Brandon Strader

Tropes vs. Women / #GamerGate Conspiracies

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Yes it was though, especially at the time. It was very narrative, extremely character driven, and had lots of symbolism, etc. etc... Previously, other FF games had elements of these but were not nearly as explored. FVII was a big step forward, and unfortunately IMO was their last big step.

Just because it was character driven and had symbolism doesn't mean that it was good.

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also... there have been no updates since the last video came out. not even for supporters. my theory on this is that she's having a REALLY hard time finding examples of damsels in distress over the past ten years that aren't a) peach or B) zelda. like seriously. try naming some off. what can you come up with?

This doesn't even make sense. The topic of video 1 was damsels in distress. Now that she's done with that, she's going to talk about something else. Inability to find additional damsels in distress isn't even a minor issue.

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This doesn't even make sense. The topic of video 1 was damsels in distress. Now that she's done with that, she's going to talk about something else. Inability to find additional damsels in distress isn't even a minor issue.

  • The Fighting F#@k Toy - Video #2
  • The Sexy Sidekick - Video #3
  • The Sexy Villainess - Video #4

Assuming she sticks to this order, we're in for a triple-dose of objectification theory. Yay!

This is a fantastic issue because it cuts across party lines in interesting ways - you've got (primarily "second-wave" minded) liberal feminists suddenly siding with the Jesse Helms of the world that are staunchly conservative. It's damn near impossible to keep censorship out of this discussion. If anyone wants to read up in advance:

Relatively few serious academics want to come down hard against sexual objectification. It is a thankless topic to question, mired both in politics and uncertainty. It is difficult to avoid being seen as advocating "for" sexual objectification, as opposed to simply downplaying its significance, or exploring the negative effects of trying to curtail it, or analyzing its potential innateness. This will thus be an arena where there's few folks I can cite that really summarize my views, although there's data. I'm going to go stream-of-consciousness for a bit on this, as I think that's the best way of summing things up, for me:

  • Does sexual objectification occur? Yes. Is it measurable/quantifiable in a meaningful sense? Yes. Does it have negative effects on the perception of women by men, and women by other women, compared to an absence? Well... untestable. Almost certainly there are some.
  • There are experiments that indicate "when you show a man a picture of a scantily clad woman, he is less likely to consider her intelligent" - that one gets a big, fat "DUH" from me, because you're triggering a drive that compromises rational evaluation. Also, this is moment-in-time, and it is nearly impossible to conduct larger-scale experiments that measure long-term exposure while controlling for cultural variables.
  • There are studies that indicate "when men look at men, they see bodies/people, when they look at women, they see parts" - this is focused on the ocular, and is not surprising to me, but if anything this speaks to innateness. I don't believe this "male gaze" is socially constructed, nor do I believe it carries with it the luggage claimed.
  • "Hyper-sexualized" - Uh, relative to what? You'll see this a lot... certainly with all the talk of social construction, wouldn't it be quite obvious that the baseline itself is cultural?
  • Can sexual objectification be meaningfully curtailed to an extent that would produce measurable "improvement"? Ah... here's where you lose me. Sorry, but hell no. Also, trying either involves censorship or making people feel very uncomfortable about their... urges. Puritans tried this. Also, side effects of treatment are worse than the symptoms!
  • Related: Can taking steps to reduce the amount of sexual objectification in the media produce measurable "improvement"? A subset of the above, more specific. Same answer.
  • Thought: We have more access to information than ever before. We are bombarded with more sexualized of images of women than ever before. Women have more equality & rights than... ever before? Uh-oh? I'm reluctant to argue that women's rights have improved in Western civilization BECAUSE of sexual objectification, but I also don't think it's "in spite of" it either; I'd say it's simply compatible, i.e. that the human brain is impressive enough an organ to counter/adapt to sexual objectification, and that the free society of open information and plurality of perspectives that comes along with sexually explicit and/or objectifying content is the key to much of what we consider "freedom".
  • Is it innate? C'mon. Of course it is. Ask yourself, in your heart of hearts (okay, your brain of brains), whether men ogling women is really primarily a socially constructed phenomena. Ask yourself whether recorded human history supports the position that sexually explicit (or objectifying) content is a CATALYST for the mistreatment of women, or the position that sexually explicit (or objectifying) content is an OUTLET/CATHARSIS for surplus sexual desire. Look at who we are, look at who we've been. Look at WHAT we are. This isn't an excuse or justification for sexism; we've PROVEN that we know better, and are better, and can do better as a species. But that same improvement has actually coincided with MORE sexualization, not less.

