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Author Topic: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?  (Read 13639 times)

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Offline Shjade

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #75 on: September 02, 2014, 02:47:52 PM »
Although, what do you guys think about games that toss in a brothel/strip club/etc that's purely for player interaction?

It almost always strikes me as a terribly unoriginal attempt by the developers to indicate that, for all the futuristic/fantasy elements the game world may have, at their core the people in it are basically the same as people on earth.

In other words, they're not creative enough to imagine a society fundamentally different from ours, only different on the surface.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #76 on: September 02, 2014, 03:08:24 PM »
There are hundreds of ways to indicate vice and a “seedy” element than having prostitutes and strip clubs with half naked women parading around the screen.  Let’s call a spade a spade here and at least recognize that placing such a setting in a game is predominately for sex appeal and stimulation.  Even if an underworld style is necessary, there really is no actual reason for being able to go through the dressing room of the women or to be able to watch them dance on stage except for that reason.

Offline Florence

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #77 on: September 02, 2014, 04:02:39 PM »
I agree that it's still incredibly dishonest to say that their mere existence in a game that allows you to kill any minor NPC encourages violence against women specifically, but I'd say it can be sexist for them to exist in a game if there's no real justification for them to be there beyond titillation.  Some games have a pretty solid reason for the brothels and strip clubs (often as a symbol of vice, corruption, and general crime), so I can't fault them for that, but other games just have them in there "just because", and that gets a bit annoying.

Although, what do you guys think about games that toss in a brothel/strip club/etc that's purely for player interaction?  I believe Mass Effect has something like this, with one of the races featured in a strip club or something of the sort, that the player can sit and watch.  Personally, I think scenes like that are just a little easter egg, something the developers tossed in there just for something amusing.  Assuming the game doesn't go out of its way to shove it in the player's face (the player can complete the main story without ever setting foot in the area, and they don't have to walk past someone propositioning them, for instance), is that a real problem for people to have something like that included, or is it easy enough to brush it off as "not for me" and ignore it?

I'm honestly not bothered by such places existing. Such places exist, and I don't really feel comfortable saying 'video games are art, but they can't ever acknowledge that certain things exist'. I agree that there's no reason TO include those sort of places to establish a setting, but there's also not really a strong reason NOT to. Though I DO like it when its shown as more equal opportunities, in the way of Dragon Age's brothels having male prostitutes as well as female. Now, if only Dragon Age 2 didn't have... Serendipity... Though I'll at least give David Gaider props that he DID, in a blog post, acknowledge that Serendipity was... probably a mistake, and they did an amazing job in the character of
Spoiler: Click to Show/Hide
Maevaris Tilani... who REALLY needs to appear outside of the spinoff comics
. But, I digress, this thread is about the portrayal of women in video games, not transgender characters.

Is it wrong for me to look at these and say "Hang on a minute... why is a strip club automatically associated with something being seedy, corrupt, etc"?  I mean, it's one thing to show a seedy brothel where some of the workers aren't doing everything by choice and say "this is an example of how corrupt this place is", but to assume every strip club has to be the same way seems rather generalizing...

Unfortunately, due to our culture, strip clubs and brothels ARE viewed as being inherently seedy, simply because of the way we view sex. Because of that view, unfortunately, most ARE seedy. We resist the establishment of safe, regulated brothels, then we see all the prostitutes being abused on the street, and act like prostitution is, inherently, abusive and exploitative, so we resist the establishment of safe, regulated brothels and... its sort of this vicious, cyclical, self-fulfilling prophesy. That said, I'm more than happy to see them portrayed as less so in fictional settings... and again, preferably with more... varied staff.

It almost always strikes me as a terribly unoriginal attempt by the developers to indicate that, for all the futuristic/fantasy elements the game world may have, at their core the people in it are basically the same as people on earth.

In other words, they're not creative enough to imagine a society fundamentally different from ours, only different on the surface.

