HIGH BRO-FIVE, BROS! You (yes, you, and you know who you are) can feel very proud of yourselves.
In 2011 it looked a little bit like the gap in attitudes about women in gaming had started to close. That women no longer had to prove that they deserved to be at the video game table. True equality hadn’t been achieved, but big strides had been made, right?
Thank god 2012 came along and showed that the No Girls Allowed Club was still alive and kicking in video games. After all, if women played video games, WHAT WOULD MEN HAVE LEFT? We all know that women are only good at destroying the joint. If you accept one female playing Call of Duty before you know it that title will be full of flowers and ponies and unicorns and not the manly totally awesome violence that’s a boy’s birthright.
It might have looked for a while there like gamers were moving away from being dominated by the kind of men who see “women” as a synonym for “mother who loved me too much and not enough”, but we’ve fortunately swung back. Here’s a breakdown of some things month-by-month.
Kotaku kicked things off by identifying possibly “the most sexist gamers on the planet” who were complaining about the strength of Nuns in Shogun 2. HAHAHA, oh hindsight, you rascally scamp. Those guys didn’t even come close. And funnily enough, Nuns caused problems later on in the year too.
If there is ever a category of gaming that is purely for men, it is fighting games. Because men are best at fighting everything in real life , which is perfectly transferable to electronic simulations. In February some people involved in a broadcast fighting game show thought that perhaps the female competitors shouldn’t be exposed to sexual harassment. Fortunately the coach of one of the teams was around to express the entirely sensible point that “The sexual harassment is part of the culture. If you remove that from the fighting game community, it’s not the fighting game community“. Absolutely right – if I can’t ask a woman to take off her shirt when playing a fighting game, it’ll totally ruin my experience.
There was also the case of BioWare writer Jennifer Hepler saying that she’d like more focus on writing in games and to see more good writing in games over combat systems which she wasn’t really into. For these comments (made over five years ago) she was called CANCER INFECTION BLIGHT VERMIN DISEASE SEWAGE PLAGUE WASTE, was invited to kill herself over Twitter and received harassing phone calls at home. Which is entirely rational behaviour from her mostly male audience. How dare BioWare games focus on stories?
BioWare managed another rare feat in 2012 – not only did they ruin the entire Mass Effect series forever through bad endings and including a real world female character that most people would miss, they also forgot who their player base is: straight white males. That’s right – with all the homosexuality and equal attention for women and … err, other non-male things, I guess, they’ve clearly forgotten who buys their games.
It was obvious that ever since having gay characters in Jade Empire (released 2005 for Xbox, 2007 for PC) that the studio was clearly ruined for all time and was close to death for not meeting the needs of its customers. And when someone pointed out how “making us male gamers […] happy” should be BioWare’s focus, along comes some BioWare-employed moron who writes about privilege and inclusiveness and a heap of other things that didn’t stop Star Wars: The Old Republic SUCKING HARD (and not in that completely-hot-lesbian way that is acceptable to straight white males).
The Oatmeal pointed out how easy women have it in online gaming. If a woman screws up, everyone is nice to them, whereas if a guy makes a tiny little error, they get yelled at. Woman having it easier when gaming online is a stone-cold fact that can never, ever be refuted.
Tentacle Bento – a card game based on a type of anime porn that involve women and particularly inquisitive tentacles – launched with a Kickstarter but were knocked back. Fortunately Mike Krahulik of Penny Arcade – a gaming comic site with a very large reach – was there to tweet his support for the game and let his followers know where they could send money to support the game. Because if you start even vaguely censoring titles that involve the sexual assault of school-age girls, the terrorists win.
Batman: Arkham City was a great game, only enhanced by the female characters generally being downplayed and the main ones referred to as ‘bitch’ all the time. There were some complaints about this, but fortunately Rocksteady decided to completely ignore the issue and release the Harley Quinn Payback’s a Bitch trailer to promote its new DLC.
Nuns again cause issues, with those in the Hitman: Absolution trailer being the kind of super-sexy assassin hit squad nuns who Hitman violently kills. IO Interactive were of course surprised by the criticism this trailer (which was in no way marketing chum, designed to stir up the sharks of outrage) received – after all, aren’t they giving the people the “fun” we all wanted to see?
Before June, you wouldn’t have heard of Anita Sarkeesian; during this month, she seemed impossible to get away from. Her foolish attempt to do a bit of gender roles examination within video games provoked the entirely sensible backlash against her that featured personal abuse, death threats, rape threats and a bunch of public character assassinating. Because video games are for boys – always have been, always will be – and we don’t need intellectual women coming along and messing things up, thanks very much.
In a similar vein, Ubisoft used Aisha Tyler in its E3 announcements and (unlike most women at these events) actually had her say something about gaming. An attractive women talking about gaming at a gaming-related event? That’s completely off-target for the video gaming demographic – what could Tyler know about gaming anyway?
Crystal Dynamics totally wimped out. After announcing that Lara Croft would have to go through an attempted rape in the grim-and-gritty reboot to the Tomb Raider series and getting a lot of people excited, they walked it back so that the most she faces is more garden variety not-sexual-assault-he’s-just-standing-very-very-close-to-her. Oh, and lots of building her up to break her down again. Because women can’t start out strong – that’s just too unbelievable.
