Is it time for feminists to step off our hobby?

Mandalore_15

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I'm going to assume everyone reading this is aware of the so-called "Quinnspiracy" and other events of the last two weeks. The fact that the online community has become a shit-slinging bitching fest can't have escaped many people's notice. Whatever people's views of the behaviour on both sides, I actually want to sidestep all that and talk about games themselves.

Internet feminists' gradual creep into the games industry has surely not gone unnoticed. Now, some people approve of this, others do not: for my intents and purposes it doesn't really matter. What matters is whether or not this is going to start affecting the quality of the games we get in future. It seems to me that no matter how far we come in the depiction of female characters in games, it is never enough. Take The Last Of Us: for my money, this was one of the inclusive, all-round diverse games ever, with female characters oozing with personality and inner-strength. Ellie is perhaps one of the best written characters in any medium ever, regardless of gender.

So I was pretty surprised to find (as were Naughty Dog, apparently) that the game garnered a not-insignificant amount of criticism for being "sexist". This was discussed a lot at the time so I won't go into any more detail, but it seems to me that there are now so many manufactured controversies surrounding women in video games that there is no way to please the feminist camp. Recent games like the new Tomb Raider and Bioshock Infinite have come under fire for being "sexist", and I can't for the life of me figure out why. Such spurious claims do nothing but derail any kind of discussion of gender in games, and must frustrate developers attempts to create a more diverse game by making them either want to give up or try even harder to shoehorn diversity in there for the sake of it.

This raises an important question: should game developers capitulate to feminist demands for a more inclusive range of characters in their games? My immediate answer is a resounding NO. As a person who works in a creative role myself, I value artistic integrity and creative vision far more than any tenuous elements of fairness or inclusivity attached to a work. Creators should feel free to choose the characters that suit the story they want to tell, and not bow to any pressure to have a gender/race/sexuality/etc. quota in their cast list. The same goes for those characters' personalities: there ARE weak women in the world, just as there are strong women, and the same for men. Choosing characters that fit these roles in no way makes a broad statement about a gender as a whole, it's just a dramatic device. Can you imagine William Golding being told he had to include some female characters in Lord Of The Flies? It simply wouldn't work in the context of the story and world he was creating.

And while we might disagree with some creative decisions, ultimately it's the creator's work to do with what he will. Whether that work lives or dies in the court of public opinion is up to us. We can criticise it on its merits, but extrapolating that to making broad statements about the developer's worldview is totally speculative and ultimately fruitless, particularly when they give us more inclusive games and receive just as much, if not more scrutiny.

So what do you guys think? Is there endemic sexism within the game industry and feminists complaints are valid, or is it a storm in a tea cup?


EDIT:

OK, so a lot of people have been jumping the gun somewhat with my use of the term "our hobby". By "our" that I mean all of us, the escapist community. It was not an attempt to depict the debate as "gamers vs. feminists" or anything like that, it was just a throwaway descriptor of what all of us here enjoy doing in our spare time, namely playing games.
 

BloatedGuppy

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Mandalore_15 said:
Ellie is perhaps one of the best written characters in any medium ever, regardless of gender.
Oh my GOD she is not. She's a superb video game character, but she'd be a marginal character at best in a novel, television series or film. Games still have a very, very long way to go in that regard.

As for the rest of this gynophobic claptrap, I'm afraid I don't have much to contribute. Your choice of title and tone should guarantee lots of uh..."vigorous" responses though.
 

Andy Shandy

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Jun 7, 2010
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Hey, if it gets more non-straight white males* in games, then sure they can stay as long as the like (although I'm not sure how one would go about suddenly "getting rid of them")

*[sub]I say this as a straight, white male, by the way. I just want something a little different[/sub]

Anyway, I've not heard of these "feminist demands" of which you speak. Were they etched in stone by Anita Sarkeesian, by any chance?
 

