Does sexist tropes in video games influence behavior? Violence =/= Sexism?

FriendlyFyre

New member
Aug 7, 2013
93
0
0
"Media doesn't exist in a vaccum which means short of someone never being exposed to the message rape is bad then it would be hard for them to ever think it's right."

So then why do people think its okay to send rape and death threats? Even after playing games where rape and death is shown to be horrific?

And don't say it's because they're just bad people, there have been too many instances of online abuse for me to believe it's just a lot of bad eggs.
 

Louzerman102

New member
Mar 12, 2011
191
0
0
FriendlyFyre said:
"Media doesn't exist in a vaccum which means short of someone never being exposed to the message rape is bad then it would be hard for them to ever think it's right."

So then why do people think its okay to send rape and death threats? Even after playing games where rape and death is shown to be horrific?

And don't say it's because they're just bad people, there have been too many instances of online abuse for me to believe it's just a lot of bad eggs.
I would assume it is because typing out rape and death threats in words over the internet is viewed differently by the author, compared to the act of actually raping or killing a person.

If Steve (who everyone knows is a terrible person) writes on the internet "I know where you live and will find you." He views it as less severe because he would never take the time to find the person and he does not even know where they live. However it is viewed as much more serious by the person receiving the message because they have no idea who Steve is. Fuck Steve.

There is also the internet asshole theory that basically states that people "behave" in polite society because of repercussions. The things I will say on the internet are very different compared to the things I will say directly to a person's face. I personally believe that society has a large amount of assholes in it, and that only comes out when the internet gives them the opportunity.
 

JohnFei

New member
Sep 25, 2014
40
0
0
Andrey Sirotin said:
No, they do not. We need to stop blaming entertainment for the shitty behavior.
This.

Here's a great example of this.
https://t.co/ovsqhCJe6V

Exposed to be neo-nazi? Blame video games. Zero ability to take responsibility for their own actions.
 

SUPA FRANKY

New member
Aug 18, 2009
1,889
0
0
If you can't tell that the way your supposed to act in a fictional video game compared to real life, then that's your business.

I mena, that's why they have rating on the box if you obviousley can't handle it, and it somehow influences your behavior ( Hey! You can't blame me for robbing that bank! GTA INFLUENCED ME! ARREST THE DEVELOPPPPPEERRRRSSSS!!!!)
 

Crimsom Storm

New member
Feb 17, 2011
22
0
0
That's like saying religion influences violence, yet even if they were without religion, they'd find another reason to do harm to someone. Furthermore, all the enemies we tend to fight are men, not women, we're taught that violence against Men is alright. Most Women in the medium we have to fight end up joining our side, or can "be saved", or something, yet we plow mindlessly through men like they were nothing.

There's certainly sexism in that: That women can be saved and are good in some way, and all men are expendable and evil. Some buck the trend on this, but it's very few and far between. Furthermore, there are some games that play up the "sexual assault" thing when your primary character is a female, which could be confused as "all men want to rape women", when if you play the male side, they never try to anally rape you.
 

Stephen St.

New member
May 16, 2012
131
0
0
carnex said:
OK, I have read some of the posts here, not many, but some have said this before. And this is crucial piece of info. There isn't any research that would suggest that games influence people to act sexually in inappropriate manner. Absolutely none. Every piece I have found on the mater is pure speculation or opinion piece. Even research papers that have some research don have only some tangential connection to this idea and even then they are labeled inconclusive.

If you are claiming that games influence people in such manner, please find some proof. Until then, yes it's Jack Thompson all over again. The fact that it feels right doesn't make it right or gays would still be in ghettos in many parts of even western world.
Mrkillhappy said:
I was about to post this very statement so good thing I decided to read through the thread before posting so thank you carnex. Seriously people with out a study and solid scientific evidence all we can do is merely speculate which makes us no more credible then people like Jack Thompson. I understand we all have opinions on this & feel the need to voice our concerns but please don't treat them as objective fact but only as a hypothesis.
I have two remarks about this. One, what is the null hypothesis on how media affects your worldview? I know the null hypothesis generally states "no connection", but in this case this doesn't seem to make sense. Everything you experience does something to you (i.e. it adds to your experience), so is it really reasonable to conclude that what you experience in a game will not influence you?

