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Posts tagged with "sexism"

Aug 6

I’m Not Really Mad at Ubisoft for not Having Playable Women

I’m not as heated as Ubisoft as a lot of my peers are about the controversy of non-playable women in the upcoming Unity. It’s no question that we should always be striving for more diversity in gaming, particularly larger companies such as Ubisoft that are extremely successful and have the means to make it happen. However, if it were any other company and any other franchise, I would be way more pissed than I am, in fact I would be furious. But the reason I personally don’t give a lot of vocal criticism to Ubisoft is mainly because the Assassin’s Creed franchise is by far the most diverse video game series in modern gaming in the West.

image

Of the seven major games in the series that have been released on consoles (Assassin’s Creed, Assassin’s Creed II, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Assassin’s Creed Revelations, Assassin’s Creed III, and Assassin’s Creed: Liberation since it has been remastered onto consoles), there are six different playable assassins if you include Desmond. Of those six, three of the protagonists are people of color, including one woman of color - Altair, Connor, and Aveline. (In a wonderful DLC for Black Flag, you also play Adewalé, a Trinidadian Assassin). Not only are they people of color, they are POC that are rarely ever featured in games let alone playable. How many times do you see a Middle Eastern character in a video game that you weren’t trying to kill in a Call of Duty game? When do you ever get to explore the intricacies of balancing being a mixed raced person in a world that is just beginning to use race as a tool for oppression? No other Western franchise has explored as many characters with such varied backgrounds as Assassin’s Creed.

I understand the vitriol; I’m a woman of color and I thrive on being able to play women, but I personally think a lot of the anger we feel towards Assassin’s Creed is because we expect more diversity from this franchise than with others. My bar is certainly always higher for Ubisoft Montreal and Assassin’s Creed; I’ve come to expect different worlds with different stories, so it is disappointing when we don’t get what we’ve expected. But, AC is not one of the great offenders in the larger picture of the lack of representation or misrepresentation in gaming. It has contributed a stellar collection of diverse characters, stories, and worlds to the canon of gaming. So why do I personally want to be spending time being angry at a franchise that has actually portrayed a lot of diversity when I could be channeling my discourse onto franchises that really just don’t get it to actually have playable women or POC or WOC. Call of Duty and Halo for example have been around for much longer and have more games, each of those franchises taking place in different periods of history according to their lore. CoD takes its own brand of liberties with history - plus, the next game takes place in the future but the protagonist is going to be another generic white guy? Come on. These are franchises that I’m more upset about - ones that are well-established, profitable, and therefore have the freedom to take “risks” by not having 95% of their characters we play be white guys, yet they just don’t. AC from the start has always kept diversity on their radar throughout the franchise and tailors their stories to the diversity, not the other way around. I’m more disappointed at AC than anything else, but I don’t feel justified at being upset at Ubisoft Montreal at any level that I should be at CoD, Halo, Tom Clancy, or others.

So does that mean I don’t think people should be upset at Ubisoft? Not necessarily. It sucks that such a major franchise will not have playable women in upcoming games, particularly since there are not a lot of women in general in the lore of the series. Plus their reasoning for why there aren’t playable women was pretty shitty. However, though most video game franchises leave me exasperated and angry with a lack of diversity, I’ll just leave off of my own anger at Assassin’s Creed and just say “I’ll expect more from you soon.”

The Creepy Side Of E3

Great piece discussing the treatment of women in the gaming industry at E3. People have discussed the treatment of women who are “booth babes” and practically showcase items, but we rarely talk about the average woman who goes to E3 expecting a few days of great gaming and are in turn harassed.

As always be wary of comments, they go from dismissing the claim of the article to “congratulating” the writer for not being hostile or accusatory of men.

So Katie Linendoll just came on Gametrailers to talk about her experiences on the E3 floor. And of course, the commenters were nothing but respectful and had insightful things to say about E3 so far and didn’t just reduce their comments to talking about Ms. Linendoll.

