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Author Topic: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?  (Read 13622 times)

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Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #175 on: September 12, 2014, 05:45:32 AM »
Sexual harassment is not limited to women at all.  Yet each example given is tied to reproduction, especially the final two.  Gender is a social construct tied to a person’s sex.  So to say that a person’s sex is not a powerful influence in their social reality is naïve at best, dangerously ignorant at worst.

Anyway, the problem that I listed with the “male character with breasts” is that such characters were being used as examples of female leads.  While I do not have a problem with say Ripley or honestly with several characters that fit into this type, these should not be heralded as progressive examples of women in the genre.  These characters are in fact not women and are not a reflection of writers attempting to identify their readers with a female character.  Instead the writers are cheaply writing a character that their male dominated audience will relate to and then find stimulating to look upon.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2014, 05:51:21 AM by Pumpkin Seeds »

Offline Melusine

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #176 on: September 12, 2014, 05:50:37 AM »
Not entirely certain that I was not acknowledging that there are differences between women.  All people have a variety of roles and identities.  Sex and gender are simply a couple of those roles.  Still these roles are not to be downplayed as important.  My sex is an important distinct and leads to various interactions with the opposite sex and my own that are not shared by men.  At the parade grounds, my ass is not grabbed because I identify as a woman with my gender.  A man put his hands on my body because my body is that of a woman and he wanted to touch that body.  That is building on my sex as a woman.  A great deal of anxiety can affect a woman as she climbs her thirties because she feels a need to have children knowing that as she grows older conceiving is harder for her.  This anxiety affects everything from personal happiness to career planning.  Such anxiety is not because of gender, but from sex.  A more brutal example would be women that are kidnapped and forced into marriage so they may be raped.  Nobody cares what gender these women associate themselves to, only that their sexual organs are female.  This shapes their entire lives and is not simple an "incident" in their lives.  So sex is very important in shaping perspective and in forging a relationship between characters and players. 

So I disagree entirely with your statement.

I never claimed that these issues that you mentioned are unimportant. They are very important and they should absolutely be explored. But they're not universal to women. A trans man may experience sexual harassment. A woman may not, if in her society sexual harassment is something that doesn't happen, or if her body is not "female" as society perceives it. People who are pressured into forced marriages can, again, be men, and not all women are pressured into forced marriages. That's not me going "what about the menz" or anything. I just don't believe that these are issues every single female character would face.

The issue is complex. A society may perceive a person as a woman when they're not, or a man when they're not. In such cases, people presenting as female may face sexism, while people presenting as male may escape it (temporarily, though they face different discriminations then).

However, to return to the "man with breasts" problem. There seems to be a misunderstanding to what I mean. I never meant to defend a stock character. For me, a "man with breasts" character (and I dislike the term) in its positive form is simply a female character that doesn't face exclusively "female" concerns. Thus, if you genderswapped them, they could be just as compelling. I would never advocate that all female characters be written like that. I would never say this about anything (except, maybe, to say that all female characters should be written with agency). I just think it's an interesting variation of a character that allows some women (like me) to have some escapist fun, save the world, be a hero, kill monsters, without having to face sexism or related problems. I equally enjoy fictional women who navigate the problems of womanhood.

Sexual harassment is not limited to women at all.  Yet each example given is tied to reproduction, especially the final two.  Gender is a social construct tied to a person’s sex.  So to say that a person’s sex is not a powerful influence in their social reality is naïve at best, dangerously ignorant at worst.

A person's sex is a powerful influence, but it's not always tied to gender. What about transgender people, or intersex people, or agender people?

I think the key won't be to find a universal female perspective, but just to make sure that any female character has her own perspective which makes sense and fits the character's life, history, personality and individual nature.

I think that's the key to writing a good character, male or female.  ;D


Offline Hemingway

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #177 on: September 12, 2014, 06:01:30 AM »
Sexual harassment is not limited to women at all.  Yet each example given is tied to reproduction, especially the final two.  Gender is a social construct tied to a person’s sex.  So to say that a person’s sex is not a powerful influence in their social reality is naïve at best, dangerously ignorant at worst.