And finally from E3 was Kotaku writer Katie Williams complaining about male PR reps taking the controls off her and not letting her play because they don’t think that she – as a woman – can. I’m sure they were just doing it so you could take extra-good preview notes, Katie.
Tekken Tag 2 released a great trailer that showcased their female characters. No, not really in-game, but models in tight clothing cosplaying to look like those characters. Now THIS is what the target market wants when it comes to fighting games!
2012 shall go down as the year that True Geeks got tired of all the fake women who come to our events just to bask in Nerd Glory. Joe Peacock rightly tells us how tiresome it is that hot women show up at these events just to get attention from us males. There should be a test or something that stops these women getting in. Guys at these conventions would, of course, automatically pass through the convention gates on account of the XY chromosome set-up being inherently set to ‘geek’.
Borderlands 2 announces a “Girlfriend Mode” that will let the FPS incompetent play with their much superior FPS-skilled boyfriends. How nice of Gearbox! Although if you want to access this mode, it costs extra and was released after the main game, meaning that any girlfriends would be a long way behind the boyfriends who started playing Borderlands 2 at launch. And it’s so typical of women to make us spend extra money on them just so that we can play together.
Stardock’s Brad Wardell and former employee Alexandra Miseta are locked in legal action of different varieties. Miseta has accused Wardell of sexual harassment and in response he’s suing her for ruining the launch of Elemental in 2010. Prior to this Wardell had never mentioned Miseta for being behind the highly recognised problems with Elemental, but he wouldn’t be counter-suing her if he didn’t have a strong case, now would he? Besides, it’s his right as boss at Stardock to be “inappropriate, sexist, vulgar, and embarrassing” and Miseta has no right to complain about it, especially when “[her] nipples look better on TV”.
As a tip to the guys out there: you have to be careful when you put your penis into the hand of a women at a gaming party. Timing is everything. If you do it too soon, it’ll just come across as creepy. Showing women pictures of other women’s boobs that you’ve taken over the course of the evening is always a winner though.
Asking to motorboat women at a gaming convention is also totally cool, provided you film it and can find one that says yes. It doesn’t matter how many said no and felt uncomfortable at the same request because edited video footage never lies.
Three in five female gamers claim to have been taunted or harassed online using sexist language, requests for sexual favours and / or threats of sexual violence. Obviously these women just can’t take an “inappropriate, sexist, vulgar, and embarrassing” joke.
Chivalry turned out to be appropriately named – no female characters were included in the game because it would “overall harm the way the community would play the game” since men and women are unable to play online appropriately together. Now that’s some true chivalry – keeping female characters out of a game so that female players won’t have any chance of suffering abuse from it. I hope all the women said thank you to those devs for excluding them for their own good.
#1reasonwhy trended, with females in the video game industry talking about the kind of negative experiences that mean there are so few women game designers. Probably because they can’t do math – the tag was #1reasonwhy, but it turned out there were hundreds of reasons why!
WB Montreal and Gameloft tried to make women a key part of their end-of-year parties, with WB Montreal allegedly letting you eat off models’ bodies and Gameloft having topless women in body paint on display. Gameloft came out later claiming that the women weren’t supposed to be topless. Damn women! Always taking their clothes off without people asking them to!
The Next Twelve Months:
We guys have set up a pretty good amount of momentum for keeping video games as a safe male space. Now the important thing is to keep focus, ensuring that:
- Women are blamed for standing up and complaining about gender issues in games and also blamed for not doing enough to stand up and deal with gender issues if it really is that important to them;
- That all women working in video games are treated with suspicion at best, hostility at worst and always, always judged in terms of physical appearance; and
- Most importantly, if you are a guy, downplay the issues as much as possible. You can use well-reasoned arguments like “it’s realistic for women not to be as strong as men when killing dragons / aliens”, “most True Gamers are male and the industry is just catering to that” and “it’s just a video game so it doesn’t matter that all female characters look like porn models in it”.
Crucially, don’t change. We need to make sure that video gaming remains as hostile as possible to your mother, your sister and your daughters to ensure video gaming retains its place as something only basement-dwelling manchildren get involved in. That’s the way of the past that will lead us into a glorious future.
Happy New Year, bros!
wow .. when you put it all down..hmm
I don’t think the situation has gotten any worse or any better but certain events have elicited more “discussion then usual and the loud seem to be getting louder in order to compensate for the extra attention.
I am still shocked by the comment from the penny arcade boys and if extra credits hadn’t moved there I think I would have deleted their bookmark
While this is a well constructed list and a thoughtful examination of the subject within its own confines, I would ask this:
How is video gaming culture any more sexist than the culture surrounding the production of movies and television? Why would we expect video gaming to have a culture that is less sexist than other entertainment media? I certainly do not mind you reporting more on this subject but I have to wonder just where it is you are going with this. I have some strong reasons to doubt that sexism is likely to shrivel up and die if sunlight is cast on it (the Norwegian paradox being one example).
