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Author Topic: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?  (Read 13632 times)

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Offline Steampunkette

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #300 on: November 06, 2014, 04:26:42 AM »
I guess my thing is this: I don't see that as a problem.

Gies and Riendeau have different writing styles that describe two very different games in very different ways, even though the primary negative item of both of them was more or less the same.

I can't help but wonder if Riendeau's small aside on the sexual objectification of the female characters isn't influenced by her being a female reviewer on a massive 1gaming website. Meanwhile Gies, as a dude, typically has more latitude to touch on such a sensitive topic without getting lambasted with threats of violence.

As the reviews are over a year apart and the Bayonetta 2 review came out in October is it probable (it is definitely possible) that the Gamergate debacle pushed things to enough of a head that the reviewer felt being more critical of that game would be important?

Did you perhaps read the comments under Danielle's "Very light" critique of the sexual objectification?

Quote
No, how dare Danielle heavily drop points in the final score over something that small and insignificant. She sounded 10 times more concerned about the abnormal size of boobs in this game instead of the only other complaint she had, which was the grinding.

She liked almost every part of the game except for the boobs, and she barely addressed the grinding as a complaint, especially in comparison to her complaint about the boobs.

Disliking one small part of the artstyle, especially when the reviewer claims to like every other part of the artstyle, is NOT worth 3.5 points. And let’s say she factored in the grinding complaint, big boobs are still not worth 1.75 points.

The first several comments on the Bayonetta review are much less angry, and the first two both touch on the sexualization without any "How dare you!" style drama.

Things to consider.

Offline Caehlim

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #301 on: November 06, 2014, 04:26:57 AM »
The following information has been discovered to be incorrect
Noted, and I didn't say that it shouldn't be mentioned in a review, just that it shouldn't be the dominant portion of the review.  For an example, look at Polygon's review of Dragon's Crown.  The review talks about what the game is mostly about - the gameplay and mechanics.  However, it still has a box calling out the game for having quite a few sexist tropes and character designs, which put the writer off.  Essentially, it lets the reader get a good view of what the game is like, and then puts the things that are likely controversial and very subjective - moreso than a normal review, at least - in a place where it's not constantly in the reader's face, but the reader can take a look and see if it's something that would put them off of the game because it's something they care about, or something that they can ignore if it's not relevant to their interests.  Contrast that to the site's Bayonetta 2 review, which has so many references to the character's sexual nature that there's no way to avoid or ignore it while reading the review, and the constant negative tone towards one aspect of the game makes the review as a whole hard to read without getting a negative impression of the game, even though the rest of the review and the score itself are rather positive.

I made a decision to compare the two reviews you linked and post my results here, whatever I found. Here's what I got. I tried my hardest to keep this fair and impartial.

16% of the wordcount of the bayonetta review is a criticism of the allegedly sexist content. (440 out of 2639 words)
16% of the wordcount of the Dragon's crown review is likewise critical of allegedly sexist content (161 out of 1005 words)

included as criticism of sexist content for bayonetta review
It's also the kind of game that left me asking how many times and how many different ways developer Platinum could run a camera up the main character's spread legs and cleavage.
On the other, the deliberate sexualization and objectification on display serves as a jarring distraction from the creativity and design smarts elsewhere.

Less positive is the same exaggerated sexualization that hung heavy around the last game's neck. I'll forgive the high heels and the exaggerated proportions, if only because there's so many other things to criticize. Bayonetta's new outfit delivers bold new developments in revealing clothing with the introduction of diamond cutouts on the ass of her jumpsuit, creating what I can only refer to as "under-butt" cleavage. When standing in place her shoulders are bent back to point her chest at ... whatever.
But even this is minor compared to the game's camera, which zooms in on Bayonetta's parts like they're products being sold in a commercial. There are enough gratuitous ass-shots, cleavage jokes and spread legs to fill an hours long super cut. The camera doesn't look at Bayonetta — it leers at her.
This is frequently provided as an implicit reward for doing well. For anyone who didn't play the first game, here's a bit of premise: Much of Bayonetta's supernatural power is tied into her hair. Her clothing is actually composed of this hair magic, and as she performs more powerful attacks, more of this hair magic is diverted from covering her to compensate. Put simply, Bayonetta's strongest attacks result in her clothes flying off. For more intense quicktime sequences, she'll even do a sexy pose as it flies off, with the absolute barest minimum covered.
Bayonetta 2's prurient 'rewards' are totally unnecessary
It's sexist, gross pandering, and it's totally unnecessary. Bayonetta 2 needs prurient rewards even less than the original Bayonetta did, because the on-screen chaos you can wreak through skilled play is infinitely more satisfying.
Bayonetta 2's blatant over-sexualization puts a big dent in an otherwise great game
 But every time I'd feel on a roll, enjoying my time with Bayonetta 2 immensely, I'd be broken out of it by another cheap shot of T&A. I would be wrecking a flock of angelic or demonic enemies, sliding in and out of witch time almost at will, and then the special weapon I had picked up became a literal stripper pole for Bayonetta to dance on, because ... well, because, I guess.
I won't guess why the blatant over-sexualization is still there, often more intensely than before. But it causes an otherwise great game to require a much bigger mental compromise to enjoy.
not included as criticism of sexist content for bayonetta review
Bayonetta 2 is unapologetically, even defiantly old-school.
This is a knife that cuts both ways. Developer Platinum Games has once again gone for broke, creating an action game of spectacle so big that it's occasionally incomprehensible. Bayonetta 2 is the kind of game where you might ask, seriously, why you're not allowed to strap a massive multi-bladed scythe to your high heels. It's extravagant, like the golden age of Japanese action games never ended, like that arms race just escalated on and on.
On one side of the knife is a character action game that refines the incredible combat foundations of the original Bayonetta and avoids the lack of variety that dragged it down in the last third.
Strange things are afoot in Bayonetta 2
Set an indeterminate though presumably short time after Bayonetta, Bayonetta 2 opens in what looks like New York City during Christmas, though, honestly, this doesn't matter all that much. Within minutes, Bayonetta is back to her old tricks, fighting off monstrous angelic enemies atop a fighter jet.
This is not even remotely the strangest thing that happens in Bayonetta 2.
There's a plot driving Bayonetta 2, theoretically, though you might be hard-pressed to explain it until most of the way through. How much you get from that narrative will likely hinge on how much you like anime staples like overwrought, over-dramatic dialogue and nonsensical non-sequiturs. There is some stuff to like, though. Bayonetta gets some much-needed development as a human being who cares about things other than herself; her motivations go beyond the agonizingly trope-y amnesia setup of the first game. It's a good look for the character.
 
Bayonetta 2 has the same basic mechanics of the original. It's a character action game — meaning that it's you against enemies who can kill you quickly if you're not mindful of what's happening. Proper timing and combo use are important, but Bayonetta 2, like Bayonetta, adds a very specific, very cool wrinkle to the genre: witch time.
 Multiplayer
Bayonetta 2 introduces online multiplayer to the series, but it's a limited implementation. Matches are limited to trials, which blur the lines between cooperative play and competitive design, as each player has their own score and their own in-game currency on the line. Everything works, but at times the mode's design seems at odds with itself. It's hard to force yourself to revive a downed partner when it provides an opportunity for you to get your score up even more.
Witch time is invoked by dodging with the right trigger just before an enemy's attack would connect. When done properly, this turns the world purple and temporarily slows down time around Bayonetta, allowing her free reign to manhandle enemies. Witch time is a luxury early, on, but it's an absolute necessity later; it forces the kinds of considerations that other action games just don't. If you want to have a maximum advantage in Bayonetta 2, you have to put yourself in a position to get hit by an enemy, which can be extremely detrimental to your health.
To do well, you have to take bigger and bigger chances. The risk makes the reward even more appealing. There's also an unforgiving but nonetheless motivating rating system in place that assesses your performance and rewards you with currency to use at an in-game shop. It creates a feedback loop: I wanted to do better to get more stuff to do better and get more stuff. And though Bayonetta 2's levels are full of secrets and items to pick up and use in battle, even Platinum knows that the excellent combat is the draw — fights are hidden around each level along with pickups, and when you finish a level, you can see whether or not you found them all.
There are also golden LPs hidden around Bayonetta 2, frequently in pieces. Redeeming them at the in-game shop The Gates of Hell rewards you with new weapons, each of which can radically change the way Bayonetta fights. She also has weapon slots on her legs and arms, and many weapons can be used on either (or both, if you're willing to cough up the cash to buy duplicates), with very different, often surprising results — hence my complaints about not being able to put a scythe on my feet.
 Still, you can accessorize your heels with a pair of chainsaw weapons, which turns them into murderous rocket skates. I'd classify that as a reasonable consolation prize.
These systems aren't new to Bayonetta 2, but the whole package feels a lot more considered. The weapon systems in particular feel more relevant than before — combat trials encourage experimentation with different weapon combinations, which in turn lends itself to more variety in the main game than I experienced in the first Bayonetta.
Bayonetta 2's difficulty curve is also much less harsh, and I imagine it will feel more accessible to players with less experience in this genre. There's less time spent fighting the same massive boss monster over the course of half an hour, more time spent moving forward, which eases off on the grind that Bayonetta often became. There are even more collectibles this time around, many of which unlock challenges to be played in the new cooperative mode — though, sadly, this is limited to challenges alone. The sequel is also shorter, though it feels that way in part because of the reduction in retreading and overextended boss battles. Both of these are, to me, net positives.
Wrap Up:
When Platinum Games is on, it's really, really on, and Bayonetta 2 is in almost any respect that counts a better game than the first, whose mechanics were already exemplary.