Two, isn't sexism in games bad whether or not it influences your actions? If a game had a racist message, and we realized it, wouldn't we be correct in criticizing the game for inclusing a racist message even if we also concluded that it was unlikely anyone actually internalized it? I'd say it's ok to criticize things you consider amoral, so long as you don't force people to act in accordance to them.
 

carnex

New member
Jan 9, 2008
828
0
0
Stephen St. said:
I have two remarks about this. One, what is the null hypothesis on how media affects your worldview? I know the null hypothesis generally states "no connection", but in this case this doesn't seem to make sense. Everything you experience does something to you (i.e. it adds to your experience), so is it really reasonable to conclude that what you experience in a game will not influence you?

Two, isn't sexism in games bad whether or not it influences your actions? If a game had a racist message, and we realized it, wouldn't we be correct in criticizing the game for inclusing a racist message even if we also concluded that it was unlikely anyone actually internalized it? I'd say it's ok to criticize things you consider amoral, so long as you don't force people to act in accordance to them.
I never talked about null hypothesis. I rather talked about not having any proof that one really affects the other and circumstantially correlation is going in exactly the opposite directions. There is more emphasis on sex and sexual violence in big mainstream games than, let's say, 20 years ago, and it's graphically and psychologically more impactfull and immersive yet numbers of sexual abuses and discrimination against women is declining. Only odd statistic is in sexual assault category but that is really hard to quantify since that category just keeps expanding when now slap on the butt passing by can be labeled sexual assault.

Yes, everything has a connection, that is not the question at all as far as I'm concerned. And everything has influence. But it's the amount of influence that I bring into question. Potential harmfulness depends directly on how influential something is on psyche. And I don't see the impact of games all that much except as replacement for sociability which can be really deeply problematic but is not the question here.

Discussion is good, I'm all for it. But if we are having discussion based on fact I'm bringing facts in, if we are having discussion about feelings, that is on individual level for the most part and I'm not really qualified to comment other than to present my own feelings. That discussion is ultimately fruitless thus uninteresting to me.
 

mmiki

New member
Mar 1, 2013
49
0
0
It's Jack Thompson all over again.

At one point, gamers and games media were speaking with one voice on how ridiculous this is, that there was no proof whatsoever that this has grounds in reality.

In the last few years we've seen the same argument, with "violence" and "murder" replaced with "sexism" and "rape culture". Yes, it is still the same argument, and no, it still does not make any sense. Even more so that games typically don't depict sexual assault while they depict murder and violence all the time.

One question that I have: what exactly do you mean by a sexist trope? It's a very broad term and depends on the interpretation.

Stuffed Into The Fridge (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StuffedIntoTheFridge) / Disposable Woman (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DisposableWoman)?

These are probably the worst offenders that I know. Cheap anger for the male protagonist, purpose of the woman is to be a victim. Indicative of lazy writing, and without a doubt sexist. Even in this case, however, I would struggle to assign societal impact.

Damsel In Distress(http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DamselInDistress)?

This is so lazy and over-used that I get the sense it's more often subverted than played straight. I do have problem assigning sexism to this one.

Lets say you are allowed to pick whether your protagonist is male or female. If there is a quest to 'rescue your younger sister', is it only sexist if you picked your protagonist to be male? If we say yes, does that mean that every instance in which a male character is more powerful than a female character is sexist? If not, what determines it? Is it agency on behalf of the victim? Many instances where this is played straight have the Damsels attempting to escape capture, making them more than strictly objects. If they escape capture without agency of the protagonist is it still sexist?

In the game Sid Meier's Pirates you play a dashing young pirate whose entire family has been captured by the evil Count Montablan. You have to find and piece together maps that will lead you to their locations so that you can rescue them. *Is this only sexist when I'm rescuing female members of the family*?
 

Dastardly

Imaginary Friend
Apr 19, 2010
2,420
0
0
dunam said:
I don't think violence in video games desensitizes people to violence. Just to fantasy violence.
It definitely does. It doesn't necessarily do it more than violent movies, or even violent images on the news, but it certainly does desensitize people to violence. The more you see something, the less impact and novelty it has on you. It won't cause you to be violent, and it won't cause someone to stare blankly at an actual human beheading or anything, but it's a gradual erosion.

We don't want to get so defensive and reactionary that we deny basic psychological mechanisms in order to show there's nothing wrong here. Admitting the things that do happen will lend us more credibility when we decry the things that don't.

Tying this back to the sexism issue: The more you hear swearing, the less it grabs your attention. And, if you're saturated by it, you're more likely to go to some of those words in a flustered moment. The more we hear sexist language, the deeper it burrows into our subconscious lexicon. The more often we experience stories that play to sexist ideas of gender norms, the more ingrained they become.