Talking about most of the rest of what Anita will likely have to say pretty much means talking about objectification; I've gotten the ball rolling, interested in what people have to say!

Edited by djpretzel

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[*]"Hyper-sexualized" - Uh, relative to what? You'll see this a lot... certainly with all the talk of social construction, wouldn't it be quite obvious that the baseline itself is cultural?

I think that's a valid point to make; going back to your own Puritan example, images depicting a woman showing bare forearms/lower legs would probably be decried as oversexualized, whereas in modern society it wouldn't even cause an eyelash to be batted by the vast majority of living human beings. And for all we know, what we consider hypersexualized today might be considered tame by 2125 standards. Then again, for all we know, the trend/cultural norm might swing back the other way (as it has tended to do from time to time, throughout history) and we might be back to a 1920's standard of decency.

Something that I've found gets ignored in using a term like that, too, is that typically the concept that subcultures within an overriding culture can have vastly different concepts of what falls under such headings. For instance, I have a group of friends comprised primarily of former dancers, models, performing artists, etc., to whom an image of an advertisement of skinny women wandering around in bikinis isn't worth a second glance. Then there's another group of friends, inherited through my wife, who called a similar image "way too sexualized" and "off-putting" the other day. Yet too often, I see the term (and similar ones) tossed around as an absolute, which I don't believe it to be.

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Speaking broadly about objectification etc... as we had talked about on IRC, right now the game industry is a particularly hostile one for women. EVEN compared to other tech industries, film, etc., there are simply fewer women in game development. When you eliminate non-development jobs like HR, marketing, etc. the percentage is even lower... something like 96% of game programmers are male, and in most studios programmers are the backbone of the team and serve on many teams (design, art, audio).

There was a whole talk about this at GDC, by some prominent female game devs:

http://www.polygon.com/2013/3/28/4155650/women-in-the-gaming-industry-share-their-number-one-reason-to-be-in

http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1018080/ <- Full talk here

A symptom of the male domination of the industry is stuff like booth babes, which are of course appreciated overwhelmingly by males, and which tend to make women feel uncomfortable. After all, it's entertainment and eye candy for men, and not women, so by definition it is not inclusive. This is the kind of stuff that pushes women away from the industry. Likewise, if you're a company specializes in fighting games with scantily-clad women whose boobs bounce all over the place, it's not hard to understand why women might not want to work there - you're producing games primarily for men.

I posit that this IS a problematic state of things. If we do care about games as an art form, then it stands to reason that we want a broader range of perspectives involved in game development. The current state of things is turning women away from game development despite the fact that many females of all ages ARE interested in and DO play games.

Can sexual objectification be meaningfully curtailed to an extent that would produce measurable "improvement"? Ah... here's where you lose me. Sorry, but hell no. Also, trying either involves censorship or making people feel very uncomfortable about their... urges.

I think this is a very black or white view. Nobody is talking about legal censorship, certainly, but instead the self-censorship of overused tropes or practices that appeal exclusively to men. I think that games as an art form can "withstand" Ivy's boobs being a little smaller, or female armor in JRPGs actually being practical as opposed to metal bikinis. Right? Without passing moral judgment at all, and admitting that we (as men) love boobs and looking at them, it still seems like a good tradeoff for the advancement of the industry to make a little sacrifice and try to make stuff that appeals to both genders, as opposed to just one.

Edited by zircon

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also... there have been no updates since the last video came out. not even for supporters. my theory on this is that she's having a REALLY hard time finding examples of damsels in distress over the past ten years that aren't a) peach or B) zelda. like seriously. try naming some off. what can you come up with?

Sure, do you want them just off the top of my head or should I make an alphabetic list?

- Devil May Cry 4

- Max Payne 3

- Resident Evil 4

- Resident Evil 5

- Monkey Island 3

- Eversion

- Super Meat Boy

- Prototype

- Alpha Protocol

- Borderlands 2

- Star Fox Adventures

- Sonic 2006

- Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow

- Dark Souls

- Alan Wake

- Bioshock Infinite

- Asura's Wrath

- Duke Nukem Forever

- Far Cry 3

- Overlord 1/2

- Scribblenauts Unlimited

- Final Fantasy VIII

There's bound to be more comprehensive lists out there, this is just what I could quickly think of on the fly. But yeah, I'm suuuure Anita has trouble coming up with examples, good 'theory'! I'm eagerly awaiting the motion of goalposts and excluded scotsmen.