While I do agree we have silly way of making aliens similar to us (to the point of often being sexually compatible), it isn't JUST a matter of being lazy. If the aliens are going to be major characters in the story, having them being inherently similar to us in some way makes the viewer more able to relate to them. I don't think its a matter of right or wrong, vs a matter of... do you want the aliens to be more realistic, or more relatable?

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #78 on: September 02, 2014, 04:36:18 PM »
I'm honestly not bothered by such places existing. Such places exist, and I don't really feel comfortable saying 'video games are art, but they can't ever acknowledge that certain things exist'. I agree that there's no reason TO include those sort of places to establish a setting, but there's also not really a strong reason NOT to. Though I DO like it when its shown as more equal opportunities, in the way of Dragon Age's brothels having male prostitutes as well as female. Now, if only Dragon Age 2 didn't have... Serendipity... Though I'll at least give David Gaider props that he DID, in a blog post, acknowledge that Serendipity was... probably a mistake, and they did an amazing job in the character of
Spoiler: Click to Show/Hide
Maevaris Tilani... who REALLY needs to appear outside of the spinoff comics
. But, I digress, this thread is about the portrayal of women in video games, not transgender characters.

Sorry, I should have made it a bit more explicit; I was talking about a brothel "scene" that's pretty much purely for tittilation and entertaining the player.  And yes, it would ideally offer both male and female dancers/prostitutes.  But, to me, the idea is similar to how some games have perfectly reasonable character outfits/designs, but toss in an optional, unlockable bikini outfit for characters; something completely ignorable to anyone who doesn't care to see it, but just a little bonus for those who do like it.

Quote
Unfortunately, due to our culture, strip clubs and brothels ARE viewed as being inherently seedy, simply because of the way we view sex. Because of that view, unfortunately, most ARE seedy. We resist the establishment of safe, regulated brothels, then we see all the prostitutes being abused on the street, and act like prostitution is, inherently, abusive and exploitative, so we resist the establishment of safe, regulated brothels and... its sort of this vicious, cyclical, self-fulfilling prophesy. That said, I'm more than happy to see them portrayed as less so in fictional settings... and again, preferably with more... varied staff.

Yeah, that's something that always annoys me, especially the idea that female sexuality is something to be ashamed of for women but male sexuality is something to be proud of for men.

Offline Shjade

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #79 on: September 02, 2014, 04:48:32 PM »
While I do agree we have silly way of making aliens similar to us (to the point of often being sexually compatible), it isn't JUST a matter of being lazy. If the aliens are going to be major characters in the story, having them being inherently similar to us in some way makes the viewer more able to relate to them. I don't think its a matter of right or wrong, vs a matter of... do you want the aliens to be more realistic, or more relatable?

Cultures can have similarities in philosophy without needing similar trappings. I'm not saying right or wrong either, just lazy. Coming up with more creative, indirect ways to demonstrate "we're not so different" is more work than "yeah they like tits too."

Offline Caehlim

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #80 on: September 08, 2014, 08:52:35 AM »
I recently watched all of Anita Sarkeesian's videos and I really enjoyed them. I thought she brought up interesting points, often on issues I hadn't thought about and made it relevant to me by discussing it through gaming culture which I'm more familiar with.

I do think that her videos are only part of the conversation and that they show a bias of her particular viewpoint, but that's great. It should be the starting point of good discussions with people bringing up and discussing the other aspects that she didn't include. Instead it seems like a lot of the online world has leaped on hating her for it instead, which I think is a pity.

I have heard of some of those dubious outside factors, which are potentially concerning. However just looking at her videos for their own sake, I think they're a great conversation starter and very thought-provoking. I thoroughly enjoyed watching them and I was sad to discover that she only made seven or so. Her earlier videos (before the gaming tropes vs women series started) weren't anywhere near as good, so although I tried watching them I didn't feel like I got as much as I did from her latest ones.