Games are far, far from the only culprit. That's fair to focus on. Tons and tons of other media play on the exact same tropes. But this isn't a website dedicated to novels or (primarily) TV and movies. It's mostly about games. So that just happens to be the medium we talk about more often.
 

grassgremlin

New member
Aug 30, 2014
456
0
0
Dastardly said:
grassgremlin said:
What's going on here, I need to understand.
Most agree that, while video games don't cause violent behavior, they can desensitize us to violence. There's evidence to that, which is more than any of the other claims can boast.

To me, the issue is with what type of behavior the game can promote/endorse/encourage.

Violent behavior? No, not really. That requires a very active role on the part of the person doing the behavior. No one will imitate violent behavior unless they were already very heavily leaning that way -- the game might just provide them ideas on how to do it, or whatever. It is often claimed that people who cite videogames as the cause of their violent behavior were already violent people, and this was just one tiny straw that broke the camel's back.

But can a game influence a person's thoughts passively? Yes. Absolutely.

And the problem is, as I see it, that many people in the world already, passively, have absorbed sexist modes of thinking. We're programmed to associate blue with boys and pink with girls. We're programmed to picture athletes as male and models as female -- thus associating "being capable" with masculine and "being nice to look at" with feminine.

Sexist tropes in games (like violence to the already violent-minded folk) adds fuel to an existing fire, and one that is MUCH, MUCH harder to fight. A murderer can't deny they have killed a person, but a sexist ass can deny the true motivation behind a bad thing they did.

As with the claims of violence, the idea is that the content is tapping into an already-existing reservoir of behaviors and responses. Sexism, however, is far more common than the urge to mass-murder, and it is much easier to hide (from oneself, as well as others), in the same way crazy people don't know they're crazy.

So, really, the two issues are being treated by the same standard, when you really look at it. It's just more people are forced to face accusations of sexism, so the social backlash is larger.
In other words, people who are sexist don't know they are sexist.
That's just further explains that a lot of individuals have heavy mental issues.

To be fair, it's unsettling to be told you are crazy when you think you aren't.
It just means you have no control over yourself then you thought you realized leading to such things as mental breakdowns.
 

QuietlyListening

New member
Aug 5, 2014
120
0
0
Well I think that's the problem right there. When the discussion becomes the question, "are you sexist?" of course everyone will answer no. And if that's the discussion, then any evidence of sexism will only get discounted, rationalized, or rejected. And it's precisely because that thought is so unsettling.

It's why I think it's more productive to focus on sexist tropes, attitudes, and behaviors, rather than "being" sexist.
 

Stephen St.

New member
May 16, 2012
131
0
0
carnex said:
I never talked about null hypothesis. I rather talked about not having any proof that one really affects the other and circumstantially correlation is going in exactly the opposite directions. There is more emphasis on sex and sexual violence in big mainstream games than, let's say, 20 years ago, and it's graphically and psychologically more impactfull and immersive yet numbers of sexual abuses and discrimination against women is declining. Only odd statistic is in sexual assault category but that is really hard to quantify since that category just keeps expanding when now slap on the butt passing by can be labeled sexual assault.
Well if you are asking for proof, then you are asking the other side of the debate to disprove the null hypothesis, which for you appears to be that there is no connection between the sexism we see in a game and sexist attitudes in our heads. It's perfectly correct of you to ask for evidence first and make judgements later. What I wonder is what our starting position is, in other words what exactly it is that we are looking proof for. Or, to be more exact, what exactly the hypothesis is we are trying to disprove.

carnex said:
Yes, everything has a connection, that is not the question at all as far as I'm concerned. And everything has influence. But it's the amount of influence that I bring into question. Potential harmfulness depends directly on how influential something is on psyche. And I don't see the impact of games all that much except as replacement for sociability which can be really deeply problematic but is not the question here.
I would wholly agree with your reservations concerning the actual impact. I think it's safe to say that at this point, no-one can say much anything about how harmful sexism in media, specifically games, is. But what I am wondering is why do we care so much about the end result? Sure if we were talking about laws or other restrictions on freedom, we would need to demand actual harmful behavior. But if we are just talking about accepting certain criticisms and making informed choices ourselves? Then I feel like making the "right", i.e. the moral decision is more important than worrying about the end result. We should be mindful of sexist tropes in gaming and take them into account when we make our purchasing decisions, we don't need evidence on the long term effects to make that decision.

