Posts Tagged ‘censorship’

Tumblr Blogger hits nail on the head about the portrayal of female characters..very surprising

March 11, 2015

So I woke up to see a link from tumblr posted by one of my favorite cosplayers regarding the portrayal of female characters in video games. Though I’m usually pretty wary of tumblr users as a I am of those of Reddit or 4chan, this link fell directly in line with my article on what I feel is the systemic censorship of gaming through shaming gamers and developers.

Here’s an excerpt from the post.

“And this is the crux of this topic.  How I feel these so called advocates, these people obsessed with social justice and crying misogyny and sexism at every turn, are not pro-women.  They’re anti-sex and pro-ego.  We have a game like Overwatch, with a diverse cast of women and men, of different nationalities, and yet it is still ‘problematic’.

They lumped every woman together into one body type; ‘sexy’.  And called it a day.  They erased the body differences displayed in Pharah and Tracer because to them that is a body type.  To them, classically attractive women are just lumped together, regardless of if they have different body types or not.

It’s amazing that they crow victory over the new character being introduced, despite being extremely shallow, relying on a very old trope, wearing a breastplate and is, effectively, employing the “man with boobs” trope.  But they really didn’t care, not that much, what they wanted was a body type that wasn’t considered classically attractive and, ultimately, to be listened to and have their ego stroked.”

The author,the spectacular spider-girl, goes on to use various examples of some of the complaints that were made about games like Dragon’s Crown, Soul Calibur etc and how these complaints are sexist and bent on body shaming in their own way. Hell, she even mentions the whole “big breasts” issue that I touched on in my piece.

The post isn’t very long but it’s very interesting and is nice take on what’s going within our hobby from the eyes of another person who’s getting tired of the current bias that’s been running rampant.

Check out the post here.

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They’re gunning for your hobby.This time, from the inside.

March 9, 2015

It’s been awhile, I’ve just started working a second job to support my “lavish” lifestyle. While I was busy slaving away for the man, apparently about two weeks ago, my favorite person in the world, Anita Sarkeesian, had some kind of get together with video-game developers in New York City, right in my backyard! according to a Kotaku article, Ms. Sarkeesian had a bit to say about how she wanted video-games to change or better yet “8 Things Game devs can do to make things less shitty for women” The list has been conveniently posted down below for you, dear reader.

  1. Avoid the Smurfette principle (don’t have just one female character in an ensemble cast, let alone one whose personality is more or less “girl” or “woman.”)
  2. “Lingerie is not armor” (Dress female characters as something other than sex objects.)
  3. Have female characters of various body types
  4. Don’t over-emphasize female characters’ rear ends, not any more than you would the average male character’s.
  5. Include more female characters of color.
  6. Animate female characters to move the way normal women, soldiers or athletes would move.
  7. Record female character voiceover so that pain sounds painful, not orgasmic
  8. Include female enemies, but don’t sexualize those enemies

On the outside, the majority of these make sense, I mean the smurfette principle is right on point, I feel the same way about token black characters who are just “there” and number five is great as well, I would love to see way more women of color in video games, as I stated in a prior article, they’re even more under represented than men of color who aren’t even really that present to begin with. Heck the majority of these are reasonable and like I said, I agree with a  few of them myself. So let me take a moment to applause and say that on those two points I definitely agree with Anita, bravo, you’re actually starting to make some kind of sense.

But let’s get down to the real nitty gritty here, real talk, people are still afraid of sex and the topic of sex in general.

Don’t over-emphasize female characters’ rear ends, not any more than you would the average male character’s.”

“Lingerie is not armor” (Dress female characters as something other than sex objects”

These two points and a few others got my eyebrows waggling as I slowly started to make a not so subtle connection

This all reminds me of America’s and the West obsession and fear of sex, any media historian who’s worth his or her salt knows that Sex and media in general have had a tumultuous relationship since the time that they were able to figure out how to put people on film and record the. From not being to show a couple sharing a bed together to how much of a woman’s upper body could be shown before it’s considered nudity. For decades film directors have gone on to challenge film censorship, pushing the envelope every time. Films like Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A Clock Work Orange with it’s graphic depictions of violence and Paul Verhoeven’s ‘Basic Instinct“‘ for it’s portrayal of Homosexuals and Lesbians as well as it’s approach to sex came under serious fire from critics and the general populace alike, Kubrick himself at one point, allegedly received death threats for ‘A Clock Work Orange’ , all because people felt offended by his vision.