Offline Shjade

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #81 on: September 08, 2014, 04:08:23 PM »
So I've been thinking more about the Last Princess game concept. The more I think about, the more I think it's a workable idea - it is, after all, essentially "Princess of Persia" with some more stealthy/RPG elements thrown in - but if it's supposed to be a demonstrative "female characters don't have to be damsels" idea, starting it off with this reactive saving-herself-because-waiting-for-a-prince-didn't-work angle just feels like a weak beginning. Everything else about it is fine, it's just that seed point which, in a normal game, would be fine (I mean hell how many games with male protagonists start off with "save yourself, save the world?"), but in a game that's trying to make a point about the whole damsel thing just feels a little like getting started off on the wrong foot.

This got me thinking about an alternative starting point to what would essentially be the same game and, basically, I ended up just shifting the antagonist focus from the corrupt Council to rebellious outliers instead: instead of starting out with an abduction, the game kicks off with the princess deciding, just based on her experience as royalty and her observations about her kingdom and effects on the people and so on and so forth, that their monarchy needs to be replaced by a different system. No external hostility kicking her into gear, nothing forcing her to action, just her decision that this is what needs to be done. The game, then, would be her acting to bring rebel groups on the fringe of the kingdom - bandits, local lords/barons who try to seize this opportunity to make their little fiefdoms more independent (and, as a result, increase their ability to exploit the local peasantry), so on - into the fold of the main government system. A peacemaker, in other words, albeit one who mostly has to get the job done by force (though with opportunities for more diplomatic solutions where applicable).

Sorta considering sending this over to Anita just for the hell of it. I dunno. *shrug*

/tangent

Offline Caehlim

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #82 on: September 08, 2014, 09:12:18 PM »
Shjade, yeah I agree. It's the problem with so many subversions that they seem dependent on the original trope and invoke it just as strongly as they defy it. The whole point of avoiding damsels is to establish an idea of female agency, and while the heroine rescuing herself can be grand it's not much agency if they're continually trapped in a reactive role. With the Last Princess, I really don't feel that she had enough character of her own or involvement in the situation to really rise above being still a sexist portrayal.

I'd say if you want a good example of a strong female character in videogaming, look at Clementine in Telltale Games' Walking Dead. She's frequently rescued by others, which makes sense because she's only eleven, but she also takes action to direct her own life and to save other people as well. She's a part of the group and despite being physically weak is one of the toughest and mentally strongest people there. She's sometimes even captured by others, but always for reasons that are established through her own actions and narrative agency. When she manages to direct her own escape it doesn't feel like a subversion of the damsel trope, it just completely ignores the trope all together and forges into it's own awesome character moment.

Offline SethalaTopic starter

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #83 on: September 09, 2014, 02:31:31 AM »
I recently watched all of Anita Sarkeesian's videos and I really enjoyed them. I thought she brought up interesting points, often on issues I hadn't thought about and made it relevant to me by discussing it through gaming culture which I'm more familiar with.

I do think that her videos are only part of the conversation and that they show a bias of her particular viewpoint, but that's great. It should be the starting point of good discussions with people bringing up and discussing the other aspects that she didn't include. Instead it seems like a lot of the online world has leaped on hating her for it instead, which I think is a pity.

I have heard of some of those dubious outside factors, which are potentially concerning. However just looking at her videos for their own sake, I think they're a great conversation starter and very thought-provoking. I thoroughly enjoyed watching them and I was sad to discover that she only made seven or so. Her earlier videos (before the gaming tropes vs women series started) weren't anywhere near as good, so although I tried watching them I didn't feel like I got as much as I did from her latest ones.

Hey, welcome to the discussion.

Yeah, I think I agree that her videos make a decent argument for her side of a discussion.  The problem is that most places (present company excluded, thankfully) would much rather lash out with the argument of "if you don't agree with me then you're a misogynist sexist pig" when someone challenges her videos, than try to actually defend their position on its own merits, and the resulting noise from both extreme ends of the discussion drown out anything worthwhile.

