Brandon Strader

Tropes vs. Women / #GamerGate Conspiracies

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Wow. That's just tasteless.

I assume you're talking about the vile comments she received, not that picture.

Actually, "trolls" is the least of what I would call those people. Psychotic assholes is nearer the mark.

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I assume you're talking about the vile comments she received, not that picture.

Actually, "trolls" is the least of what I would call those people. Psychotic assholes is nearer the mark.

look nobody disagrees that her harassment was terrible. the reason it's terrible what SHE did is because she gets that harassment ALL THE TIME. she specifically blocks all comments etc. BECAUSE OF IT. if you go to that kickstarter promo video she says IN THE STATUS that she intentionally left the comments up to 'prove a point' about how necessary her work is.

" I left the comments open on this video (until 24 hours after the kickstarter was finished) as a way of showing why this topic is so important. I apologize for all the hate speech, misogyny, racism, threats and ignorance that were left below over this 2 week period. The trolls only managed to prove to everyone that sexism in gaming is indeed a huge problem."

if she hadn't left comments up, and nobody had harassed her, and she didn't make a big public 'oh help me people are being mean to me' stunt, she would have never gotten a sliver of the publicity she did for this. and she knows it. so no, it's not about the harassment she got (which is indeed terrible), but the fact that she planned for it to happen, invited it with an overly confrontational video, manipulated it to her advantage AS A WOMAN MIND YOU, and made lots of money from it.

frankly anytime a public figure says 'the trolls are trying to tear down my work' it should put up a red flag. it's unprofessional and alludes to a whole lot of things that maybe you should look inwards at, instead of projecting onto the public.

also, to zircon: the fact that people taking too long on kickstarter projects happens all the time doesn't make it okay. isn't this exactly what we're talking about? that sexism in games happens all the time but isn't okay? but on TOP of that she hasn't even taken the 5 seconds out of her day to inform ANYone on the schedule of this project. at best that's negligent. at worst that's deliberately not informing the people who are paying you on what you're doing. there is no other situation in the WORLD where a person getting paid by their superiors can just walk off and say 'well i'll call sometime.' a company CEO can't just do whatever he wants with shareholder money and expect he doesn't have to explain himself. a scientist can't just get a major grant and then not contact the granter to give them updates on the work they were paid to do. so why does this woman get to take everyone's money, go way over schedule, and just be silent and inform nobody? there's a reason people that are backing her are complaining on this. because she's intentionally not telling people. and that's not okay.

is it because feminism again? because that really seems to be where this conversation keeps going.

double edit: i actually agree with bleck's post in it's entirety. but before someone's like 'shut up hypocrite' i have not taken a 'free pass' to insult this woman and take baseless pot shots. given what she has done previously in her videos, her manipulative self promotion, and her frankly poor work on this video in particular, i think i have plenty of reasons to discredit what she's done. because it doesn't deserve a lot of credit. i like arek think the conversation of sexism in games is important as i have said tons of times. but this woman sucks at it, and did a shitty job.

Edited by The Derrit

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E: You know what? It doesn't even matter. This thread is about the video series in specific, not about the person behind it. It doesn't matter if Anita Sarkeesian eats babies or the entire kickstarter is one big ponzi scheme. I'm here to talk about the contents of this video series, so I'm not gonna post til we're back on topic.

Edited by Tensei

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She's terrible for getting harassed, receiving death threats, then using said harassment to make a point about online harassment of women in a TEDx talk? Don't you think the fault ultimately lies with the people who, you know, posted all those comments in the first place?

What's so confrontational about

anyway?

oh i don't know, all of it? the first line is "Have you ever noticed that, with a few notable exceptions, basically all female characters in video games fall into a small handful of clichés and stereotypes?" as if it's indisputably true, or even close to it. It's not something you can prove as accurate, it's pretty obviously not accurate if you play games in the modern era. That just starts me off wanting to disagree with her. And it only gets worse. You think someone with a more level head than me wouldn't comment on her video like 'you're full of shit go back to making videos about bayonetta when you've never played the game, make false statements about it and then delete it when everyone calls your bullshit and never own up to the fact that you straight-out lied because feminism?"

that actually happened by the way. certainly a nice anecdote on her moral fiber.

and no she's not terrible for all of that, she's terrible for PLANNING FOR THAT TO HAPPEN. those are all unfortunate things and it's a shame they happened, and shouldn't have, and the onus is clearly on those people. but there's no way around the fact that she knew it was coming, and still literally owns up to leaving up her comments section to 'prove there was a problem.' if she approached this the way djp has illustrated throughout the thread there would still be people harassing her i'm sure, and it would be just as unfortunate and wrong. but she's pointing her needlessly barbed and pointy finger at people she knows will take offense, giving them a platform she gives literally no one else in any other instance in which she releases media, and then taking it to the press like no one's business. being a jackass and then running to the media saying 'these people are being mean to me' isn't pitiable.

now clearly the harassment is bad regardless of the circumstance. but she engineered a circumstance in which the harassment was going to be the worst it could possibly be. and frankly she doesn't get my sympathy for that.