I was not implying you'd said sexual harassment was limited to women. I was saying that sexual harassment of women does not stem from biology, but from how society perceives being a woman, or womens' roles. To say that gender is tied to sex is true almost by definition, and no one is denying it. If anything, that's the entire point; because these gender roles exist, people are pushed to behave one way or another. Which is why I'd argue that a 'male character with breasts' can be a positive and progressive thing.

It's not a substitute for a character dealing with issues faced by people who identify as women, and I'm not trying to suggest all characters ought to be neutral in order to be as inclusive as possible. However, if it's true that gender is socially constructed, then it's produced and reproduced every day, everywhere, including in video games. Which means that to have female characters whose behavior is not dictated by their sex, could serve to demonstrate to people that what you do and how you behave does not have to be determined by your biological sex.

Or, at the very least, it would be very difficult to argue that it's in any way harmful to have these characters.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #178 on: September 12, 2014, 06:08:08 AM »
Maybe if I do it this way people will stop thinking I am arguing with them when I am not.

A person's sex is a powerful influence, but it's not always tied to gender. What about transgender people, or intersex people, or agender people?

Gender is a social construct tied to someone’s sex.  Transgender people want to be associated with the traits and characteristics tied to the opposite gender.  As some might say, they feel as if a mistake was made and they are in the wrong body.  There are some transgender that are fine with their bodies, but still want to be associated with the other sex in terms of their personality and traits.  This does not mean though that gender is not tied to sex, simply that people do not want their own sex necessarily tied to their gender. 

Or, at the very least, it would be very difficult to argue that it's in any way harmful to have these characters.

Once more, I did not say the characters were damaging to women.  I said these characters are not valid examples of female characters.  If a story is written where it doesn't matter if the character is a man or woman, then one cannot say that the “woman” version is a powerful example of women in whatever medium is being discussed.  For instance the character Chell from Portal.  The character model is a female, but there is almost no dialogue or character depth.  The co-op mode of portal replaces Chell with two robots.  The character, if Chell could even be called that, is not an example of a woman in gaming.  The same goes for a "female" Shepard.  Simply because Commander Shepard can be given a female character model does not make this an example of a female character because female Shepard can just as easily be male Shepard with no difference in character depth, interaction or story elements.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2014, 06:15:21 AM by Pumpkin Seeds »

Offline Melusine

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #179 on: September 12, 2014, 06:14:02 AM »
Gender is a social construct tied to someone’s sex.  Transgender people want to be associated with the traits and characteristics tied to the opposite gender.  As some might say, they feel as if a mistake was made and they are in the wrong body.  There are some transgender that are fine with their bodies, but still want to be associated with the other sex in terms of their personality and traits.  This does not mean though that gender is not tied to sex, simply that people do not want their own sex necessarily tied to their gender. 

Once more, I did not say the characters were damaging to women.  I said these characters are not valid examples of female characters.  If a story is written where it doesn't matter if the character is a man or woman, then one cannot say that the “woman” version is a powerful example of women in whatever medium is being discussed.

Ah, I misunderstood. I thought you meant that gender is tied to the "corresponding" sex. Apologies.  ;D About the female characters and whether or not they're valid, we'll just have to agree to disagree.  :-)

Offline Hemingway

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #180 on: September 12, 2014, 06:24:10 AM »
Once more, I did not say the characters were damaging to women.  I said these characters are not valid examples of female characters.  If a story is written where it doesn't matter if the character is a man or woman, then one cannot say that the “woman” version is a powerful example of women in whatever medium is being discussed.

I know you didn't - I'm hedging my statements to avoid seeming too strident about what I'm saying.

Without knowing what a 'powerful' woman is, I can't really say whether I agree or not. I think you're overestimating the effect biology has. I also still do not see why a female character can't have a 'neutral' gender identity, and still be a 'liberating and forward thinking' character. I'd like to reiterate that I don't believe this is the only way to promote any sort of equality, and I certainly think video games could bear to have more 'serious' female characters.

If I seem like I'm still fundamentally confused on some point, feel free to correct me. If we still disagree, well, I'll just submit my opinions to public judgment, and leave it at that.

