity activity (just ask any of the little-old-ladies at the slot machines), strippers are almost exclusively women.  It's fine to see a socialite dripping with diamonds and furs at a craps table or a roulette wheel, but guys taking their clothes off for money?  It's as rare as hens' teeth.

(So... Saints Row 3, you say? Hmmm....)

And see, I feel this sort of illustrates my point in a weird way. Because... Well... Saints Row 3 is a great game, widely considered to be fantastic and reviewed excellently.

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #107 on: September 10, 2014, 09:14:26 AM »
And as Shjade pointed out, Saints Row 3 was on the very short list of exceptions to the stripper trope.  ;)

Yes, there are good games that push boundaries - this is why I think that Anita is primarily being emo.  She ignores those games in favor of hyping the bits and pieces of those games that fall into her world-view.  The Myst series was incredibly popular.  I've already mentioned Metroid, which is one of Nintendo's top series 'despite' having a female protagonist who is out there kicking ass and taking initials.  (No time to take names.)  I'd bet if Anita even mentions Metroid it's in regards to the 'bonus' of getting Samus into a minimal outfit at some point.

Offline Assassini

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #108 on: September 10, 2014, 09:19:53 AM »
And as Shjade pointed out, Saints Row 3 was on the very short list of exceptions to the stripper trope.  ;)

Yes, there are good games that push boundaries - this is why I think that Anita is primarily being emo.  She ignores those games in favor of hyping the bits and pieces of those games that fall into her world-view.  The Myst series was incredibly popular.  I've already mentioned Metroid, which is one of Nintendo's top series 'despite' having a female protagonist who is out there kicking ass and taking initials.  (No time to take names.)  I'd bet if Anita even mentions Metroid it's in regards to the 'bonus' of getting Samus into a minimal outfit at some point.

True, true. And yes, that's exactly what I mean. She over-reacts assuming that every little thing makes her and other women a victim and she cherry picks examples. Your example of Metroid is a fabulous one actually, because it strikes me that she really would focus on that one tiny scene at the end of the game rather than an entire game where people didn't even know that Samus Arran was a woman, because she was just a strong character. I mean, she might mention the current generation of Zero Suit Samus with her high-heeled costume, but I actually have seen a fair number of responses and comments from gamers, pretty much to a man/woman pointing out that the high heels look ridiculous on the costume. The fact is, Miss Sarkeesian really doesn't give us gamers enough credit.

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #109 on: September 10, 2014, 09:46:14 AM »
*nods*  There are things that we can improve, and I think that's what the conversation has kind of drifted to here, but it's not nearly as much of a misogynistic wasteland as the videos imply.

(And I think I was referring to the Zero Suit - I'm only vaguely remembering that there is an unlockable costume that didn't really amount to much more than 'fanservice'.  And from your comment, it sounds like it kinda failed at even being that.)

Offline Caehlim

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #110 on: September 10, 2014, 09:49:43 AM »
Yeah, the latest incarnations of Samus have been really depressing. I loved her in the original game, and was so shocked at the end to discover she was female (in a good way though). Then all of a sudden she's wearing this uber-fem power armour that looks like it's made out of tissue paper. She was way cooler when she had the confidence to rock the master-chief look.

Offline Assassini

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #111 on: September 10, 2014, 09:59:49 AM »
*nods*  There are things that we can improve, and I think that's what the conversation has kind of drifted to here, but it's not nearly as much of a misogynistic wasteland as the videos imply.

(And I think I was referring to the Zero Suit - I'm only vaguely remembering that there is an unlockable costume that didn't really amount to much more than 'fanservice'.  And from your comment, it sounds like it kinda failed at even being that.)

Oooh. I've never played any of the Metroid games, but I thought you were referring to the Easter Egg at the end of the original Metroid (I think it was). As far as I'm aware if you beat the game on Hard mode (or something like that) then when you reached the end of the game there was a brief scene with Samus in a bikini:



So you can tell by the pixel graphics that this is a seriously old thing.

But yeah, I think it seems like a general consensus that while the video gaming industry could be better, that Anita is also over-exaggerating how bad it is.