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"Have you ever noticed that, with a few notable exceptions, basically all female characters in video games fall into a small handful of clichés and stereotypes?"
Yes, we're back to looking at content. So what's wrong with THIS statement? Well, I could pick on the phrase "basically all" quite a bit as simply being bad writing - you've already qualified that there are exceptions, so the adverb is superfluous. It's also hyperbole, as there are more than a "few" exceptions of note. Furthermore, it sidesteps entirely a point that I think is quite relevant - most video game characters, male or female, fall under a relatively small number of clichés, stereotypes, archetypes, etc. So do most fictional characters! Let's rewrite again:

"Have you ever noticed that the clichés and stereotypes used to depict female characters in video games have less variety and depth than their male counterparts?"
Not difficult. I'd go one step further, because the point she's making isn't (or at least shouldn't be) that stereotypes and clichés themselves are inherently bad - they are merely inevitable trend analysis and self-similarity that results from the human brain's need to categorize, etc. So why pick on them in the abstract? They'll be around forever, we just need to improve them, diversify them, update them, and as Tensei said, developers and writers should be aware of them. She's throwing them out there for the knee-jerk OMG STEREOTYPES! reaction, but I think the actual sentiment is better expressed without them:

"Have you ever noticed that female characters in video games tend to be depicted with less variety and depth than males?"
There we go. Cogent, concise, and articulates the core issue without sweeping generalizations or red herrings. But wait just a minute, I'm not done yet, if you call in the NEXT 24 HOURS I'll give you a version that doesn't even need a dichotomy to make its point! Yours for only $0.00:

"Have you ever noticed that female characters in video games tend to be depicted without much variety or depth?"
Fanbubulous... now we aren't constrained by framing this as simply a problem of sheer parity... I realize she didn't explicitly do that in this specific statement, but to me the implication was clearly there, and it certainly comes through in her first video. For my money? Drop the "Have you ever noticed" as well... if this is the point you're trying to prove through persuasive observation, don't treat it like a concrete fact that the viewer is either aware of or has somehow missed. That's more a question of style over substance, though. Edited by djpretzel

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Yeah, but in the case of those videos they weren't paid 160k$ to do so, so no one expects them to come out regularly (unless otherwise noted, like Nostalgia Critic and Extra Credits)...

On the other hand, having asked for $6k and gotten $160k, she might have thought that people might feel a bit disappointed if she released $6k worth of material. So she puts in more work on each video, and it ends up taking a bit longer.

There is more than one possible explanation at work, here.

Basically, let's see what happens. If she puts out a pile of garbage on this funding, THEN it's time to complain. Which is to say that complaints about the quality of the video, right or wrong, are on point, while under the circumstances, the release schedule isn't really.

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If she puts out a pile of garbage on this funding, THEN it's time to complain.

She already did. That's why people are complaining. The issue is it took her this long to do 1/12th of it.

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:facepalm: The next sentence of my post is the response to what you just said.

Are you so self-destructively impatient that you feel the need to reply out of context just to be told to go back up and read the answer to your comment?

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:facepalm: The next sentence of my post is the response to what you just said.

Are you so self-destructively impatient that you feel the need to reply out of context just to be told to go back up and read the answer to your comment?

are you so stupid as to not read how it's a problem not only because the quality was poor but because the quality was poor AND not in a timely manner? criticizing her inability to do things on time is ABSOLUTELY relevant, ESPECIALLY if it's of similar or poorer quality than her previous videos. which it is.

at least you tried. lurk more.

Edited by The Derrit

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I'm still occasionally reading this even though the end of my week-long break prevents me from contributing much. Goodness, this thread is taking a nosedive in quality with pointless bickering about the timeliness and quality of the videos and how much you hate the author for foreclosing people's harassment of her.

Content-wise, I thought Moguta had the best actual critique of the video's substance in this thread. More discussion of those nuances he/she mentioned would be great, and I hope future videos include that kind of material. I suppose everyone could read tea leaves about what Anita is "actually" saying by looking at her presentation style, diction and tone, but I'm not sure that's actually valuable speculation. All anyone can really do is wait for the rest of her videos and other commentary she has about it. Either way, I don't know how fruitful it would be to look at only one person's thoughts and presentations when you all have your own thoughts to share. Feel free to disagree, but I think that rather than debating semantics and style of her video, a more interesting discussion would focus on what, if anything, is problematic about portrayals of women in gaming.