carnex said:
Discussion is good, I'm all for it. But if we are having discussion based on fact I'm bringing facts in, if we are having discussion about feelings, that is on individual level for the most part and I'm not really qualified to comment other than to present my own feelings. That discussion is ultimately fruitless thus uninteresting to me.
Well, I am sorry to not being able to contribute much to the topic you want to discuss. I am not an expert on social issues or psychology, and I doubt very many other posters are. And of those that have any background on the topic, I severely doubt anyone is going to go at the great lengths required to actually establish the facts for the pupose of a forum discussion. So I think a professional, scientific environment is better suited to your desire to discuss the facts.
 

mmiki

New member
Mar 1, 2013
49
0
0
Stephen St. said:
I would wholly agree with your reservations concerning the actual impact. I think it's safe to say that at this point, no-one can say much anything about how harmful sexism in media, specifically games, is. But what I am wondering is why do we care so much about the end result? Sure if we were talking about laws or other restrictions on freedom, we would need to demand actual harmful behavior. But if we are just talking about accepting certain criticisms and making informed choices ourselves? Then I feel like making the "right", i.e. the moral decision is more important than worrying about the end result. We should be mindful of sexist tropes in gaming and take them into account when we make our purchasing decisions, we don't need evidence on the long term effects to make that decision.
I'm not the person you responded to, but this struck a chord.

"Doing the right thing" is another thing entirely from the original assertion.

For one, morality isn't universal, and neither is the interpretation of what is and isn't a sexist trope. If you have a group of people who claim moral authority on the basis of "sexist tropes making people sexist" or some variant of it, and they want to influence the industry, then "where is the proof for your assertion" becomes a very important question.

If there is proof that what they call "sexist tropes" affects society in a negative way, then there are grounds for everyone to join in and say "this should not be acceptable".

If it isn't then it's just people who are claiming this pushing their political/cultural agenda and system of values and claiming moral authority with no basis in reality. It's the same argument that was used to claim that video games cause violence.
 

Thaluikhain

Elite Member
Legacy
Apr 4, 2020
14,933
764
118
grassgremlin said:
In other words, people who are sexist don't know they are sexist.
That's just further explains that a lot of individuals have heavy mental issues.

To be fair, it's unsettling to be told you are crazy when you think you aren't.
It just means you have no control over yourself then you thought you realized leading to such things as mental breakdowns.
The other problem is that people tend to look at it as a binary. Either you are a good person, and totally not sexist, or you're sexist and totally a bad person.

Everyone has various prejudices to some degree, but if you recognise this you can minimise them. It's not a matter of "no control", it's that it takes effort. You don't default to not prejudiced if you stop thinking about prejudice.
 

Mrkillhappy

New member
Sep 18, 2012
265
0
0
Stephen St. said:
I will agree that having sexist tropes such as poorly written female characters that exist only as plot devices or eye candy is not so great & can reinforce stereotypes on those who already believe them. Also as carnex said I to didn't (at least intend to) propose a null hypothesis I just wanted to state that we should wait for a study to come out before declaring facts, there is no doubt that media has some influence on our thoughts, the key word being some as in we don't know if it is even an amount to where we act upon the thought or don't just dismiss it from our mind as being untrue.
 

Stephen St.

New member
May 16, 2012
131
0
0
mmiki said:
I'm not the person you responded to, but this struck a chord.

"Doing the right thing" is another thing entirely from the original assertion.
True. I tackle the problem from this angle because I find it hardly productive to try to debate facts in an environment where we lack the necessary background to accurately judge these issues. That is what my null hypothesis talk was alluding to: Without knowledge in psychology and social sciences, we don't even know what basic assumptions we need to make. In addition, I always find it a tad dishonest to demand "evidence" on a forum as if that call would ever result in anything more than links to newspaper or blog post, or if you're lucky some abstract of some paper that no-one can access, let alone understand. The people who actually have the means to "prove" those things to us surely won't spend the time required to do so on an internet forum about games.

mmiki said:
For one, morality isn't universal, and neither is the interpretation of what is and isn't a sexist trope. If you have a group of people who claim moral authority on the basis of "sexist tropes making people sexist" or some variant of it, and they want to influence the industry, then "where is the proof for your assertion" becomes a very important question.
I disagree with the morality not being universal bit, but that's a complex topic that goes beyond the scope of this discussion. In any event, that sexism is amoral does not seem a very controversial issue, so it seems to me whether or not it's universal is irrelevant so long as we mostly agree on it.