Offline Caehlim

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #112 on: September 10, 2014, 10:03:32 AM »
Oooh. I've never played any of the Metroid games, but I thought you were referring to the Easter Egg at the end of the original Metroid (I think it was). As far as I'm aware if you beat the game on Hard mode (or something like that) then when you reached the end of the game there was a brief scene with Samus in a bikini:

Wow, I... never knew that. Guess the original wasn't as progressive as I thought.

Quote
But yeah, I think it seems like a general consensus that while the video gaming industry could be better, that Anita is also over-exaggerating how bad it is.

That's pretty much my stance, I don't consider that a bad thing though. She just represents one possible level of interpretation of current events on part of a spectrum, it's good to get the viewpoint from all those different levels to have an informed discussion.

Offline Assassini

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #113 on: September 10, 2014, 10:09:01 AM »
Wow, I... never knew that. Guess the original wasn't as progressive as I thought.

In their defence, it was one scene that only a few of the hardcore ever succeeded in obtaining. Plus it's from a game released like 20 years ago... I'm pretty sure you could still smack your secretary's ass back then :P

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #114 on: September 10, 2014, 10:12:44 AM »
Wow, I... never knew that. Guess the original wasn't as progressive as I thought.

See, as a female gamer, I personally don't see that as 'pearl-clutchingly awful' as some might.  You're not seeing that through the whole game - you have to do some serious work in order to get that 8-bit reward.

And now that I've gone to look at pictures, Zero Suit isn't all that terrible either.  It's a fully covering skin-suit that covers her from throat to toes - not even a keyhole for cleavage.  Form fitting?  Yes - but so is your average wetsuit, which is designed to avoid having bits that can snag or get caught in dangerous situations.  (The heels are out of place, though.)

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #115 on: September 10, 2014, 10:26:37 AM »
See, as a female gamer, I personally don't see that as 'pearl-clutchingly awful' as some might.  You're not seeing that through the whole game - you have to do some serious work in order to get that 8-bit reward.

And now that I've gone to look at pictures, Zero Suit isn't all that terrible either.  It's a fully covering skin-suit that covers her from throat to toes - not even a keyhole for cleavage.  Form fitting?  Yes - but so is your average wetsuit, which is designed to avoid having bits that can snag or get caught in dangerous situations.  (The heels are out of place, though.)

I believe that is the general consensus actually (on both points).

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #116 on: September 10, 2014, 12:26:45 PM »
The argument that “there is a reason that stereotypes exist” is the justification for racial profiling and sexual assault.  I am not aware of your familiarity with the sex trade, stripping or the prostitution business but a simple counter to this argument is to look at countries where such things are not seen as bad.  The United States of America has a staunch problem with prostitution and a cultural problem with strippers and porn stars.  Other countries such the Netherlands or even as close as the state of Nevada do not carry that stigma.  Watching “Cathouse,” while a bit wince worthy for a feminist, will show that the connotations of drugs, violence and sleazy are not necessarily part of the industry.  The question really is why prostitution and strippers cannot be seen as a fine profession.  Why is it acceptable and honestly noteworthy for a man to “make it rain” at a strip club, but embarrassing and a demonstration of poor conditions to accept money to be looked upon by a man?

Saints Row 3 is actually a good example in the opposite direction.  While a popular game, the creators go out of their way to state the game is a satire and an over-the-top demonstration of clichés and tropes with gaming.  Male strippers are more to add to the comedy of the game than a “honest” scene of sexual equality.

And honestly the attitude of “we deserve credit” is exactly why the harsh criticism should be leveled.  Game companies and gamers should not expect a “cookie” because they are being less of a douche this year than last.  That is the problem when people start patting them on the back for “a game” that is not “as sexist.”  People suddenly want to smile, give each other a thumbs up and make a game of strippers being shot in the head.

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #117 on: September 10, 2014, 01:05:43 PM »
The argument that “there is a reason that stereotypes exist” is the justification for racial profiling and sexual assault.  I am not aware of your familiarity with the sex trade, stripping or the prostitution business but a simple counter to this argument is to look at countries where such things are not seen as bad.  The United States of America has a staunch problem with prostitution and a cultural problem with strippers and porn stars.  Other countries such the Netherlands or even as close as the state of Nevada do not carry that stigma.  Watching “Cathouse,” while a bit wince worthy for a feminist, will show that the connotations of drugs, violence and sleazy are not necessarily part of the industry.  The question really is why prostitution and strippers cannot be seen as a fine profession.  Why is it acceptable and honestly noteworthy for a man to “make it rain” at a strip club, but embarrassing and a demonstration of poor conditions to accept money to be looked upon by a man?