Edited by Ab56 v2 aka Ash

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Good post, Moguta. Just wanted to reply to let you know someone read & appreciated it!

I think ultimately that it's a good thing someone's doing this in a high-profile manner, and that it's generating discussion, and from that perspective, I can't fault it one bit. The brand of feminism being varnished at times in the first video is a superficial, textbook variety that doesn't have a lot of depth and deals more in slogans than analysis, and it doesn't bode well for future videos, but as mentioned, it's not super-mega-blatant or over-the-top obnoxious. I primarily wanted to make the point that there are multiple schools of feminism out there, and some of them are a lot more analytical & pragmatic, as opposed to the "OMG BOOBS OBJECTIFICATION PATRIARCHY!" knee-jerk dial-a-mantra crowd. I wish we were getting analysis of a higher quality, from a different echelon of feminism, but perhaps something is better than nothing.

Thanks! And the rest of your post takes all the words right out of my mouth -- in more elegant form than I'd manage. :)

My issue with that assessment is that it raises the question as to what level of exposure does Jim there have than Anita does not. Is Anita solely in the consumer side, only able to express her frustration as a consumer and only involves herself in the consumption of the game. What Jim seems to do is diving deeper into the media releases that are ancilliary to the games, going beyond mere consumer, to glean a different depth of the problem. There are others who can provide production side criticism, as Jim is able to reference but unable to provide. It is wise to include the producers and the consumers in this debate.

Jim undoubtedly has more industry access than Anita, and yes, excluding the consumer perspective would be a travesty. Still, taking a decently-large randomized sample of games is something perfectly within her crowd-funded means. I expect some rigor when I hear "analysis", because it's too easy to throw opposing anecdotes back and forth.

Also, I'm glad DJP brought up those sweeping generalizations that seem to pop out of her video every few minutes. Wonder if I should be expecting so much, though, since video is the ideal format for entertainment, not rational discussion.

Content-wise, I thought Moguta had the best actual critique of the video's substance in this thread. More discussion of those nuances he/she mentioned would be great, and I hope future videos include that kind of material. I suppose everyone could read tea leaves about what Anita is "actually" saying by looking at her presentation style, diction and tone, but I'm not sure that's actually valuable speculation. All anyone can really do is wait for the rest of her videos and other commentary she has about it. Either way, I don't know how fruitful it would be to look at only one person's thoughts and presentations when you all have your own thoughts to share. Feel free to disagree, but I think that rather than debating semantics and style of her video, a more interesting discussion would focus on what, if anything, is problematic about portrayals of women in gaming.

Thanks, dude/dudette! ( And I'm a "he". :wink: )

Honestly, most of the video games I've grown up playing do a pretty stellar job of portraying women. Bethesda RPGs, my bread and butter, always let you choose the hero's gender, send you to the aid of men probably as often as women, and feature females in roles from powerful monarch to master thief to noble warrior. And Bioware adventures, my new favorite, seem just as open to the true variability of gender roles. I appreciate these kinds of progressive atmospheres, though what really draws me is the deep customizability and detail of the worlds.

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are you so stupid as to not read how it's a problem not only because the quality was poor but because the quality was poor AND not in a timely manner? criticizing her inability to do things on time is ABSOLUTELY relevant, ESPECIALLY if it's of similar or poorer quality than her previous videos. which it is.

at least you tried. lurk more.

Maybe I misunderstand the timeline here, but if she put a level of effort into the first one that fit her initial budget, and then she got way more, then you'd expect to have this: low quality first episode, than a delay for the second while she ramps up her production values.

At least you tried thinking of other explana... well, maybe you didn't. Think more generously.

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Maybe I misunderstand the timeline here, but if she put a level of effort into the first one that fit her initial budget, and then she got way more, then you'd expect to have this: low quality first episode, than a delay for the second while she ramps up her production values.

At least you tried thinking of other explana... well, maybe you didn't. Think more generously.

If she finished the first video before her Kickstarter was finished, how do you account for the 9 month delay in releasing it?

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If she finished the first video before her Kickstarter was finished, how do you account for the 9 month delay in releasing it?

because feminism. the main reason for most everything that this woman is being excused for.

to whatever your name is who thinks the delay could totally have a reason, you haven't been paying attention and your idea is not why.

at this point this thread is grasping at really small straws. it's pretty much been settled as far as this thread is concerned that her argument was vapid, poorly written and full of questionable information posed as truth. and plagarism. there's no one left saying 'yeah she really nailed it' because if you look closely, she didn't. i don't see where there's much room to continue other than to keep trying to act like this woman isn't being incredibly shady about this whole operation.

gender equality in videogames can continue to improve. okay, we get it. nobody's disagreeing. a woman being like 'look at all this sexism' with middling examples and strongly biased wording throughout her crowd-funded video isn't the solution.

the... end?