At one point, 'Basic Instinct' had people people in a tizzy as well

                                             At one point, ‘Basic Instinct’ had people people in a tizzy as well

These films are just two of many  that  were controversial during their time periods and drew the ire of many a critic  because at their respective times, the images they depicted were only ever talked about in hush tones. The public railed against them because they were “offended” it battered their moral compasses, they were simply unthinkable. Now a days, a film like “A Clock Work Orange” would be considered tame, the only parts that I think would raise eyebrows would be the parts dealing with sex because…well America and the West in general have a serious problem with sex.

Let’s step away from films  and back to video games, I feel like there’s a movement being made, a movement where people who are comfortable with the games they play  are being shamed for the games they play and the developers who produce these games are being made to feel ashamed about what they make. We’re going backwards ladies and gentlemen, were as films and television have had their ropes of censorship loosened, gamers, developers what have you not, are having those same ropes tightened not by the ESRB not by misinformed parents, but by critics and the gaming media it’s almost like an internalized lynch mob to a degree.

Let me give you a few examples, last week it was announced within the Dead or Alive community that DLC costumes that oversexualized characters, would result in soft bans from tournaments. The decision was made to try and “legitimize” Dead or Alive, so to “legitimize”DOA, they had to make a part of the game, customizing the look of your character, a ban-able offense. Fans of Dead or Alive are no stranger to it’s overly exaggerated characters, heck there are three DOA games that aren’t based on fighting but on having key characters frolic on beaches, playing volleyball. This is a series of  games that have been the object of criticism since the early days of disc based gaming. Who is the competitive community trying to fool? or a better question, who is the competitive community trying to not draw attention from?

doa no

Moving on, NetherRealm studios, the developer best known for “Mortal Kombat”, a series of fighting games that were the center of the “violence in video games” debate during the mid 90’s. Announced that they were going to make their women more “realistic” as in toning down their busts and level of skin exposure…that’s “realism” in a game where characters literally rip their opponents head’s from their torso’s or freeze them dead in their tracks and smashes their bodies to pieces. Just who is NetherRealm trying to appease? their fan base has been around for decades and has happily been enjoying game after game that the studio has released. This sudden move to “realism” seems coincidentally tied to the current dialogue that’s been hammered into people’s heads from Kotaku and Polygon. “You characters are too sexy, tone them down or face ridicule”

The level of violence is acceptable but the range of cupsizes  aren’t ? Before I go on that’s one thing I’d like to point out, what is it with people being offended by fictional women who’s bust size is anything over a C? From Lara Croft of ‘Tomb Raider ‘ to Ivy Valentine of ‘Soul Calibur ‘ I mean really it seems as if as soon as you cross into DD territory, folks literally fall out of their chairs and onto their laptops to pontificate about how “obscene” a character is…just a little thing I had to throw in before I got into my next example.

Dragon’s Crown,

If you’re not familiar with Dragon’s Crown, it was a side scrolling arcade like beat em up that looked Dungeons and Dragons-ish. The big issue that critics had with Dragon’s Crown was with the designs of two of the game’s playable characters, the Sorceress and the Amazon. Apparently Jason Schreier of ‘Kotaku’ had this to say about the design of the extremely busty Sorceress

“This is the newest trailer for Dragon’s Crown, the Vanillaware-developed game that will be out this year for PS3 and Vita. It features the sorceress, one character from the game. As you can see, the sorceress was designed by a 14-year-old boy. Perhaps game development studios should stop hiring teenagers? At least they’re cheap, I guess.”

Apparently If I don't mind this art, I must be prepubescent right? RIGHT?!