Edited by Tensei

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I want to mention three games on there

A) Far Cry 3 - doesn't it actually mess with the whole thing? I don't want to actually go HEY SPOILERS, but my view on it is that it actually purposly fucks with the trope itself. Not that I'd expect her to play the whole game to see this so there's that

B) Dark Souls: Isn't everyone kind of fucked in that crapsack world? "Damsel in distress" wasn't even remotely near what I was thinking about when playing that, moreso "Everyone is in a constant neverending hell." It doesn't discriminate, genderwise, with who needs help, who isn't getting it, and who gets brutally murdered.

C) Borderlands 2 doesn't really hit on "The woman is the thing for you to get, and she's helpless." Angel clearly has powers that she actively exercises in the plot, and I'd argue she has plenty of agency. There's a lot of things wrong with Borderlands 2's writing, but it's treatment towards women, for the most part, isn't one of them.

I'm trying to forumlate a response to putting Duke Nukem Forever on the list, but at this point, DNF is it's own joke and punchline.

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Yeah and that's where the whole 'moving the goalposts' thing I touched upon comes in. All these games fit the criterium, because in all of these games you have to save a female character who is helpless to save herself at some point. That is literally the trope. I didn't actually comment on the quality of the games themselves, and in fact quite a few of these games do a good job with characterization and equality despite still using the trope.

Dark Souls arguably has some of the most sensible female character and armor design of any game, but that doesn't take away the fact that Dusk of Oolacile and Reah of Thorolund fit the trope pretty well.

I think that's pretty much going to be the point of the distinction between the first video and the next one. To show that things nowadays are better overall and that there are far less cardboard cutouts, but that the trope still sees quite some unfortunate use in one form or another.

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In BL2, Angel isn't a DiD, though. Part of DiD is being helpless, having no real agency, something Angel very clearly has. And she isn't even the primary goal - the goal is the Vault. The only reason you're heading for her is for the Vault Key. Same with what happens after - the woman is a secondary issue, and far from powerless. You just want to stop Jack from opening the Vault.

The point of a DiD is their helplessness to fight against their situation. They exist soley as motivation for the player character to get out of their ass and do something.

In BL2, Angel is not helpless, nor does she ever function as the sole token for you to move.

In Far Cry 3...not much can be discussed without spoilers there, but there's already been a lot of good writing on how much saving was perceived by people who played it vs what actually happened. I'd argue the game makes a very strong case that no one ever actually needed saving.

And in Dark Souls, again, how do either of those females function as the reason you're pressing forward trying to win, and in this capacity are completely helpless?

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in all of these games you have to save a female character who is helpless to save herself at some point.

This is the criterium I used, all the examples I listed fit it. You can come up with your own list using your own definitions.

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that's implying that it's better. which it isn't. it's different.

different =/= better.

so you're saying that a zelda game where link could be a girl would be objectively worse

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so you're saying that a zelda game where link could be a girl would be objectively worse

i'm saying it wouldn't be objectively better and considering the backlash on this feminism conversation even happening plenty of zelda fans wouldn't like it. not did i even ever say if link could be a girl i said IF LINK AND ZELDA SWAPPED PLACES LISTEN PEOPLE HOLY FUWHEOFIOH.

what's so hard about this

also this is still off topic stop poking at it

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Speaking broadly about objectification etc... as we had talked about on IRC, right now the game industry is a particularly hostile one for women. EVEN compared to other tech industries, film, etc., there are simply fewer women in game development. When you eliminate non-development jobs like HR, marketing, etc. the percentage is even lower... something like 96% of game programmers are male, and in most studios programmers are the backbone of the team and serve on many teams (design, art, audio).