included as criticism of sexist content for Dragon's crown review
Dragon's Crown is a fantasy-obsessed teenaged boy's dream: crazy, violent and full of impossibly large breasts.
Dragon's Crown's serious liberties with female anatomy are distracting. Two player characters — the Amazon and the Sorceress — are explicitly sexualized, with breasts literally bigger than their heads with rear ends to match, and plenty of the screen real estate is dedicated to their respective jiggles and sashays. But at least these characters are powerful women, with agency and a penchant for destroying rooms full of bad guys.
The same can't be said for the female NPCs that fill Dragon's Crown's dungeons and other environments. Most of the women in the game are barely clothed, with heaving chests, backs twisted into suggestive positions, some with their legs spread almost as wide as the screen. They're presented as helpless objects, usually in need of rescue. It's obvious, one-sided and gross.
But I found its over-exaggerated art style alienating and gross in its depiction of women
not included as criticism of sexist content for Dragon's crown review
Recalling developer Vanillaware's previous work on Odin's Sphere, Dragon's Crown is a 2D brawler/RPG hybrid starring a cast of over-the-top adventurers in a land of generic fantasy tropes.
The combat and wide variety of enemies play to Vanillaware's strengths. But the game's repetitive structure and a troublesome presentation of women prevent Dragon's Crown from transcending its juvenile influences.
Dragon's Crown rests on a paper-thin premise: You are a roving man or woman of the world, out to seek adventure in Hydeland. Before long, you're embroiled in royal politics, and battling hordes of fantastical creatures while investigating the awakening of an ancient evil.
Before long, you're battling hordes of fantastical creatures


At the adventure's outset, you pick from six available characters: the Amazon, Fighter, Sorceress, Elf, Dwarf or Wizard. The selection is well balanced for a variety of playstyles, with a nice mix of slower, heavier melee fighters, ranged attackers and magic specialists. Dragon's Crown is at its best when running with a party of different classes that can support each other via drop-in co-op, though you have the option to go solo or with AI partners as well.

Levels are set on a 2D plane, often filled with enough enemies to completely cover the screen. The pace is relentless. I sometimes lost track of my own character amid the chaos, but this isn't really a problem. Dragon's Crown rewards bombastic moves and has little patience for subtlety. While you can block and parry, it's more effective to mash the attack button and dodge only as needed.
Dragon's Crown's combat system is bolstered by its enemy variety. There are dozens of different beasts, mythological creatures and medieval jerks to beat up, all in their own themed stages. Some levels have you facing off against hordes of undead, while others feature demons, orcs or, you know, possessed tiger-dog … things. It's not just a game of numbers either; every enemy type requires a unique approach. Flying demons call for well-timed jump attacks, for example, while lumbering undead need to be beaten into a pulp at close range then avoided as they explode into green goo. The monster diversity helped to counteract the combat's mechanical simplicity, which is especially well realized in Dragon's Crown's boss fights.

In my pocket
Dragon's Crown is being released simultaneously on the Vita and PS3. It's precisely the same game, with the nice touch of cross-platform saves that allow you to easily move between the console and handheld versions. Some things work better on Sony's handheld — the touch controls are seamless (whereas using the right stick to "point" to objects can be awkward in the PS3 version), and the feel of the game is subsequently smoother. But reading stat screens can be a chore on the smaller screen, and there is occasional slowdown when too many characters flood the screen.

Boss fights were routinely my favorite part of the game
Each stage has a resident big bad, eventually offering two to choose from. These are the most strategic and interesting parts of the game. Facing off against the Minotaur, for instance, requires perfect timing around his charge attack, while the epic battle with the red dragon is part platforming challenge, part beatdown. These fights were routinely my favorite part of the game, adding welcome challenge and more variety to the mix.
In between battles, you can choose to continue on to the next stage, or hang out in town, where you can buy and sell new gear, "resurrect" bones of the dead that you collect in combat — and subsequently select them as your AI buddies — and learn rune magic. The resurrection mechanic is a godsend for players going it alone, and the game makes it easy to select characters that complement the skills of your own chosen fighter. As an Amazon, I was always selecting magical and ranged companions, sometimes adding one more heavy melee character to round out my damage-dealing capabilities.
I had to diligently explore and open treasure chests during adventures to guarantee that I was well stocked with a steady supply of stuff, and I enjoyed outfitting my Amazon with the best gear for my kamikaze playstyle. This, along with a simple skill points system, add a welcome bit of customization in a game that otherwise levels your stats uniformly.
At the adventurer's guild, side quests are selected and turned in for rewards including XP, skill points, in-game gold and even concept art. Quests are often predictable, but the best required me to explore secret rooms or look for bizarre details in the background scenery.
The change of pace offered by the side content was appreciated given how repetitive Dragon's Crown's core structure often is. The game forces repeat visits through many of the same stages. As there are only around nine levels (with one branching path each by mid-game) stretched over 25+ hours, I was stuck replaying the same areas dozens of times. The game incentivizes continued play with a hard mode that unlocks after beating the final boss on normal difficulty, and a whole new quest to kill another ancient evil opens up. But again, the contents of the stages — and the bosses themselves — are the same, just more difficult. But as frustrating as the grind became, Vanillaware's aesthetic decisions were much more alienating.
Dragon's Crown is presented in a lush, hand-drawn style, with gorgeous environments and detailed animation. Each beast, unholy creature and player character has been lovingly rendered. But that attention to detail is a double-edged sword.

Wrap Up:
Dragon's Crown is an unapologetic adolescent fantasy
Dragon's Crown makes a strong first impression. It's a fun mix of RPG tropes and dynamic brawler action. even as it shines in building a world of fantastic monsters and environments, and the forced grind through the same stages dulled my excitement. Dragon's Crown is a wild place to visit, but it doesn't quite hold up in the light of day.
Dragon's Crown was reviewed using code provided by Atlus. You can read more about Polygon's ethics policy here.


Edit: I discovered that I accidentally included 15 words from the ethics statement of dragon's crown in the non-critical content count. It should actually be 987 words since I didn't do the same for Bayonetta. However this does not alter the percentage.
Second Edit: Aaargh, I meant to say 18 words, just can't get this post right.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2014, 12:54:06 PM by Caehlim »

Offline Steampunkette

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #302 on: November 06, 2014, 04:39:43 AM »
Oh wow... So the exact same amount of criticism, overall, but his review as cited as being more critical and hers less, while the comments section pushes in the other direction.

That's -really- interesting! Thank you, Caehlim!