                       Apparently If I don’t mind this art, I must be prepubescent right? RIGHT?!

(Source)

Mr. Schreier has long since apologized for his comments but the use of Ad hominem to make a point? I could literally go on for hours about how off hand comments like this are what makes issues like this almost impossible to talk about. This western obsession that correlates  anything inherently sexual in gaming must be only for prepubescent boys  is in and of itself sexist. I’m a grown man of 28, hold two degrees, TEACH as an adjunct and I had absolutely no problem playing Dragon’s Crown. The same went for the many gamers who went out and bought Dragon’s Crown and enjoyed it for the excellent game that it was.

Closing thoughts.

I have had such a difficult time writing this piece, there are obviously things that need some serious changes within the gaming industry and a lot of them have to do with how people are portrayed. I’m all for changes that will make the medium more accepting and open to people. However at the same time I can’t condone making someone feel bad for making or playing the games that they like. Where do we draw the line between what’s acceptable and what is out of line? when does it start to go from free speech to censorship? I do know that carrying on, attacking one another or making jokes at each other’s expense is not the way to go about things and that acting offended while actively offending others doesn’t bring about any positives either just more negatives.

I’ll leave you with this quote from  from Dual Shockers on the subject of the Dragon’s Crown controversy. I feel that his statement though made in 2013, still holds true in 2015.

“Ultimately, I find absolutely ludicrous that we’ve spent years upon years fighting the censors and defending our hobby from the pundits on Fox News, but now we’re turning into the censors ourselves. We’re becoming the Fox News-style pundits that ride on controversy. It’s ludicrous and extremely depressing”

He goes on to say-” We’re not exercising criticism, we’re not doing journalism. We have become the bullies we so fiercely fought against for half of our lives.”

What are your thoughts? do you think there’s an issue of censorship? are people being too sensitive? or is there a need for change? Can a happy medium be reached? Share in the comments section!

How GamerGate lost the Media War

February 5, 2015

A strange game. The only winning move is not to play“- Joshua, Wargames, 1983

So recently, I found out that one of my favorite detective television shows, Law and Order:Special Victims Unit  would be airing an episode based off the events of Gamergate. The episode, titled “The Intimidation Game” will feature a story about a woman who is about to launch her first online game, of course she receives threats and harassment from men online. Another part of the episode has a female employee assaulted at gamer convention. The episode details can be found here.

As much as I love Special Victims Unit , I know how these episodes that are based off of real life events play out, usually from a one sided perspective that demonizes the perpetrators. Be they a pop star accused of touching children(an episode based off the Micheal Jackson allegations) or a radio shock Jock who’s fan goes off and does something stupid all so that he could end up on the Shock Jock’s show (clearly based off Howard Stern and the controversy that used to surround the infamous Howard Stern Show). The opposing “party” gets persecuted  straight to hell by the detectives, in a ploy to show the audience how evil or screwed up they are. “ The Intimidation Game” will most likely be no different. Gamers are going to be portrayed as nothing more than woman hating mongrels that will stop at nothing to impede the progress of women into their “boys club”.

Which is what brings me to why I gave this post it’s title and why I used the quote from Wargames. At this point, as a person who has watched the Gamergate issue erupt and turn gamer against gamer and gamer against journalists  I have to say that it’s over, in the court of public opinion, Gamergate and what it stands for has been mangled so badly that there’s absolutely that I feel that there’s no way to turn it around and here’s why.

“Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course”. John C. Maxwell 

This is my biggest gripe and why I felt that pro-Gamergate side took such a beating, there was no “leader” per say or even a spokesperson. On a topic that has the likes of Anita Sarkeesian and media outlets like Polygon constantly beating the public over their collective heads through generalizations, disingenuous reporting or just plain bashing. It doesn’t help your cause when you don’t have a figurehead that’s at the forefront to at least explain where you’re coming from and refute some of the claims your opponents are throwing out at you.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone ask “What’s Gamergate all about?” and immediately receive a cut and paste response that you’d see from the comments section of Polygon. Labeling anyone that dare stand with Gamergate as a “Fedora wearing, basement dwelling white male that hates anything that deals with Gays, Transexuals and Women and their involvement in video games”.