Andy, you're just stringing together ideas & observations without really analyzing the linkage/causality that you're claiming. First of all, you're vaguely mentioning "other tech industries" when what we're really talking about here is programmers - that's your 96% stat, and if you scope the analysis to programming specifically, you'll find that the phenomena doesn't begin or end with game programming:

http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/programming-and-development/it-gender-gap-where-are-the-female-programmers/2386

You're assuming that there is a significant population of women who are already programmers themselves and would otherwise be game programmers, who are being turned away by sexual objectification & booth babes, without much evidence, and without consideration that there are probably several underlying factors and that this issue may be tertiary at best in explaining the numbers. You are characterizing the game industry as "hostile" towards women, but then later on in your same post suggest amelioration by reducing Ivy's bust size. I argue that sexual objectification is pervasive, that video games may in fact employ it more often - due to the current makeup of game devs - that there is nothing inherently wrong with it as it is a manifestation of human nature, and that the best way to "address" or balance things out is through the involvement of more women in the game development process. Where you and I differ, however, is that you think the game industry needs to change and tone down the boobs, etc. so that women don't feel excluded and uncomfortable, after which all of the many female game programmers waiting in the wings will suddenly sign up en masse, I suppose? I don't think that's the way the world works, and I don't think that's the way the world SHOULD work, either, and that type of attitude stems from a second-wave feminism perspective on sexuality in the media.

A symptom of the male domination of the industry is stuff like booth babes, which are of course appreciated overwhelmingly by males, and which tend to make women feel uncomfortable. After all, it's entertainment and eye candy for men, and not women, so by definition it is not inclusive. This is the kind of stuff that pushes women away from the industry. Likewise, if you're a company specializes in fighting games with scantily-clad women whose boobs bounce all over the place, it's not hard to understand why women might not want to work there - you're producing games primarily for men.

I'm just going to briefly point out that you're making a LOT of assumptions about sex, gender, and sexuality all being the same. It's not hard to understand why women might not want to work at Axxe - you're producing body wash primarily for men. Any art medium should be allowed the flexibility to cater to any demographic - I thought we already covered that? If I'm a woman who chooses to write for Playboy or a man who chooses to write for Cosmo, I'm consciously making a decision to participate & contribute to media that has an explicit or implicit target audience. Nothing wrong with that, but it's odd to describe those magazines as "hostile" towards one demographic simply because they cater to another. I feel like you're recycling these points after I've made counterarguments - that I'm now more or less repeating - that should really call them into question...

I posit that this IS a problematic state of things. If we do care about games as an art form, then it stands to reason that we want a broader range of perspectives involved in game development. The current state of things is turning women away from game development despite the fact that many females of all ages ARE interested in and DO play games.

I'm not aware of any art form, in the history of our species, that has successfully been censored (or "self-censored" as you mention) so as to diversify the demographics of its artists. I'm surprised this sounds like a good idea to you. I'm also surprised you think that female programmers are so skittish and impressionable that if they see 50 games and 10 have exaggerated bust sizes, they're going to avoid the games industry entirely and instead focus on enterprise business software. What's that over there? A BOOTH BABE?? That's it, I'm going back to business middleware!! This doesn't strike me as particularly plausible. It rings rather false. Historically, it's people who change industries, not the other way around, and you seem to think that a conscious industry shift towards making everything a bit more PG - or PC - would make a meaningful difference.

I think this is a very black or white view. Nobody is talking about legal censorship, certainly, but instead the self-censorship of overused tropes or practices that appeal exclusively to men. I think that games as an art form can "withstand" Ivy's boobs being a little smaller, or female armor in JRPGs actually being practical as opposed to metal bikinis. Right? Without passing moral judgment at all, and admitting that we (as men) love boobs and looking at them, it still seems like a good tradeoff for the advancement of the industry to make a little sacrifice and try to make stuff that appeals to both genders, as opposed to just one.

Hardly anything in the WORLD appeals exclusively to men. I'm going to again remind you that you're oversimplifying things with your language, left and right. It's rather sexist to assume that sexual objectification of women appeals ONLY to men, or that any of these tropes appeal ONLY to men. What you're suggesting is an across-the-board neutering... it's not a question of whether games as an art form can "withstand" X or Y, it's the motivation behind making the change. You're making dozens of unfounded assumptions about potential female programmers, what they want and don't want, what they MIGHT react positively to... I'd argue such energies would be better focused at the relative scarcity & declining numbers of female programmers to begin with, although in that case as well, you should avoid making assumptions that social causes explain 100% of the statistical inequalities. At any rate, once you start tailoring your art to match someone's idea of what might be more inclusive, using motivational evidence as scant and reasoning as tenuous as yours, I think you've lost the game.