It is an interesting subject that does merit more examination, from both ends. Just as an example of something that might cross two recent interests you might want to look more into Anita Sarkeesian recently owing to your interest in sexism in gaming culture and Kickstarter. Apparently even after receving significantly more money than expected she has yet to deliver anything regarding her proposed project and has largely dropped out of sight. It seems another would-be project manager has gotten in over their heads.
I don’t see the fans of TV and movie shows generally telling women their place is in the kitchen, making sandwiches.
I made the post because I do believe that drawing attention to the issue helps. It makes people think about it as an issue which is something they don’t do if people remain silent.
As as for Sarkeesian, she has made a few updates recently and also appeared in a TED talk. Like many Kickstarters that over-achieved, she’s using the money (allegedly) to enhance what is delivered, which takes longer than planned. However, she (like many Kickstarter project managers) should have been better in communicating these delays earlier. It’s a common Kickstarter problem to get the money and then say very little to the backers from that point onwards.
“How is video gaming culture any more sexist than the culture surrounding the production of movies and television? ”
It’s just not relevant if other industries are sexist. The question is not “is the gaming community more sexist than the film industry?” The question is “is the gaming community sexist?”
And the answer is overwhelmingly yes.
As for Anita Sarkeesian she is possibly just one person who used Kickstarter for vaporware amongst thousands of others who did too. It’s the nature of Kickstarter that it’s hope-based finance for pie-in-the sky ideas. Anyone remotely sensible who financed her did so because they wanted her to have a chance, not because they saw it as a blue chip investment.
“It’s just not relevant if other industries are sexist. The question is not “is the gaming community more sexist than the film industry?” The question is “is the gaming community sexist?”
It is difficult to…stomach for the lack of a better word the charges of sexism in regards to videogames without having to compare it to movies, novels and such. If there is no rubric for the entire entertainment industry how exactly would one evaluate sexism on a micro level in video games?
It escapes me how some games are lambasted for their roles in promoting sexism yet at the same time there is little next to anything about the core consumer base and why exactly anything is said about it. The Witcher 2 for example could be showcased as sexist.
Baldur’s Gate also fall into the same category, yet nothing is said about it. You could even argue that the Dragon Age series is sexist and yet no one (as far as this one is aware) criticizes it or has criticized these games. Granted they are old, however they are heralded as the ‘pioneers’ of storytelling and video gameplay design.
That is not to say there is extreme inequality in regards to gender depiction but the way that people go about addressing the issue seems to be failing.
Thank you for your time.
This reply is to parajahl (for some reason, they didn’t have a reply button) but if you really think no one ever had talked about sexism (and racism, for that matter) in the Dragon Age franchise — not to mention the fandom — then you’re not looking in the right places.
Sorry about the lack of reply button – it’s a limitation of the theme past a certain point.
A reply to Concerned Citizen [agreement with Stabs]:
Concerned Citizen’s question:“How is video gaming culture any more sexist than the culture surrounding the production of movies and television? ”
That really doesn’t matter at all. If we only tried to break down sexism in the most sexist industry nothing would change. It frankly doesn’t matter if movies/television is 1,000x more sexist, the author of the article wanted to write something about sexism in video games. That stands alone as an argument.
Your question in a different context:
I move to a city on the East Coast like Providence, RI. I decide to write an article about how the recycling program could be expanded/isn’t functioning well. Concerned Citizen asks why I’m not focusing on recycling in Boston or DC or NYC.
Well of course I wouldn’t, because I don’t live there. I want to make an impact in the city I’m living in. In the same way, the author wants to make an impact in the area that most interests them. I don’t see why what you brought up is ‘the big question’.
Furthermore I understand the need for comparing industries, but the rest of your post doesn’t seem to want to consider bringing in evidence of sexism from other places. It seems concerned with the infeasibility of bringing up issues of sexism and actually enacting change. So if you see it as an issue, but are hopeless that change can happen, then consider what you’re position is in all of this. You could 1) find hope in someone who really has amassed an impressive list 2) deny the claims as faulty 3) help the author see a different point of view.
Thanks first and foremost to the author of the article. Thanks to the authors of the comments.
@parajahl Why are you acting like there is no ongoing critique of the sexism endemic to other industries (e.g. film and television). Because there is, yo. A lot.
There was a recent depressing example from the Eve community. A podcaster, FrFrmPukin revealed his corporation (guild) has a No Boobies rule, meaning no women are allowed to join unless they are the partner of a male player in the corp. Covering the story Kirith Kodachi, one of the best known podcasters said “I don’t know whether this is sexism.” I was like “Really? Do you not know whether No Blacks or Irish signs are racist either?”
To make it even worse this corporation was accepted into my alliance and this is one of the reasons I left.
It certainly harms gamers both male and female to have rampant unchallenged bigotry. It’s supposed to be fun playing a game. When people bring in these real world social issues it forces people to pick a side. As a guy should I condone the bigots because I like being in the alliance? Even if I do playing is less fun because we have a less diverse, less interesting community and because the community is led by people who are callous and malicious.
The problem with disallowing men-only guilds on the grounds of sexism is that you then have to disallow women-only guilds for the same reason, places which many female gamers enjoy as sanctuaries from the misogyny highlighted in this article.
