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Gender Diversity / Politics in games (was Tropes Vs. Women)


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Yeah I do think it is OK, I think its important to place the trophy within the context of the entire game to understand its importance - or lack thereof, otherwise any criticism is rendered meaningless. Its like Smitty said about Anna picking out and misrepresenting things in order to twist them to fit an agenda.

I don't feel I'm guitly of misrepresentation here. I place no judgement on Red Dead Redemption, I don't hold it up as a bad example in itself or feel any desire to use it as a platform to berate Rockstar. I'm only looking at the specific Dastardly achievement, which I believe required a little more thought.

It's a nice idea to reference a classic trope, it just needed someone to step outside the context for a moment to notice that it's a reward for abducting and killing a woman when it need not be the case.

It was an oversight, and oversights tend to be a main reason here for a lot of the ills around gender representation. It's not wilful attacking of women, it's nobody picking up on the implications of their decisions.

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As an aside, Swift didn't follow up Modest Proposal with Modest Proposal II, III, IV and V, he wrote The Tale of the Tub, Modest Proposal, Gulliver's Travels, The Battle of the Books and An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity (not sure of the chronological order, but you'll understand the point).

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As an aside, Swift didn't follow up Modest Proposal with Modest Proposal II, III, IV and V, he wrote The Tale of the Tub, Modest Proposal, Gulliver's Travels, The Battle of the Books and An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity (not sure of the chronological order, but you'll understand the point).

It's A Modest Proposal, you monster.

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Let's be honest here, I'll bet more thought has gone into the dastardly achievement on the last couple of pages that did in development, which in an achievement brainstorm probably went "what about tying a woman to the train tracks like in old movies and cartoons" "cool, add it to the list. Next".

Re the Ubisoft stuff I wrote a big post about it at the weekend and deleted it cause I couldn't be bothered getting into it. They didn't say "it's too hard to animate women" and anyone who understands that as the response didn't understand the response. He singled out animation because there's a lot of it, but didn't just talk about it. Sure you could half ass it and use the same rig and animation but I don't get the impression that's what they wanted to do. Since there's only co-op MP now, as well as visual assets and animations, you'd need additional VO work, code work, testing in every possible combination. Taking to animator friends they say the animation work is more like three times since you have to ensure interactions work with ever combination: m/m, m/f, f/m, f/f, m/object, f/object. You could scale the rig and reuse anims, which is what Cooper suggests, but that's really half adding it and leads to things like Femshep's terrible run cycle. Adding a new character in, different rig or not, is a shitload of work - it leads to work in every dept and ands a whole new layer of potential bugs. We shouldn't pretend it's simple because it isn't.

To me Ubisoft should be getting asked why you chose not to spend your resources on this, especially when you've included female character in the past. This is a game with a massive budget and ten studios working on it, was it really not possible to find the resources? I think this whole Ubi can't animate women meme is missing the point and preventing the more important questions from being asked.

Having finally caught up with Anita's latest video, I kinda agree with Smitty & Wiper that she should have made the point that these actions can be performed to an NPC, that disposability is the fate of all background NPCs. I don't think it undermines her point to show that the list applies to almost all background NPCs in open world games, and then to show how it frames it in an even more troubling way when the NPC is a sex-worker.

I think the question of why do all these places have brothels or strip clubs could be explored more. I disagree with her that it's about player titillation I think it's more a lazy short hand about the kind of place it is. In Fable 2 it tended to be the run down, lawless areas where you'd find prostitutes. It goes back to Geekette's comment about why don't you go into schools, most of the modern open world games concern crime and if there's one thing that crime & noir books/film/TV has taught us is that the settings for these are clubs and brothels (along with dark alleys and docks) and today's game designers are recycling these tropes, rightly of wrongly, as a shorthand to inform the player about what sort of world they are in.

I wrote all the whore behaviours for Fable 2 & 3 btw (I wrote most of the background NPC behaviours), and a bunch of the sex code. So I am, or have been, that developer. In Fable 2 & 3 you could have sex with almost all the NPCs. As a side note the video showed attractive female prostitute and ugly male prostitute, there's also attractive male & ugly female ones too.