FingersCrossed.jpg

Edited by The Derrit

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I don't get it, is there more than one video planned? I imagine for someone who feels truly passionate about this subject you would :

1. Not need a kick starter to fund it, just use YouTube.

2. Not need more than one concise and well put together video

I wont claim to know anything about this video though.

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I don't get it, is there more than one video planned? I imagine for someone who feels truly passionate about this subject you would :

1. Not need a kick starter to fund it, just use YouTube.

2. Not need more than one concise and well put together video

I wont claim to know anything about this video though.

If you know nothing about the topic OR any of the context, you could just refrain from posting about it. :lol:

If she finished the first video before her Kickstarter was finished, how do you account for the 9 month delay in releasing it?

because feminism. the main reason for most everything that this woman is being excused for.

I don't need to change your handle back to The Durritt, do I? :lol: Don't conflate people giving her the benefit of the doubt because they're positive with her being a woman.

After complaining about her stances not properly demonstrating A-to-B causal relationships, your conclusion here was pretty silly and groundless. There's no reason to assume most of the people who don't mind the scope creep are doing so just because Anita's a woman. :lol:

Mo' money, mo' problems.

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I don't need to change your handle back to The Durritt, do I? :lol: Don't conflate people giving her the benefit of the doubt because they're positive with her being a woman.

After complaining about her stances not properly demonstrating A-to-B causal relationships, your conclusion here was pretty silly and groundless. There's no reason to assume most of the people who don't mind the scope creep are doing so just because Anita's a woman. :lol:

Mo' money, mo' problems.

for starters, i said because *feminism,* not because she's a woman. and i don't see where you're correct, given the multitude of free passes she's been given by some people here.

why is this video series so tardy? 'no one knows, but feminism is bad!'

why is it okay for her to keep her audience uninformed as to why it's taken so long for her to make these videos, even though they paid her to do it (and her advertised finish date to these paying customers was over 4 months ago, for ALL of them)? 'well there's probably a good reason! she must be taking her time to make sure these videos are good (0 for 1) informative (0 for 1) and higher production quality (0 for 1) than usual!'

why is her first video clearly of no higher production quality than her previous videos, when it's a specific stretch goal on her kickstarter that was passed *and then another 100 thousand dollars*? 'i'm not sure, maybe the next one will be better, you don't know the circumstances! sexism is really important though!'

why is her first video full of poor writing as djp has explained multiple times, and fiercely slanted towards implications of developer intent and people intentionally choosing to 'take away women's power' when in many cases, even in the ones she's used as examples, it's just not always true, and certainly not persuasive enough to be used as a scientific article? 'well you don't know she intended that for sure, you'd have to ask her. but she's tackling a tough feminist issue, she should get credit for it!'

why is it okay for her to intentionally stir up controversy by putting up a combative intro to her kickstarter, and then intentionally leaving the comments section open (which she never does) to funnel in the hate attacks that she KNOWS are coming, and use that as publicity for her kickstarter? 'don't blame the victim, that's typical chauvinism. women have it so hard.'

why is it okay to make a video about bayonetta essentially lying about what's actually in the game to try and make her point, and when she gets called on it, deleting it and never owning up to the inaccuracies? and why can she pull examples directly from the tvtropes and wikipedia pages on this exact subject (damsel-in-distress) and act like she actually did substantiative research, seeing in any other instance that would be, oh i don't know, plagarism?

well, those two nobody's answered yet.

what bothers me is that these sleazy things that she's doing are protected by the cover-all of feminism, and that what she's doing in talking about sexism in games is important. it is an important conversation, but not only has she done a bad job initially, she's done several incredibly shady and under-handed things along the way which people are apparently willing to overlook because she is trying to take feminism to games. even if she is doing it poorly.

so yeah.

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Ad hominem and attacks on her Kickstarter campaign aren't really arguments against any of her points, not to mention much of what you said has already been addressed repeatedly or debunked.

* The point about "tardiness" has been repeatedly addressed. The overwhelming majority of overfunded Kickstarters do not launch on time, or anywhere close to on time. Period. The "excuse" is that everyone always underestimates the time it takes to do whatever it is they are raising money for. Doesn't matter if it is a video project, a physical object, a CD, game, whatever. The fact that it launched when it did was actually earlier than at least 25% of Kickstarters. QED.

* Production quality. I look at videos like this...

... and compared to her newest one, the quality difference seems pretty obvious. No, there's no fancy CG, but the video & audio quality is markedly improved even at lower resolutions. Plus, from my experience working heavily in audio/video professionally, my guess is that some of the money went to behind-the-scenes upgrades that wouldn't necessarily show, but would make the production process easier (ie. better/more computers, better storage setup, etc.) If I made that much money on a Kickstarter, that's the kind of stuff I would buy.