Oh wait - yes they did

May 3

milkpunk:

“games arent sexist for featuring only hyper-sexualized women, people who interpret these characters as sexist are the sexist ones”

no

  • nooooooooooo
  1. noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

the thing going around is so close to being a good post but it completely ignores the existence of the male gaze and the fact that these ridiculously sexualized female characters aren’t created to empower female consumers, they’re created to get male consumers off.

having a sexy female character definitely isn’t sexist just as said post suggests. but if the female character was created for men’s viewing pleasure, you can bet that her creation was sexist.

not to mention OP seems to believe that “diversity for diversity’s sake” is a Thing and a Bad Thing at that, which to be honest really isn’t. including lots of ethnicities and female characters is only a problem if their ethnicity/gender/orientation/what have you isn’t addressed

there’s so much wrong with viewing sexualization of women in comics and games as okay just because “it’s the consumer’s fault for objectifying the character.” if the character was created to be an object, the character was a sexist creation.

Re: this post

The post this one refers to also completely ignores the fact that in the game he cites, Dragon’s Crown, the two female characters have exposed cleavage and generally nothing in the way of protective gear, while the one male character is fully kitted in armor and is the only one not in a sexualized pose.

pizzaforpresident:

Youtube’s response to the trailer for Remember Me, a game in which players assume the role of a woman named Nilin (voiced by Kezia Burrows), an amnesiac ‘memory hunter’, through the streets of Neo-Paris in the year 2084. 

pizzaforpresident:

Youtube’s response to the trailer for Remember Me, a game in which players assume the role of a woman named Nilin (voiced by Kezia Burrows), an amnesiac ‘memory hunter’, through the streets of Neo-Paris in the year 2084. 

What if women didn’t play video games?

I was reading through Vicarious Existence’s roundup of misogyny in the gaming community in 2012, and started noticing a pattern: in almost every instance, there was some mention that women shouldn’t play video games. The reasons given varied, but most could be boiled down to pure sexism. So that set me to thinking: What if, right now, all across the world, women just stopped playing video games?

Then I went and found some statistics.

Assuming 40% of the gaming community is women:

  • Somewhere between 4-5.5 million women would stop playing World of Warcraft. [link]
  • Roughly 8 million women would leave Xbox Live. [link]
  • About 84 million games and 7.6 million consoles would not have been sold in 2012 (again, assuming that 40% of purchasers were women). [link]
This would be a huge drop in revenue for many companies, and would almost certainly lead to less polished games because there would be less money coming in.

Ok, but maybe that’s not enough for you. So let’s take a step back. What if women had NEVER gotten into video games? And here I’m referring to any part of the industry; buying, playing, selling, creating, programming, etc.

  • Assassin’s Creed was shaped by Jade Raymond, so if she hadn’t gotten into gaming, it wouldn’t be the same (she’s also the managing director of Ubisoft Toronto). [link]
  • Uncharted’s storyline wouldn’t exist either, as it was written by Amy Hennig. [link]
  • Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest likely would not be the same, as they were influenced by the Wizardry series of RPGs, created by Brenda Brathwaite. [link]
  • Francesca Reyes is the editor in chief of OXM. Would it still exist if she wasn’t the editor in chief? Probably. But would the content be exactly the same? Probably not. [link]
  • Abstracting further from the concept, Ada Lovelace created the prototype that began what we know today as the Internet (as well as boosting the creation of computers), so if she had never begun work on that, we might not have Internet as we know it today. [link]
These are just a few things I’ve found. There’s a whole lot more that could be said.

 - Taylor

Conan O’Brien plays Tomb Raider and Showcases Misogyny From Himself and Uncomfortable Violence From the Game.

I usually find Conan’s “Clueless Gamer” sequences hilarious because they poke fun at gaming in a way gamers and non-gamers can appreciate. But this one about the upcoming Lara Croft game left me exceedingly uncomfortable throughout the whole video, partly because of his comments, and partly because of the content itself.