Just thinking about Fable again, I think the prostitutes were one of the few classes of NPC who did their job and nothing else i.e. no daily routine/homelife, I think the others were bar workers and guards. Everyone else had a "real" life, even the beggars went to sleep somewhere. This is going to sound strange, and I have no proof this is just a gut feeling from 10 years in the games industry but I think prostitutes would cause more comment/outrage in a game like Fable if we humanised them, gave them a home life. I can't remember if you could marry them and if you could whether they'd keep their "job" (if you married a shopkeeper they'd still run the shop).

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Yeah I know, I'm just saying the whole discussion about whether there was an issue with it, whether it should be applied to both genders etc is very unlikely to have happened. Someone was saying they would have defended doing it this way because that's they way it was, I'm saying I doubt they would have to defend it internally at all.

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Recognising a problem is the first step to changing it.

Odd how much of this ends up sounding like addict denial, actually.

"It's not serious, only a bit of fun - lighten up"-style language. A lot of "you're overreacting" type stuff and my-world-view-is-fine and so on.

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But the whole point is to change the culture just a tiny bit, so that in future people do have that thought about whether an achievement needs to be gendered in that way, or that conversation about whether the game losing the female characters for the latest sequel was something that had been thought about or merited further discussion, or whatever.

Indeed, and that comment/outrage would be healthy and much needed, because prostitutes are a subclass of people and share the universal traits of eating, sleeping, having a daily routine, relationships, and feelings.

I just wanted to pick up on the recurrent theme that Anita should be more balanced and point out exceptions to her argument. As I said before that isn't the purpose of what she is doing. If we were to think of someone sifting through content on a forum and highlighting racist comments (as cgmf did to Nap) then their job isn't to also show that there are times the person isn't racist, or times when there is some context to justify the comment or it has humour. That is why defending example by example or questioning the balance in the piece is a red herring. The job is to show the examples which together make a pattern that needs to change. If there wasn't a pattern, there wouldn't be the need for this kind of work. In gaming there is a pattern, and the more people that call it out and flag up examples the more that it stops hiding in plain sight. Recognising a problem is the first step to changing it.

I totally agree.

Just so we're clear I'm not defending the RDR achievement just reiterating the point, as someone who's been in these meetings, that you'd be surprised how little thought can go into these things, and that needs to change. MS have rules about what is an is and isn't acceptable for achievements, and I'm pretty sure the others will too, perhaps these need to be extended to include things such as nothing involving the harming of innocents.

A personal example as to why this stuff is still important, a few months back I was doing some work on an unannounced '60s Cold War spy game and was pointing out that they seriously couldn't have a old woman, a busty nurse, and a busty secretary as the only female character in it. The response was basically blah 1960s blah Mad Men blah Christina Hendricks. No idea what happened as I'm not working with those guys any more. I don't think they set out to create something problematic but I think by not stepping back and taking a moment to think about it they ended up with a trope-tastic set of characters and the associated issues.

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And while you could say its only achievement points, it's still enough to encourage people to do it. And then get stuff like the comments on the achievement hunter page for it where people declare it as the best thing ever, and brag about how they "kidnapped 5 whores, and made a whore explosion".http://www.xboxachievements.com/game/red-dead-redemption/achievement/40040-Dastardly.html

It is indeed, just a bit of (post modern) fun.

Some real connoisseurs of post modernist fun in that achievements thread, eh?

That paints a real pretty picture of how gamers react to this stuff. I wonder if anyone involved with that game ever read those comments, and whether it made them think about what they do.

I'm sure there are a few people who work for Rockstar on rllmuk, who are they? I'd really be interested in their thoughts on the comments in that thread.