Silentwindofdoom

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Andy Shandy said:
Hey, if it gets more non-straight white males* in games, then sure they can stay as long as the like (although I'm not sure how one would go about suddenly "getting rid of them")

*[sub]I say this as a straight, white male, by the way. I just want something a little different[/sub]

Anyway, I've not heard of these "feminist demands" of which you speak. Were they etched in stone by Anita Sarkeesian, by any chance?
The "We just want more diversity" argument put forth by some is disingenuous. Merely putting attractive females in videogames as eye-candy is labeled as sexism and morally abhorrent.
 

Doom972

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They won't leave until we ignore them. We fail miserably so far. I doubt good developers would let some attention-seeking vloggers dictate how to make their games.
 

ScrabbitRabbit

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Not The Bees said:
Why not have Nintendo do a Mario story where Peach is the main character going out to save Mario? Hell, at least it would shake up the franchise a bit.
They actually did! Super Princess Peach I think it was called. I never played it because I didn't own an original DS at the time, but I remember thinking it looked interesting.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Princess_Peach

Didn't sell too badly either, it'd be nice to see something like it again.
 

xaszatm

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Silentwindofdoom said:
Andy Shandy said:
Hey, if it gets more non-straight white males* in games, then sure they can stay as long as the like (although I'm not sure how one would go about suddenly "getting rid of them")

*[sub]I say this as a straight, white male, by the way. I just want something a little different[/sub]

Anyway, I've not heard of these "feminist demands" of which you speak. Were they etched in stone by Anita Sarkeesian, by any chance?
The "We just want more diversity" argument put forth by some is disingenuous. Merely putting attractive females in videogames as eye-candy is labeled as sexism and morally abhorrent.
Well there is a difference between attractive female and sexualized female, but thanks for playing. Take your prize on the way out.

For you guys to even think that feminism has such a grip on gaming really is amusing. So, if/when feminists take over video games, I, for one, will welcome our new overlords. At least the onslaught of the exact same protagonist (seriously, forget women, what happened to non-human heroes?) will stop.
 

Erttheking

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Your title implies that feminists aren't gamers and that they have no right to be gamers. I imagine that would irritate quite a few people.

Also, games everyone loves are called sexist? Games everyone loves are called shit too, The Last of Us is getting the "It's not as great as everyone thought it was" treatment on this website right now, because some people will never be satisfied and you can't get worked up about it. You can't dismiss all claims of sexism just because you don't agree with a few.

I never could get behind the artistic integrity argument because imagination and creativity is dead in large chunks of the gaming industry are dedicated to sales and pandering.

And yes there are weak women in the world, but there are also weak men and strong women and we don't see too many of those in gaming either. Gaming is so stuck in stereotypes it isn't even funny. Persona 4 had characters that by the standards of other mediums would be pretty well written, but by gaming standards they're revolutionary. And what are they? A tomboy with a huge appetite and a need to protect her friends, a jokester that can be a douchebag a lot but still comes off as likable, a elegant girl who feels the pressure of expectations and has a horrible sense of humor, a tough punk who acts tough to hide the fact that he's insecure over the fact that he likes knitting (As possibly penis), and an intelligent girl who is a little too full of herself at first who just wants to be accepted.

None of them are Shakespeare. And while they would be memorable and good characters in another medium, they're revolutionary in gaming and I can barely find any characters quite as well developed as they are in gaming. Because to so many games, characters are a secondary concern, if they're a concern at all. Gaming will stop being criticized for the way it portrays women when it learns to tell a competent story on a consistent basis and not once in a blue moon.
 

shrekfan246

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Silentwindofdoom said:
Andy Shandy said:
Hey, if it gets more non-straight white males* in games, then sure they can stay as long as the like (although I'm not sure how one would go about suddenly "getting rid of them")

*[sub]I say this as a straight, white male, by the way. I just want something a little different[/sub]

Anyway, I've not heard of these "feminist demands" of which you speak. Were they etched in stone by Anita Sarkeesian, by any chance?
The "We just want more diversity" argument put forth by some is disingenuous. Merely putting attractive females in videogames as eye-candy is labeled as sexism and morally abhorrent.
It's funny that you use the word "disingenuous" and then proceed to be disingenuous. I'm pretty sure you could've reasoned for yourself that "Instead of white men, let's have tons of pretty women" wasn't what he meant.