Right I first off want to say, before I try an argue against this, is that this is a little off-topic now but perhaps still relevant enough to keep going. Also, as we get away from video games and into this more political and cultural situation my level of knowledge does decrease, so I apologise for any decrease in the quality of my arguments (to all those who I know are reading avidly).

I'll admit I know very little about the rules and regulations of prostitution and so on even in my homeland (the UK), although a quick Google search informs that it is indeed legal, to an extent. The thing is, I don't see it as bad, I see nothing negative with a woman wanting to be a stripper/porn star or whatever. I also have to say that I wouldn't have said that it was in any way more "acceptable [or] noteworthy" to "make it rain" in strip club than it is to perform there. Where there is demand for strippers then strippers will exist. That's fine, I have absolutely no issue with that. I've never personally gone to such a place, but I'm not adverse to trying it out (for the buffet of course :P ) and I have a few friends who also have already done so. The thing is though I would say that both the performing and the watching have a level of sleaziness about it that is entirely inevitable. If you want to go ahead and change an entire culture then good luck to you, but if something like a one-night stand isn't seen as exactly wholesome (although I suspect and hope nobody would make the argument that it's any worse than that) then how could using your body for money be better? I mean, the strippers have absolutely no romantic feeling towards the men, and the men see the women as objects to be looked at, it's an entirely business transaction. One which I have no issue with, I want to reiterate that, but one that I don't think anyone could exactly classify as, well "a fine profession". I'd also argue that no profession which requires very little effort on the part of the workers ought to be called "fine" but perhaps that's just elitist.

And you have to remember that while there are many perfectly legal strip clubs/prostitutes/escort agencies (or however it works in the states) there are also women around the world who are kidnapped and exploited for their bodies. Women sold as sex slaves. Women who are imported illegally to work in unlicensed brothels. And even around the legal establishments there will be a party atmosphere so drugs will be inevitable, maybe just patrons taking a little themselves but there will still be drugs and where there are drugs there are dealers. They might not have anything to do with the women and they might be just as prolific in a normal club or rave (more so even) but the connotations remain the same. I want to stress again that I'm not saying every place is like that, or that every stripper/patron does drugs. But it's not exactly good fun for all the family, is my point.

Saints Row 3 is actually a good example in the opposite direction.  While a popular game, the creators go out of their way to state the game is a satire and an over-the-top demonstration of clichés and tropes with gaming.  Male strippers are more to add to the comedy of the game than a “honest” scene of sexual equality.

As a Saints Row game it's very hard to take any of it seriously, and I feel kind of bad for even trying to take it as a serious thing because I'm certain that it is indeed a comedic and satirical element. However, that said, I would like to point out the slight double standard you make there. It's fine for there to be male strippers because that's funny and honest. But it's not fine for there to be female strippers. Again, it feels like a rubbish point when I'm certain that it IS going to be funny and satirical, but still worth pointing out.

And honestly the attitude of “we deserve credit” is exactly why the harsh criticism should be leveled.  Game companies and gamers should not expect a “cookie” because they are being less of a douche this year than last.  That is the problem when people start patting them on the back for “a game” that is not “as sexist.”  People suddenly want to smile, give each other a thumbs up and make a game of strippers being shot in the head.

We can always push to achieve more, yes. But isn't the fact that sexism is very rapidly becoming a thing of the past is something worthy of celebrating? If I met someone who was a douche 10 years ago but is a fairly nice guy now I'd like to think I could forgive his previous "doucheyness" on the face of what he has become. And, as far as I can make out, in recent years incidents of sexism within games are becoming increasingly rare BUT over-sensationalised. So they will be the smallest of things but get very vastly blown out of proportion. And besides... We don't just shoot strippers in the head...