Your entire argument revolves around assumptions that these tropes and instances of objectification EXCLUSIVELY appeal to men, that female programmers aren't considering the game industry because they find their usage (and the presence of booth babes) "hostile," and that the direct causal linkage between these two phenomena can and should be manipulated. I find no ounce of it persuasive.

I'd like to see more women in game development because I think we'd see more interesting & diverse games, but I avoid falling into the second-wave feminist trap (shared by other liberal and conservative movements alike) of thinking that if we could JUST fix the art, if we could JUST tweak the media, it would all work out... better. I'd like to quote the great Capt. Malcolm Reynolds:

Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten? They'll swing back to the belief that they can make people... better. And I do not hold to that.
Edited by djpretzel

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also this is still off topic stop poking at it

no it's not, and here's why

i'm saying it wouldn't be objectively better

so you're not saying it would be better, and since you're not going out of your way to say that it would be exactly the same, you're therefore saying that it would be worse

this just turned on-topic because you're saying that a zelda game would be less good were the protagonist a girl, which is exemplary of attitudes that started this topic in the first place

and considering the backlash on this feminism conversation even happening plenty of zelda fans wouldn't like it.

so what you're saying is that because a bunch of people have dumb and wrong attitudes about sexism in society, nintendo should therefore accommodate those people primarily

in other words what you're saying here is that nintendo would be in the wrong to consider what people other than straight white males wants

in other words you just became an exemplar of everything that's wrong with society, congratulations

not did i even ever say if link could be a girl i said IF LINK AND ZELDA SWAPPED PLACES LISTEN PEOPLE HOLY FUWHEOFIOH.

it doesn't matter which you were talking about, both ideas have the same value in this discussion

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it doesn't matter which you were talking about, both ideas have the same value in this discussion

I would have to disagree with you on that, Bleck, mainly because I think it's where some gamers' umbrage at the whole topic is coming from. While I'm sure that many are upset at the concept of changing the formula to where Zelda is the "active" protagonist and Link is the "passive" one, I'd also bet that there's a good portion - not large, necessarily, but a goodly amount - who would not mind that, but would mind a gender swap on the characters. To my mind, and I'm sure to many, there's a difference between trying to create more proactive female roles by tinkering with the dynamics between established characters, and creating more proactive female roles by altering the character's basic nature.

It's the difference between creating an episode of Star Trek where Kirk and the rest of the command staff is injured and Uhura has to take command of the Starship Enterprise, showing off what a competent officer she is at doing other things than just saying "hailing frequencies open, Captain," and what a strong individual she is, and creating an episode of Star Trek where suddenly Kirk is a woman and Uhura is a man just because and proceeding as if everything is normal. Which, incidentally, was the plot of at least one published short story from the late 70s in that universe, and wasn't half bad, but that's besides the point.

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On a general note, the conversation about booth babes and such keeps making me think of this (nothing explicit, but probably NSFW): http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/comics/critical-miss/10271-On-Dongles

As far as the conversation between DJP and Zircon, I think you're really driving at two different points. DJP seems to be saying that while games that don't rely on objectification of women, damsels in distress, etc are good things, it doesn't necessarily follow that games that do rely on those are bad things -- or at least, any attempt to stifle the use of those things is inevitably going to be worse than the use of those things already is. I can see where he's going with that -- if you want to take gaming seriously as an art form, then attempting to censor it (not in any official capacity, but just trying to get people to buy into the attitude that "games that do this are bad, no game should do this") is almost certainly the wrong way to go about it. I'd much rather see people encouraging game developers to do good things than discouraging them from doing bad things.

Zircon, on the other hand, seems to be saying that most of the problems of objectivizing, etc come from a lack of women in the game industry. This may or may not be true, but Zircon presents it as a sort of vicious circle. Men create male-oriented games (meaning damsels in distress, etc), which turn away women, so the male-dominated game development industry remains male-dominated. There are two real problems with this. One, it appears to assume that men make things that alienate women simply by being men, and the only solution to this problem is to add women into the process in order to dilute male influence. I don't think this is true, both because I don't think men create things that alienate women simply as a result of being men and because I don't think that adding women to development teams is the only way to "fix" the issue of alienating women in the first place. Two, the issue of game development being an overwhelmingly-male industry is a small part of a much, much broader trend about the tech sector in general. I think that the fact that most game programmers are male is primarily a result of the fact that most programmers period are male, so you can't really pin the blame for it on the gaming industry's attitude on things like booth babes.