Conan constantly made comments about Lara’s appearance - her cleavage, her tight pants, making jokes about her figure. He also made a lot of comments relating to stereotypes of women including getting “distracted by handbags” while she is running for her life. It demonstrates the different mindsets and expectations that gamers come in with when the protagonist is a woman, giving more scrutiny to the female protagonist and automatically diminishing the seriousness of her plights.

But what really shocked me was the game itself, though I had become excited about it for the past few months, after watching this video, I find myself suddenly very hesitant to even look more into it. As the game goes on, it seems to just to dissolve into torture porn, as Lara spends the entire demo to the point of tears, bleeding and moaning in pain. The worst part of the video is a sequence in which Conan has to navigate Lara through a strong river current safely, lest she becomes impaled by branches and poles, which he does, multiple times, and we see several replays of an incredibly brutal death that was no painful and awful to watch, it forced me to turn my head away from the screen, which I never do when playing or watching video games. If you plan on watching this video, you might want to be wary when they get to that sequence.

I’m sure that the fact that Lara is a woman already affects the ways in which we accept the violence that she experiencing, intensifying its brutality. However, the deaths, violence, and even the moments in which she loses health feels oddly overly-gruesome and bloody, never once getting a moment to feel strength and accomplishment. This style turns Lara, a character known for both strength AND sex appeal into one that forces the player not to try to BE her, but the PROTECT her and prevent her from getting hurt all while wearing tight clothes, providing another barrier that makes it difficult for the player to empathize and respect the character they are supposed to be playing.

Basically, this video has discouraged me from becoming excited about this game, as it appears to be designed as a torture porn that goes against the strengths of an iconic character, and one that places women - well, nice-looking white women - into a box by which they are not agents of strength but of in constant need of protection.

- Aria

Nov 3
When asked on a message board why there weren’t any female soldiers in the game Chivalry: Medievil Warfare, developer Steve “Tiberius” Pigget gave an unexpectedly strange answer:

This is a tough one, I actually think that adding female characters to a game like this would make it appeal less to females. Which at first sounds strange, but from my experience of the general maturity level of the internet and the unfortunately male dominated FPS market… I don’t think that it would add to the experience for women or men given the actions that would likely occur.
Hopefully that helps you understand why we decided not to go that route… I am totally fine with women fighting, but its the fact that it would probably overall harm the way the community would play the game that has me concerned.

Basically, Pigget argues that women will be turned off by the brutal violent exhibited inChivalryand so they are not even going to bother, and that even if they were to include women, men who play this game might react negatively. These assertions, of course, are downright confusing in many ways.
First of all, there is no basis to suggest that only women, and women as a groupwill be turned off by this game’s violence if there were women involved. Yet, he does acknowledge that there arewomen who would buy this type of game. Now, those women would probably buy it because of the complex fighting mechanics and the violence exhibited. The women who wouldn’t buy this game wouldn’t because some people, yes men included, just don’t like brutal violence, or hey. But his suggestion that women won’t buy a game that feature women committing violence and or receiving violence implies that women can’t handle violence against women at all. Now in the abstract, I understand this argument because violence against women is an oft-used trope that can be disrespectful. However, violence is just not a sensible enough reason for excluding in-game women when this is a game about armies fighting other armies and would therefore avoid the violence against women trope if he included women as soldiers. 
Plus, when have women ever complained about being able to be soldiers and warriors  in? I’m sure there is no argument in me saying that if we were to ask women who play video games if they are against having the option to play a woman, we would hear a resounding “no.” 
Now, he also addresses maturity level of the male-dominated FPS body and implies that men might mistreat the option of being able to play a woman and seeing others play a woman. Indeed, as a woman who plays games online with a lot of men, sexism can definitely discourage me from games. However, the answer to the way men might handle female soldiers is not to erase them. Instead, it is imperative to have more women as playable characters, and powerful characters, to build a foundation that promotes positive representation of women in games. 
And, regardless of whether this game would have a huge female audience at all, women are still entitled to be represented in media. There isn’t an argument against the representation of women in a way that does not at least imply that women are just not important enough to be featured.
Of course, I’ve read men’s arguments that having female soldiers ruin the “historical accuracy” of the game, yet we should also note that not only are there no female soldiers in the game, there are no female characters at all. No female peasants even to run away when there is danger afoot! Women are quite literally nonexistent in this game. And this is a problem in many games like this, in which the absence of women as soldiers or warriors should not have to translate in an absence of women in their entirety. Even if they aren’t soldiers, you can still depict women in some capacity that promotes some kind of positive representation. You can find a way to  The absence of any women from the world of a game does not show concern for historical accuracy, but laziness having half of the world represented.
- Aria