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #181 on: September 12, 2014, 07:30:15 AM »
It's not worth taking into account a lot of female gamers enjoy games that generally aren't designed with exploitation of women as a key draw for their market when discussing how that exploitation in "hardcore" (people love that term way, way too much) games may be a driving force behind why such games are more popular among male players?

Okay then.

I think you misunderstand my point (which is probably due to my inability to express myself right before bed).  There's a statistic floating around that says something along the lines of "47% of people who play games are female", so some people (admittedly, perhaps not anyone in this thread, I may be thinking of discussions elsewhere) are tossing that number around to say it's not a male-dominated group any more.  My point was to say that I think we should only look at people who are "gamers", not just "people who play games" when pulling up how many men make up the audience.

Quote
Maybe I missed it: where did this become about blaming "one single game for being sexist?" I thought it was a discussion pointing out many games are sexist. In fact, at some point someone made a little impromptu list of games showing the major disparity in the number of sex workers of female vs male gender represented in games, plural, and that was only covering the very narrow subject of sex workers in games. This isn't about having a problem with any one game; it's about a trend within the games industry as a whole.

Regarding "exploration" of how women were treated in medieval times, sure, if a game wanted to really "examine" that, I'm sure that could be done well. Making the large part of your game's female characters prostitutes and tavern wenches? That's not exploring anything, that's taking something for granted and, as you noted, pandering. And I agree: there's nothing particularly wrong with a game having some minor bonuses that are clearly pandering. But as you pointed out, "one single game" isn't important. When the default state of mainstream games is this kind of pandering? There is something wrong with that.

The point was that one single game being sexist isn't a problem, it's only become a problem because the majority of games are sexist, or use sexist themes.  I was saying that using sexist themes in a game is perfectly fine, but whoever's making it should take a look and make sure they're not just being sexist for the sake of it.

Though I think you misunderstand the types of games I'm talking about when I mentioned pandering; if a game has most of its female characters as tavern wenches and prostitutes, as you said, that's not just adding a small bit of pandering as a bonus.

About pandering: the thing is, it's so annoying because it's so prevalent and it's mostly aimed at straight men, with the added bonus of often dehumanizing the women involved. I understand many guys enjoy looking at naked boobies; hell, I love looking at naked (man)boobies. But we can have fanservice that isn't exploitative, and doesn't reduce the women to objects. And I'd love it if we could expand the fanservice so we could service more fans. Straight women, gay women, gay men...they all play games and deserve to see some boobies.

Admittedly, I'm not entirely sure what people mean when they say "dehumanizing" someone.  And yes, I'm all for some fanservice for ladies, not just for guys, and if a game has swimsuits for all characters instead of just female ones, it'll only make me happier.  I may never use the swimsuits on the guys, but I certainly won't complain about them being an option.  It just bugs me when a game adds in a sexy costume for a character and people complain about it when they never have to see or use it.  (For instance, on the forums for Persona 4 Golden, some people were complaining about how they added a costume system and included swimsuits for the characters, despite the fact that they can simply ignore the swimsuits exist and never actually look at them.)
« Last Edit: September 12, 2014, 07:35:13 AM by Sethala »

Offline Melusine

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #182 on: September 12, 2014, 07:47:48 AM »
Admittedly, I'm not entirely sure what people mean when they say "dehumanizing" someone. 

First thing that comes to mind is the "hive" level in Duke Nukem:Forever. There are disembodied breasts (!!!) on the walls that the character can slap and quip about, in a level where women are already treated like pregnant cows. I think this was meant to be partially "joke" and partially fanservice. This kind of fanservice presents you with a body part, not taking the person behind it into account. Thus, it's dehumanizing.

A non-gaming example would be one of the myriad of brothel scenes from Game of Thrones. The women are there as literally window dressing, half or fully naked and posing, and no further thought is given to them as characters. They're just there as naked bodies to be ogled, not people.

There can be non-exploitative fanservice. Years ago I watched the third Starship Troopers film. Yes, not that good, but bear with me. In one scene, both male and female soldiers entered the communal showers to wash. The camera showed boobs, chests and butts --male and female-- but didn't linger obsessively. It was a moment of equal opportunity, non-degrading fanservice because we'd already seen the characters as people in the film, and they also joked and quipped in that particular scene, furthering their developement.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2014, 07:53:35 AM by Melusine »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #183 on: September 12, 2014, 08:31:46 AM »
My point was to say that I think we should only look at people who are "gamers", not just "people who play games" when pulling up how many men make up the audience.