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #303 on: November 06, 2014, 07:24:57 AM »
Note that the LPers will perfectly disclose what game they're playing and often what studio it's from, and the credits of everyone who worked to make the game they're playing are publicly available in the game's credits, and it's generally obvious that they did not make the game itself if it's not outright stated.  Anita's videos do disclose the name of the game when footage is shown, but she does not give any credit at all to the LPer making said footage, and there's a not-unreasonable implication that she's making the footage herself.  So at least on that level, there is a difference between an LPer using a game's footage, and Anita using an LPer's footage.
So actually violating copyright is okay, failing to credit people who cannot own the work you're using is not?

"Censorship" may have been a misleading term.  "Bullied into self-censorship" would definitely apply to the first (assuming, at least, that the only reason they changed the art was because it was the only way to get major media to stop threatening to not cover it), and at least the fear of bullying applies to the second, from what I've heard about the game's release.

So... saying "This is not the sort of material we care to engagte with" is bullying? Exactly what makes any review site (even if this claim is true, which now seems questionable) obligated to review literally every game? Can you show me any site which does this?

If not, then it it would appear that your criticism boils down to "I don't like the criteria they use to select games to review", or maybe "game companies pay attention to what's marketable", neither of which seem much like issues.

Actually, for the most part, I agree, and I think I wasn't clear enough with my point the first time around so I'd like to elaborate.  Specifically, I'm fine with taking games and dissecting them, analyzing mechanics, pacing, and yes, social and political factors in them.  What I have an issue with is when some of those factors end up in a review of a game that doesn't try to focus them.  If you want to write an editorial of how racism is handled in GTA 5, go ahead, it might be an interesting read.  But if you end up taking what should be a review of the gameplay of GTA 5 (since it's a pretty gameplay-heavy game) and then spend a significant chunk of that review writing about the game being racist, I might get a bit annoyed, especially if it's clear that this bias affected the review's overall score.
I think we're glossing over an important question: What is the point of a review? In my opinion, it is to examine whether potential buyers will find this game fun and enjoyable enough to be worth the investment of their time and money. In that case... yes, gameplay is important, but so is the storyline and the subtext. Some people cannot enjoy a game with serious racist content - it will cut way too close to home, remind them of the sort of shit they deal with every day.

One of the big outcries against people speaking out about this stuff is "I just want my escapism without all the politics!" - an argument that has been used repeatedly here on E, in fact. But... here's the thing. For oppressed groups, there is no escaping politics, because quite often their very existence is political. You just want your happy fun escapism you can get into without feeling like shit? So do we, but it's pretty hard when the only people who look like us are depicted as criminals, or as eye candy, or as objects of revulsion or acceptable targets for violence.

Furthermore, since this is ostensibly a thread about Sarkeesian, I'll point out that her criticism is explicitly supposed to be focused on these issues by design - it's not like she promised purely technical reviews and surprise! Feminism!

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #304 on: November 06, 2014, 12:14:37 PM »
I made a decision to compare the two reviews you linked and post my results here, whatever I found. Here's what I got. I tried my hardest to keep this fair and impartial.

16% of the wordcount of the bayonetta review is a criticism of the allegedly sexist content. (440 out of 2639 words)
16% of the wordcount of the Dragon's crown review is likewise critical of allegedly sexist content (161 out of 1005 words)

included as criticism of sexist content for bayonetta review
It's also the kind of game that left me asking how many times and how many different ways developer Platinum could run a camera up the main character's spread legs and cleavage.
On the other, the deliberate sexualization and objectification on display serves as a jarring distraction from the creativity and design smarts elsewhere.

Less positive is the same exaggerated sexualization that hung heavy around the last game's neck. I'll forgive the high heels and the exaggerated proportions, if only because there's so many other things to criticize. Bayonetta's new outfit delivers bold new developments in revealing clothing with the introduction of diamond cutouts on the ass of her jumpsuit, creating what I can only refer to as "under-butt" cleavage. When standing in place her shoulders are bent back to point her chest at ... whatever.
But even this is minor compared to the game's camera, which zooms in on Bayonetta's parts like they're products being sold in a commercial. There are enough gratuitous ass-shots, cleavage jokes and spread legs to fill an hours long super cut. The camera doesn't look at Bayonetta — it leers at her.
This is frequently provided as an implicit reward for doing well. For anyone who didn't play the first game, here's a bit of premise: Much of Bayonetta's supernatural power is tied into her hair. Her clothing is actually composed of this hair magic, and as she performs more powerful attacks, more of this hair magic is diverted from covering her to compensate. Put simply, Bayonetta's strongest attacks result in her clothes flying off. For more intense quicktime sequences, she'll even do a sexy pose as it flies off, with the absolute barest minimum covered.
Bayonetta 2's prurient 'rewards' are totally unnecessary
It's sexist, gross pandering, and it's totally unnecessary. Bayonetta 2 needs prurient rewards even less than the original Bayonetta did, because the on-screen chaos you can wreak through skilled play is infinitely more satisfying.
Bayonetta 2's blatant over-sexualization puts a big dent in an otherwise great game
 But every time I'd feel on a roll, enjoying my time with Bayonetta 2 immensely, I'd be broken out of it by another cheap shot of T&A. I would be wrecking a flock of angelic or demonic enemies, sliding in and out of witch time almost at will, and then the special weapon I had picked up became a literal stripper pole for Bayonetta to dance on, because ... well, because, I guess.
I won't guess why the blatant over-sexualization is still there, often more intensely than before. But it causes an otherwise great game to require a much bigger mental compromise to enjoy.
not included as criticism of sexist content for bayonetta review
Bayonetta 2 is unapologetically, even defiantly old-school.
This is a knife that cuts both ways. Developer Platinum Games has once again gone for broke, creating an action game of spectacle so big that it's occasionally incomprehensible. Bayonetta 2 is the kind of game where you might ask, seriously, why you're not allowed to strap a massive multi-bladed scythe to your high heels. It's extravagant, like the golden age of Japanese action games never ended, like that arms race just escalated on and on.
On one side of the knife is a character action game that refines the incredible combat foundations of the original Bayonetta and avoids the lack of variety that dragged it down in the last third.
Strange things are afoot in Bayonetta 2
Set an indeterminate though presumably short time after Bayonetta, Bayonetta 2 opens in what looks like New York City during Christmas, though, honestly, this doesn't matter all that much. Within minutes, Bayonetta is back to her old tricks, fighting off monstrous angelic enemies atop a fighter jet.
This is not even remotely the strangest thing that happens in Bayonetta 2.
There's a plot driving Bayonetta 2, theoretically, though you might be hard-pressed to explain it until most of the way through. How much you get from that narrative will likely hinge on how much you like anime staples like overwrought, over-dramatic dialogue and nonsensical non-sequiturs. There is some stuff to like, though. Bayonetta gets some much-needed development as a human being who cares about things other than herself; her motivations go beyond the agonizingly trope-y amnesia setup of the first game. It's a good look for the character.
 