As for your second point, I fail to see why "influencing the industry" leads to any specific requirement of proving that what you want to reduce is harmful. Quick time events aren't harmful to society at large, and yet no-one has a problem when I make a YouTube video demanding the industry stops using them so much. We all influence the industry with our opinions and decisions. I have yet to see someone claiming any special authority or position of influence over the industry. There are just people making videos or other public statements of their interpretations and their opinions. We can listen or we don't, but it's hardly grounds for any specific scrutiny.

mmiki said:
If there is proof that what they call "sexist tropes" affects society in a negative way, then there are grounds for everyone to join in and say "this should not be acceptable".

If it isn't then it's just people who are claiming this pushing their political/cultural agenda and system of values and claiming moral authority with no basis in reality. It's the same argument that was used to claim that video games cause violence.
I have a couple of problems with this last bit. First, while the "video games cause violence" argument may have been based on similar premises, the intended result was much different, namely specific legal action against games, making them less available etc. Second, it's not quite clear what you mean by "pushing" a political or cultural "agenda". It certainly sounds bad, but what does it entail? And Third, what is "moral authority" and how can it be based in reality, seeing as morality is certainly not subject to some kind of physical evidence?

All in all, I reject your claim that I need some proof as justification for me to voice a certain opinion. My moral convictions are grounds enough for me to support or not support something. I might be (morally) against significantly supporting something that I don't wholly understand, but I am certainly not going to actively fight it because the evidence is lacking.

Mrkillhappy said:
I will agree that having sexist tropes such as poorly written female characters that exist only as plot devices or eye candy is not so great & can reinforce stereotypes on those who already believe them. Also as carnex said I to didn't (at least intend to) propose a null hypothesis I just wanted to state that we should wait for a study to come out before declaring facts, there is no doubt that media has some influence on our thoughts, the key word being some as in we don't know if it is even an amount to where we act upon the thought or don't just dismiss it from our mind as being untrue.
I just wonder why the response seems to be "as long as there is no evidence, I am going to assume everything is fine" rather than "interesting point, maybe we should look into that". It's all fine to demand evidence before you are willing to take action, but before we can even know what evidence to demand, we need to be familiar with basic psychology and how media interacts with. Maybe the basics already point towards a strong connections between attitudes held and attitudes experienced in culture and media?
 

Mrkillhappy

New member
Sep 18, 2012
265
0
0
Stephen St. said:
I would say most default to this response just because it is easier to prove some one guilty if you start with the belief of innocence then it would be to prove innocence from a position of declaring them guilty. For me it is the fact that despite hearing & seeing sexist things they don't tend to influence my thoughts as I treat people as people being an egalitarian & all. Also sorry that this hasn't come across in my posts but I have been thinking of saying this should be investigated but I have been just to scatterbrained to remember to put it in before hitting post.
 

Thaluikhain

Elite Member
Legacy
Apr 4, 2020
14,933
764
118
Mrkillhappy said:
For me it is the fact that despite hearing & seeing sexist things they don't tend to influence my thoughts as I treat people as people being an egalitarian & all.
How do you know this to be true? How would you know you were being influenced? Who is going to think that they are treating people unfairly?

Most people are going to say they believe in equality, that they aren't racist or sexist, and believe it when they say it. That is not the same as it being true. I daresay when "All men are created equal" was written, at least some of the slave owners writing it believed that they believed it. Likewise, people that say "I'm not sexist, but" and then say something that shows them to be sexist.
 

Mrkillhappy

New member
Sep 18, 2012
265
0
0
thaluikhain said:
Mrkillhappy said:
For me it is the fact that despite hearing & seeing sexist things they don't tend to influence my thoughts as I treat people as people being an egalitarian & all.
How do you know this to be true? How would you know you were being influenced? Who is going to think that they are treating people unfairly?

Most people are going to say they believe in equality, that they aren't racist or sexist, and believe it when they say it. That is not the same as it being true. I daresay when "All men are created equal" was written, at least some of the slave owners writing it believed that they believed it. Likewise, people that say "I'm not sexist, but" and then say something that shows them to be sexist.
What you are saying is very true we cant know if we are being influenced, with this in mind I try to think of the impression my comment is going to make when I speak to someone face to face & put myself in their shoes, if I feel if I were them would I be offended & proceed from there. Though it may not be a flawless system it is really the best gauge I can have from self interpretation. Also I often avoid getting sentences even close to the "I'm not sexist, but" category just because all that matters in those sentences are the words after the but.