I can’t tell you the countless times I, as a Nigerian born, 28 year-old, non whitenon fedora wearing male would have to then reiterate and explain that yes, there are extremists but those extremists do not represent Gamergate or gamers at all. However as I’ve come to learn, those efforts are almost as futile as arguing with someone that  only watches Fox News and wholeheartedly believes that every person that associates with Islam is automatically a terrorist. Yes that’s how bad it’s gotten and probably the best way I can drive my point home.

When the only explanations that people read or hear about are coming from your opponents side of the argument it’s easy to form a bias. There are plenty of people who talked about Gamergater that were Youtubers, bloggers and writers. There are no shortage of Gamergate defenders but with little to no organization any formation of a front was quickly brushed aside and ignored.

An example would be the #Notyourshield sub movement of gamers who were tired of the gaming media using women and minorities to deflect and essentially shield themselves from any kind of criticism that could be slung their way by feigning support of both groups. Another example, when Christina Hoff Sommers aka “The Factual Feminists” released a video titled “Are video games sexist” that criticized the gaming media and it’s motives for suddenly moving against it’s perceived audience. Like #Notyourshield  Ms.Sommers was immediately written off, described  as a conservative who only  wanted to gain the favor of embattled male gamers.

Battling against a biased media.

“Something I’ve often noticed is the willingness to shame anyone that doesn’t agree with Ms. Sarkeesian or any of the issues that she speaks of. While we know that disagreement is a common aspect in society, the problem becomes apparent when you’re not just disagreed with, but you’re shamed for disagreeing.” – From:The Culture of Infallibility that surrounds Anita Sarkeesian

The day that ‘The Colbert Report‘ had Anita Sarkeesian on as a guest, was the day the final nail had been struck into the GamerGate coffin. The masses who are not as “plugged in” as those of us were treated to a big helping dose of that classic Sarkeesian bias. Being a gamer and watching someone like Anita Sarkeesian go on national television and call gaming a “Boys Club” was cringe worthy. The whole interview took me back to the days when career activists like Jack Thompson or politicians like Joe Lieberman would routinely appear on news circuits to complain about video games. This time however, the games and developers aren’t the ones under siege but the people who play them as well. The fact that so few people see the parallels between now and then is bothersome.

Back when Thompson and Leiberman were on their media tear, there wasn’t much of a voice to oppose them,  the ones that were loud enough to gain the public’s attention were disregarded. Now in the age of Anita, we are seeing the same thing take hold. People have been blinded by the gross misappropriation of  gamers, by misappropriation I mean the instant dismissal that all gamers are social awkward basement dwelling and have no idea of social context and what it means to be a productive member of society. With television shows like “The Big Bang Theory” and “King of the Nerds” the image of people who are gamers or are involved with gaming hasn’t really progressed in the eye of the general public. EVEN THOUGH there are more gamers NOW than ever before in the history of the medium.

End Game

There were several missteps in Gamergate, in the world of Public Relations, getting out ahead of the news, especially if that news could be damaging to you or your client is essential. Inaction leaves you open to attacks from your opponent. Your opponent can now twist your image in anyway that they please. This has been the literal case with GamerGate, Polygon pushes out an article about Anita being harassed and it’s immediately tied to GamerGate, no investigation done, no real research that connects anything to anyone.

Yet with the way the gaming media has set this up, every single time someone is attacked online for speaking about anything that has to do with women in gaming, it’s Gamergate no if ands or buts.Controversy brings comments and clicks and with those two, revenue. Gaming has always been a besieged medium, from angry parents to “activists” and Politicians, there has always been someone there who wants a piece of that proverbial pie and honestly, who can stop them?

Anyway, thank you for giving this piece a read, I’ve been stewing over it for some time now and trying to find a way to put what’s on my mind to paper. Please share your thoughts and let me know you know how you feel. Do you think Gamegate is lost? or do you think there’s still a chance to properly get the word out?