Bayonetta 2 has the same basic mechanics of the original. It's a character action game — meaning that it's you against enemies who can kill you quickly if you're not mindful of what's happening. Proper timing and combo use are important, but Bayonetta 2, like Bayonetta, adds a very specific, very cool wrinkle to the genre: witch time.
 Multiplayer
Bayonetta 2 introduces online multiplayer to the series, but it's a limited implementation. Matches are limited to trials, which blur the lines between cooperative play and competitive design, as each player has their own score and their own in-game currency on the line. Everything works, but at times the mode's design seems at odds with itself. It's hard to force yourself to revive a downed partner when it provides an opportunity for you to get your score up even more.
Witch time is invoked by dodging with the right trigger just before an enemy's attack would connect. When done properly, this turns the world purple and temporarily slows down time around Bayonetta, allowing her free reign to manhandle enemies. Witch time is a luxury early, on, but it's an absolute necessity later; it forces the kinds of considerations that other action games just don't. If you want to have a maximum advantage in Bayonetta 2, you have to put yourself in a position to get hit by an enemy, which can be extremely detrimental to your health.
To do well, you have to take bigger and bigger chances. The risk makes the reward even more appealing. There's also an unforgiving but nonetheless motivating rating system in place that assesses your performance and rewards you with currency to use at an in-game shop. It creates a feedback loop: I wanted to do better to get more stuff to do better and get more stuff. And though Bayonetta 2's levels are full of secrets and items to pick up and use in battle, even Platinum knows that the excellent combat is the draw — fights are hidden around each level along with pickups, and when you finish a level, you can see whether or not you found them all.
There are also golden LPs hidden around Bayonetta 2, frequently in pieces. Redeeming them at the in-game shop The Gates of Hell rewards you with new weapons, each of which can radically change the way Bayonetta fights. She also has weapon slots on her legs and arms, and many weapons can be used on either (or both, if you're willing to cough up the cash to buy duplicates), with very different, often surprising results — hence my complaints about not being able to put a scythe on my feet.
 Still, you can accessorize your heels with a pair of chainsaw weapons, which turns them into murderous rocket skates. I'd classify that as a reasonable consolation prize.
These systems aren't new to Bayonetta 2, but the whole package feels a lot more considered. The weapon systems in particular feel more relevant than before — combat trials encourage experimentation with different weapon combinations, which in turn lends itself to more variety in the main game than I experienced in the first Bayonetta.
Bayonetta 2's difficulty curve is also much less harsh, and I imagine it will feel more accessible to players with less experience in this genre. There's less time spent fighting the same massive boss monster over the course of half an hour, more time spent moving forward, which eases off on the grind that Bayonetta often became. There are even more collectibles this time around, many of which unlock challenges to be played in the new cooperative mode — though, sadly, this is limited to challenges alone. The sequel is also shorter, though it feels that way in part because of the reduction in retreading and overextended boss battles. Both of these are, to me, net positives.
Wrap Up:
When Platinum Games is on, it's really, really on, and Bayonetta 2 is in almost any respect that counts a better game than the first, whose mechanics were already exemplary.

included as criticism of sexist content for Dragon's crown review
Dragon's Crown is a fantasy-obsessed teenaged boy's dream: crazy, violent and full of impossibly large breasts.
Dragon's Crown's serious liberties with female anatomy are distracting. Two player characters — the Amazon and the Sorceress — are explicitly sexualized, with breasts literally bigger than their heads with rear ends to match, and plenty of the screen real estate is dedicated to their respective jiggles and sashays. But at least these characters are powerful women, with agency and a penchant for destroying rooms full of bad guys.
The same can't be said for the female NPCs that fill Dragon's Crown's dungeons and other environments. Most of the women in the game are barely clothed, with heaving chests, backs twisted into suggestive positions, some with their legs spread almost as wide as the screen. They're presented as helpless objects, usually in need of rescue. It's obvious, one-sided and gross.
But I found its over-exaggerated art style alienating and gross in its depiction of women
not included as criticism of sexist content for Dragon's crown review
Recalling developer Vanillaware's previous work on Odin's Sphere, Dragon's Crown is a 2D brawler/RPG hybrid starring a cast of over-the-top adventurers in a land of generic fantasy tropes.
The combat and wide variety of enemies play to Vanillaware's strengths. But the game's repetitive structure and a troublesome presentation of women prevent Dragon's Crown from transcending its juvenile influences.
Dragon's Crown rests on a paper-thin premise: You are a roving man or woman of the world, out to seek adventure in Hydeland. Before long, you're embroiled in royal politics, and battling hordes of fantastical creatures while investigating the awakening of an ancient evil.
Before long, you're battling hordes of fantastical creatures


At the adventure's outset, you pick from six available characters: the Amazon, Fighter, Sorceress, Elf, Dwarf or Wizard. The selection is well balanced for a variety of playstyles, with a nice mix of slower, heavier melee fighters, ranged attackers and magic specialists. Dragon's Crown is at its best when running with a party of different classes that can support each other via drop-in co-op, though you have the option to go solo or with AI partners as well.

Levels are set on a 2D plane, often filled with enough enemies to completely cover the screen. The pace is relentless. I sometimes lost track of my own character amid the chaos, but this isn't really a problem. Dragon's Crown rewards bombastic moves and has little patience for subtlety. While you can block and parry, it's more effective to mash the attack button and dodge only as needed.
Dragon's Crown's combat system is bolstered by its enemy variety. There are dozens of different beasts, mythological creatures and medieval jerks to beat up, all in their own themed stages. Some levels have you facing off against hordes of undead, while others feature demons, orcs or, you know, possessed tiger-dog … things. It's not just a game of numbers either; every enemy type requires a unique approach. Flying demons call for well-timed jump attacks, for example, while lumbering undead need to be beaten into a pulp at close range then avoided as they explode into green goo. The monster diversity helped to counteract the combat's mechanical simplicity, which is especially well realized in Dragon's Crown's boss fights.

In my pocket
Dragon's Crown is being released simultaneously on the Vita and PS3. It's precisely the same game, with the nice touch of cross-platform saves that allow you to easily move between the console and handheld versions. Some things work better on Sony's handheld — the touch controls are seamless (whereas using the right stick to "point" to objects can be awkward in the PS3 version), and the feel of the game is subsequently smoother. But reading stat screens can be a chore on the smaller screen, and there is occasional slowdown when too many characters flood the screen.

Boss fights were routinely my favorite part of the game
Each stage has a resident big bad, eventually offering two to choose from. These are the most strategic and interesting parts of the game. Facing off against the Minotaur, for instance, requires perfect timing around his charge attack, while the epic battle with the red dragon is part platforming challenge, part beatdown. These fights were routinely my favorite part of the game, adding welcome challenge and more variety to the mix.
In between battles, you can choose to continue on to the next stage, or hang out in town, where you can buy and sell new gear, "resurrect" bones of the dead that you collect in combat — and subsequently select them as your AI buddies — and learn rune magic. The resurrection mechanic is a godsend for players going it alone, and the game makes it easy to select characters that complement the skills of your own chosen fighter. As an Amazon, I was always selecting magical and ranged companions, sometimes adding one more heavy melee character to round out my damage-dealing capabilities.
I had to diligently explore and open treasure chests during adventures to guarantee that I was well stocked with a steady supply of stuff, and I enjoyed outfitting my Amazon with the best gear for my kamikaze playstyle. This, along with a simple skill points system, add a welcome bit of customization in a game that otherwise levels your stats uniformly.
At the adventurer's guild, side quests are selected and turned in for rewards including XP, skill points, in-game gold and even concept art. Quests are often predictable, but the best required me to explore secret rooms or look for bizarre details in the background scenery.
The change of pace offered by the side content was appreciated given how repetitive Dragon's Crown's core structure often is. The game forces repeat visits through many of the same stages. As there are only around nine levels (with one branching path each by mid-game) stretched over 25+ hours, I was stuck replaying the same areas dozens of times. The game incentivizes continued play with a hard mode that unlocks after beating the final boss on normal difficulty, and a whole new quest to kill another ancient evil opens up. But again, the contents of the stages — and the bosses themselves — are the same, just more difficult. But as frustrating as the grind became, Vanillaware's aesthetic decisions were much more alienating.
Dragon's Crown is presented in a lush, hand-drawn style, with gorgeous environments and detailed animation. Each beast, unholy creature and player character has been lovingly rendered. But that attention to detail is a double-edged sword.

Wrap Up:
Dragon's Crown is an unapologetic adolescent fantasy
Dragon's Crown makes a strong first impression. It's a fun mix of RPG tropes and dynamic brawler action. even as it shines in building a world of fantastic monsters and environments, and the forced grind through the same stages dulled my excitement. Dragon's Crown is a wild place to visit, but it doesn't quite hold up in the light of day.
Dragon's Crown was reviewed using code provided by Atlus. You can read more about Polygon's ethics policy here.


Edit: I discovered that I accidentally included 15 words from the ethics statement of dragon's crown in the non-critical content count. It should actually be 987 words since I didn't do the same for Bayonetta. However this does not alter the percentage.
Second Edit: Aaargh, I meant to say 18 words, just can't get this post right.

May want to double-check your methodology, I ran your spoilered snippets through OpenOffice Writer and found:

Bayonetta 2: 440 out of 1388 words, or 31%
Dragon's Crown: 161 out of 1152 words, or 14%

I had run a similar experiment on my own before your post and had determined Bayonetta's review to be roughly 25% about sexism as well, and I know the word count was much closer to 1400 than 2600 when I did it.  But, thank you for your efforts, regardless.