What is the difference?

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #184 on: September 12, 2014, 08:42:37 AM »
Gender is a social construct tied to someone’s sex.  Transgender people want to be associated with the traits and characteristics tied to the opposite gender.  As some might say, they feel as if a mistake was made and they are in the wrong body.  There are some transgender that are fine with their bodies, but still want to be associated with the other sex in terms of their personality and traits.  This does not mean though that gender is not tied to sex, simply that people do not want their own sex necessarily tied to their gender.
This is the third time you've written gender off as just a social construct. This isn't really what this thread is about, but... please don't. It's way more complicated than that - most Lieges aren't Lieges because of what society says about gender.

The point was that one single game being sexist isn't a problem, it's only become a problem because the majority of games are sexist, or use sexist themes.  I was saying that using sexist themes in a game is perfectly fine, but whoever's making it should take a look and make sure they're not just being sexist for the sake of it.
...which is part of Sarkeesian's point - her videos examine how sexist tropes are used unthinkingly and reflexively and pervasively. If most games avoided these tropes, and one came out that didn't - and it was noticed and acknowledged as such? You're right, there wouldn't be a problem. It'd probably be a poor story, given the laziness of leaning on sexist tropes, but... well, there's another point - moving away from and actively rejecting these elements will lead to better writing and thus better games.

Offline Hemingway

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #185 on: September 12, 2014, 09:01:30 AM »
This is the third time you've written gender off as just a social construct. This isn't really what this thread is about, but... please don't. It's way more complicated than that - most Lieges aren't Lieges because of what society says about gender.

I brought up the social construction of gender because it's something that's brought up in feminist theory a lot. It's also mentioned explicitly by Sarkeesian in one of her videos - the Ms. Male video. It's not Pumpkin Seeds who's in the wrong here - if anyone is.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #186 on: September 12, 2014, 09:06:00 AM »
I'm not writing gender off as anything.  Gender is a social construct by its very definition.  I'm sorry if the definition of the word is offensive but gender is a creation of society.  You can pick.up most any sociology text book for verification.  I really don't mean to offend but I'm fairly certain I am correct in my understanding of the word.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #187 on: September 12, 2014, 09:20:12 AM »
I think you're conflating "gender" and "gender role". Gender roles are purely social constructs, and there is a social element to gender - but transgender people exist independently of what society says about masculine and feminine. There are Lieges who want the socially-assigned package that comes with "male" or "female", there are Lieges people who have no use for it, there are Lieges who have their own spin on it or try to actively deconstruct it - and all of these people are still validly trans. Calling gender purely social is invalidating the existence of these people.

That said, this is entering derail territory; I'd be glad to take it to PM if you care to discuss the matter further.

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #188 on: September 12, 2014, 10:26:30 AM »
What is the difference?

The short answer is, there's a level of enthusiasm and passion for games that gamers have, beyond simply playing them.  It's much the same as saying not every car owner is a gearhead, or not everyone who goes to the theater is a movie enthusiast.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #189 on: September 12, 2014, 10:48:57 AM »
So, is the little old lady who 'plays competition mah-jongg for blood' (I've seen this in real life - I can imagine it happens online as well) a gamer, or one who plays games?  And if that makes her a 'gamer', then how do you acquire the relevant data?

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #190 on: September 12, 2014, 10:53:38 AM »
I mean there are people that play Candy Crush for hours a day and spend a good deal of money on that game.  There are also people that spend less time playing and more time immersed with the culture, such as cosplay and forums. 

Offline consortium11

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #191 on: September 12, 2014, 12:06:16 PM »
I think you're conflating "gender" and "gender role". Gender roles are purely social constructs, and there is a social element to gender - but transgender people exist independently of what society says about masculine and feminine. There are Lieges who want the socially-assigned package that comes with "male" or "female", there are Lieges people who have no use for it, there are Lieges who have their own spin on it or try to actively deconstruct it - and all of these people are still validly trans. Calling gender purely social is invalidating the existence of these people.