When asked on a message board why there weren’t any female soldiers in the game Chivalry: Medievil Warfare, developer Steve “Tiberius” Pigget gave an unexpectedly strange answer:

This is a tough one, I actually think that adding female characters to a game like this would make it appeal less to females. Which at first sounds strange, but from my experience of the general maturity level of the internet and the unfortunately male dominated FPS market… I don’t think that it would add to the experience for women or men given the actions that would likely occur.

Hopefully that helps you understand why we decided not to go that route… I am totally fine with women fighting, but its the fact that it would probably overall harm the way the community would play the game that has me concerned.

Basically, Pigget argues that women will be turned off by the brutal violent exhibited inChivalryand so they are not even going to bother, and that even if they were to include women, men who play this game might react negatively. These assertions, of course, are downright confusing in many ways.

First of all, there is no basis to suggest that only women, and women as a groupwill be turned off by this game’s violence if there were women involved. Yet, he does acknowledge that there arewomen who would buy this type of game. Now, those women would probably buy it because of the complex fighting mechanics and the violence exhibited. The women who wouldn’t buy this game wouldn’t because some people, yes men included, just don’t like brutal violence, or hey. But his suggestion that women won’t buy a game that feature women committing violence and or receiving violence implies that women can’t handle violence against women at all. Now in the abstract, I understand this argument because violence against women is an oft-used trope that can be disrespectful. However, violence is just not a sensible enough reason for excluding in-game women when this is a game about armies fighting other armies and would therefore avoid the violence against women trope if he included women as soldiers.

Plus, when have women ever complained about being able to be soldiers and warriors  in? I’m sure there is no argument in me saying that if we were to ask women who play video games if they are against having the option to play a woman, we would hear a resounding “no.”

Now, he also addresses maturity level of the male-dominated FPS body and implies that men might mistreat the option of being able to play a woman and seeing others play a woman. Indeed, as a woman who plays games online with a lot of men, sexism can definitely discourage me from games. However, the answer to the way men might handle female soldiers is not to erase them. Instead, it is imperative to have more women as playable characters, and powerful characters, to build a foundation that promotes positive representation of women in games.

And, regardless of whether this game would have a huge female audience at all, women are still entitled to be represented in media. There isn’t an argument against the representation of women in a way that does not at least imply that women are just not important enough to be featured.

Of course, I’ve read men’s arguments that having female soldiers ruin the “historical accuracy” of the game, yet we should also note that not only are there no female soldiers in the game, there are no female characters at all. No female peasants even to run away when there is danger afoot! Women are quite literally nonexistent in this game. And this is a problem in many games like this, in which the absence of women as soldiers or warriors should not have to translate in an absence of women in their entirety. Even if they aren’t soldiers, you can still depict women in some capacity that promotes some kind of positive representation. You can find a way to  The absence of any women from the world of a game does not show concern for historical accuracy, but laziness having half of the world represented.

- Aria

These are just a few selections from the League of Legends photoset on Facebook from ECC Poland.

Sexism and transphobia are huge problems in this community.