So actually violating copyright is okay, failing to credit people who cannot own the work you're using is not?

The laws around LPs are horrendously outdated, so saying it's violating copyright to make them is naive at best.  Regardless, if they can be considered a parody work, there's precedence for the maker of a parody to own a copyright to their version of it, even though it contains elements of a work they don't own a copyright to.

Quote
Furthermore, since this is ostensibly a thread about Sarkeesian, I'll point out that her criticism is explicitly supposed to be focused on these issues by design - it's not like she promised purely technical reviews and surprise! Feminism!
I have never said that I had issues with Sarkeesian taking too much of a critical look at things that are meant for escapism, and if I have said it, I apologize, I was completely wrong and have realized that.  I do have issues with her methods and how the industry seems to think her videos are beyond criticism, but that's pretty far from what you've said here.

The rest of your points seem to completely misrepresent what I'm trying to say and what I've repeatedly tried to say.  I don't know if that's because I have difficulties expressing myself, or if you're only reading what you want to read, but either way I'm not going to argue with you about them further.

I guess my thing is this: I don't see that as a problem.

Gies and Riendeau have different writing styles that describe two very different games in very different ways, even though the primary negative item of both of them was more or less the same.

I can't help but wonder if Riendeau's small aside on the sexual objectification of the female characters isn't influenced by her being a female reviewer on a massive 1gaming website. Meanwhile Gies, as a dude, typically has more latitude to touch on such a sensitive topic without getting lambasted with threats of violence.

As the reviews are over a year apart and the Bayonetta 2 review came out in October is it probable (it is definitely possible) that the Gamergate debacle pushed things to enough of a head that the reviewer felt being more critical of that game would be important?

Did you perhaps read the comments under Danielle's "Very light" critique of the sexual objectification?

The first several comments on the Bayonetta review are much less angry, and the first two both touch on the sexualization without any "How dare you!" style drama.

Things to consider.

I'll also come out and say that the comments harassing Riendeau are unacceptable.  Are they harsher because she's a woman?  Possibly, I know that there's a vocal minority that tends to harass women whenever they come out and say something about sexism.  It may also be because the article gave the game such a low score at the end, and people have a tendency to come out and yell at a reviewer whenever that reviewer gives a game a much lower score than most other publications.  Or, it may be because the trolls are too busy harassing people involved in Gamergate to care about commenting on a single review; after all, Polygon comments are often ignored as soon as the reader leaves the site, but harassing Gamergate can get you onto major news sites.

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #305 on: November 06, 2014, 12:32:10 PM »
The rest of your points seem to completely misrepresent what I'm trying to say and what I've repeatedly tried to say.  I don't know if that's because I have difficulties expressing myself, or if you're only reading what you want to read, but either way I'm not going to argue with you about them further.
I... okay. Honestly asking here, not looking to start argument: The impression I got is that you are against reviews which cast a focus on uncomfortable issues of racism/sexism/other content that casts oppressed people in a poor light. If that wasn't your position, I'm sorry; where did I get it wrong?

I'm not saying that you're one of the people saying "No politics in my escapism!"; I was merely using that argument to try to illustrate that, for some of us, the personal is political and the political is inescapable. This will have bearing on our choices of what media we want to consume, and we'd like to be informed when that media touches on our experiences in negative ways. So it's important to see this stuff come up in reviews and criticism. Does that make more sense?

Offline Caehlim

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #306 on: November 06, 2014, 12:52:43 PM »
May want to double-check your methodology

You're entirely right. I'm not sure how I got such an incorrect figure. Just to be certain I pasted the article fresh from the website into my own copy of writer and just did a word-count on the entire article for Bayonetta.

I got 1388 words in total.

Quote
I ran your spoilered snippets through OpenOffice Writer and found:

I'm glad now I supplied the necessary data to duplicate my experiments independently. At least that much of my methodology was correct.

Sorry for the mistake.

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #307 on: November 06, 2014, 01:25:48 PM »
I... okay. Honestly asking here, not looking to start argument: The impression I got is that you are against reviews which cast a focus on uncomfortable issues of racism/sexism/other content that casts oppressed people in a poor light. If that wasn't your position, I'm sorry; where did I get it wrong?

I'm not saying that you're one of the people saying "No politics in my escapism!"; I was merely using that argument to try to illustrate that, for some of us, the personal is political and the political is inescapable. This will have bearing on our choices of what media we want to consume, and we'd like to be informed when that media touches on our experiences in negative ways. So it's important to see this stuff come up in reviews and criticism. Does that make more sense?

Apologies, I may have been slightly cranky this morning.

My argument is that I'm fine with a review that mentions sexism(etc) or sexist elements of a game as part of the review.  I'm also fine with an op-ed piece that takes a closer look at those elements and breaks them down in a very analtyical way (such as Anita's videos).  I may disagree with the conclusion of such a piece or may have issues with the writer's methodology, so I may argue against the content, but that doesn't mean I think they shouldn't exist.

What I have an issue with is when a review that is intended to be representative of the game as a whole spends an undue amount of time focusing on such an aspect.  (As an aside, a character being overly sexy here is quite a bit different from being overly racist, homophobic, etc because a decent sized group of people - of both genders, mind - find an overly sexy character as a positive about the game, not a negative.)

Again, I'm going to point to Polygon's reviews of Dragon's Crown and Bayonetta 2 as examples (and note that Caehlim's numbers earlier were significantly off, I have corrected numbers in the post you quoted, feel free to check the word counts yourself if you're unsure).  The Dragon's Crown review focused primarily on the game, what made it fun, what was not so fun, and so on.  Then at the end of the review, there was a boxout commenting on the sexism and what the reviewer noted made her feel unwelcome, noting that this was something that would be vastly different for different people and was certainly very subjective.  Thus, the reader could look at the possibly offensive elements of the game, decide whether or not that was something that matters to them (or, indeed, could be another reason to get the game), and also look at the review to see how the mechanical aspects of the game hold up.  With Bayonetta 2's review, the reader is constantly assaulted with messages about how the game has a lot of sexualized moments, and much more of the review is taken up by this element.  Possibly worth noting is that, while a word count says the review spends about 30% of the time talking about sex, doing a paragraph count shows that about 10 paragraphs of the review talk about the main character's sexiness, while 12 don't mention it at all, so just shy of half the review is spent talking about it by that metric.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #308 on: November 06, 2014, 03:27:59 PM »
Thanks for the explanation. That leaves me with two major points of contention:

1. What exactly constitutes "undue"? For some of us, these elements will destroy a game. It might have the best gameplay ever, a decent storyline, amazing graphics... but if they depict people like me as punchlines, acceptable targets, or psychos, that other stuff doesn't matter. That game is going to hurt, and I don't want to play it, and I'd like to see it called out in reviews.

2. Why isn't there room for multiple styles of review? It's not like every single reviewer out there is focusing on these issues, is it? Isn't there room for multiple voices in the marketplace?

Offline consortium11

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #309 on: November 06, 2014, 03:33:00 PM »
Problem for any legal discussion of whether or not she's okay using the LPers' footage: Any argument against this? Also applies to the LPers themselves, whose works are pretty plainly derivative and created without the permission or consent of the copyright holder.

So actually violating copyright is okay, failing to credit people who cannot own the work you're using is not?

1) Not necessarily without the consent/permission of the copyright holder; many companies openly state that footage from their games can be used in Let's Play videos or the like (although they frequently attach terms relating to what level of monetisation is allowed)

2) Even in situations where permission hasn't been explicitly granted, Let's Play creators (and especially those that add a voiceover) can claim fair use, largely on the basis of it being transformative. As soon as one starts playing the game one is using their own input, simply in a playground someone else created. It's an emerging area of law but from what little we have this appears to be the view taken; viewers are watching someone play the game and that's transformative. If I record myself playing Monopoly I'm not breaching the copyright held by the owners of Monopoly, if I record footage of a Mercedes I'm not breaching the copyright held by Mercedes.