* Whether the video is full of "poor writing" is obviously up for debate, unlike most of these other points.

* A better question regarding controversy is why you have such a problem with her making a controversial video. People, especially in the game industry, write or produce bold and controversial content all the time. It's not a crime to have a strong opinion. She wasn't advocating anything extreme like violence or racism. In fact, relative to the stuff people post on NeoGAF or Kotaku all the time, I'd say her video was downright tame. But again, if it wasn't, who cares? Why is that a problem?

* I want to harp on the controversial thing more. You seem to be taking personal offense that she has a strong opinion on a controversial topic, and (gasp) used that for publicity. This is what basically all games journalists do, along with folks like the Jimquisition, Extra Credits, Kotaku, Dtoid, Joystiq, whatever. You will get more readers and attention by tackling something that people care about, especially if you have a strong opinion. Now as to your claim that she KNEW she was going to get harassed and used THAT for publicity...

* The comments section. As has been pointed out, the harassment started after the Kickstarter video. She wasn't the target of abuse and harassment prior to that - the Kickstarter is what got her so much visibility. Feel free to Google the chronology of this and see for yourself. It's insane to think that she would have been able to predict the waterfall of vitriol levied toward her, especially since she had not experienced that level of harassment previously.

It's also really amazing that you continue to not blame or condemn the people that did the harassing. It really is the definition of "blame the victim". It's like in the Steubenville rape case, all the people who blamed the girl who got raped and attacked her. You're doing the same exact thing. Even if she did predict the harassment, it's still NOT HER FAULT for being harassed. By definition, the people responsible for the harassment are THE HARASSERS. If there were ever such a thing as justifiable threatening and harassment, it wouldn't be over a fucking Kickstarter video on the internet.

* Back to the delay again. Even though the delay is exactly in line with the majority of overfunded Kickstarters, she did publish numerous updates to backers throughout the process. Again, I'll point out that there are many, many projects that have NOT done this and who have stayed mostly silent. It's practically par for the course. Her communication has been very thorough in comparison.

Edited by zircon

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If you know nothing about the topic OR any of the context, you could just refrain from posting about it. :lol:

noted. there's a reason I generally avoid heated debates like this on forums.

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Feel free to disagree, but I think that rather than debating semantics and style of her video, a more interesting discussion would focus on what, if anything, is problematic about portrayals of women in gaming.

Right, I suppose this was a quick cameo to conveniently sweep aside most of what I wrote as being purely semantic, when I went to great lengths to explain the substantive, meaningful implications of Anita's statements as made, with plenty of examples, and pointed out how they could easily be modified to avoid demonizing, exaggerating, contradicting, etc. - very much questions of substance, not style. Talk about moving goalposts... if you had the time to read what I wrote, I think you'll see that in the midst of rewriting her statements, I was actually doing exactly what you describe - focusing on what I find is actually problematic about this topic. If you didn't have the time to read it all, no worries, but don't play the semantics card as a replacement for doing so, especially when we've been discussing how the damsel-in-distress trope is "lazy"...

Great article on RPS about issues with women in games & the game industry.

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/04/06/misogyny-sexism-and-why-rps-isnt-shutting-up/

Worth a read.

It was worth a read, and it is different from other articles I've seen. I'd hesitate to call it great, but it was at least unique.

So briefly, let’s observe the pervasive nature of sexism and misogyny (and we’re not going to get distracted by the debate over which is which) in the games industry, and in the reporting of it, with two examples from just the last fortnight.
The article is full of attempts to head off any objections by employing the rhetorical "we" and trying to second-guess and/or denigrate potential avenues of criticism. Crafty, and can come off as VERY compelling to some, especially when executed with a little more subtlety. "We're not going to get distracted"... okay, I guess we're not. I didn't realize this was a dialogue, I thought it was a monologue. But let's look at his two examples:

  1. Weird-ass electrocution & spanking of women as part of Rock Band promo
  2. 40 Hottest Women in Tech list that focuses on physical appearance in photos but has descriptions that read more like bios

#1 - Seems like more of a WTF marketing failure to gauge the audience. Is the presentation itself offensive, or is the fact they thought a general Rock Band audience would enjoy it? It's the latter, right? Otherwise, aren't we basically saying that all consensual BDSM - its own minority with its own share of misunderstandings - is de facto sexist and misogynist? Just be a little more careful... obviously this was quite silly & could easily be anticipated as offending many.