I agree with this. Guys should be allowed to have guys only guilds like how girls can have girls only guilds. It’s only fair, eh? But the guys only guilds should try to be more mature and just say no female players/characters instead of NO BOOBIES. Come ON. I’m rolling my eyes so far back into my head they’re actually travelling back in time.
I just don’t get, why men can’t just grow the fuck up and accept a gamer on their skill not their gender. I had the great fortune of meeting one, he was an awesome gamer.
Pingback: Excluding Women is not Misogyny. « The Noisy Rogue
This sums up my many experiences, this story:
I had one guy who said he wanted to play Call of Duty with me, since Im a dedicated gaming-dork, Earthbound being the love of my existence; Oblivion being my daily meditation.
I told him I had never played CD before so I asked if we could play something I had played before (and he had many) but he said “Youll be ok, just do this…and press this for jump and…” and thus proceeded to kill me 12 times consecutively, saying “Im ranked, you know’ and the like during this time, as if justified and approve his God Complex for him repeatedly killing me. I laughed the first five or less times, acting a good sport, whether real or fake-I maintained being a good sport and saying “Yeah, you are really good, wow, look at that, you killed me again in three seconds less than last time, which was ten seconds ago. You have a lot of skills, not fun, but yeah!”
Needless to say, this wasnt my first time around on this, and I had my left-unidentified pressing appointment to go to that I had forgotten about, and forgotten to set an Alert on my phone for, so “Oh, sh**!” I had to go(!)
(he asked inquiringly “Like a hair appointment? You should go darker with your hair. Do you ever think about going outside? You don’t look like you do *smirk*. Oh, youre half-Scottish? You should still try tanning though, thats why there are tanning salons everywhere. A lot of girls do that, but its about to be summer again, so. You’ll be tan by then. Yeah. (Stares at me)
You were an art model, right? For who again? Who? Why dont you want to have any pics of yourself online? Like, do you have your modeling pics? So why isnt it online? Can you at least email them to me? No? Ok, but, Its really strange that you dont. Everybody does, everybody has pictures of themselves online, its not some big deal, I mean, sh**, Wait, do you even know what Instagram is? Haha! Oh my God, youre crazy. You really need to go get an iPhone too seriously.” to be honest, he was actually a guy I would have thought was “cool”, we were budding friends and he wanted to date me, but, after that, I switched classes to get away from him so I didnt have to deal with his advances and make creative ways of politely-kindly turning him down somehow, during the semester.
Thankfully, thats about the level of sexism put on me by fellow gamers on a regular basis. I dont do online stuff. Most gamers Ive met are pretty cool although they are so unaware of how sexist they are, because they view themselves as not sexist at all, so they will say things unaware of what they are saying. *shrugs*
When will you idiots realise that absolutely NOBODY had a problem about women in video games before 2012?
Neither men nor women cared about gender issues, they just played video games. To the polite players, it didn’t matter who you were as long as you played the game properly; to the trolls, it didn’t matter who you were as long as they could get some upset responses out of you and feed their attention deficit. It was already understood that foul mouthed attention seekers could only be dealt with when they were blocked out. Women have been involved in the actual industry itself from the very beginning, too, and in most cases playing a key part in various genre-defining milestones – if they weren’t acknowledged, it’s because hardly anybody was back then either; they just made the games.
This so called “abuse” or “sexism” or whatever is, in most respects, just backlash. It’s backlash from people who are being told that there was a problem where they know, absolutely, there wasn’t one. It’s the equivalent of being blamed for something you never did, and others being surprised when you don’t just lie down and take it. And, tactless and crude as it may be, the inevitable response is going to be one of anger, which can only be interpreted as “holy crap, you sound ridiculous, please shut up!”. And the result is there is no doubt MORE misogyny in the video game industry than there ever was before, I absolutely guarantee it, as now women are portrayed as hypoagents trying to stir problems up rather then gamers who care for the craft of video games.
The Video Gaming community has rarely been intolerant of those who…well just play videogames. They ARE intolerant of people who wear their identities on their sleeves, use videogames to form their cults of identity, try to use it as a vehicle for their emotional or political ends. And it was these very despicable people that started riling everyone up about “women and videogames”.
This problem never existed – it was invented. It was fabricated by attention-seeking feminists and tabloid nerd-baiters trying to create a controversy to piggy back on. As accusational as it sounds, it’s pretty close to the truth when people posit that “women started it”.
Let this issue die. Let it die before it ruins the reputation of female gamers more than it already has. Let it die before female industry members are suspected of being doted on instead of being rightfully qualified for the positions they earned by their own merits. Let it die before we have a video game industry that’s more interested in who people are than what the games are actually like.
But it was an issue before. 2012 was just a year where a lot of things came to a head.
#1reasonwhy wasn’t just things that happened in 2012 – they were a list of experiences women within the gaming industry have had to date. Being told they only got promoted because of their breasts. Having comments made about their underwear in office emails. Being sent hostile emails from male work colleagues. Being shut out of university courses or being hostilely treated by their class mates. Being sexually assaulted by workmates. And so on.
Talking about the issue doesn’t create more misogyny any more than talking about fire safety creates more fires. You have to talk about it in order for people – both male and female – to be made aware that the issue exists and that it is a problem. Ignoring it doesn’t solve the problem, it just hides it.
