Posts Tagged ‘feminism’

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!

Race in Videogames: It’s not just one group of people that suffers from tropes.

November 17, 2014

You know,
With all the coverage women have received in gaming,from sexism to objectification I sometimes think to myself “At least you have characters that are somewhat varied representations of your gender”.

I mean female gamers have Samus and Lara Croft(reboot) Claire Redfield ,on one end and zany characters like  Bayonetta, Princess Peach, Lightning so on and so forth.All these characters, regardless of what you think, have some kind of variance to their personality or demeanor. Critics  can pick and choose  from a veritable laundry list of female protagonists   which they feel are objectified or which characters are too “sexy”.On the other coin What do gamers who aren’t white or female have? If you’re black, different variations of Barrett from Final Fantasy 7 or Augustus Cole from Gears of War, what I call the “Cookie Cutter” Stereotype. From CJ from San Andreas to “Big Bo” Roy Boateng from Binary Domain. We’ve all seen these stereotypes of black men in  videogames, loud brash men that half the time sound like they had just moved from Detroit and had a stint at a comedy club.Now don’t get it twisted, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a Black character portrayed as “Boisterous”  and loud and funny. The problem I take up with is when that stereotypical character becomes the only representation of Africans and African Americans in videogames.

First off let me say that there are  African/African American characters represented in games that at least have been distinctive. An example would lie in Assassin’s Creed’s Adéwalé , A former slave from Trinidad. Adewale is featured in the DLC “Freedom Cry” but even then Freedom Cry  is DLC, it’s not part of the main campaign and can be passed up if the player doesn’t want to buy it. Basically regulating Adewale and his story as a “sidequest” lessening the importance of the character and his story. Another Assassin’s Creed game “Liberation” featured another  black protagonist, this time a woman, Aveline de Grandpré, unfortunately, Aveline’s game was initially released on the PlayStation Vita and later ported as an HD up conversion for other consoles but by that time, gamers had already moved on and Aveline and her story have basically faded away into obscurity as that “One Assassin’s Creed game on the Vita”

Aveline, Assassin’s Creed:Liberation

The pool of protagonists that women of color is even smaller. When I say protagonist, I mean the main character of the game. Not a side kick like Alyx Vance from Half life 2.I mean a woman that is a protagonist in her own game that isnt oversexualized  or fetishized . Nilin Cartier Wells from “Remember Me” is probably one of few women of color in recent memory that was of mixed race AND that was a main character in a game the other character being Aveline.

“Nilin, Remember Me”

I sometimes wonder to myself, why doesn’t anyone ever talk about any of this? why doesn’t anyone question why we’re so underrepresented and  portrayed like that in video games? why isn’t polygon writing ten articles a day about the lack of racial diversity or miss/under representation of people of color in gaming?

Then I realize something, it’s not “sexy” it won’t get websites like Polygon a massive amount of clicks, not like their daily posts about women, gaming and what developers are doing wrong.Those topics draw in hundreds of commentators, all arguing over who is right and what someone else is doing wrong. Then I start to think again and wonder why more people like myself aren’t talking about this, especially since this is a time where people are demanding that there be some kind of equal representation in gaming.

Then it hit me.

Just a few months ago a Micheal Brown was shot dead  by the police in Ferguson Missouri.  A few months later, another young black youth, 22-year-old Darrien Hunt was shot six times in the back by the police in Utah. A few weeks ago, an irate caller called in to C-Span and  said that “Republicans hate the nigger Obama” on live television.

I’m torn,

On one end there are far more serious injustices to be concerned about and to be rallied against in the real world. At the same time, in the hobby that I love, I’d for once would like to see more characters that moved beyond the typical “Giant, Funny Black Guy that sounds like he was on Sanford and Son in the 70’s” and it’s time to start a dialogue about it.

The Forgotten Game-Perfect Dark for the Gameboy Color

June 3, 2014

People often forget that there are three games in the Perfect Dark Series. The first being Perfect Dark for the Nintendo 64, Perfect Dark Zero and the oft forgotten Perfect Dark for the Gameboy Color. Unlike the console games, Perfect Dark for the Gameboy Color is played from a top down view point and is one of the few GB games that has voice acting and a rumble feature.

However Perfect Dark for the Gameboy Color is pretty terrible.

Perfect_Dark_(handheld)_Coverart