#2 - It's a god damn hot list. It's a list of photos of attractive females, and what's apparently "insidious" is the play on words & the fact that the descriptions focus on the women's ACTUAL accomplishments. The word "patriarchy" is actually applied without irony. Really now? So I guess what's insidious is the cognitive dissonance, and that if there had been NO descriptions, or the descriptions had said "CHECK OUT THOSE BAZONGAS!" it would have been fine... or at least not INSIDIOUS. But the second you link the two up, you've transgressed beyond ANY reasonable doubt, because you're obviously saying that in order to succeed in tech, you need to be hot. It couldn't POSSIBLY be that you're saying, "Hey, check out these hot chicks who are also successful in IT!" - there's zero room allowed for that interpretation. It's clearly, categorically, without question, a manifesto stating that being hot is a prerequisite for success in IT. Right. Absolutely persuasive, and unarguably insidious.

But both are equally powerful in communicating a simple message to women: this isn’t your place. Whether it’s being put off by the suggestion that a woman’s role in gaming is to be a physically harmed victim, or told that in order to be acceptable in tech you must first be “beautiful” – or at least be photographed in your underwear – the message is loud, and all-permeating.
We're still talking about the above examples, here. Apparently they're all-permeating, in that they permeate all. "Physically harmed victim" is an odd way to describe a misfired BDSM-themed marketing ploy, especially since based on the description it was all quite consensual. Completely bad taste and completely misjudged its audience - and 99% of most general audiences, I'd guess - but does it powerfully communicate a message that women's place in gaming is as a physically-harmed victim? To me it communicates that some ad exec's head is gonna roll, and rightfully so, but I really start to question how impressionable we're characterizing women here... this entire RPS piece is actually rather INSIDIOUS itself in essentially denying the possibility that women can differentiate between marketing and reality. I'm not saying marketing gets a free pass, but I also don't think a reasonable adult should witness something like this and say "DAMN, I was gonna go into games, but I'm a woman, and I don't like being electrocuted OR spanked." Yes, I realize it's a cumulative, psychological, even sub-conscious effect that's being pointed out, but in that case, don't label it as the "powerful" "communication" of a "simple" message. Wrong, wrong, and wrong. And let's endow thinking adults with a LITTLE bit of agency & autonomy and the means to weigh evidence and observe the world around them with competence, please.
Either way, if you’re typing the words “white knight”, you’re revealing more about your own peculiar understanding of how humans interact than anything else.
I guess this is true, "just because"... I find this line of thinking interesting; I don't think it's wrong 100% of the time, although it may be wrong in the case of this writer. I do think people come at things from different motivations, and I can't see making a blanket denial that this one is ever valid. I'm surprised he took this approach. I think the point is more that it doesn't matter, right? If someone is writing something because they think they'll get laid, it speaks to their motivations, but not the worth of their actual statements. Right? So why insist that it's never accurate?
By the time you’re having tiresome arguments about whether male characters being shown as successful and strong is harmful to men, you’re no longer discussing the fact that scantily clad women are being used to sell videogames. That’s the ultimate aim of the question.
Finally it comes out. Finally we can talk about what no one wants to talk about, because it INEVITABLY brushes up against censorship sentiments SO uncomfortably that you can hear a pin drop. It's those SCANTILY-CLAD WOMEN!! Being used to sell video games!!! Run!

I think characters in video games need more depth & variety & HUMANITY in general, and I think the situation is worse for female characters. Sold, 110%.

None of this has jack to do with objectification, in my opinion.

I think these issues are far better DECOUPLED than considered together. If we wanna talk about objectification, let's do it. We haven't so far, because Anita opened with the DiD trope, but it's clear from the titles of subsequent videos that she's gonna go there. Let me make my position clear: totally okay with it. Also totally okay with porn. It is preposterous to me that anyone would be shocked or appalled at relatively modest levels of sex in video games when the violence is over-the-top. One is natural, recreational or even procreational, and the other is destructive, wanton, and truly cruel. Of course, I'm fine with violence in games as well, because I believe that most gamers have the ability to separate fact from fiction and to distance themselves from fantasy worlds. It is very, very, very, very, very, VERY difficult to make a cogent case against scantily clad female characters that doesn't Venn-diagram ALL OVER similar arguments towards violence, or any particularly indulgent behavior or spectacle that isn't particularly realistic. By very difficult, I may as well mean impossible, as I've yet to see someone do it. Instead, there's a tendency to employ rhetorical slight-of-hand and dismiss the blatant similarities as being a "slippery slope" argument or simply unrelated.