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #118 on: September 10, 2014, 01:20:29 PM »
The crux of what Anita Sarkeesian is doing with the videos is to change the culture.  That is the point of raising awareness of these issues being inside pop culture such as video games and comic books.  Honestly, Anita Sarkeesian is not calling gamers or gamer culture malicious but simply ignorant.  She is pointing out an ignorance of issues related to feminism, sexism and pointing out with ease how the bar can be raised on both issues.  This is an attempt to initiate a conversation in changing the culture toward one of equality.

There does not need to be a level of sleaze associated with a strip club if our culture does not want there to be one.  An important thing though is to recognize that there is this stigma that we attach to the activity and recognize this as a sexist attachment.  Men are not penalized or stigmatized nearly as much, legally or socially, for participating in sex as women find themselves.  Whether you personally believe this or not, the facts are the same. 

Also, I find this funny that you would say sexism is becoming a thing of the past while talking about the human sex trade which is predominately populated by women.  Believing that sexism is a “thing of the past” is indeed naïve and is far from the truth.  Sexism exists toward women and men quite rampantly and dispelling that attitude is a powerful drive of those videos.  As for a reduction, you would be hard pressed to find a sizeable decrease.  I can easily go down the list of games I am currently playing and indicate sexism and find only one female lead in a story, that being Tomb Raider. 

Giving the video game industry a cookie or credit for not being as sexist is pretty much like giving a police department credit for not being as racist.  Certainly there is improvement which is fine, but the fact is the problem is still there and needs to be addressed.  So there is no cookie for half-ass performance.

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #119 on: September 10, 2014, 01:39:42 PM »
The crux of what Anita Sarkeesian is doing with the videos is to change the culture.  That is the point of raising awareness of these issues being inside pop culture such as video games and comic books.  Honestly, Anita Sarkeesian is not calling gamers or gamer culture malicious but simply ignorant.  She is pointing out an ignorance of issues related to feminism, sexism and pointing out with ease how the bar can be raised on both issues.  This is an attempt to initiate a conversation in changing the culture toward one of equality.

I suppose I really don't have enough information to even argue for or against this. Honestly the only videos of hers I've seen have been those directly pertaining to video games and because I found myself disagreeing with a majority of what she said I didn't really watch more of her stuff. I think it has been said earlier in this thread though that she only acts as the victim and doesn't offer solutions. If what you say is true though then I suppose it is a noble goal, but I feel that she goes about it in the wrong way.

There does not need to be a level of sleaze associated with a strip club if our culture does not want there to be one.  An important thing though is to recognize that there is this stigma that we attach to the activity and recognize this as a sexist attachment.  Men are not penalized or stigmatized nearly as much, legally or socially, for participating in sex as women find themselves.  Whether you personally believe this or not, the facts are the same.

Honestly I don't personally believe this. I think that anyone who does "slut-shaming" (which is essentially what you are describing) I suspect will find themselves on the receiving end of as much contempt as if they had been insulting the girl for some other equally invalid reason. This might be all cultural though, I speak from the experience of someone living in the UK where I think that slut-shaming is perhaps not as big a thing as it is in the States. That's not based on any facts though, merely my own experiences. Also, I think that if there was more legal repercussion to women having sex than for men then there would be all kinds of hell being kicked up about it. That definitely doesn't sound like a fact at all...

Also, I find this funny that you would say sexism is becoming a thing of the past while talking about the human sex trade which is predominately populated by women.  Believing that sexism is a “thing of the past” is indeed naïve and is far from the truth.  Sexism exists toward women and men quite rampantly and dispelling that attitude is a powerful drive of those videos.  As for a reduction, you would be hard pressed to find a sizeable decrease.  I can easily go down the list of games I am currently playing and indicate sexism and find only one female lead in a story, that being Tomb Raider.

I was trying to make it quite clear that I was talking specifically about video games, which is the area that interests me. When I play GTAV I am in no way participating with the sex trade of the real world... Anyway, of course, in every industry there is still sexism. However, I also think sexism both in games and in the real world is not quite as bad as SJWs tend to make out. Things like the real life "pay gap" definitely exist, but whenever it is quoted as an example of inequality people often don't realise that it doesn't take all of the facts into account and that it is actually a lot smaller than people realise. Similarly I think that incidents of sexism within the video gaming industry are rare and that we are not quite so far from inequality as you might imagine. It's true that you will find more male leads than female... But if you can't name any more female characters then I would suggest that maybe you are looking at too narrow a supply of games. What about Chell from Portal? What about any game which involves character creation? What about FemShep (who many gamers continue to argue is far more compelling than MaleShep)? What about Faith from Mirror's Edge? And those are protagonists, I also earlier mentioned Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us as both having very strong female side-kicks, who are far stronger characters than the male leads.