But, enough complaining, I do want to ask your thoughts on how her presentation affects her point.  There's been a few very weak arguments pointed out here in her videos (I think most notably the Hitman example of her claiming it encourages violence against women when nothing in the game actually rewards you for doing it), and my thought is that it weakens the rest of her argument because it raises the question of how many other "examples" she pulls out are just her cherry-picking things out of context.  Do you think that's a reasonable stance on her videos at all?

Offline Caehlim

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #84 on: September 09, 2014, 03:55:34 AM »
But, enough complaining, I do want to ask your thoughts on how her presentation affects her point.  There's been a few very weak arguments pointed out here in her videos (I think most notably the Hitman example of her claiming it encourages violence against women when nothing in the game actually rewards you for doing it), and my thought is that it weakens the rest of her argument because it raises the question of how many other "examples" she pulls out are just her cherry-picking things out of context.  Do you think that's a reasonable stance on her videos at all?

I've never played Hitman so it's difficult for me to comment on that particular example. I did find in general a bit of a tendency to identify something that I agree is problematic, but then describe it as being problematic in a different way that I couldn't necessarily agree with. For example some of the violence against women examples I felt were better demonstrations of under-representation of female characters, underwritten female characters or stereotypical gender roles. Usually her introductions and conclusions tried to clarify this or justify it in good ways, that just felt like they could have been handled more strongly mid-episode and given less of the wrong idea.

I think there's a risk to hypocrisy though, in cherry picking minor examples from her video and potentially taking them out of context in order to accuse her of doing likewise. I'm not saying that's what you're doing there, but just that it's something to be careful with in any such criticism.

I felt that the examples she used in the games with which I was most familiar myself were mostly presented quite accurately and overall I felt that she wasn't stretching too far, but someone more intimately familiar with the games might have been able to find more fault there.

The videos seemed a bit short on Intersectionality (the concept of feminism as it interacts with other minority representations or touches on non-female issues), which is partly why I say it seemed biased towards a particular viewpoint. Several times she used examples that had clear issues related to treatment of men, people of colour or gay rights issues that I felt were more pressing in the example clips but were used strictly towards a female focused viewpoint. This is fine, because naturally one video can't cover everything, but it's why I say that it's only the start of a conversation, not in any way a conclusive endpoint.

Offline Assassini

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #85 on: September 09, 2014, 01:33:55 PM »
Anita is a professional victim and sadly a typical example of the outspoken Tumblr feminist. Is gaming a boys club? Less and less every year, but yes, it is primarily a male centric thing. On that, me and her agree. What we don't agree on is her many examples of how gaming either puts down or outright pushes out women or encourages Patriarchy. She's been demonstrated multiple times to twist facts to fit her bias. For example, she pointed out a scene in the game Prey where your girlfriend has been partially converted into a cybernetic monster. She asks you to kill her and put her out of her misery because she doesn't want to be some aliens sick nightmare creation.

Sounds pretty moving, huh? This woman, faced with the complete ruination of her entire life decides to end it on her own terms and preserve what dignity she has, while she has the deterministic power to do so. Oh, wait, if you're Anita Sarkeesian, this is CLEARLY an endorsement of Patriarchy, because 'she's asking for it'. I mean, men always make excuses to beat up their wives, right? They usually deserve what they get, right? What better excuse is there then "Oh no, I have Giger stuff spilling out of my flesh, please kill me honey". She's clearly inviting violence on herself from her significant other. What a transparent endorsement of spousal abuse, what a male power fantasy!

Anita is a joke.

Apologies for not reading the rest of this thread, but this comment literally sums up every single thing I think about Anita Sarkeesian (and indeed other feminist writers like Patricia Hernandez). Bravo.