“I know a girl who thinks X, so you are wrong.” This angle is generally used to argue against anything that is said to misrepresent women, or to represent women in a bad way. This known girl, fictional or real, likes it, so why does anyone have a problem?
I know what he's talking about, but that doesn't make the individual wrong, or him right - it just means that both of them aren't dealing in the realm of actual data or statistics. That doesn't give ANY argument an upper-hand, it just dismisses both the criticism and the counter-criticism equally.
“People are exaggerating on both sides.” This, and many variants on it, are all about pretending to want to bring “balance” to the argument, in order to prevent its taking place at all. It’s dishonest, based on unexplained, undefined notions of exaggeration, perhaps if pressed illustrated by a single example that likely only emphasises the faux-diffuser’s prejudice. As and when people exaggerate in any debate, it’s great to call people out on it. People called out the issues in a recent post I put on RPS about gender wage gaps, which one could describe as exaggeration. That’s a good thing to do. It, however, has no bearing on the facts that there are problems that need to be dealt with, and the line is usually employed when trying to ensure nothing is allowed to change.

Does anyone want to defend this paragraph? It seems to me like he's saying:

  1. Pointing out exaggerations on both sides is dishonest and simply pretending to want to bring balance.
  2. But it's great to call people out on exaggerations - a good thing to do.
  3. But it doesn't actually get anywhere, and is "usually employed" (statistics on this?) to maintain the status quo.

Here's what I find hypocritical:

  1. The "white knight" argument is WRONG, because it incorrectly assumes dishonesty and questionable motivations on the part of the accuser.
  2. Pointing out exaggerations is WRONG, because it's dishonest, and usually has questionable motivations.

Right. So if I question your motivations, I'm wrong and I'm actually revealing more about me than I am about you, i.e. my flaws. But if I point out exaggerations on both sides, it's okay for you to dismiss me as being dishonest, and having questionable motivations.

The logic here needs some major recalibrating, in my opinion.

“It’s just a bit of fun.” When I undermine you in front of your boss, lie about you behind your back, and play cruel tricks on you, it’s just a bit of fun! Oh, wait, those things aren’t fun because they’re happening to you? Gosh, imagine if such a perspective were available when other things that other people don’t like are happening to them? But no, it’s just a bit of fun, then. They should just get over it.
Well, I WOULD have pointed out the false equivalence here as being (wait for it) an exaggeration, but then I would be forever doomed to dishonesty and questionable motivations. Really though, the argument here discounts that SOMETIMES, sometimes, sometimes... it IS just a bit of fun. Can't our human complexity and advanced civilization still allow for that? Aren't we kinda-sorta expecting SOME degree of reasoned response? Shouldn't adults have SOME degree of capacity to be able to delineate between offensive and inane, or sordid, or lewd, or bad taste? Aren't degrees kinda... important here?

You want video games to be acknowledged as an art form? Start treating them like one. That doesn't mean going after the boobs, that means writing better parts for women. As it is with film, those parts will probably be in the types of games in which giant boobs everywhere would be out of place and would clearly detract from the craft. It also means audiences that reward & clamor for deeper characters, and more women involved in every level of game design.

We do not believe that in any resulting greater equality anyone will suffer. Gamers will not lose out. Call Of Duty will still be released every November, with angry soldier men shouting “FUCK!” as they shoot down a helicopter. That isn’t going to go away. Instead we fight for greater variety in those resulting games. And we fight for safer, more friendly spaces in which they can be created. And we fight for a media that celebrates equality, and discourages cruelty and inequality. When anything gets in the way of that, we’re going to say so.
Did anyone else envision "Battle Hymn of the Republic" playing during this bit? Seriously, it's a pretty good article, and I'm glad they're serious about continuing their coverage. As with Anita, I guess I'd like... better, more thoughtful coverage. And I don't really think boobs or hotlists are examples of "cruelty" or "inequality". And I don't think diminishing or stereotyping Call of Duty there was really necessary.

I think it's time to talk about objectification. Here's where you're REALLY gonna lose me. I'll end with some Camille, because on this specific topic, I love her:

"Something went very wrong in feminism ... Every revolution eventually needs a new revolution. That's what I'm trying to do. I'm not trying to get rid of feminism. I'm trying to reform it, to save it, to bring it into the twenty-first century, in a way that allows the sexes to come together instead of being alienated from each other, that allows sex to be HOT and not have, like wet blankets of sermonizing thrown over it." (SA&AC p. 274)
"An enlightened feminism of the twenty-first century will embrace all sexuality and will turn away from the delusionalism, sanctimony, prudery, and male-bashing of the MacKinnon-Dworkin brigade. Women will never know who they are until they let men be men." (V&T p. 111)
"I reject feminist rant about the "male gaze", which supposedly renders passive and inert everything it touches. ... Sexual objectification is characteristically human and indistinguishable from the art impulse." (V&T p. 62)
Edited by djpretzel

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Wow, that's.. quite a long response. I don't have the time to respond in turn to everything you said, but here's a few things...

The article is full of attempts to head off any objections by employing the rhetorical "we"

The article is intended to represent the views and positions of the website (RPS), so I think by "we" he meant "we [writers at RPS]".