Where the situation may become sticky for Anita (as I say this is an emerging area of law, so it's a may) is the nature of what she does with the footage. If she was recording the footage herself and using it there would be no issue; it would almost certainly fall under criticism and comment for fair use. But she's not. She's using other peoples' footage and in that case those people most likely own the copyright to that footage under first author principles. But she's not criticising or commenting on them or their playing... she's criticising and commenting on the game itself. As before there's not necessarily an easy comparison to make with other media but the music one works as well as most; if I want to criticise the Nine Inch Nails version of Hurt that doesn't mean I can freely use Johnny Cash's version of Hurt without making any reference to it in my criticism of analysis on the basis that it's the same song. Anita would be able to claim fair use if she was commenting or criticising the Let's Play footage (or player) itself... but she's not.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #310 on: November 06, 2014, 03:38:48 PM »
All right, I'll concede the point. She should have given credit; I won't argue that.

Offline consortium11

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #311 on: November 06, 2014, 03:54:47 PM »
On the "morality in game reviews" (for lack of a better term) discussion.

There's clearly no such thing as an objective review and it's not even entirely clear that a review should necessarily aim for it. For a simple example if a game has comedy elements how do you decide what's objectively funny? Personally I immensely dislike Fallout 3 and a lot of that is down to things that are objectively issues in relation to it's lore, setting and plot... but what manner of objective weight to do we give them?

What I think reviews should do though is be aware of their audience and who they're writing for. If a website that openly calls itself progressive and makes clear that it reviews games with a progressive mindset then I can't see an issue with putting a lot of emphasis on the progressive (or not) elements of a game in a review. But if a website is aimed at the entire gaming audience... an audience that includes people from a whole range of political and social views who put differing levels of importance on certain things... then focusing so much of a review on certain elements of the game that don't directly relate to gameplay and may only be of real interest to a small percentage of their audience strikes me as giving undue weight. To give another example, RPGCodex is a place for fans of hardcore, generally fairly "old-school" style CRPGs and as such largely detest games like Fallout 3, the Dragon Age series, Mass Effect etc etc. Their reviews are great for that audience... but that's because they wear their bias on the sleeve and are writing for an audience who looks for those "classic" RPG elements as opposed to what they dismiss as either hiking or relationship simulators. Those reviews wouldn't necessarily be appropriate for a more general video gaming website where the audience is more interested in things like developing relationships and graphics and less interested in huge levels of choice and consequences or extremely tactical combat.

For an example of a place that I think does it right, I give ChristCentredGamer and for a specific example their review of Bioshock Infinite. Fairly obviously from the name it's a website based around Christian Gaming and thus writes its reviews with a Christian audience in mind. But, to quote from their description of what they are:

Quote
ChristCenteredGamer.com looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. This aspect attracts visitors of all religions to the site to see how fun a game is and if it’s worth buying. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues. We point out all the questionable content we see so that Christians and parents can make an educated buying decision. Our reviews also feature a highlights box where you can quickly find the strengths, weaknesses and moral concerns of a game without having to read all of the text.

Thus, if you look at their review of Bioshock Infinite they do focus on what they see as the problematic moral issues within the review and they have a seperate scoring section for the moral issues they see where it does badly; 0/10 for violence, 5/10 for the language used, 6/10 for sexual content etc etc. But that doesn't stop them giving it an 89% overall because they seperate it out. To apply that to the infamous Bayonetta 2 review from Polygon that would give the opportunity to discuss how the sexualisation hurt the reviewers enjoyment of the game and give a score on that basis... so people who care about such things are given clear warning... but also give a score for those who don't care (or at least don't care so much) about such things.

Offline Steampunkette

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #312 on: November 06, 2014, 04:09:32 PM »
That's still a highly debatable point, Consortium.

Cars and board games have very different functions from interactive storytelling. It might be a closer allegory to, instead, discuss movies. And recording movie clips, except for fair use, is illegal. This is because the nature of the medium is a visual story, in which the imagery represents a portion of an overarching plot that is itself copyrighted material.

Much like you can take excerpts from a book for criticism or fair use but copying the book whole cloth or using passages in other works is plagiarism.

With stories we have a different standard of law because they are a significantly different thing from a car or a hammer or a cat. They're ephemeral ideas communicated through visual or auditory medium that, once shared, work in an entirely different manner from a concrete object like a vehicle.

I point you to Focaults "The Treachery of Art"



For those of you who don't know the work and don't speak french the caption, which is part of the painting and applied directly to the canvas, states "This is not a Pipe"

And it's true. That isn't a pipe. It's paint on a canvas. It represents a pipe that may or may not exist. Taking a picture of a car creates an image, but does not alter the fact that the car exists and the picture is only a representation of the car. Meanwhile sharing an image of the original painting encapsulates all it is: Reflected light in a specific pattern to communicate an idea and the idea that it communicates.

I submit that that painting is a closer representation of a videogame than a car is. And once you record a videogame's story elements and environments you're really just reproducing what it's communicating in a noninteractive fashion: almost like writing a Book or a Movie about the story the characters go through.

And while it's fine to do so, all the images of the game itself, whether still live or full motion, black and white or full color, are still direct copies of material that belongs to the original artist and/or copyright holder, just like downloading a Cam version of a movie played in a theater is.

Now if you are using that imagery under fair use then what you have created is ALSO under fair use once it has been released. There could be an argument about the transformative nature of the -critique- itself, or the review or parody taken in it's full  breadth, but not of the imagery you've taken which is, itself, fair use.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #313 on: November 06, 2014, 04:13:11 PM »
I point you to Focaults "The Treachery of Art"


Magritte

[/pedantry]

EDIT:  Ha, forgot to include my actual point  :-[

Now if you are using that imagery under fair use then what you have created is ALSO under fair use once it has been released. There could be an argument about the transformative nature of the -critique- itself, or the review or parody taken in it's full  breadth, but not of the imagery you've taken which is, itself, fair use.

Do you have anything behind that?  Because I'm as certain as I really can be that you're mistaken. 
« Last Edit: November 06, 2014, 04:17:29 PM by Kythia »

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #314 on: November 06, 2014, 04:25:18 PM »
On the "morality in game reviews" (for lack of a better term) discussion.

There's clearly no such thing as an objective review and it's not even entirely clear that a review should necessarily aim for it. For a simple example if a game has comedy elements how do you decide what's objectively funny? Personally I immensely dislike Fallout 3 and a lot of that is down to things that are objectively issues in relation to it's lore, setting and plot... but what manner of objective weight to do we give them?

What I think reviews should do though is be aware of their audience and who they're writing for. If a website that openly calls itself progressive and makes clear that it reviews games with a progressive mindset then I can't see an issue with putting a lot of emphasis on the progressive (or not) elements of a game in a review. But if a website is aimed at the entire gaming audience... an audience that includes people from a whole range of political and social views who put differing levels of importance on certain things... then focusing so much of a review on certain elements of the game that don't directly relate to gameplay and may only be of real interest to a small percentage of their audience strikes me as giving undue weight. To give another example, RPGCodex is a place for fans of hardcore, generally fairly "old-school" style CRPGs and as such largely detest games like Fallout 3, the Dragon Age series, Mass Effect etc etc. Their reviews are great for that audience... but that's because they wear their bias on the sleeve and are writing for an audience who looks for those "classic" RPG elements as opposed to what they dismiss as either hiking or relationship simulators. Those reviews wouldn't necessarily be appropriate for a more general video gaming website where the audience is more interested in things like developing relationships and graphics and less interested in huge levels of choice and consequences or extremely tactical combat.

For an example of a place that I think does it right, I give ChristCentredGamer and for a specific example their review of Bioshock Infinite. Fairly obviously from the name it's a website based around Christian Gaming and thus writes its reviews with a Christian audience in mind. But, to quote from their description of what they are:

Thus, if you look at their review of Bioshock Infinite they do focus on what they see as the problematic moral issues within the review and they have a seperate scoring section for the moral issues they see where it does badly; 0/10 for violence, 5/10 for the language used, 6/10 for sexual content etc etc. But that doesn't stop them giving it an 89% overall because they seperate it out. To apply that to the infamous Bayonetta 2 review from Polygon that would give the opportunity to discuss how the sexualisation hurt the reviewers enjoyment of the game and give a score on that basis... so people who care about such things are given clear warning... but also give a score for those who don't care (or at least don't care so much) about such things.