Offline Shjade

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #86 on: September 09, 2014, 02:46:36 PM »
There's been a few very weak arguments pointed out here in her videos (I think most notably the Hitman example of her claiming it encourages violence against women when nothing in the game actually rewards you for doing it), and my thought is that it weakens the rest of her argument because it raises the question of how many other "examples" she pulls out are just her cherry-picking things out of context.

Here's the thing about that Hitman content: why is it there?

Up front, I haven't played this Hitman game (only the first two), so I don't know the specific context and how integral or not strippers are to a particular job or distraction or whatever. Given that, I'm going to assume the strippers are in no way required to be harmed to do anything at all on the job and hurting them can only penalize the player and/or make his job harder.

So why are they there?

If they're not adding to the job's options, they're not the target of the job and otherwise aren't important to the job, then they're there because somewhere, at some point in development of the game, one or more of the developers (or possibly publishers?) thought, "Hey, you know what players who buy this game would want to have in it? Strippers." Or maybe not even that much of a stretch: maybe the developers themselves just wanted to put some strippers in their game because, hey, who doesn't like strippers, right?

It's pure titillation. Eye candy. Exploitation. Even if they were behind bulletproof glass and couldn't be harmed it'd still be an example of how women are used in video games; that they're vulnerable to whatever abuse a player might feel like putting them through just makes it worse.

It's not that the game requires you to hurt these women. It's that they're put in the game specifically to allow you to exploit and abuse (or just ogle) them if you feel like it.

Saying "you don't have to hurt them if you don't want to" misses the point completely. As a defense of the game it's a total non-starter.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2014, 02:47:53 PM by Shjade »

Offline Assassini

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #87 on: September 09, 2014, 02:50:27 PM »
Here's the thing about that Hitman content: why is it there?

Up front, I haven't played this Hitman game (only the first two), so I don't know the specific context and how integral or not strippers are to a particular job or distraction or whatever. Given that, I'm going to assume the strippers are in no way required to be harmed to do anything at all on the job and hurting them can only penalize the player and/or make his job harder.

So why are they there?

If they're not adding to the job's options, they're not the target of the job and otherwise aren't important to the job, then they're there because somewhere, at some point in development of the game, one or more of the developers (or possibly publishers?) thought, "Hey, you know what players who buy this game would want to have in it? Strippers." Or maybe not even that much of a stretch: maybe the developers themselves just wanted to put some strippers in their game because, hey, who doesn't like strippers, right?

It's pure titillation. Eye candy. Exploitation. Even if they were behind bulletproof glass and couldn't be harmed it'd still be an example of how women are used in video games; that they're vulnerable to whatever abuse a player might feel like putting them through just makes it worse.

It's not that the game requires you to hurt these women. It's that they're put in the game specifically to allow you to exploit and abuse (or just ogle) them if you feel like it.

Saying "you don't have to hurt them if you don't want to" misses the point completely. As a defense of the game it's a total non-starter.

I'm not entirely sure which level you are referring to (I've only played Absolution and my memory of that is actually quite limited as well) but from what I know of Hitman, the majority of the targets you are after tend to be vastly immoral people. Underworld Kingpins and mob bosses and so on (so that you don't have to feel too guilty when you drop them into a vat of acid). Now, it might just be me, but if I were designing a game where one had to infiltrate a mob then I wouldn't include levels inside pancake houses or churches. A strip club on the other hand? That seems like a fairly reasonable location for a crime ring to be. In fact, if there's anything Western media has told me it's that strippers/prostitutes tend to go hand-in-hand with crime.

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #88 on: September 09, 2014, 03:12:14 PM »
Now, it might just be me, but if I were designing a game where one had to infiltrate a mob then I wouldn't include levels inside pancake houses or churches. A strip club on the other hand? That seems like a fairly reasonable location for a crime ring to be. In fact, if there's anything Western media has told me it's that strippers/prostitutes tend to go hand-in-hand with crime.

Quoting this because it pretty much sums it up:

Yeah, that's something that always annoys me, especially the idea that female sexuality is something to be ashamed of for women but male sexuality is something to be proud of for men.