Giving the video game industry a cookie or credit for not being as sexist is pretty much like giving a police department credit for not being as racist.  Certainly there is improvement which is fine, but the fact is the problem is still there and needs to be addressed.  So there is no cookie for half-ass performance.

And that's fine, we can always push for greater improvement, like I say. But we should also be careful about keeping things in proportion. That's all I'm saying.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #120 on: September 10, 2014, 02:27:18 PM »
So you are arguing that Anita Sarkeesian is not going about this issue correctly while not even being sure what exactly she is doing?  I mean, there is at least a reasonable expectation that she cannot play or know every video game in existence although people seem to want her to play through a multitude of them before she can make her argument.  Yet people willing say, “yeah I didn’t watch it all but she’s wrong.”

You are certainly allowed to not believe what you want, but those are the facts.  Law enforcement actively says they are not out to punish the person buying the prostitute, but the prostitutes and people managing the prostitution.  This is despite the ineffectiveness of this tactic and the growing theory that buy making the act more expensive, greater fines and penalties, more people would be deterred from partaking in the act of prostitution.  Reading to also support this would be The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi and also Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery by Siddharth Kara.

http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/p_to_r/prostitution_and_exploitation_of_prostitution/

The pay gap is pretty real.  Honestly to say that a pay gap is “not that big a deal” is pretty ridiculous.  Someone is saying, quite blatantly, that the same work is worth less because a woman is doing that work.  If you went into a store and were hired to do a job alongside someone else and found out he was being paid .25 cents more an hour to do the same job, you would probably be pretty miffed.  This would probably be worse if you discovered that the reason behind the pay bump was because the person doing the hiring thinks people with a hair color you don’t have just…deserve more money.

Chell from Portal who has a gender neutral name, almost no backstory or really dialogue and is largely a gender neutral presence on screen.  There is no actual identification between a female and that character, so a player can pretty much ignore that the character is even a woman.  That really isn’t a female lead. 

A female Shepard is neat except the story is not really centered on a female character.  The story is kept neutral since the character can be male or female.  Not really a step forward of a female character just because someone has the option of giving a male character breasts.  I will disclose that I did not enjoy Mass Effect and so did not play the game at length.  After hearing about the ending, sort of glad I didn’t.  Might as well claim X-Com, Skyrim and Civilzation are also games with female leads.

I am also not familiar with Mirror’s Edge.  So I really cannot comment on the character.

So of the three, only one actually has what might be considered a defined female lead?

My turn.  Immortals: Gods Among Us.  Story centers on Superman going insane because Joker killed his wife and child.  Woman in the fridge much?  Wonder Woman, the icon of feminism for comic books, is used in the trailer promo to summon Superman by Lex Luther beating her and essentially torturing her to call for him, her savior. 

Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty.  Kerrigan, one of the most badass and powerful women of gaming is reduced to a nude figure being cradled to safety by John Raynor.  An ending so bad few of my friends could stomach buying the second episode of Starcraft II, including me.

Dishonored..save the princess and avenge the dead queen….yeah here we have damsel in distress and woman in the fridge.

Batman Arkham City where Catwoman, another prominent female character, moans and has her clothes ripped off with damaging attacks while at the same time wrapping her legs around men and crawling on all fours. 

Hitman Absolution…badass girl child assassin needs rescuing by male assassin.

The Witcher where a player is rewarded with nudity cards for having one night stands with women. 

Offline Kunoichi

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #121 on: September 10, 2014, 04:04:47 PM »
I've been following this discussion for a little while now, and have been avoiding entering into it for the same reason that I avoid engaging in most of the debates that I come across.  Simply put, when it comes to complex issues, I have some trouble getting my opinion across in a clear, concise manner.  I tend to overthink things, second guess myself, and wind up putting up weak arguments that get torn apart easily by other people.