The thing is, though, is that both of you really seem to be on the same page, in the long run. Both of you agree that more women in the game industry would be a desirable thing, even if you approach it from different directions. So the question becomes -- how do you encourage this? Is there anything that you can do from a consumer level to help the industry in that direction?

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blahblahblah

different =/= better. different =/= worse. i'm not saying what you're concluding, you're concluding what you want because you're making dumb conclusions.

nintendo should try to accomodate THEIR FANS who like the games they've been making for oh i dunno 25 years now and have all been thematically the same and had the same main character. 'halo 5, headed by cortana' doesn't really strike a chord either

so what you're saying is all people who like zelda games are straight and white because they like the games the way they've been making them for the past 25 years and that anyone who likes them that way is sexist and wrong, and thinking that if there was a change some people would be upset makes you a misogynist pig

congratulations that is the kneejerk feminist attitude that started this thread in the first place

it's a shame that the first legit point you've tried to make was terrible and wrong.

But seriously, in non-troll talk, there's no good business reason for Nintendo to say 'we're going to change the fundamental process behind the Zelda games and make Zelda the main character.' It could make for a really cool game. Think Zelda's family getting ousted from leadership, her getting trained to be shiek, cool combat stuff, etc. But it won't happen. And if they 'simply' switched the genders, the game wouldn't be better but it would make plenty of people less excited about it. Does that make those people bad for saying 'I like what you were doing before?' No. Because assuming that people dislike that change for sexist reasons isn't reasonable. Think about what changes have been made to games that people dislike. I mean hell, Baird being the lead in the new Gears of War game went over TERRIBLY and all those guys in the Gears of War series are arguably just meathead placeholders. Acting like me thinking this change would ruffle feathers is sexist in nature is completely ridiculous.

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nintendo should try to accomodate THEIR FANS who like the games they've been making for oh i dunno 25 years now
you're saying that a zelda game would be less good were the protagonist a girl

anyways

I'd also bet that there's a good portion - not large, necessarily, but a goodly amount - who would not mind that, but would mind a gender swap on the characters. To my mind, and I'm sure to many, there's a difference between trying to create more proactive female roles by tinkering with the dynamics between established characters, and creating more proactive female roles by altering the character's basic nature.

yeah see what you're saying here is that changing the character's genders would objectively change their character traits and I'm pretty sure that's how sexism works

like yeah there probably would be a lot of people who would have a problem with it but the thing is that doesn't really matter because the opinions of people are irrelevant if their opinions are rooted in sexism (and/or racism or ageism or any other kind of discrimination)

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This is the criterium I used, all the examples I listed fit it.

Your criteria is extremely flawed, because under it, you can fucking include every media that has ever included a female, ever.

Damsel in Distress specifically refers to the fact that the female herself is entirely powerless in her own situation and she is little more than an object or token to drive the plot. You could replace her with a car, or a can of orange juice, or anything else, and very little would have to be changed. That is literally the trope. "A female character has to be saved" is not a DiD, there are plenty of examples of "female character has to be rescued" that are NOT DiD, and as said, Borderlands 2 and Dark Souls both feature them, because the women in them either have agency, don't function as the sole driver of the plot or quest, or aren't in distress that any other character, male, lizard, walrusman or whatnot, isn't.

Dark Souls especially is exceedingly neutral in how fucked everyone is. I took away from the game that in a lot of the cases, you're late to the party. There is no damsel in distress. They're already fucked. You can't save them, the most you can do is sift through their remains hoping for something useful, or put them out of their misery in a few other cases.

Again, "woman needs help at some point" is not DiD. Final Fantasy 8 you mentioned is an excellent example of the trope, and how it's misused to create a false sense of urgency at the expense of a female character, when Rinoa could have been replaced with a copy of the game script that was actually good, and nothing would have changed. Hell, that'd inspire me to move faster. 7 and 9? Both of them feature female characters who at some point are rendered helpless, but are not DiD. Tifa, Aeris, and Yuffie all have depth and logic - Aeris herself is absolutely fucking astounding because by every account she comes off as one, and then within 20 minutes she's threatening to stomp balls and it's clear she knows exactly how people see her and fights that image. Dagger starts out somewhat weak, but by the end, she's very strong. Characterwise, anyway, she could never beat out Steiner in my playthroughs.