As for 'seedy locations', whatever happened to 'the docks', 'the warehouse district', 'the bookie joint', 'the back alleys'... I could go on for a while and not require prostitutes or strippers.

Offline consortium11

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #89 on: September 09, 2014, 03:58:42 PM »
I assume it will come up in the videos eventually because it's too obvious to miss, but if one wanted to pick out an issue of objectification, titillation, exploitation and blatant fan service from Hitman: Absolution, surely The Saints are the perfect example.

In short it's a group of highly trained assassins who all happen to be female and all happen to wear a bdsm/fetish take on a nun's outfit.

Why nuns? Well, the fluff within the game indicates it was so they could use it as a cover for missions, going in as a "spiritual group". But the issue there is that when we see them in disguise they wear a full habit over the rest of their costume; so why the need for the fetish clothing underneath? The game attempts to lampshade it by having a character point out that the outfit is ridiculous and makes no sense... but they still wear it for the game don't they?

There's literally nothing about their role in the game that requires them to be 1) female 2) sexy 3) dressed as nuns 4) dressed as sexy nuns. A group of generic male "grizzled mercenaries" doing the role basically requires nothing but a model change.

Offline Shjade

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #90 on: September 09, 2014, 04:01:16 PM »
A strip club on the other hand? That seems like a fairly reasonable location for a crime ring to be. In fact, if there's anything Western media has told me it's that strippers/prostitutes tend to go hand-in-hand with crime.

As Oniya pointed out, that's the whole point.

I'll add the first location that came to mind that wasn't already on Oniya's list: a poker game. A back room poker game is a great place to hit a guy and suits the atmosphere.

Some other possibilities that are "fairly reasonable locations" to hit a crime figure without having extraneous naked women around:
  • his Tuscan villa
  • the freezers at a butcher shop (while he's dealing with some business of his own)
  • at the casino
  • the back of his limo en route to wherever
  • in church
  • on his yacht
  • the airport (he'd likely be taking a private plane, but navigating airport security with minimal weaponry suits Hitman's style of gameplay)

Which goes back to my initial question: why are the strippers there? What does that add to the game?

There's literally nothing about their role in the game that requires them to be 1) female 2) sexy 3) dressed as nuns 4) dressed as sexy nuns. A group of generic male "grizzled mercenaries" doing the role basically requires nothing but a model change.

Hell, if they'd just kept the regular full nun habits on that would've been enough. Hitman goes through all kinds of ridiculous disguises himself; a few female hitters posing as nuns fits right into that world.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2014, 04:02:38 PM by Shjade »

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #91 on: September 09, 2014, 04:11:12 PM »
As Oniya pointed out, that's the whole point.

I'll add the first location that came to mind that wasn't already on Oniya's list: a poker game. A back room poker game is a great place to hit a guy and suits the atmosphere.

Some other possibilities that are "fairly reasonable locations" to hit a crime figure without having extraneous naked women around:
  • his Tuscan villa
  • the freezers at a butcher shop (while he's dealing with some business of his own)
  • at the casino
[/b]
  • the back of his limo en route to wherever
  • in church
  • on his yacht
  • the airport (he'd likely be taking a private plane, but navigating airport security with minimal weaponry suits Hitman's style of gameplay)
I'd actually considered a gambling den when I put in the 'bookie joint'.  I skipped the casinos because everyone thinks of Vegas and the showgirls (not that those would be required, but why tempt fate.)

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #92 on: September 09, 2014, 05:07:59 PM »
That sort of illustrates the entire point of this series.  A lack of creativity in video games.  Instead of using tone, mood, setting or story to set that "seedy" stage the writers just say.."let's put a strip club and populate it with a bunch of big boob women that stand around for our character to smack and kill." 

Offline Caehlim

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #93 on: September 09, 2014, 08:19:24 PM »
In fact, if there's anything Western media has told me it's that strippers/prostitutes tend to go hand-in-hand with crime.