That said, this is entering derail territory; I'd be glad to take it to PM if you care to discuss the matter further.

I'm not sure how it is off-topic... one of the key points of one of Sarkeesian's videos (the previously mentioned "Ms. Male Character") is that gender (as a whole) is an entirely artificial social construct. If she's incorrect on that then a lot of the power behind her arguments in that video collapse (and worse it would appear to be a form of mild bigotry if doing so invalidates the existence of certain people).




What is the difference?

I suspect it ends up being somewhat similar to the "know it when I see it" definition of obscenity; it is incredibly difficult to come up with a solid definition that people could agree on but I think most would recognize and agree with each other if given specific examples of a "gamer" and "someone who plays games".

That said, to give a quick and doubtless flawed definition, my first thought would be that a "gamer" is someone who specifically makes time to play video games. Thus someone who plays Candy Crush Saga or the like when waiting for something else and/or when on a train/bus journey probably wouldn't count while someone who actively gave themselves an hour to play a game (even the self-game game) probably would.

I can't say I'm particularly happy with that as a definition though but it seems a decent place to start.

A different approach would be to note that when we're discussing "gamer" in this context we're seemingly talking about a culture and so the key things to look at would be the cultural side of video games. Does someone visit video game websites, conventions, forums etc etc? Do they spend their free time reading about video games as well as playing them? Do they involve themselves in the video game community? If they do they're likely a gamer, if they don't they're more likely someone who plays video games.

Offline Shjade

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #192 on: September 12, 2014, 01:41:13 PM »
The short answer is, there's a level of enthusiasm and passion for games that gamers have, beyond simply playing them.  It's much the same as saying not every car owner is a gearhead, or not everyone who goes to the theater is a movie enthusiast.

I suspect if you compared the number of gamers to people who play games vs the number of gearheads to people who own cars, you'd find "gearhead" is a much more specific, niche group.

Honestly, the term "gamer," particularly when paired with the term "hardcore," is mostly just a way for some people to discriminate against/ignore anyone they feel doesn't share their interpretation of games these days. Ex: I talk about the balance of Guilty Gear XX's roster, someone disagrees with my position by arguing Potemkin is too OP with his myriad forms of frame invincibility, I disregard them by suggesting they wouldn't have a problem with Potemkin if they were a real gamer like I am - they just need to git gud/lrn2play. Scrub.

As far as I'm concerned, if you have more than a passing interest in video games, you're relevant to this conversation. It doesn't require a passion for games or some deep enthusiasm for the culture. You just need to be relevant to the games market and, therefore, relevant to this discussion about the nature of games development, why they include the content they do to try to sell games and so on. People who play casual games only are just as relevant as people who mostly buy the latest CoD to spend hours calling other people degrading names online (and maybe occasionally shooting them). As Pumpkin Seeds rightly pointed out, there are people who play these "casual" games in a manner that puts some "hardcore" gamers to shame in terms of dedication and money spent. These are artificial lines people draw to separate themselves from people who don't enjoy games the same way they do; they are divisions that have no meaning.

If I had to use the term: if you enjoy playing games, you're a gamer. But I'd rather just not use it. It's almost never used in a way that adds to a discussion, at least not that I've seen.

Males are likely still the majority of the video game audience. They aren't, however, as dominant as some people would like to believe. Women are a major part of that audience, and the fact that they're brushed off as "casual gamers" often misses the point that the cause of this divide in preference of gaming content may have a lot to do with, y'know, the content of games.

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #193 on: September 12, 2014, 06:02:43 PM »
So, is the little old lady who 'plays competition mah-jongg for blood' (I've seen this in real life - I can imagine it happens online as well) a gamer, or one who plays games?  And if that makes her a 'gamer', then how do you acquire the relevant data?

Now that I'm not posting from the phone, the long answer...

Basically, I define a "gamer" as "anyone who honestly thinks they're a gamer", so long as they understand that it includes a level of passion for games beyond simply playing them.  That mahjong-playing granny?  If she thinks she has a passion for games and thinks the term "gamer" applies to her, then yeah, she's a gamer.  Though I also like consortium's answer of a gamer being someone who specifically makes time to play games, as opposed to playing games when there's nothing else to do.