Pretty much this.  Polygon, at least to my knowledge, is not a niche reviewer site with a specific targeted audience; they're one of the major gaming publications that are intended to be, essentially, "for everyone".  That's why I'd have much less of an issue with their review if they were, say, an openly feminist publication that focuses on women's portrayal in games doing the same review.  I would also be happy if Polygon wrote two reviews of the game; a normal one where they talked about mechanics, graphics, sound, and so on, but then a companion piece (linked to and heavily promoted in the main review) that talks about the sexual side of the game.

I think there's also a bit of an issue with your example, Ephiral, in that transphobic (or racist, homophobic, and so on) ideas in games are generally always bad or neutral, never positive (I'd argue that a certain character being portrayed as transphobic and more or less shunned because of the way he acts would be an exception, but that's another argument entirely.)  When it comes to a character like Bayonetta however, it's important to note that Bayonetta is constantly in control of her sexuality, that she is never placed in a situation where she's objectified, other characters in the series never see her as "just a fuck toy", and so on.  All of that combines to make a character that some people (such as sex-positive feminists) feel is a very positive role model.  Essentially, she is never embarassed by her sexuality, she is empowered by it.  (Admittedly, this is kind of going off on a tangent from the review itself.)

Offline Steampunkette

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #315 on: November 06, 2014, 04:36:26 PM »
No. No. No.

Bayonetta is not in control of anything.

Bayonetta does not exist. She has no agency. She has no ability to decide what to wear or what to think or who to involve herself with. She is a character. To use Focault's comment: This is not a Woman.

She is presented as a witch whose clothing is magic and when she uses more and more magic her clothing disintegrates because she's not focusing on the magic to keep it in place while focusing instead on her combat-magic. There is nothing empowering or sexually liberating, there. It's as in control of one's sexuality as holding up a towel to cover yourself while trying to fight off attackers.

Players have control over how much magic she uses. And thus over how much clothing she does or doesn't have on at any given point. That is the -opposite- of having any sort of control because she is literally under the control of an external perspective which chooses when she's going to drop her towel.

That's not even attempting to represent a character with control over their sexuality, it's just sexualization.

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #316 on: November 06, 2014, 04:52:05 PM »
No. No. No.

Bayonetta is not in control of anything.

Bayonetta does not exist. She has no agency. She has no ability to decide what to wear or what to think or who to involve herself with. She is a character. To use Focault's comment: This is not a Woman.

She is presented as a witch whose clothing is magic and when she uses more and more magic her clothing disintegrates because she's not focusing on the magic to keep it in place while focusing instead on her combat-magic. There is nothing empowering or sexually liberating, there. It's as in control of one's sexuality as holding up a towel to cover yourself while trying to fight off attackers.

Players have control over how much magic she uses. And thus over how much clothing she does or doesn't have on at any given point. That is the -opposite- of having any sort of control because she is literally under the control of an external perspective which chooses when she's going to drop her towel.

That's not even attempting to represent a character with control over their sexuality, it's just sexualization.

I have an issue with the "the player character has no agency" argument, because as far as I understand it, as a whole it can be applied to every single character in a work of fiction.  Am I misunderstanding things, or is there a difference between how objectified Bayonetta is compared to Dante or Kratos?  (Note that I understand she is significantly more sexualized than both of those characters, but from my understanding, a character doesn't need to be sexualized to be objectified.)
« Last Edit: November 06, 2014, 05:21:11 PM by Sethala »

Offline Steampunkette

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #317 on: November 06, 2014, 05:20:14 PM »
Kratos and Dante are not objectified. They are two dimensional images representative of characters and are, thus, objects, but they are not then reduced to objects within the context of the story.

It gets tricky, hang on.

Objectification refers to representation of a character or person. It is done externally to the character or person by the viewer or creator. This happens in how the character or person is posed, designed, their lines of dialogue (if any), and the way they're treated by the game's world and characters. It is determined by how the assumed player is meant to look at the character.

Kratos is not objectified. He is a male power fantasy, not a female sexual fantasy. His existence within the game world is violent and powerful. The gods tremble before him. He does not cant his hips or plump his lips and bend over with a coy grin. He is mighty and deadly and angry. He bangs hot chicks and he is strong. This is not a female fantasy. Women don't dream of being powerful dudes who look butt-ugly and go out into the world to bang chick. Guys do, though. Guys fantasize about that kind of thing all the time. Well, not the butt-ugly part, but you get the idea. It's why guys in charge of game development make the grizzled hero powerful character. When the camera, the player's viewpoint into the game, focuses on Kratos's form it is to show off his strength and physical prowess. Not how nice his cock looks when it sways under his loincloth.

Bayonetta, on the other hand, is presented as a male sexual fantasy. Women typically don't fantasize about having to fight using their hair while their clothing melts off uncontrollably.  When the camera looks at her body parts, and it does so -often- it's looking at her ass, her legs, her tits. And not in a way that denotes strength and prowess in combat, it's all about the fapping fodder. The character bends and poses and turns and bends to show off her body to the camera. Imagine what that would look like to EVERYONE ELSE. But it's treated, within the game world, as normal.

And Dante of Devil May Cry is not different from Kratos. Oh, sure, the power fantasy involved is different. But the camera isn't focusing on his happy trail or how his hips form a V leading right to his bulging trousers. And it certainly isn't focusing on his ass, either, even if you can get a momentary decent view during specific combos if you position the camera in just the right place unlike Bayonetta which specifically stops the action to lovingly trace the curves of her ass with your face.

These things are not the same. And they're not even remotely comparable. You're supposed to look at Bayonetta as a place to stick your dick, based on the framing of the character and her presentation. Meanwhile you're supposed to WANT to be Kratos or Dante because they are powerful.

One is an object for you to fuck. The other two are characters to insert yourself into in a wholly different manner.

To contrast, I'll give you of an example of a character who is presented as being sexually empowered: Tali'Zorah vas'Normandy.

In the first game she does not make herself available to the player for romantic or sexual involvement, though other characters do. In the second game she is available, but does not pursue the player or anyone else in a romantic fashion. She is presented as making the choice to accept Shepard's advances and will flatly decline a female Shepard. In the third game, however, she is presented as actively choosing Garrus unless the player makes his interest in her known. None of the other Mass Effect women do anything like that.

Another, and possibly better, Bioware example would be Aveline. She chooses an NPC regardless of the player's actions or interests or gender. Even if you present yourself as a potential lover she doesn't select you.

Those are women who are shown as being in control of their sexuality. Bayonetta is just... not that.

Offline Hemingway

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #318 on: November 06, 2014, 05:27:08 PM »
I like your explanation, Steampunkette.

I'd just like to throw this out there, because it's something I find interesting: While a male characters like Kratos are brought up in discussions like these to show that men are objectified as well. Where you actually find that, though, is in Japanese games ( where you generally have at least one male character deliberately designed to appeal to female gamers ) - and ... Clive Barker's Undying ( Patrick Galloway was deliberately designed to appeal to gay men - really ).

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #319 on: November 06, 2014, 05:31:37 PM »
Typing up a reply to you now Steampunkette, but while I do so, do you mind if I ask if you've played (or watched someone else play) either Bayonetta game?  Have you seen much of the game in the context of the game itself, or have you only seen a few snippets while people are discussing the game?

I like your explanation, Steampunkette.

I'd just like to throw this out there, because it's something I find interesting: While a male characters like Kratos are brought up in discussions like these to show that men are objectified as well. Where you actually find that, though, is in Japanese games ( where you generally have at least one male character deliberately designed to appeal to female gamers ) - and ... Clive Barker's Undying ( Patrick Galloway was deliberately designed to appeal to gay men - really ).

Actually, I'm not trying to say that Kratos is an example of a man being objectified.  I was mainly objecting to this line in Steampunkette's post:

Quote
Bayonetta does not exist. She has no agency. She has no ability to decide what to wear or what to think or who to involve herself with. She is a character. To use Focault's comment: This is not a Woman.