That's somewhat exactly the point. Media loves any excuse to put strippers and prostitutes into their content and this trope has become an excuse.

In the real world, criminals don't hang out at strip clubs and brothels all day unless their business is literally in illegal sex work or they're a low-level drug dealer catering to the strippers or audience. Much like anyone else they may view strip clubs as a potential entertainment or prostitutes as an opportunity for intimacy (particularly with the secrets they have to keep and lifestyle often unconducive to a regular relationship) but that's it.

Why on earth would anyone be so stupid as to discuss their criminal activities with potential witnesses around? If they're straight, then they probably don't want people distracted during crucial planning phases when a stripper finally gets her panties off. Most criminal discussions occur in private homes or if the people involved don't trust eachother enough to reveal their residence then in a quiet public location with as few people around as possible and no distractions.

Take a look at some of the now known mafia hangouts from the 80s which have become well publicized. They're usually small private clubs, mostly male environments with a few TVs for keeping tabs on sports and betting. Alternatively look at outlaw motorbike clubs, they have private compounds and usually run any prostitution from separate locations (usually with their own proprietors and merely paying dues and protection money).

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #94 on: September 09, 2014, 11:57:25 PM »
Quoting this because it pretty much sums it up:

As for 'seedy locations', whatever happened to 'the docks', 'the warehouse district', 'the bookie joint', 'the back alleys'... I could go on for a while and not require prostitutes or strippers.

Okay, first of all, that quote is very nice and all, but I really don't see the relevance. I'm sorry. Are you implying that I was implying women ought to be ashamed for their sexuality? Because I'm sorry if I came across that way at all.

Anyway, I realise it's slightly off topic but I feel a need to defend a game and a series which I have a reasonable amount of fondness towards. The majority of the locations suggested by  Oniya all focus around a bunch of hard men sitting around in (I suspect) dimly lit places. Warehouses, bookies, drug houses, all conjure images of dimly lit corridors, dusty floors and dirty patrons and you know what, that's fine. But you put that into every single level and it's going to get extremely boring (especially in a game like Hitman where the variety of the levels is the spice which keeps it going). Similarly some of the suggestions made my Caehlim seem to fall into the same category of appropriate, but if you put only that sort of thing into a game it would be super boring. I'll admit that some of the places suggested by Shjade don't conjure this image at all, the Villa, the butchers, the yacht, they all could indeed provide some of this much needed spice I'm speaking of. But you seem to be dismissing the fact that there was indeed levels set in a villa, the archaeology dig at some ruins, and a Hawaiian themed motel. Plus you have to remember that this is not the first game of the series. I haven't played all the Hitmen but I suspect that by this stage they are going through some pains to not re-use settings and locations and to keep things interesting. So the fact that they throw in a strip-club frankly seems almost logical. In the end as well, I couldn't care less about NPCs within the level but about whether it's a well designed level (based on the options of assassinating available to you). And frankly it was quite a good level... I actually remember waiting until the mob boss was having a lap dance before I shot him through a one-way mirror. It was fucking excellent. Shot the stripper too... But that was because I didn't want any witnesses, not because I have some deep-seated hatred of women.

I assume it will come up in the videos eventually because it's too obvious to miss, but if one wanted to pick out an issue of objectification, titillation, exploitation and blatant fan service from Hitman: Absolution, surely The Saints are the perfect example.

In short it's a group of highly trained assassins who all happen to be female and all happen to wear a bdsm/fetish take on a nun's outfit.

Why nuns? Well, the fluff within the game indicates it was so they could use it as a cover for missions, going in as a "spiritual group". But the issue there is that when we see them in disguise they wear a full habit over the rest of their costume; so why the need for the fetish clothing underneath? The game attempts to lampshade it by having a character point out that the outfit is ridiculous and makes no sense... but they still wear it for the game don't they?