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The condoning/rewarding of players is a really interesting development of the tropes in gaming terms. I got that achievement without really thinking too much about it - and I would describe myself as a fairly evangelical feminist - having spent years trying to enlighten first year undergraduates in English Literature that feminism is not a dirty word. Outside of the game I can clearly see how abhorrent the requirements of the achievement are, yet the entirely pointless reward of Gamerscore was enough for me to be blinded to that. This obviously doesn't reflect well on me, but it also adds to the central thrust of Anita's argument: that it is the ubiquity of such tropes that help to obfuscate their negative role in the culture of games. I have/do play some of the more questionable games that have been covered, but usually with a deliberate detachment (such as Killer is Dead, Shadows of the Damned etc) in which I can enjoy the gameplay whilst cringing at the juvenile representations within them. RDR, in no small part because of its otherwise mature depiction of women with agency, caught me out. That makes it a perfect example; a Trojan horse of misogynist tropes.

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I probably didn't think too much of it because there were achievements for shooting the faces off of hundreds of men, chopping up animals left right and centre and even causing the extinction of one species. All the achievements in RDR reward pretty reprehensible behaviour, not just towards women and it is just another terrible thing to check off the terrible list. If the game didn't provide well rounded characters of all sexes and give a little bit of context then you'd think the whole thing was awful. We should just get rid of achievements full stop, they're pointless.

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I haven't played Red Dead Redemption, so it's difficult for me to equate the achievements, but I'm having a look to see how the tone of the comments differs between the 'murder a woman' one, and a 'murder men' one.

Well, I say murder men. The achievements tend to refer to 'enemies', and as far as I can tell the only one that specifies the sex of the victim is the one under discussion.

Anyway, here is a thread about another killing achievement:

http://www.xboxachievements.com/game/red-dead-redemption/achievement/40019-In-a-Hail-of-Bullets.html

Killing 500 enemies, or 'shooting the faces off hundreds of men' as Sweaty Travolta would have it, seems to garner little comment, and certainly none as gleeful or filled with invective as an achievement for killing one woman.

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I haven't played Red Dead Redemption, so it's difficult for me to equate the achievements, but I'm having a look to see how the tone of the comments differs between the 'murder a woman' one, and a 'murder men' one.

Well, I say murder men. The achievements tend to refer to 'enemies', and as far as I can tell the only one that specifies the sex of the victim is the one under discussion.

Anyway, here is a thread about another killing achievement:

http://www.xboxachievements.com/game/red-dead-redemption/achievement/40019-In-a-Hail-of-Bullets.html

Killing 500 enemies, or 'shooting the faces off hundreds of men' as Sweaty Travolta would have it, seems to garner little comment, and certainly none as gleeful or filled with invective as an achievement for killing one woman.

It's also worth noting that said woman-killing is the only violent achievement which is otherwise completely pointless - it doesn't keep you alive or advance the story like killing enemies does, doesn't give you new abilities or money like hunting does, making it the only achievement for violence that Rockstar have put in which isn't justified by the in-game mechanics or fiction. You know, just in case it needed to stick out like even more of a sore thumb.

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Someone should make an Anita sarkesian rape simulator. Not that I condone such games. But seems like it would be just the bucket of petrol this fire needs.

Of all the posts my fat fingers could vote up by mistake.

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I totally agree.

Just so we're clear I'm not defending the RDR achievement just reiterating the point, as someone who's been in these meetings, that you'd be surprised how little thought can go into these things, and that needs to change. MS have rules about what is an is and isn't acceptable for achievements, and I'm pretty sure the others will too, perhaps these need to be extended to include things such as nothing involving the harming of innocents.

I've been thinking about this over the weekend and I think one of the issues that the big studios are trying to struggle with is co-ordinating a large team. An indie would probably look at something like that and remove it in order not to spoil the tone of the game, whereas like you said someone probably threw it in the game and since it didn't break the game there it stayed.

The solution is either studios need to rein things in a bit (you can have a game get too bloated, Assassin's Creed 3 is the perfect example) or they'll need to create a role for some sort of editor/producer to oversee the project and look out for things that might not match with the rest of the game.

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