OT: "Feminists" aren't going to ruin gaming. Neither are "SJWs" or Anita Sarkeesian or Zoe Quinn or anybody else, and "feminists" aren't the only people who want more diverse and/or "inclusive" characters in video games. So yeah, I think it's a "storm in a tea cup", only I think the storm is coming from all of the people who appear to be terrified that their hobby is going to be taken from them (when really it isn't).
 

McMarbles

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The mistake you're making is calling it "your" hobby. That kind of thinking is why you're having such an overreaction in the first place.
 

DeathQuaker

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I am a feminist (I firmly believe women are people) and I am a gamer (I play lots of video games--mainly RPGs, action, and strategy--and tabletop RPGs and board games). Gaming is "my" hobby, as much as it is yours. "You," whoever you think, "you" are, don't own the hobby. The "invasion" as I guess, unfortunately, some folks see it, has already happened. Women, men, intersex and genderqueer persons, white people, persons of color, LGBTQS persons -- people of all these demographics play gamers. We are all gamers. I am what a gamer looks like. "You" may be too. So may anyone else.

But I'm not going to "step off" OUR (yours and mine) hobby because it is in fact my hobby. And I will let developers, politely and civilly, what I am looking for in a game.

I will defend people's rights to express what they want to see in a game, whether I personally agree with their desires or not, as long as folks express their desires civilly, without hateful speech toward other human beings. I will defend anyone's right to do so safely without threat of bullying or harrassment. There are people being frightened out of their hopes for fear of their family's safety right now, and that's terrible -- that's not what discussions of video games should result in, and that means everyone truly pushing for good treatment of other people, whoever they are, need to stick around and speak up. The only people I want to step off of MY hobby are the people who cannot discuss said hobby without resorting to threats, bullying, namecalling, and verbal assault, whether they label themselves "feminist" or "MRA" or "George" or what-have-you. I'll add that as a feminist, I am very distressed when other self-labeled feminists say hateful or hurtful things as much as when it comes from anyone else. Feminists like any other group aren't some big scary hivemind all with the same ideas--we all are individuals who take different approaches to things, some perhaps more effective or agreeable than others. In the end, I personally believe all people should just treat each other decently. If someone is incapable of that regardless of what "side" they're on, then they're out.

And I do not see constructive, civil, criticism of gaming as the same thing as hating gaming or gamers. And even if I criticize a game or an aspect of a game industry, that does NOT mean I think that game in its entirety is bad, the industry in its entirety is bad, or that people who plays games are bad people. I do not, for example, think that just because some poorly characterized females exist in games (and they do) that all gamers hate women or are trying to hurt them. And I think few people from my point of view (female, feminist) believe that. Pointing out where I think there is poor characterization or what have you (whether about women or not) isn't about me saying GAMERS BAD. Not at all (especially because I'd be condemning myself). It's just about what I think about that one aspect, to take home about what I might seek out in a game in the future. Same goes for anyone else.

We often critique, both positively and negatively, the people and things that we love. For example, when I was a child, my parents have sometimes criticized or tried to correct some poor behavior they thought I had; sometimes they were ham-handed about it and sometimes they did it effectively; sometimes what they wanted to see me change was a good thing for me to change (I needed to speak with better manners), and other times it was irrelevant (they hated that I wore torn jeans for awhile), but all of that criticism was out of love and wanting me to do better, and I acknowledge that. A true friend or family member will tell you when you're wrong. I will be a true friend to the hobby I love and let the industry know when I think they've got it wrong. They will or won't listen to me, and that's alright whatever they do--they have to figure out what feedback's important and what's irrelevant. But if I offer any criticism, it's out of the fact that I enjoy the hobby and only want to see it get better. It doesn't mean that I want games to change tremendously or for everyone to feel welcome. And if you disagree with what I want to see changed -- that's alright, as long as you're polite and civil in your disagreement. That can only spawn good and helpful discussions.