That’s amazing! Thank you for enlightening me! Could you please tell the entire world that they were totally mistaken when bringing up these issues prior to 2012 and that they fabricated these problems?
Here are some articles/videos, published before 2012, that provide a window into the world of sexism in videogame communities, the industry, culture, and games themselves (please go tell them that they were wrong to raise these issues before 2012):
I was sexually harassed by a male game developer at the Game Developers Conference in 2010, but you’re telling me that I imagined that experience? Thanks for shedding some light on that. You should probably tell all the other women who work in the videogame industry that the sexism, sexual harassment, and all that other stuff they experience in the workplace is not something they actually experienced.
Please go tell all these women that they totally made up these problems and that there’s nothing to see here. I’m sure that will solve everything.
Another example that comes to mind is Jade Raymond’s treatment around the launch of Assassin’s Creed. That was 2007 where Ubisoft used her to promote the game where she was the Producer (and the lead developer had a French accent) which led to a lot of allegations that she was just there because she was pretty and at least one comic created of her involved in sexual acts was created.
Since then she’s been promoted within Ubisoft, but has (to my knowledge) rarely done anything in PR terms again. Which helps reinforce the issue of there being very few visible women working in the games industry.
Holy shit, I’m going to have to tell all my friends who play on XBL that the creeps they got into rooms with before this year NEVER EXISTED. Thanks for letting me know!
Good post. Very interesting to see it all in a timeline. I disagree that what we saw in 2012 was uncharacteristic, though. What WAS uncharacteristic is the fact that people finally started writing about it and looking to change the sexism in the culture. Here’s my full response:
Fantastic article. I am so sick of the level of sexism that this industry and its fans perpetrate. Harassment, stereotyping, objectification, and lack of representation should not be a ticket price for women gamers.
Oh! You did leave out a good thing that happened this year. In November when it was announced that Halo 4 would be permabanning sexist players. So that gave me some hope.
Thank you – and I came not to inspire hope, but to offer BRO-FIVES to all those who deny gender-related problems exist within gaming. 😉
Articles like this are all too common these days, and provide good examples of one of the biggest problems the feminist movement faces: radical feminism and over-sensitivity.
Don’t get me wrong, I am completely aware that sexism is still present in the gaming industry in a big way, and I am disgusted by the misogyny displayed against women in the industry time and time again. This article does cover several of the notable incidents over the last year, such as the ridiculous backlash Anita Sarkeesian received, video game executives eating off naked women, and female staff at E3 being denied some privileges due purely to their gender….and that’s good; these incidents need more exposure, so that more people are made aware and start taking the issue seriously.
The problem, however, is that the author of the article takes it too far, in complaining about every single instance of anything gaming-related that involves women. Even as a staunch feminist myself, I struggled to see the logic behind claims that Batman: Arkham City was sexist, or that the Tekken advert was degrading to women, or that Lara not getting raped is a bad thing, or that killing women in Hitman is bad (but killing any number of men is fine). Ranting about things like this serves only to distract from more serious or relevant issues, and generally dilute the seriousness or validity of the overall point being made. People like you represent all feminists when you make articles like this, so when you make it seem as though we will be outraged and offended by absolutely any piece of media that involves women in any capacity, of course the rest of the population will decide to dismiss us; it harms the cause overall and completely invalidates others who may be making more serious and focused points.
Claiming that things like the rudeness of online players is a problem experienced exclusively by women gamers also serves no purpose other than harming the feminist image in making it seem like we don’t even understand the community we are trying to change; yes, online players will call women “bitch” and “whore” for little to no reason. But, they call each other “noob”, “fucking idiot”, “nigger”, “faggot” and hundreds of other (often much more colourful) names all the time as well. Online players from absolutely any game can be -for the most part- quite rude and offensive (as any male gamer will likely attest), and just because they extend this rudeness to women gamers doesn’t mean it’s a feminist issue. Complaining about it sounds like asking for preferential treatment, which flies in the face of everything we’re trying to achieve.
If all you want to do is complain about how things are, then by all means keep posting articles like this, and sexism in gaming will continue to stagnate. But if you want to actually promote change and progress, you have to start approaching the issue differently.
One point that needs to be recognised is that both big and small acts contribute towards women not feeling welcome within gaming. Female characters who are little more than helpless porn-inspired Real Dolls. A male PR rep who won’t let a female games writer play a demo game because he automatically assumes that she can’t play. Women gettting sexually explicit messages from randoms (which Fat Ugly or Slutty shows happens fairly frequently). You might say that it rude things happen online to male gamers too, but they are generally of a different league – merely saying something generally doesn’t see most guys completely dismissed.
Batman: AA is an interesting case, because here’s a great game where female characters get treated weirdly (they get called ‘bitch’ a lot, are dressed like strippers while it is snowing outside, and so on). Now, it certainly isn’t at the same level as the coach of a game team sexually harassing one of his own players, but it’s another example of the odd behaviours the games industry has towards gender. WB Montreal must have read a bit about the reaction to how often Batman: AA used “bitch”, and then go and release a trailer where the word “bitch” is played off in reference to both Harley Quinn (a female villain) and the narrative of the DLC.