#2 - It's a god damn hot list. ... It couldn't POSSIBLY be that you're saying, "Hey, check out these hot chicks who are also successful in IT!" - there's zero room allowed for that interpretation.

Yes, I'm sure that is what the intent of the list was. Hot chicks successful in IT, with some of the profiles using words focusing on their appearance. As the RPS author points out, you simply don't see the same sort of thing for men. By definition, that's sexism. If you don't think sexism like that is bad, okay, we disagree on that. But I don't see how you could characterize it as anything but sexist, unless you know of a "Hottest Guys in IT" list.

but I really start to question how impressionable we're characterizing women here... this entire RPS piece is actually rather INSIDIOUS itself in essentially denying the possibility that women can differentiate between marketing and reality.

I think your whole response to this really missed the obvious point, which was that the examples create an environment that is unwelcoming toward women, and reinforces the notion that IT/games is a field for men, by men. That's the message that is being sent.

It is very, very, very, very, very, VERY difficult to make a cogent case against scantily clad female characters that doesn't Venn-diagram ALL OVER similar arguments towards violence, or any particularly indulgent behavior or spectacle that isn't particularly realistic.

Again, the argument is that it reinforces the "by men, for men" stereotype of gaming and the game industry. And of course, there are women that have no problem with this stuff. At GDC, I went to the Riot Games booth and there was a giant 20 foot poster of this character:

http://i1248.photobucket.com/albums/hh497/Kaiokhen/Leaguecraft/a2JjDh.jpg

I don't have any statistics on this, nor do I think statistics exist, but you would probably agree that SOME people would look at that and have no problem, and OTHER people would look at it, roll their eyes, and write off (or at least look down on) Riot Games as a company that is pandering to men, and probably run by men. They might lose some or even all interest in working for Riot, or playing their games.

As the author of the article points out, this stuff accumulates. You see a giant poster of boobs representing a company's professional presence at the biggest game industry networking event. Then you see 2 girls at another booth hired to do nothing but wear a skimpy outfit to attract attention to that booth. Then you look at a demo for Soulcalibur V and see Ivy's... everything, and so on, and so forth.

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I honestly think it would be really, really interesting to get a female perspective on some of these topics. Specifically, female game developers who work on these games, characters, and artwork.

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But the second you link the two up, you've transgressed beyond ANY reasonable doubt, because you're obviously saying that in order to succeed in tech, you need to be hot. It couldn't POSSIBLY be that you're saying, "Hey, check out these hot chicks who are also successful in IT!" - there's zero room allowed for that interpretation. It's clearly, categorically, without question, a manifesto stating that being hot is a prerequisite for success in IT. Right. Absolutely persuasive, and unarguably insidious.

A bit caustic there *_*... but I just want to say that I think the entire point is... Well, I don't see that many "hottest IT guys" links... It just isn't done that way. I'm not sure if a list like that would ever be taken seriously, and would most likely be a spoof, and if you make the list, it would be an office joke, not a notch on your portfolio. Thus, again, for whatever reason, the title brings to the table that same sense of objectification by being placed on a list in a way that men in the same field probably would not. If the person who writes it is aware enough of the double standards, then shouldn't it be okay to point it out? And if they aren't, well... Shouldn't it be still pointed out? It seems very common, "hotness" is discussed time and again about a woman who happens to be a gamer, or is in a more male-oriented field... So when the time comes to post about up-and-coming female tech... There it is again. "How hot is she?"... Leaving it up to the readers to rate her appearance, regardless of the intent. Maybe some of them will do it anyway... But the article insures influence.

You're right, it COULD be that they are just saying "Hey check out these hot chicks that work in IT"... But the decision to go to the effort of making a list comes with "hot" and "women" in the title, could come from societal norms saying it's okay to do so, even on a subconscious level. Readers will READ this more if I say "women" and "hot". I don't know many women myself who are comfortable with being rated on something that they never asked to be rated on in a field unrelated to what they do professionally.

If your point is, that the article exaggerates, and therefore demonizes, well... I'm just wondering if the intention (insidious or not) matters here. Either they are aware enough and ignore that little voice saying, "hey that might be offensive" or they didn't really think about it, why? Well being raised in Patriarchy does that too... Either way it's a problem and still produces victims (in this case women who may feel objectified and alienated from their professional peers, or women who feel they need to capitalize on their hotness ((either way))) and if we sat down and talked to the person who made the list about it, well usually it's probably more along the lines of, yeah they were probably struck with the thought at some point that it might be offensive, but somehow justified it anyway, or just didn't care as long as the article got more hits and results. You can't ever quantify that, and since I don't think anyone of us knows the person that did it...

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