(The first two sets of comments were on the first picture, the last three on the second)

Sexual Dimorphism in World of Warcraft.
The term sexual dimorphism refers to differences between males and females of the same species.  Some animals are highly sexually dimorphic. Male elephant seals outweigh females by more than 2,500 pounds; peacocks put on a color show that peahens couldn’t mimic in their wildest dreams; and a male anglerfish’s whole life involves finding a female, latching on, and dissolving until there’s nothing left but his testicles (yes, really).
On the spectrum of very high to very low dimorphism, humans are on the low end.  We’re just not that kind of species.  Remove the gendered clothing styles, make up, and hair differences and we’d look more alike than we think we do.
Because we’re invested in men and women being different, however, we tend to be pleased by exaggerated portrayals of human sexual dimorphism (for example, in Tangled). Game designer-in-training Andrea Rubenstein has shown us that we extend this ideal to non-human fantasy as well.  She points to a striking dimorphism (mimicking Western ideals) in World of Warcraft creatures.
Annalee Newitz at Wired writes:

[Rubenstein] points out that these female bodies embody the “feminine ideal” of the supermodel, which seems a rather out-of-place aesthetic in a world of monsters. Supermodelly Taurens wouldn’t be so odd if gamers had the choice to make their girl creatures big and muscley, but they don’t. Even if you wanted to have a female troll with tusks, you couldn’t. Which seems especially bizarre given that this game is supposed to be all about fantasy, and turning yourself into whatever you want to be.

It appears that the supermodel-like females weren’t part of the original design of the game.  Instead, the Alpha version included a lot less dimorphism, among the Taurens and the Trolls for example.
Newitz says that the female figures were changed in response to player feedback:

Apparently there were many complaints about the women of both races being “ugly” and so the developers changed them into their current incarnations.

The dimorphism in WoW is a great example of how gender difference is, in part, an ideology.  It’s a desire that we impose onto the world, not reality in itself.  We make even our fantasy selves conform to it.  Interestingly, when people stray from affirming the ideology, they can face pressure to align themselves with its defenders.  It appears that this is exactly what happened in WoW.

Sexual Dimorphism in World of Warcraft.

The term sexual dimorphism refers to differences between males and females of the same species.  Some animals are highly sexually dimorphic. Male elephant seals outweigh females by more than 2,500 pounds; peacocks put on a color show that peahens couldn’t mimic in their wildest dreams; and a male anglerfish’s whole life involves finding a female, latching on, and dissolving until there’s nothing left but his testicles (yes, really).

On the spectrum of very high to very low dimorphism, humans are on the low end.  We’re just not that kind of species.  Remove the gendered clothing styles, make up, and hair differences and we’d look more alike than we think we do.

Because we’re invested in men and women being different, however, we tend to be pleased by exaggerated portrayals of human sexual dimorphism (for example, in Tangled). Game designer-in-training Andrea Rubenstein has shown us that we extend this ideal to non-human fantasy as well.  She points to a striking dimorphism (mimicking Western ideals) in World of Warcraft creatures.

Annalee Newitz at Wired writes:

[Rubenstein] points out that these female bodies embody the “feminine ideal” of the supermodel, which seems a rather out-of-place aesthetic in a world of monsters. Supermodelly Taurens wouldn’t be so odd if gamers had the choice to make their girl creatures big and muscley, but they don’t. Even if you wanted to have a female troll with tusks, you couldn’t. Which seems especially bizarre given that this game is supposed to be all about fantasy, and turning yourself into whatever you want to be.

It appears that the supermodel-like females weren’t part of the original design of the game.  Instead, the Alpha version included a lot less dimorphism, among the Taurens and the Trolls for example.

Newitz says that the female figures were changed in response to player feedback:

Apparently there were many complaints about the women of both races being “ugly” and so the developers changed them into their current incarnations.

The dimorphism in WoW is a great example of how gender difference is, in part, an ideology.  It’s a desire that we impose onto the world, not reality in itself.  We make even our fantasy selves conform to it.  Interestingly, when people stray from affirming the ideology, they can face pressure to align themselves with its defenders.  It appears that this is exactly what happened in WoW.