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I'd like to see more women in game development because I think we'd see more interesting & diverse games, but I avoid falling into the second-wave feminist trap (shared by other liberal and conservative movements alike) of thinking that if we could JUST fix the art, if we could JUST tweak the media, it would all work out... better.

Tweaking the art and media would be simply changing the output without examining the source, or at least teaching the "Why people make a big deal out of it." A ground-up teaching of "This is why this line of thinking is toxic and unhealthy" is needed for any actual palpable change to come of it, including the absolute annihilation of the "brogamer" stereotype, which I feel incorporates sexist views and attitudes towards both genders into it.

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yeah see what you're saying here is that changing the character's genders would objectively change their character traits and I'm pretty sure that's how sexism works

like yeah there probably would be a lot of people who would have a problem with it but the thing is that doesn't really matter because the opinions of people are irrelevant if their opinions are rooted in sexism (and/or racism or ageism or any other kind of discrimination)

No, what I'm saying is that it's a difference between exploring established characters and creating proactive female protagonists by altering the dynamics between them/exploring new aspects of the character as they already exist, and changing a long-established character's basic traits when there's no necessary reason to do so. In the Link/Zelda dynamic, for instance, you already have the potential to have a proactive, positive female lead - all you have to do is tweak the basic story to one where Ganon decides to kidnap Link, and we follow Zelda (and Sheik, if you must, although I think just Zelda as herself would be a far more interesting idea) as she fulfils the same basic role as Link... but with the noticeable and unique character traits belonging to her within the series. In the Uhura/Kirk dynamic, as another example, there are very, very distinct differences in their personalities, that would make it far, far more interesting to see the Uhura we already know explore more possibilities within the character as established, than it would be to see a retread of Kirk, but as a woman now!

(Conversely, that was what made each subsequent captain - including Janeway, a female - interesting to the show's fandom: the differences in their command style, the differences in their universal views. I guarantee, if they had tried to make "Star Trek with old British Kirk, Star Trek with African American Kirk, and Star Trek with Irish female Kirk," none of those shows would have done as well as they did.)

Now, on a personal level, what I can get behind - and what I'd like to see - is changing the gender of "characters" within universes where character entropy is recognized more fully than within LoZ/SM. For example, I would be very okay with more female lead/proactive protagonists in series such as Metal Gear, Final Fantasy, Call of Duty, etc.

I get what you're saying, and I agree to a certain point. To react to changing a character's gender with a kneejerk "Screw you, stop stealing our man characters!!1!" is sexist. To react to it with, "Why don't you just take the established character dynamic and change it to where Peach rescues Mario, or Zelda saves the world without even a sliver of help from Link?" is, I posit, not.

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I don't think that's the way the world works, and I don't think that's the way the world SHOULD work, either, and that type of attitude stems from a second-wave feminism perspective on sexuality in the media.

It stems from female developers straight-up saying "this stuff bothers me and makes me not want to work in the industry". That's why there was a whole GDC talk about it, that's why there was a social media phenomenon with #1reasonwhy. Unless you think all the female game developers out there are just making stuff up about how they were treated, made uncomfortable, pushed out, etc. The people who are actually IN the trenches, like Brenda Romero, are the ones saying this. I'm not just pulling it out of thin air.

Nothing wrong with that, but it's odd to describe those magazines as "hostile" towards one demographic simply because they cater to another.

Again, females actually in the industry (or previously in the industry) are the ones speaking out here. Maybe "hostile" is a strong word, perhaps "highly unwelcoming" would be better.

I'm not aware of any art form, in the history of our species, that has successfully been censored (or "self-censored" as you mention) so as to diversify the demographics of its artists. I'm surprised this sounds like a good idea to you.

Just because it hasn't happened before doesn't mean it's a bad idea, so this isn't persuasive.

I'm also surprised you think that female programmers are so skittish and impressionable that if they see 50 games and 10 have exaggerated bust sizes, they're going to avoid the games industry entirely and instead focus on enterprise business software. What's that over there? A BOOTH BABE?? That's it, I'm going back to business middleware!! This doesn't strike me as particularly plausible. It rings rather false. Historically, it's people who change industries, not the other way around, and you seem to think that a conscious industry shift towards making everything a bit more PG - or PC - would make a meaningful difference.