And was wondering, if that is how one decides if a character has agency, how it doesn't apply equally to other fictional characters.  My belief is that neither Bayonetta nor Kratos are objectified, at least by my understanding of the word.

Offline Hemingway

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #320 on: November 06, 2014, 05:33:17 PM »
Actually, I'm not trying to say that Kratos is an example of a man being objectified.  I was mainly objecting to this line in Steampunkette's post.

I wasn't really referring back to what you'd written. It's just a line of reasoning you'll often come across in discussions on the topic. Or, that I've come across, I should say; I don't know how common it is.

Offline Steampunkette

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #321 on: November 06, 2014, 05:37:49 PM »
I've watched Let's Plays and reviews but I have never played it, myself, no. I don't wish to monetarily support that kind of material.


Offline Vorian

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #322 on: November 06, 2014, 05:56:33 PM »
Kratos is not objectified. He is a male power fantasy, not a female sexual fantasy. His existence within the game world is violent and powerful. The gods tremble before him. He does not cant his hips or plump his lips and bend over with a coy grin. He is mighty and deadly and angry. He bangs hot chicks and he is strong. This is not a female fantasy. Women don't dream of being powerful dudes who look butt-ugly and go out into the world to bang chick. Guys do, though. Guys fantasize about that kind of thing all the time. Well, not the butt-ugly part, but you get the idea. It's why guys in charge of game development make the grizzled hero powerful character. When the camera, the player's viewpoint into the game, focuses on Kratos's form it is to show off his strength and physical prowess. Not how nice his cock looks when it sways under his loincloth.

Maybe it's just me ... but I feel like Kratos is an exceptionally poor example of any sort of power fantasy, or a character with any real agency for that matter. I did give up on the the series pretty quick but what I saw of it he spent the whole time dancing to someone else's strings and never had any sort of control over himself, let alone anything else. He's a different problem, but still a very problematic character from my perspective.

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #323 on: November 06, 2014, 05:58:01 PM »
I've watched Let's Plays and reviews but I have never played it, myself, no. I don't wish to monetarily support that kind of material.

(Still working on the post) How much of the game do you think you've watched from LPs?  And was it all "in context", as in showing off a good chunk of the game, or just a few snippets here and there?  If you'd like to see it in proper context I do have a setup for recording games and wouldn't mind starting up the first game and streaming/recording it for you to see properly at some point.

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #324 on: November 06, 2014, 06:06:05 PM »
Before I go on, I do want to say that I beleive a character can fill the role of both "male sexual fantasy" and "female power fantasy" (or vice versa) at the same time.  That is, if a character is a male sexual fantasy, that doesn't preclude her from also being a female power fantasy.  I may be misunderstanding the use of the terms, however, but it's with that mindset that I continue this post.

Kratos and Dante are not objectified. They are two dimensional images representative of characters and are, thus, objects, but they are not then reduced to objects within the context of the story.

It gets tricky, hang on.

Objectification refers to representation of a character or person. It is done externally to the character or person by the viewer or creator. This happens in how the character or person is posed, designed, their lines of dialogue (if any), and the way they're treated by the game's world and characters. It is determined by how the assumed player is meant to look at the character.

Kratos is not objectified. He is a male power fantasy, not a female sexual fantasy. His existence within the game world is violent and powerful. The gods tremble before him. He does not cant his hips or plump his lips and bend over with a coy grin. He is mighty and deadly and angry. He bangs hot chicks and he is strong.

Let me try something real quick, hang on:

Quote
Bayonetta is not objectified. She is a two dimensional image representative of a character and is, thus, an object, but she is not then reduced to an object within the context of the story.

It gets tricky, hang on.

Objectification refers to representation of a character or person. It is done externally to the character or person by the viewer or creator. This happens in how the character or person is posed, designed, their lines of dialogue (if any), and the way they're treated by the game's world and characters. It is determined by how the assumed player is meant to look at the character.

Bayonetta is not objectified. She is a female power fantasy, not a male sexual fantasy. Her existence within the game world is violent and powerful. The gods tremble before her. She does not cant his hips or plump her lips and bend over with a coy grin. She is mighty and deadly and angry. She bangs hot chicks and she is strong.

Well, the last sentence is certainly wrong, although a part of me wonders what the reaction would be if she did bang hot dudes.  That aside, the only things I would say are incorrect here are: She is both a female power fantasy and a male sexual fantasy, as like I said before, I think a character can be both.  Not sure about "canting her hips" as I have no idea what that means, but as for the rest of that sentence, I would say it's true but her attitude makes it very clear she feels empowered by the act, she's doing it for her own amusement, not because the writer wants her to look sexy for boys.  (Granted, the writer probably does want her to look sexy for boys, but having played through the first game and the first quarter or so of the second, I never lost the feeling that she is completely in charge of everything she does.)

Quote
This is not a female fantasy. Women don't dream of being powerful dudes who look butt-ugly and go out into the world to bang chick. Guys do, though. Guys fantasize about that kind of thing all the time. Well, not the butt-ugly part, but you get the idea. It's why guys in charge of game development make the grizzled hero powerful character. When the camera, the player's viewpoint into the game, focuses on Kratos's form it is to show off his strength and physical prowess. Not how nice his cock looks when it sways under his loincloth.

Bayonetta, on the other hand, is presented as a male sexual fantasy. Women typically don't fantasize about having to fight using their hair while their clothing melts off uncontrollably.  When the camera looks at her body parts, and it does so -often- it's looking at her ass, her legs, her tits. And not in a way that denotes strength and prowess in combat, it's all about the fapping fodder. The character bends and poses and turns and bends to show off her body to the camera. Imagine what that would look like to EVERYONE ELSE. But it's treated, within the game world, as normal.

Offhand, I can think of two instances during the first game that fit that criteria, and I'm pretty sure that's about it.  The first is during the opening cutscene, where the camera deliberately does a slow pan over her breasts and ass as her disguise is torn, shortly before she rips it off completely and dons her hair-outfit - note that the rest of the (relatively long) cutscene shows her killing a multitude of enemies with the camera rarely, if ever, panning over her in a sexy way.  I find this to be a bit of a satire, the game basically saying, "Look, see how sexy sh- oh, nope, back to killing things".  The other time I can think of is when you first encounter a Joy, an enemy with a female body shape (though definitely far from human), and the two enemies have a brief and rather silly "dance-off".  The times when Bayonetta's clothes come off while playing, the camera never stops to pan over her as the game is purely focused on the action, and whenever she does a summon to finish off a large enemy, the camera quickly leaves her and zooms in on whatever monstrosity she's summoned, and if you see Bayonetta during that she's in the foreground/background while the monster takes up the majority of the screen.

Quote
And Dante of Devil May Cry is not different from Kratos. Oh, sure, the power fantasy involved is different. But the camera isn't focusing on his happy trail or how his hips form a V leading right to his bulging trousers. And it certainly isn't focusing on his ass, either, even if you can get a momentary decent view during specific combos if you position the camera in just the right place unlike Bayonetta which specifically stops the action to lovingly trace the curves of her ass with your face.

I'm going to object to the bolded part here, and say that aside from a few rare moments during cutscenes, the camera never stops the action to give you a better look, or anything like that.  (As an aside, the game does sometimes pause for a fraction of a second whenever a character - Bayonetta or an enemy - lands a significant, damaging hit on someone, which can coincide with moments where Bayonetta's clothing has fallen away, but it's clear that this is part of the game's fight mechanics and a way to show that some serious damage happened, and the camera never moves from its zoomed-out position when this happens.)

Quote
These things are not the same. And they're not even remotely comparable. You're supposed to look at Bayonetta as a place to stick your dick, based on the framing of the character and her presentation. Meanwhile you're supposed to WANT to be Kratos or Dante because they are powerful.

One is an object for you to fuck. The other two are characters to insert yourself into in a wholly different manner.

Quite honestly, despite being a straight guy, I would definitely like being Bayonetta just as much as I'd like being Dante or Kratos.  Might be just me, though.

I'm snipping out your examples of sexually empowered characters, not because I disagree with them, but because I've never played their relevant games and know very little about them, so more research is necessary.