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


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Interesting round up of articles over at BoingBoing at http://boingboing.net/2014/01/02/game-of-the-year-2013-not-for.html

First up https://medium.com/the-magazine/1b56d8c8a1fb

Game developer Brianna Wu explains that women haven't yet made headway in the critical landscape of game culture, a fact exposed by 2013's Game of the Year lists.

Those life events inform my experiences and opinion. And, they inform my perspective on 2013 Tomb Raider. And, with respect, if you only have people voting on game of the year from a very singular opinion — generally white, straight and male — it’s missing so much information that it loses its validity. This doesn’t mean guys can’t have awareness of issues affecting women. And it doesn’t mean women have a singular, monolithic opinion on games or even sexism. Even among my female friends, we have vastly differing opinions about 2013 Tomb Raider. Some of us love Bioshock Infinite; some of us hate it. But more viewpoints need to be represented in discussing games. We need more female games journalists who have a more central part of the dialog.

Also notable from Penny Arcade http://penny-arcade.com/2014/01/01/resolutions where Mike recognises his problems with some of his opinions over the last year. We've been here before but I think this post shows that he's a bit more aware of the impact of his comments on his work with Child's Play and with PAX.

So what am I? As a young person I imagined myself a sort of vengeful spirit. A schoolyard Robin Hood who attacked the strong and popular on behalf of the social outcasts. I’m 36 years old now though and I realize what I am is a bully. I may have been the one who got beat up but I sent plenty of kids home in tears. I also realize that I carried those ridiculous insecurities into adulthood. I still see people who attack me as the enemy and I strike back with the same ferocity as that seventh grader I used to be. I’m ashamed of that and embarrassed. The crazy thing is I don’t even necessarily believe the stuff I say a lot of times. It would probably be more noble if I did. The truth is I just say them to be mean. I say them because I know they will hurt. It’s pretty fucked up.

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More from boingboing as they round up 2013

http://boingboing.net/2014/01/04/representation-of-women-in-gam.html#more-277893

Catriona tumbled these enraging statistics about gender and representation in games and films for 2013:

Women make up
of the gaming community and
of the protagonists of the 25 biggest games of the year.

"Yes, but that’s still a minority! If more women played video games, there would be more reason to have female protagonists!"

Men make up
of the cinema audience and
of the protagonists of the 25 biggest movies of the year.

I think the bottlenecks in film and game distribution are the only thing that makes this kind of economically insane under-representation possible. That is, you could, in theory, make a hatful of money by making media with better balance in representation -- except that the idiotic old boys calling the shots at the top of the media have sewn up all the ways that your customers would find out about and buy your product.

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I totally agree with the sentiment there, I enjoy playing games with female characters and think there should be more.

But the weird market theory at the end leaves me a bit cold.

That is, you could, in theory, make a hatful of money by making media with better balance in representation -- except that the idiotic old boys calling the shots at the top of the media have sewn up all the ways that your customers would find out about and buy your product.

There are massive markets for games with very small bottlenecks to release and I'm not seeing any groundswell of female protagonists there (I want to know if there are btw, I could be lacking knowledge here) Very generally speaking that appears to directly contradict this weird theory that a small clutch of all controlling men are strangling or trampling over attempts to publish games with strong women.

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As a side issue (because this doesn't change the problems being addressed here), what would be interesting to know is what the market split for home media is like. I wonder how much money women spend on games, and at what price points? What percentage of men make up the DVD/Bluray market?

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Just read this interesting response to the Dragon's Crown art style which is a lot more nuanced than some of the all for/against articles I've read previously.

http://www.usgamer.net/articles/troubling-moments-in-great-games

In fact, if reviews are anything to go by, Dragon's Crown's art style affects everyone. Of the half-dozen reviews I've read, every single one dwelt on the artwork. Responses range from our own "that art style is a thing that exists, and you may well hate it" to Venture Beat's exhortation to look beyond the art and enjoy the game for its intrinsic merits to Polygon's unhappy excoriation of the game's treatment of women. All of these are valid positions and seem like sincere reactions on the behalf of each reviewer, whether enraged or unfazed -- fair criticism all.