I know that makes it rather difficult to actually figure out what demographic of the population are gamers, but that's never really been my concern with posting this.

I suspect if you compared the number of gamers to people who play games vs the number of gearheads to people who own cars, you'd find "gearhead" is a much more specific, niche group.

Perhaps, and there might be need for our terminology to evolve and create terms for people that are "more hardcore" than others when it comes to games.  That there's possibly a smaller distinction between "gamer" and "one who plays a few games" doesn't mean there is no distinction.

Quote
Honestly, the term "gamer," particularly when paired with the term "hardcore," is mostly just a way for some people to discriminate against/ignore anyone they feel doesn't share their interpretation of games these days. Ex: I talk about the balance of Guilty Gear XX's roster, someone disagrees with my position by arguing Potemkin is too OP with his myriad forms of frame invincibility, I disregard them by suggesting they wouldn't have a problem with Potemkin if they were a real gamer like I am - they just need to git gud/lrn2play. Scrub.

"Elitist" is also a term, and I think that's the one that should be used here.  That some people misuse the term doesn't mean it loses all value.

Quote
As far as I'm concerned, if you have more than a passing interest in video games, you're relevant to this conversation. It doesn't require a passion for games or some deep enthusiasm for the culture. You just need to be relevant to the games market and, therefore, relevant to this discussion about the nature of games development, why they include the content they do to try to sell games and so on. People who play casual games only are just as relevant as people who mostly buy the latest CoD to spend hours calling other people degrading names online (and maybe occasionally shooting them). As Pumpkin Seeds rightly pointed out, there are people who play these "casual" games in a manner that puts some "hardcore" gamers to shame in terms of dedication and money spent. These are artificial lines people draw to separate themselves from people who don't enjoy games the same way they do; they are divisions that have no meaning.

Just because a game appeals to casuals doesn't mean someone can't be a gamer and still play it.  If that casual game is their primary focus, that's fine, though if they didn't have a level of passion for it exceeding the average playerbase, I'd question their honesty in calling themselves a gamer.  An example would be Hearthstone; it's very casual for a card game and I think it has a lot of appeal to people that aren't gamers, but if you were to try and tell me Trump isn't a gamer because he plays a casual game, I'd be questioning your line of thinking.

As for people relevant to the discussion, I apologize if my posts made it seem like I was insisting this was an issue "only for gamers"; that wasn't my intent, though poor wording on my part may have made it seem that way.  My only intent was to question the usefulness of the "47% of people playing games are female" statistic.

Quote
If I had to use the term: if you enjoy playing games, you're a gamer. But I'd rather just not use it. It's almost never used in a way that adds to a discussion, at least not that I've seen.

Males are likely still the majority of the video game audience. They aren't, however, as dominant as some people would like to believe. Women are a major part of that audience, and the fact that they're brushed off as "casual gamers" often misses the point that the cause of this divide in preference of gaming content may have a lot to do with, y'know, the content of games.

I wouldn't say that anyone who enjoys playing games is a gamer, however - though if that's your criteria for someone being a gamer, then my criteria for being a gearhead is anyone who enjoys driving somewhere.  Obviously, that doesn't apply, but if your definition of gamer is just anyone who enjoys games, then yeah, it's going to look like an overly-broad group.  Perhaps it's simply that "gamer" is too similar to "game", and someone may not really question whether there's a difference between "gamer" and "person who plays games"; conversely, "gearhead" has enough connotation in just the name that even people who aren't familiar with car culture can easily grasp the idea that they're someone that takes cars a lot more seriously than someone who simply drives around in one.

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #194 on: September 12, 2014, 06:12:52 PM »
...which is part of Sarkeesian's point - her videos examine how sexist tropes are used unthinkingly and reflexively and pervasively. If most games avoided these tropes, and one came out that didn't - and it was noticed and acknowledged as such? You're right, there wouldn't be a problem. It'd probably be a poor story, given the laziness of leaning on sexist tropes [...]