I created the article as a chronicle of sorts. To show that sexist events weren’t isolated over the course of the year in gaming. You might say that I’ve set the bar too low in some cases, but my point to some degree was just how pervasive the issue was this year.
I have seen the “stop talking about it and do something” argument used elsewhere, but it isn’t an either / or – we can talk about the problem AND do something (but what the something / those somethings are can be tricky). Plus I have seen the argument used before that misogynist events were one-offs, so not worth talking about or taking seriously. Part of the reason for this article was to show a pattern of issues across 2012 and (sadly) I didn’t have to try that hard to find them.
“radical feminism and over-sensitivity.”
I don’t think you understand what radical feminism means. You seem to be using it as a snarl word towards any form of feminism you just don’t like.
“complaining about every single instance of anything gaming-related that involves women”
No, they are genuine pieces of sexist bs. You seem to be viewing a lot of sexist instances as normal. Have you been desensitised due to its prevalency and internalised the sexism?
“But, they call each other “noob”, “fucking idiot”, “nigger”, “faggot” and hundreds of other (often much more colourful) names all the time as well. ”
Notice how none of them are tied to gender? You can call a woman any of those same things. Yet you cannot call a man a “slut”. The n-word is tied to white privilege and “faggot” is tied to heteronormativity. There is no insult aimed towards being a straight white male.
“If all you want to do is complain about how things are, then by all means keep posting articles like this, and sexism in gaming will continue to stagnate.”
Thank you for contributing the time-old tradition of the oppressed needing to sugarcoat their grievances in order to make it more palatable to their oppressors.
Glad to see someone compiled all of this. It’s amazing how much awful stuff came to light this year.
Part of the point of this was to show that such problems weren’t isolated or one-offs – there’s a pattern of keeping women out of gaming, sometimes explicitly and sometimes implicitly.
Hey excellent article, sorry for all the dudebros and dudebroapologists in the comments. Keep up the awesome work.
No problems and thanks for reading.
Couple of things:
I have noticed videogames getting much worse in terms of gender roles. It’s something that you think should be getting better with time but seems to be getting worse. I never thought of it as a way to keep us away from videogames so that is an interesting point to bring up.
Someone earlier mentioned something about Dragon Age being sexist. That may be true to a point, but it’s also important to keep things like time periods in mind. Fantasy RPGs like that are set more in a ‘medieval’ time where sexist was A-ok. So in things like that, I don’t mind seeing it a little. It’s more acceptable in the study of history. It’s like watching a pre-civil war movie and getting mad about racism. You just can’t do that.
Last thing of input, as far as online gaming though. This is where the article hits the nail on the head. I often make male characters or screen names. Mostly, it’s a bit of an experiment to see if other players can tell if i’m a woman or not. It’s sad how much more respect i see myself getting that players who call themselves “BabyGurrrl48” Why does she get less respect than “BigDickGangstaaa98”? Both names are stupid, degrading and sexist.
MMOs will never change for women. A huge reason I don’t play anymore. Tired of the dudebros.
I’d point out that I agree with everything but the Batman one, but you’ve already covered it in the comments. (Course I’m only giving Batman the benefit of the doubt since Catwoman was a far more fun character to play, Talia was the turning point of the story that sent Bats onto an upward sloop. Poision Ivy v Catwoman, funnest boss fight, and in this new one Harley Quinn seems to be the Big bad, a fairly coveted position in games (Lets face it, the villain is always the best character)
I’d like to start out by saying that this article brings up a lot of strong points, and whatever initial misgivings I had after my first read through were assuaged after I researched several of the points you brought up and educated myself on some of the events with which I had not cared to keep up on.
Why did I have initial misgivings? While this is a strong article that highlights a lot of really disgusting things, I feel the use of sarcasm detracts from the point you’re trying to make. Now I’m a male, and I do get that this was written this way to prove a point of just how uncomfortable women feel. But at the same time it makes this article feel less like you were trying to prove a point and more like you’re ranting.The images you used just added to the my initial misgivings. In all honesty the first time I read through this I didn’t take it seriously. Now a woman receiving death threats and horrible slander from thousands of fans is serious and an organization’s end of the year party being eating off the bodies of women is serious as well. But I merely glossed over these at first precisely because of the biting sarcasm and the absurd images and their descriptions.
Sometimes this sarcasm also obscures your point such as with the Tomb Raider section the whole thing really but particularly: “Oh, and lots of building her up to break her down again. Because women can’t start out strong – that’s just too unbelievable.” What were you complaining about? That there wasn’t an actual rape scene? Or that she needed a “breaking” scene in order to show how she becomes strong? This is just my opinion as an amateur writer, but you stated that it is “unbelievable that women start out strong” and I am inclined to agree. No one starts out strong. No one is born a bad ass who can take bullets and not flinch. Everyone has hard experiences and everyone has gained strength from them. While I agree rape and sexual assault are horrible things and should not be glorified in any way, (although tiresomely over used tropes) they are often put to use as a tool to initiate character growth. The loss of innocence and the welcoming into the hardened world if you will.
Other than those it was an interesting read and provided a lot of light towards things that I feel should be exposed. I just feel if it had been executed slightly more professionally as opposed to inundated with sarcasm it would be better received and be able to make more of a difference.