This is a thread for discussion, though, and the OP invited people to state their opinions on Anita Sarkeesian, so when I was reading an opinion piece recently and came across some words about Miss Sarkeesian that I felt strongly reflected my own opinion on the subject, I figured they would be worth borrowing.

Quote
Which brings me to social criticism. Currently in video game-oriented social criticism stands one theory-informed, theory-led voice: Anita Sarkeesian. Her voice is unabashedly rooted in feminist theory, and I would argue she would actively embrace the title that her voice is rooted in radical critical feminist theory. Her criticism is based solely on the construct of patriarchy and the transmission of sociocultural roles, norms, and values shaped—if not fully demanded by—engendered expectations. These criticisms are that patriarchy in all forms is always pernicious in nature; the effects of patriarchy are uniformly bad.

As Psychology Today can spell out, criticism that is filled with blame, lacking clear methods of improvement, filled with belittling, or based only in a “right way” can be destructive to relatonships (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/anger-in-the-age-entitlement/201404/whats-wrong-criticism). However, I will be clear here. This does not mean Sarkeesian “deserves” any hostilities, harassment, or insults any more than an Op-Ed writer for the NYT does. The expression of criticism through anger is just as toxic to criticism itself.

However, Anita as the sole critical voice at the moment only fully utilizes one critical theory out of an entire tool chest with radical critical feminism. She does not satisfactorily utilize Marxism, Conflict theory, Queer theory, Comparative theory, Humanist theory, and so many others. As such, it appears she is only interested in criticism that fits her view, her opinions, and ultimately her best interests.

So what’s the point? I do not think we can, with an open mind, say that we want less social criticism because we do not have more social criticism. We have one theory, one explanation, and one voice enjoined by a whole host of like-minded individuals.

And if I can toss in a few words at the end to more closely tie the above opinion to the discussion at hand...

The article linked to in the above quote talks at length about the difference between criticism and feedback, more commonly known as constructive criticism, and about how feedback has a much greater ability to effect positive change than criticism, which only sets people on the defensive and starts arguments.  Even feedback that's framed in an angry or resentful manner can come across as criticism, and end up accomplishing nothing but breeding more anger and resentment in turn.

In the interests of promoting feedback, of promoting positive discussion, then, and since I'm sure one thing we can all agree on in this thread is that misogyny and sexism are bad, I'd like to ask what everyone thinks we should do to address these issues, to actually enact change and combat the sexism that exists in the videogame industry.

Personally, I think that the issue is one of authorship.  Game developers aren't actively trying to spread misogyny with the games they make, they're just trying to make games that they enjoy playing.  However, the vast majority of these developers are male, even though the audience for their games is an almost 50/50 split between male and female, and as a result we have an under-representation of women in gaming.  Given unbalanced statistics like that, the clear solution to me seems to be to get more women making video games.

And because nobody is going to want to work in an industry when all that they've heard about it is that it's prejudiced against them, we should probably try focusing more on women who are already active in the industry, celebrate them for the great things that they've done, and encourage gaming companies to hire more women for development teams so that women can continue to do great things for the industry in the future.


Offline consortium11

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #122 on: September 10, 2014, 05:03:07 PM »

Somewhat off-topic, somewhat on.

It strikes me as interesting (if not ironic) that right now 4Chan are arguably the community doing the most to help women trying to get into game design.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #123 on: September 10, 2014, 05:57:11 PM »
Well by standards of scientific writing, which Anita Sarkeensian is in no way attempting to do, she has satisfied the required presentation of her bias and view point.  Sarkeensian has stated she is a feminist and that her piece is examining a certain section of culture, video games and comic books, through a feminist lens and through a feminist founded critique.  Nobody in this thread or elsewhere can mistake which view point she is taking or how she is treating the material.  Making use of other paradigms and theories is not necessary if she is remaining within her defined scope which she does.  Deviating into other areas would clutter the point and the objective.  Anita Sarkeensian is admittedly not a social scientist and these videos are not a journal article submitted to a peer reviewed paper.  She is a feminist media personality that runs a youtube channel.