But it's not false when actual developers are saying that industry practices and latent sexism are pushing them away and making a "strongly unwelcoming" environment. If people weren't actually saying this, and I wasn't actually seeing and hearing it myself from people I personally know, I wouldn't be arguing with you. Just about every female developer I know (and I use 'developer' to include anyone involved in the creation of games) has expressed dissatisfaction with how women are treated in games and in the game industry. It's not a stretch to say that more than a few women have seen how shitty it is and decided not to bother.

You're making dozens of unfounded assumptions about potential female programmers, what they want and don't want, what they MIGHT react positively to...

Not to beat a dead horse, but let's look at some actual words from female developers....

"Because I get mistaken for the receptionist or day-hire marketing at trade shows. #1reasonwhy"

"Because I am not his arm candy, motherfucker. I make games. #1reasonwhy"

"The worst sexism is the "harmless" assumptions. I'm sick of being told art is the only appropriate career for a woman in games. #1reasonwhy"

"#1ReasonWhy because your studio never orders any women’s t-shirts in swag orders, and certainly not in sizes bigger than XS or S."

"#1reasonwhy because my male colleagues are allowed to occasionally be obnoxious, silly, immature, annoying, drunk. i'm not."

"None of my women developer friends will read comments on interviews they do, because the comments are so brutally nasty. #1reasonwhy"

"I've had prominent designers compliment my games, while complimenting my wife's appearance, when we develop together. #1reasonwhy"

"Because conventions, where designers are celebrated, are unsafe places for me. Really. I've been groped. #1reasonwhy"

"Because I'm sexually harassed as a games journalist, and getting it as a games designer compounds the misery. #1reasonwhy"

"My looks are often commented on long before the work I've done. #1reasonwhy"

"Being mistaken for male co-founder's assistant ...three times? four? #1reasonwhy"

"@b_1st #1reasonwhy because female devs' input get repeatedly dismissed in a studio making games "for women" (how about that one)."

"After being told she was hired to "look pretty & make the guys happy", my old boss got him to repeat this in an email to HR. #1reasonwhy"

"Because once I've been told "we don't need women in order to know what female players want from this industry" #1reasonwhy"

"Because every disclosure of harassment feels like risking never being hired again. #1reasonwhy"

"I've had guys turn to the men I hired to help at the booth for information on the game I wrote. That has my name on the cover. #1reasonwhy"

Just... search for more of these. You can argue away at any of these individual things all you want, you can call these people unreasonable or whatever, but you can't dismiss everything. It's not that people see one booth babe and call it quits. It's all of these little things adding together, which is the point of the #1reasonwhy hashtag. It's lots of assumptions, remarks, actions, comments, decisions, etc. that add up to an unwelcoming environment.

Edited by zircon

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No, what I'm saying is that it's a difference between exploring established characters and creating proactive female protagonists by altering the dynamics between them/exploring new aspects of the character as they already exist, and changing a long-established character's basic traits

Link isn't a character! Nintendo itself has gone on record to say that Link isn't supposed to be a character within the story itself so much as your avatar into being part of the story; he has no personality, he has no defining characteristics save for the color of his hair and clothing, and he has no set backstory (since Link refers to several entities, not just one). The problem with the argument that it would be bad to change the character is that, because Link isn't actually a character, literally the only thing that would be changing would be his sex - and as such, the implication is that Zelda games would be less good if the protagonist was a woman as opposed to a man.

One could argue that Ganondorf, for example, shouldn't be changed into a woman, because in most of the games he appears in he's the same character, and as such changing his sex willy-nilly would make no sense to his overall character arc. Also, Ganondorf's existence has actual backstory that opposes randomly changing his sex (the concept of Gerudo kings).

But Link? Link is literally a blank slate. If in the next Zelda game, it turned out that Link was\could be a girl, literally nothing at all would be different.

Hell, if you went back to Ocarina of Time and changed Link into a girl? The entire game's story would thematically be exactly the goddamn same. You have literally no reason to be opposed to this that is not basically sexism at its purest.

To react to it with, "Why don't you just take the established character dynamic and change it to where Peach rescues Mario, or Zelda saves the world without even a sliver of help from Link?" is, I posit, not.

I'm not disagreeing with this with Peach and Mario, but I reiterate that "Zelda rescues Link" and "Link (who is a girl) rescues Princess Zelda" are both good ideas that are irrational to be against developing.

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