Fair enough. To my mind, I had two options – a more straight-laced recount of the events listed above, or the sarcastic option I chose. Ultimately I went for sarcasm because I felt I could only say, “and then this next terrible thing happened” so many times in the straight recount before people would have been turned off. I recognised the risk was that I may have turned others off with the humour, but it seemed the better option.
Of course, you can argue about how effectively I actually delivered on the attempt at humour too. 😉
Regarding the “no-one starts out strong”: male characters do it all the time. Gears of War starts with Marcus Fenix being so badass he’s in maximum security prison but now he’s needed to turn the course of a war. Shadows of the Damned starts with Garcia Hotspur standing over a large demon he’s defeated. Alan Wake starts out with the male lead as a famous horror writer that excites people (and supernatural forces of darkness) in the sleepy town he’s visiting. And then they get stronger, through weapon upgrades and narrative events. It’s rare for a male character to start out weak and ineffective, requiring them to be kicked into competence by harsh experience after harsh experience (although Far Cry 3 might be a recent exception – I haven’t played it).
My point about Lara Croft’s treatment in the new Tomb Raider game was to use the very words that have appeared to promote the game – “She literally goes from zero to hero… we’re sort of building her up and just when she gets confident, we break her down again.” (http://kotaku.com/5917400/youll-want-to-protect-the-new-less-curvy-lara-croft). The developers have been clear that they put her into terrible experience after terrible experience to make her strong or else male gamers won’t relate to her. Croft has a long history (both narrative and as a game franchise) as being a a very powerful character, but Crystal Dynamics have decided that gamers just couldn’t accept her starting out strong despite that history. No, she’s got to earn that competence through some suffering.
I’ve seen some comparisons of this Tomb Raider reboot to the James Bond one – both are aiming to take an established character and make them gritty – but in the first scene of “Casino Royale” Bond has killed two people and shown to be formidable. Based on what we’ve heard about “Tomb Raider”, it’s going to take considerably longer for Croft to be built up to the point where she proves her strength by killing some bad guys.
Yes, it can be a literary device to use adversity to build up a character, but it is used to make strong male characters stronger in the vast majority of video games. It was an interesting event that when it comes to arguably the premier female action character in video games, the developers didn’t feel they could do the same with Lara Croft and still end up with her relating to the gaming audience. For relate-abilty to occur, Croft had to start weak and helpless and be built up through intense physical and emotional experiences (including at least one “it’s not a sexual assault, really”).
Yeah, the token sexual assault when it comes to females characters is kind of tiring. Though to its credit I myself prefer characters that don’t start out strong but become strong (character development being one of my favorite things ever) so I guess that’s why I don’t see as much wrong with her starting weak in that we get to learn more about the depth of her character.
It’s probably because I like characterization and such is why I don’t play much of the Gears of War or Shadow of the Damned series (my preferences lie with the Shin Megami Tensei Series, Final Fantasy, and other plot heavy rpg series). So those are immediately what I think of when I think of character starting out. While those do provide a lot of good examples of male characters that do start out weak, it does not strike the fact that as you pointed out many “bad ass” male characters use the idea that they are already awesome to endear themselves to the player.
I do agree that starting out strong often happens with many male characters, and the idea of designing her because “you’ll want to root for her” or “you’re her helper” because she isn’t experienced enough is insulting. As for characterization goes I don’t think they’re really bad things, being thrust into a situation that breaks a character down can lead to interesting and dynamic character development. But, I feel they are doing this for all the wrong reasons. Thank you for posting that article, while I don’t think what they’re doing is wrong I feel their reasons for doing so are.
In short, I do not think her starting out as weak is really that bad. While most of the male characters use rule of cool to endear themselves to player, I personally feel that a lot of those characters are ultimately shallow and develop less of a connection than a character you’ve seen start from 0 and work themselves up to awesome. That said doing this because they want to develop an urge to protect her is just insulting. As you’ve stated she is a very strong female lead, instead of fostering an urge to protect her I feel they should instead focus on adding depth of character as to why she does things the way she does. Okay…maybe that wasn’t too short but ultimately after reading that article I agree with you, though I think they’re doing something that could be great they are doing it for all the wrong reasons.
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oh the mater sanctimonialis argument at the end with your sisters daughters bollock bollock bollocks. You, as a race, need to stop being so immature about the world and how it is being run by patriarchy and act accordingly. Too much oestrogen making you as sensitive as a high school girl? Get rid of it then. as I don’t want to see 30 year old women with a moustache rebelling against something she will never take down rushing down. I carry two penises on my body, one in my brain and one between my legs. And I own the world. Get over it.
I can not argue that you have a dick in your brain.
However, my childe, you can not argue with the rest either.
I can, but at the time I was having enough difficulty parsing it that I thought a short comment will do.
Firstly, male / female isn’t a ‘race’ issue, it’s a gender issue. Gender isn’t race.
Secondly, claiming immaturity on my side for raising the issue, then basically calling me an over-emotional high school girl in response. Name-calling isn’t winning any points on maturity to you. (Actually, I think you refer to me as at least three different types of female stereotype – the sanctimonious mother, the high school girl and then as a mustasched 30yo angry feminist.)