Admittedly, this is a sentiment I have trouble with.  Yes, I understand that a lot of sexist tropes are used without thinking and are a lazy shortcut.  That doesn't mean that a work that uses them will be lazy because of it, however; I could argue that the Game of Thrones series (at least the books, I haven't gotten around to starting the show yet) uses a lot of sexist tropes and ideas, but uses them in a way that strengthens the work as a whole; the story wouldn't be as strong if it were changed to be equal.  I believe the Wheel of Time series is similar, and showed quite a few areas where gender roles were questioned and changed, though it's been a very long time since I've read the series and I don't remember enough of it to be sure.

Admittedly, I can't think of any games that use gender roles and sexist tropes without being lazy about it, but... well, stories in games are a very unique beast due to the idea of interactivity, and compared to other mediums they're still in their infancy, so it might just be a matter of time.

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but... well, there's another point - moving away from and actively rejecting these elements will lead to better writing and thus better games.

To be honest, I'm often far more interested in a game's mechanics than its storytelling, so a "better" story meaning a "better" game is subjective... Even ignoring that however, I think you may be too optimistic about how much stories will improve by just removing sexist tropes.  There's a lot of methods for lazy storytelling out there, and a lot of lazy writers looking for shortcuts, so just telling them to not use this one lazy method probably won't fix a lot.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #195 on: September 12, 2014, 06:44:11 PM »
Admittedly, this is a sentiment I have trouble with.  Yes, I understand that a lot of sexist tropes are used without thinking and are a lazy shortcut.  That doesn't mean that a work that uses them will be lazy because of it, however; I could argue that the Game of Thrones series (at least the books, I haven't gotten around to starting the show yet) uses a lot of sexist tropes and ideas, but uses them in a way that strengthens the work as a whole; the story wouldn't be as strong if it were changed to be equal.  I believe the Wheel of Time series is similar, and showed quite a few areas where gender roles were questioned and changed, though it's been a very long time since I've read the series and I don't remember enough of it to be sure.

Admittedly, I can't think of any games that use gender roles and sexist tropes without being lazy about it, but... well, stories in games are a very unique beast due to the idea of interactivity, and compared to other mediums they're still in their infancy, so it might just be a matter of time.
I admit I was picturing the lower-mainstream side of the current status quo when I posted this - a lot of unconscious use, some deliberate dips in that well for titillation value. Is it possible to write a great tale for the ages that unthinkingly includes some problematic elements? Yes, absolutely. It will cost you, though - by not treating your female characters as people with their own personalities, hopes, desires, and agency, you are weakening the stories you tell involving them. (And before anybody can say that I'm being unfair to sexist writing here... well, if you're treating your female characters as fully-realized people, rather than victims or decorations or trophies or plot devices, congrats. You're not being sexist.)

To be honest, I'm often far more interested in a game's mechanics than its storytelling, so a "better" story meaning a "better" game is subjective... Even ignoring that however, I think you may be too optimistic about how much stories will improve by just removing sexist tropes.  There's a lot of methods for lazy storytelling out there, and a lot of lazy writers looking for shortcuts, so just telling them to not use this one lazy method probably won't fix a lot.
I've had games I played despite the story or dialogue, because they were very fun. I've also had games where the shitty writing reached critical mass and it just wasn't worth it any more. More commonly, I've seen a lot of games where the mechanics weren't actively bad, but were uninspired - nothing really new or innovative - so the story is pretty much all they've got to sell themselves as worthy of my attention. I don't think I'm alone here.

I'm not saying that writing will be revolutionized by fixing this one thing. Nobody is, including Anita herself. What we're saying is that it will be better and more inclusive, and this is a worthy goal. This is not the be-all end-all of critique, nor should it be - but that doesn't make it not worth pursuing. Improvement is a ratchet, not a lightswitch.

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #196 on: September 12, 2014, 06:53:47 PM »
I admit I was picturing the lower-mainstream side of the current status quo when I posted this - a lot of unconscious use, some deliberate dips in that well for titillation value. Is it possible to write a great tale for the ages that unthinkingly includes some problematic elements? Yes, absolutely. It will cost you, though - by not treating your female characters as people with their own personalities, hopes, desires, and agency, you are weakening the stories you tell involving them. (And before anybody can say that I'm being unfair to sexist writing here... well, if you're treating your female characters as fully-realized people, rather than victims or decorations or trophies or plot devices, congrats. You're not being sexist.)