That being said the woman will certainly have her own agenda.  Anita Sarkeensian makes money via controversy and attention.  Quietly submitting evidence in the corner or politely asking for someone’s attention is not going to get her youtube subscribers nor make her any more popular.  The criteria for her success are different than a social researcher or scientist.  So we do need to place her within proper context.  Anita Sarkeensian is a bull horn, plain and simple.  Now I do believe she is using her bull horn for benefit to women and to gaming in general by drawing attention to this situation, yes  Honestly the backlash to her comments and the emergence of the gaming world’s underbelly did much to spark this discussion.  For a time women became an important topic in magazines and on forums.  There is something to be said for any publicity being good publicity.

Now even though I support what Anita Sarkeensian did, I do not believe her videos or the attention she stirred up is going to change the gaming industry and culture.  Productive cultural shifts are gradual, not reactionary.  If the problem was solved by the production of youtube videos then there probably wasn’t much of a problem to start.  Women as the consumers of this culture and also men need to recognize that this is not an acceptable state of affairs and if men are disgusted by being associated with this culture, and then they should also stand up and demand more.  This is not simply women stand up and fight, but men as well need to realize they are being victimized by continually being feed these products.  Game developers are not an evil empire of misogyny, but men run such companies and men approve the products released.  As such men look at these products from their own mindset and bring to bear their own prejudices, everyone does.  This is a story of ignorance, not malice.

Now I do agree that women getting into the industry will do much to improve the situation, but pressure does need to be applied from both sides.  Inside and outside are the two ways this cultural shift can occur.  Ignoring sexism in the game industry and not making a big deal out of problems is also not a proper response.  The women inside the industry know the sexism is there and women do not need to have blinders are when entering that industry.

Offline Kunoichi

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #124 on: September 10, 2014, 08:27:17 PM »
Hmm.  I agree with most of your post, Pumpkin Seeds, but for that last paragraph, I think it's going to be important to strike the right balance between positive and negative.  Too much emphasis on the discrimination women face in the game industry will only wind up discouraging women from entering into that industry, thus ensuring that it remains male-dominated, but too much emphasis on the positives will wind up blinding women to some of the very real pitfalls awaiting them.

Rather than de-emphasizing the negatives, maybe a good solution would be to take a more constructive approach, get men and women who are already a part of the industry to provide tips and advice on how to avoid those pitfalls?  To quote from an interview whose subject is mostly unrelated to the current discussion, but which has one question and answer that I think might be an example of a good approach on the matter...

Quote
APGNation: One of your stated goals is to get more women into various aspects of the gaming community. What advice do you have for women who want to develop their own games or write about games, but may be intimidated by certain aspects of the culture? Also, for gamers in general, what advice would you have for people who want to help put a better face forward for the community?

TFYC: The first point to understand is that woman in no way lack the skill or physical ability to write code or develop games. Per Capita, women are more likely to be on Dean’s List in computer science than men, a woman invented the first computer programming language, and they show no less aptitude in problem solving or [in] art. We assume most of the lack of interest comes from socialization and not a lack of desire or skill.

We find that men really just need to make people aware that they support women. One of the nicest things about TFYC is that it was all about the games, and we’d take the money from anyone. People who didn’t like feminism for some reason weren’t punished if they joined and could actively support women. We find even just saying “hello” to a new member of a gaming group, regardless of gender, makes them feel more welcome. These small steps help to make groups more inclusive and are just general courtesies.

We find that while the informal culture for video games can be difficult at times, the formal culture is very supportive. In Toronto groups like Hackernest will give our free passes to their events to women and they are often given preferential treatment at events. We suggest woman exploit these systems to make as many contacts as possible so they can find the right person to work with. We then suggest that they focus on presenting their idea over themselves. Women tend to be viewed/judged on who they are and not what they can do. Because so much of computer science is through pseudonyms this can negatively affect women’s ability to succeed if they focus only on themselves. By focusing on ideas that are presented well, your gender can be removed from the equation

Does that seem like something that might work?


Edit:

Somewhat off-topic, somewhat on.

It strikes me as interesting (if not ironic) that right now 4Chan are arguably the community doing the most to help women trying to get into game design.

Thanks to a recent major controversy in the gaming world that's currently being called 'Gamergate', things are a bit topsy-turvy at the moment. :P Gamergate would definitely deserve its own thread, though, since it has very little relation to the topic currently at hand.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2014, 08:32:49 PM by Kunoichi »