And if someone tries to scare me away from my hobby that I love because for some reason they decide I don't belong here? That's only going to strengthen my resolve to stick around.

As it is, I won't "step off." I will continue to stand beside you as a fellow gamer, and be proud of who I am and of OUR hobby that you and I and all people here share together (warts and all). So I hope you get used to me and other feminist gamers being here, because we are not going anywhere. Now let's go have some fun and play games. :)
 

DementedSheep

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For a start "artistic integrity" in most games is a load of shit in the first place especially if you are talking stuff like your avatar options in multiplayer (which is the one most likely to get under fire) and it's not a shield from criticism when you are selling a product. Games are not the artistic vision of one person. A lot of aspects will be designed to get sales. Stoic brown haired white guy with stubble being so common is not because that's just what everyone wants to make. If you going to go the artistic integrity route then you shouldn't be criticising anything because it their artistic vision and they can do what they like.

The Tomb Raider thing was a case of dev foot in mouth implying a scene was worse than it was (a lot of people thought that was only the start of a scene not the whole thing) and that they were going with "raped as motivation" thing. Yes the reaction was really stupid. When that blew over I saw mostly praise for it with a couple of people of people still bothered.

The stuff I saw about TLOU was because of being told to remove Ellie from the cover and the data from women in the focus test being removed which unless I'm remembering it wrong was actually bought up by the one of the developers.

I haven't seen feminist criticism of the core BS:I at all and one case of it for Burial at Sea. I have however seen praise for it and Elisabeth.

Most games don't get flack. It's just occasionally one rightly or wrongly gets pulled out as an example and you get a domino effect with people talking about it.

Feminist need to step of "our hobby"? because it's not like most the people criticising are gamers themselves or anything right? If I play a game and something negatively effects my enjoyment or I think it could have been better with something I'm going to mention it and that includes shit like having to put up with wank bait the whole game. It's the same way I would criticise the writing being shitty or artsyle being an eyesore.
For some reason whenever the criticism is something about gender or minorities or you dare talk about some of the issues and problematic trends you think games in general could use some improvement in it's automatically a demand and "feminist agenda" and I don't even consider myself a feminist.
Should game developers capitulate to gamer demands and lay off intrusive DRM and DLC in their games? or stop with the homogenising of genres and mass appeal approach? because people make videos and kick up a fuss about that and don't see people freaking out and trying to defend developers with that issue.
 

Gronk

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"Our hobby"? Who are this "we" you're talking about? Just curious, because i've been playing games for 30 years and I sure as h**k aint one of them.
 

Phasmal

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This post presumes you can either be a feminist OR a gamer.

Which is just dumb.

BloatedGuppy said:
Mandalore_15 said:
Ellie is perhaps one of the best written characters in any medium ever, regardless of gender.
Oh my GOD she is not. She's a superb video game character, but she'd be a marginal character at best in a novel, television series or film. Games still have a very, very long way to go in that regard.

As for the rest of this gynophobic claptrap, I'm afraid I don't have much to contribute. Your choice of title and tone should guarantee lots of uh..."vigorous" responses though.
And also this.

Games are way, way behind on things like this.
We praise characters as outstanding when in a tv show or movie they'd just be adequate.
 

Muspelheim

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A bit of both, perhaps? A genuine problem either blown up into distortion or diminished to nothing admist all the unproductive shouting.