Ah, I think I see where we misunderstood each other.  I was talking about stories that deliberately invoke sexist tropes/characters/etc because the writer thinks he can do something new with it - again, sexism between characters is a rather significant part of Game of Thrones, and the story would be very different if it weren't there, but I think most of that is deliberately invoked by George R R Martin, not necessarily as a commentary on sexism itself, but a device to help tell his story.

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I've had games I played despite the story or dialogue, because they were very fun. I've also had games where the shitty writing reached critical mass and it just wasn't worth it any more. More commonly, I've seen a lot of games where the mechanics weren't actively bad, but were uninspired - nothing really new or innovative - so the story is pretty much all they've got to sell themselves as worthy of my attention. I don't think I'm alone here.

Personally I don't care how bad a game's story is if the gameplay itself is good, although it's a combination of elements; a bad story with mediocre gameplay isn't worth my time, but an excellent story with mediocre gameplay can be worth playing through (and an excellent story with completely terrible gameplay is just sad).  But I will admit to getting a few games just because of the pandering - I am, after all, eager to get the new Senran Kagura game when it comes out (though I'd argue that those characters are quite a bit better written than a lot of female characters in games with far less pandering...)

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #197 on: September 12, 2014, 10:40:55 PM »
Ah, I think I see where we misunderstood each other.  I was talking about stories that deliberately invoke sexist tropes/characters/etc because the writer thinks he can do something new with it - again, sexism between characters is a rather significant part of Game of Thrones, and the story would be very different if it weren't there, but I think most of that is deliberately invoked by George R R Martin, not necessarily as a commentary on sexism itself, but a device to help tell his story.
I think we're in agreement here? From what I've seen (and I admit I'm painfully unfamiliar with Martin's work, something I plan to rectify), the way Martin uses it is effective for a few reasons. First, pretty much nobody in GoT is a clear-cut, clean hero - so sexist behaviour is simply another character flaw, or even used to demonstrate that a character is flawed. His female characters are certainly as well-developed as his men. There's a discussion to be had on the show's use of nudity, but I'm probably not the one to have it as I simply don't know enough.

Offline Shjade

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #198 on: September 13, 2014, 01:29:44 AM »
I wouldn't say that anyone who enjoys playing games is a gamer, however - though if that's your criteria for someone being a gamer, then my criteria for being a gearhead is anyone who enjoys driving somewhere.  Obviously, that doesn't apply, but if your definition of gamer is just anyone who enjoys games, then yeah, it's going to look like an overly-broad group.  Perhaps it's simply that "gamer" is too similar to "game", and someone may not really question whether there's a difference between "gamer" and "person who plays games"; conversely, "gearhead" has enough connotation in just the name that even people who aren't familiar with car culture can easily grasp the idea that they're someone that takes cars a lot more seriously than someone who simply drives around in one.

See, this is why this is a terrible analogy: you're comparing gamers - people who play games - to gearheads - people who can deconstruct and reconstruct cars. Gamers are not to games what gearheads are to cars. Programmers are to games what gearheads are to cars. People who enjoy driving are to cars what gamers are to games, because there's a strong distinction between "people who drive cars" and "people who enjoy driving cars."

If you enjoy playing games - if you favor it as a recreational activity - you are, to me, relevant to any discussion about "gamers." All this business about being "hardcore" or, god forbid, "more hardcore" is just drawing imaginary lines in the sand that don't have a purpose. You buy and play games or you don't. How extreme your passion for those games might be outside that purchase-and-play arrangement is largely irrelevant to the market. You bought the game to play or you didn't. Why make it more complicated than that?

Offline Sabby

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #199 on: September 15, 2014, 12:24:34 PM »
To try and give a different perspective on sexualizing/objectifying women in gaming, I'd like to share one of Total Biscuits recent videos regarding the state of games journalism. It covers several topics, but it does touch on the character designs in Moba games in a way I found very rational and interesting. If the OP would prefer I not do that, please say so and I'll edit this post.