More concerning is the frequency with which commenters have chosen to speak not for their own feelings on their matter, but rather for their assumptions about how others will feel. How dare this game alienate 50% of the population! has been a popular theme in criticism directed towards Dragon's Crown, seemingly predicated on the assumption that women are universally offended by the Sorceress and men are universally wagging their tongues in delight. Not that there haven't been plenty of equally obnoxious remarks coming from the other side, of course; as with any sort of controversy within gaming culture these days, scores of gamers have taken up the mindset of, I'm not offended, so who cares if someone else is? 2

There's probably nothing to be done about the latter -- insensitivity is coded into the Internet's DNA, after all -- but the patronizing mindset of the former group seems born of good, if misguided, intentions. I've spoken with a number of women who couldn't care less about the game's most excessive art, or who can easily look beyond it to see the merits of the game within (VentureBeat reviewer Jasmine Rea probably foremost among them). On the flip side, I know quite a few men who can't, and who have no intention of supporting Dragon's Crown. 3

I couldn't help but think of my Breakfast at Tiffany's experience as I read Rea's review. My wife's apologetic reaction to its comical racism quickly made me realize that my initial impulse -- to be offended for her sake -- was as misguided as Rooney's performance. After all, she had been the one to recommend we watch the movie, well aware of both the good and bad. In fact, she considers it one of her favorite films. She despises Rooney's character, but she loves the way the rest of the story mingles melancholy with hope. For her, the strengths of the film outweighed its offenses enough to make her to want to share it with me.

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The point it's making is don't let a single troublesome element put you off the whole thing.

That's basically been the position this threads been taking all along though, plenty of people highlighted GTAs troublesome depictions of women, but took pains to point out they loved the gameplay and the series and were coming from a position of "this could be improved" rather than "fuck this game".

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Just read this interesting response to the Dragon's Crown art style which is a lot more nuanced than some of the all for/against articles I've read previously.

http://www.usgamer.net/articles/troubling-moments-in-great-games

I still don't get exactly why this game was selected to be the media's whipping dog. Was it just wrong place, wrong time? I was pretty surprised to see a general radio silence when Senran Kagura Burst came out very recently. I can't find any comment from any of the usual gaming sites that held a strong stance on this (cough Kotaku cough). There was a lot of vitriol spouted at Dragon's Crown and a lot of people said they were going to boycott it. Just seems like hypocrisy and bandwagon jumping to be honest.

I only really see RPS regularly calling stuff out and they get a lot of hate for it.

Regarding the article, I skimmed through it because I actually haven't seen Breakfast at Tiffany's but it's probably the same way I feel about anime like Ninja Scroll and Gainax's Gunbuster. Gunbuster was know for the 'Gainax' bounce physics at the time and it's pretty silly watching it with someone else now but I would still recommend it regardless because everything else is awesome. Ninja Scroll goes too far, to the point where i'm kinda glad that I have the censored version and would rarely recommend it. Its time has pretty much passed.

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The point it's making is don't let a single troublesome element put you off the whole thing.

That's basically been the position this threads been taking all along though, plenty of people highlighted GTAs troublesome depictions of women, but took pains to point out they loved the gameplay and the series and were coming from a position of "this could be improved" rather than "fuck this game".

And I guess the other interesting thing is that Jeremy can write a piece on why Dragon's Crown might be problematic in some ways and not be faced with death threats and promises of rape whereas a woman can write a similar piece about GTA V and the reaction is all ZOMG! YOU NEED TO BE FIRED! etc etc.
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Wait, so now if you have an opinion about a game's politics, you have to be sure you're speaking for everyone who could be affected by it? That's not how things work, surely.

I think the point being made is that some people claim they're speaking for the 50% of society who would be offended (or whatever arbitrary percentage they put on it), when in fact they're the ones offended and really have no idea how many others feel the same way as then.

I admire much of what RPS write regarding the portrayal of women in games, but God, John Walker takes self-righteous pomposity to a whole new level.

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Is it not about being offended, rather the underlying issues with such imagery?

If we are in a thread nodding sagely regarding discovered tropes - "Rogue Legacy just uses a pink bow to differentiate the lady!" - then surely we need to look at everything evenly.

The Sun keeps page 3 because it says it's what the readers want. Does that make it right?

A trope may not offend anyone. That doesn't matter.

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So, Laralyn McWilliams just posted this on twitter a journalist contacts a female game dev (and friend of Laralyn) to try and get information about a game in development. Both names are hidden because the dev in question is scared of reprisal. Note, they have no relationship beyond briefly meeting at an event or two.

5PzoXrT.jpg

This is just fucking bullshit, there's no excuse for that. I think someone is about to learn the hard way, developers talk to each other.

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