Thirdly, one dick or two, you don’t own the world. Your IP address puts you in Turkey – not exactly a world-owning country (at least since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, anyway). And even if the IP address isn’t correct, you’re confusing, “Are a key target market for AAA gaming” with something that denotes authority. It doesn’t.
Finally, if you do really own the world, do a better job in managing it. The last few years have been TERRIBLE.
I make it a race issue, you may have own the web site but I own everything, and I say so, want to rebel against that? Oh you already do. You and your kind Eve, are destined to be our slaves. In the history of living things, the powerful and the smarter ones always survived, though that’s not the case here, we need your fishy uterus to fulfill our idiotic, passing the genes to healthy progeny urge. Instinct whatever the hell you call it. So you’ll keep existing, albeit as a second class citisen, good for only intercourse and ironing, cleaning cooking worker. I may sound immature, I may be immature, I may act as an immature to provoke a more immature response from you, but that doesn’t change the fact, you are immature. Full of emotion, full of hatred, empathy. (By the way only two streotypes, that sanctimonis argument is done by your part to provoke men to think about ‘how would it be if same thing done to my mother:(‘ ) When I say I own the world, hence my first point ‘race issue’ I’m everywhere, not just in Turkey. And I own the world. I put you on magazine covers, I make you a sexual object (Oh soooo wrong…….:(((&%(&) and I make you a slave, the useless 50 kgs of meat piece around the 300 grams of vagina. So the last few years were great for me, I earned shit loads of money on other people’s debts, quite probably a few children have died because of me (singular, not as the male race) and my company. Thank you for reading. I hope my post script note will get your skin thicker:
Post script: Survival of the thickest milady, get used to it.
Whatever is wrong with you is no small thing.
Though pleased to meet you. The nature of the game shouldn’t have puzzled you.
I’m aware of the game, so I’m also aware of where it ends up. Given that you’ve already boasted about being involved in decisions that have led to the deaths of children and basically calling women life support systems for their genitals, it wasn’t somewhere worth investing the energy.
You don’t know what the definition of “mysogynyst” is and are just using it because it is a sensationalist hyperbolic loaded word.
I both know what it means and how to spell it.
Thank God women have thrust themselves into video games to clean male behavior up. I mean, why let the market regulate itself with people voting with their dollars while engaging in free speech activities, when we can have censorship because someone’s feelings were hurt. /end sarcasm
Frick’n eh I’d just like to have one hobby that is devoid of female meddling. Games are going down a path of watered down complexity and difficulty in order to develop more beauty and story. Yes, there is a balance, but when games start attracting more casual gamers than hardcore ones, then the industry is done. Casual gamers are exactly that, they will not have loyalty to a series and neither will hardcore gamers after a while as they see developers attracting a specific audience (because as the games become even easier with less attention to detail, problem solving, difficult choices, and consequences for failure).
One case if anecdotal evidence, my wife won’t play games where she dies a lot because it is difficult. Why make it easier for her when it’s just fine for me. Companies are walking a fine line of gaining x, with the potential of alienating multiples of x. If they keep it up, they’ll soon figure that out for sure when they’re going bankrupt after being so short-sighted.
Free speech means that people don’t get thrown in jail for expressing themselves, not that one side gets to make all the comments and then cry “censorship!” when criticism comes their way.
And criticism isn’t censorship.
There have always been more casual gamers than hardcore ones, regardless of your definition of each. No-one starts out gaming as a 30-hour a week hobby; they build up to that point (if they ever reach it). I think the kind of exclusionary tribalism that infests parts of gaming culture (i.e. “you aren’t hardcore enough for us / you play the wrong kind of games to be considered a gamer”) is more damaging to it than including an easy mode so that your wife can play and enjoy the same games that you do.
I apologize for thrusting myself into gaming and for my ‘female meddling’. If only I had known when I first sat down to try out a game called ‘Quake’ that it would have such a horrible impact on your hobby, I could have taken my fingers away from the WASD keys and returned to the kitchen.
After all, all men are exactly the same so obviously all women are just like your wife.
Wow, this is ridiculous. I didn’t realize there was so much hate out there for female gamers.
The part about that dude complaining about girls getting it easier in online games totally bugs me though. Because honestly, as a female gamer, I…was never treated very well in online games. People being all creepy around me and harrassing me and all that kind of crap. They’d treat me more like an object than a person, they’d never take me seriously, they’d hit on me in some of the creepiest ways, and they’d show me all kinds of disrespect and assume I had no idea what I was doing. It got bad enough that finally I just decided that when I played online games I’d pretend to be a guy. And suddenly, lo and behold, all of the shit stopped.
So yeah. Oatmeal is more full of bullshit than most anyone I’ve heard. If girls really had it so much easier than guys in online games, then why the hell do I have to pretend to be a dude just to get people to treat me with the basic respect all human beings deserve?
There was a study that found women receive 3x the negative comments during online gaming sessions and no more positive comments, plus get more attention. (http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/WaiYenTang/20130208/186335/Reactions_to_a_womans_voice_in_an_FPS_game.php)
So it was the Oatmeal taking an anecdote that would absolutely be the exception but pretending it was a rule. In my experience if you screw up in a competitive online title, you get called out regardless of gender.
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