I'd say that the root problem is that both sides are unwilling to see it as anything but absolutes. And whatever happens, gaming is NOT under a threat to its very existance. At all. A developer who makes female armour models all resemble swimwear will not be taken out the courtyard and shot in the head. There might be some complaints, but honestly, there will always be complaints. At least it's for a reason, if nothing else.

And like other posters have said, I'm afraid that you and I are not in the same trench. And neither of us will leave, as well we shouldn't.
 

Mandalore_15

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BloatedGuppy said:
Mandalore_15 said:
Ellie is perhaps one of the best written characters in any medium ever, regardless of gender.
Oh my GOD she is not. She's a superb video game character, but she'd be a marginal character at best in a novel, television series or film. Games still have a very, very long way to go in that regard.

As for the rest of this gynophobic claptrap, I'm afraid I don't have much to contribute. Your choice of title and tone should guarantee lots of uh..."vigorous" responses though.
By that logic all videogame characters would be marginal in novels, seeing as they're completely different mediums with different propensities to explore characterisation. No medium will ever be able be able to explore themes as deeply as a novel. And as for a TV series or film, all I can say is I completely disagree with you. Her arc is broader and more fleshed out than most film or TV characters in my opinion, particularly if you play the Left Behind DLC.

As for me being "gynophobic", I'd suggest you provide evidence of that or retract it. Criticising a feminist stance on an isue =/= "gynophobia".

Not The Bees said:
So I went to go look up Bioshock Infinite getting bad reviews, and The Last of Us bad reviews for the sexist angle by feminists because I hadn't heard of that much backlash. Well, none on the BI, and only some of Last of Us... I was expecting something huge, I mean, the way you're speaking I was expecting some sort of huge movement in the gaming industry where women were speaking out against Elizabeth and Ellie.
I'm surprised you didn't find anything. There were quite a number of articles and threads mentioning perceived sexism in those games, not just reviews. I'd link but admittedly I read them ages ago and I'm too lazy to try and find them again. You can choose to believe me or not, no harm no foul.

At any rate it wasn't a huge movement and I didn't mean to portray it that way, but it was certainly vocal. And the problem I had was that no mentions of gender were ever made in a positive light with regards to these games. Personally I wanted to praise the depiction of these female characters, but I found a hell of a lot of negativity and not much praise at all.

Not The Bees said:
Most women that have issues in the gaming industry is just the fact that sometimes they'd like to have some narrative from a different perspective. We're not trying to "take over your hobby" since we need to possibly step off it.
DeathQuaker said:
I am a feminist (I firmly believe women are people) and I am a gamer (I play lots of video games--mainly RPGs, action, and strategy--and tabletop RPGs and board games). Gaming is "my" hobby, as much as it is yours. "You," whoever you think, "you" are, don't own the hobby...

But I'm not going to "step off" OUR (yours and mine) hobby because it is in fact my hobby. And I will let developers, politely and civilly, what I am looking for in a game.
OK, perhaps I worded my introductory statement poorly. I wasn't trying to imply that people who identify as feminist cannot claim gaming as a hobby, or that there is some kind of division between the two. What I meant to say was "our hobby" (as in users of this website, not claiming my own personal ownership) and feminists "stepping off" meaning stopping criticising, at least in the sense of the artistic content of the games. At any rate it was meant to be an open question. I absolutely accept that people should put forward arguments for what they want to see in games, but I take issue with people criticising a game because it is NOT what they wanted to see, at least in terms of is demographic inclusivity.
 

Mandalore_15

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Phasmal said:
This post presumes you can either be a feminist OR a gamer.

Which is just dumb.
No it doesn't, it asks whether or not a feminist ideology should be applied to diversity amongst fictional characters. You can be a feminist and a gamer, it doesn't necessarily follow that that should govern your view of gaming.
 

Mandalore_15

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Gronk said:
"Our hobby"? Who are this "we" you're talking about? Just curious, because i've been playing games for 30 years and I sure as h**k aint one of them.
I sorta explained this above, but just for clarity by "our" I mean the community of this website.