There's literally nothing about their role in the game that requires them to be 1) female 2) sexy 3) dressed as nuns 4) dressed as sexy nuns. A group of generic male "grizzled mercenaries" doing the role basically requires nothing but a model change.

I have absolutely no argument against this. That shit was fucking stupid and pandering and entirely about the fan-service. Even the levels involving the BDSM nuns were not particularly entertaining because they each could only be killed in like one way...

That sort of illustrates the entire point of this series.  A lack of creativity in video games.  Instead of using tone, mood, setting or story to set that "seedy" stage the writers just say.."let's put a strip club and populate it with a bunch of big boob women that stand around for our character to smack and kill." 

As an avid gamer I couldn't disagree more with your initial statement. Games have only become more and more imaginative in recent years. They are getting frankly ludicrous in the sheer variety available now and I feel that it's this sort of generalisation which is far too rife in the current gaming media. But once again this is me going off topic because of personal investment.

Returning to the point of Anita Sarkeesian. I may not agree that Hitman: Absolution provides a good example of sexism (for the reasons I've just provided), but I can definitely see the arguments of the other side when they bring it up (especially those stupid nuns). However, if I were to accept her/your arguments that Hitman was sexist I would then argue that this is still quite simply cherry-picking. She somehow takes a couple of levels of one game and blows it entirely out of proportion to include the entire video gaming industry. I understand that alongside the "exploitation of women" in games she also talks about how there are no strong female characters. Which is genuinely completely factually incorrect. And this isn't just an opinion. If anyone thinks there are no strong female characters in video games, they are simply wrong. Two of the best games of last year (one of which is widely considered the game of the year for 2013); The Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite both featured incredibly strong female characters who were far more real, better written, better voice acted, than a vast majority of male characters in other games. Even out-shining the lead character in both cases. Also, just on record, I think neither of them are the Game of the Year for 2013, but that's neither here nor there. My point is, that I feel very much that Anita takes a very small number of examples to use to illustrate her arguments even if there is evidence to the contrary, which she will ignore.

Plus, I do feel in this current age of Tumblr SJWs she really does pull off the "professional" victim. Taking the smallest of things and blowing them so vastly out of proportion it's just ridiculous.

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #95 on: September 10, 2014, 12:07:20 AM »
The relevance is the automatic assumption that 'sexual women' (whether prostitutes or strippers, or just sexy) directly implies that 'bad things happen here', when there are so many other places that bad things happen, and there are many sexual women that have nothing to do with 'bad things happening'.

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #96 on: September 10, 2014, 12:10:20 AM »
Okay, so then why should one use a "Bookies"? Is the automatic assumption that because it's a place of gambling that it's a place where bad things happen? And in this case is that assumption okay?

Offline Caehlim

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #97 on: September 10, 2014, 12:20:10 AM »
I haven't played hitman, so it's hard to comment but you bring up a good point Assassini that sometimes a location is appropriate to the level design and story arc of the game. It would be strange if no game ever took place in a strip club or brothel, in some ways that would even be marginalizing and making invisible professional sexworkers or exotic dancers which isn't any better. From your description it sounds as though the level used the setting for interesting design elements.

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

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

Offline Shjade

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #98 on: September 10, 2014, 12:36:39 AM »
I haven't played hitman, so it's hard to comment but you bring up a good point Assassini that sometimes a location is appropriate to the level design and story arc of the game. It would be strange if no game ever took place in a strip club or brothel, in some ways that would even be marginalizing and making invisible professional sexworkers or exotic dancers which isn't any better.

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

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

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

Male strip clubs/strippers:
Saints Row 3

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

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

Offline Caehlim

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #99 on: September 10, 2014, 12:42:27 AM »
Thanks for telling the gay guy that there's no male strippers in computer games. I had noticed, you know. :P

I'm not saying that the current glut is good, merely that a complete absence isn't the solution. They need to be included as well considered environments, with characters who are given the respect of decent writing and feel like an integrated part of the story and setting.