Brandon Strader

Tropes vs. Women / #GamerGate Conspiracies

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sorry, i dont want to make something out of nothing here, and i apologize for misrepresenting you just then - but it seems a little...hypocritical for you to on the one hand continually criticize the "confidence" with which sarkeesian and others make their arguments, and then on the other quite confidently suggest that you have any real insight into the ways my opinions have been formed, without allowing for the possibility that i believe what i believe because it truly resonates with my own experiences.

It would be one thing for me to say that Freud's work "resonates" with my own experiences; it's another thing to re-articulate, with certitude, specific tenets of his work, with something resembling blind devotion. Sorry man, I'm calling it like I see it, and I'm entitled to my opinion, and my opinion is that you sound like you're applying feminist theory 101 unilaterally & unequivocally, without a lot of "value added"...

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the argument being articulated does say that depictions of violence against women contributes to actual violence against women

And this is the thing that we believe the video does a very poor job of arguing. Or rather, it doesn't offer an argument at all, it just states this conclusion as a fact without supporting it. Studies have been cited in this thread both supporting and refuting this assertion. It's obviously not as cut and dry as the video would seem to think.

it does not implicate men as a whole, singular entity.

Then you shouldn't be referring to "men" without qualifications. Part of what gets people's backs up in this sort of discussion is the implication that men as a group are being accused of sexism. If you're going to say "men" but actually mean "men who are sexist/misogynistic, or men who enable/allow such behavior", then that's your fault for being lazy in your terminology.

why did you cut out the part of my post where i acknowledged exactly the kind of progress which took place in the 20th century you're referring to?

Because you seemed to be dismissing it by mentioning it and then completely dropping the subject. Given that in the sentence immediately before that you said that society doesn't change, I just decided to respond to the part of the post that I thought was relevant.

the reason why i said flatly that "if history is any indication, they don't" is because i do not - and i dont think you do, either - believe that any of that progress has reached something we could call "complete"

No one said that it has?

and that in the scheme of things, 100 years is an incredibly small slice of human history to consider anything within it "permanent". in fact, if the recent debates about women's rights to contraceptive health care are any indication, some of that progress is actively or at risk of being undone.

I think you're overreacting to sensationalist news. There's been a steady historical trend over the past century or so toward increasing equality and liberty for basically everyone. If you want to argue that that trend is in danger of reversing, then you're free to argue that point, but I'm extremely skeptical.

as to how change is brought about, i would refer you back to my post. on an individual level, critical thinking and empathy are essential in any effort to counter these ingrained dehumanizing traditions and institutions.

So, think about it and be a nice person and sexism will go away? I'm not sure if I'm misunderstanding you or we just have very different visions of the world, but I don't think that we can get rid of institutional sexism without a significant push to act on it, rather than just talk about it.

it was in response to a post of his in which he suggested that it was the observation or "labelling" of the phenomenon itself which was dehumanizing, rather than the process by which it comes to exist in the first place.

It works both ways. If you label someone as less than human, then that tends to make people think of them that way, which is dehumanization in a nutshell. On the flip side, if you already think of them as less than human, then you tend to label them that way. It's not a one-way street.

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So, think about it and be a nice person and sexism will go away? I'm not sure if I'm misunderstanding you or we just have very different visions of the world, but I don't think that we can get rid of institutional sexism without a significant push to act on it, rather than just talk about it.

That's why third-wave feminism has focused on more actionable issues. With regard to media criticism, in answer to your above point - YES, absolutely, just talk about it & think about it!

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I don't think that we can get rid of institutional sexism without a significant push to act on it, rather than just talk about it.

talking is an action iirc

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It would be one thing for me to say that Freud's work "resonates" with my own experiences; it's another thing to re-articulate, with certitude, specific tenets of his work, with something resembling blind devotion. Sorry man, I'm calling it like I see it, and I'm entitled to my opinion, and my opinion is that you sound like you're applying feminist theory 101 unilaterally & unequivocally, without a lot of "value added"...

i gotta say i take issue with you being so casually dismissive towards what im saying. you cant just shrug and say "my opinion" when not only is it a complete shot in the dark, it is simply incorrect. dont you think that by now, if i truly was regurgitating, my purpose would have long ago been served?

i didnt post that clip of The House I Live In for nothing. i'll be specific: the part of that clip that was most significant to me, and informs pretty much everything that i have posted here, was when the lincoln historian (his name escapes me) says: "Now, it's important to remember - or to realize - that it isn't that the war on drug users is the same as what happened in other societies, but that both are wars on ordinary people - people who are just like us."

if there was ever a statement that i would subscribe to with the kind of "faith"-like fervency as you are implying, it would be that one. i believe that the kind of inequality and oppression that is being spoken of here has its origins in an inability on the part of one to recognize the equivalent humanity in another. everything else i've said here is simply evidence in service of that belief.

----

It works both ways. If you label someone as less than human, then that tends to make people think of them that way, which is dehumanization in a nutshell. On the flip side, if you already think of them as less than human, then you tend to label them that way. It's not a one-way street.

what you are suggesting is a tautological definition of "dehumanization": that a person is dehumanized by the observation that they are dehumanized. this is essentially the same as the all-too-frequent criticism of cultural theorists that by observing and articulating the existence of gender or race-based inequality, they are reinforcing that inequality - and that argument necessarily suggests the corollary, that "sexism/racism will disappear if we just stop talking about it; i don't see gender/colour".

maybe it's not a one-way street, but what you're proposing is a cul-de-sac.

the reason why i said flatly that "if history is any indication, they don't" is because i do not - and i dont think you do, either - believe that any of that progress has reached something we could call "complete"

No one said that it has?

okay, seriously. not only did i acknowledge that you have not said that social progress is complete, i inserted it right into the sentence. maybe you just skipped over it; maybe you are being unnecessarily nitpicky. if that was the end of my post (or even the individual point i was making), maybe it would be justified. but it wasnt.

I think you're overreacting to sensationalist news. There's been a steady historical trend over the past century or so toward increasing equality and liberty for basically everyone. If you want to argue that that trend is in danger of reversing, then you're free to argue that point, but I'm extremely skeptical.

that may be the case if we look at it strictly from the perspective of the passage of laws explicitly dealing with racism/sexism/etc. however - and this is where The House I Live In is relevant once more - there are ways in which our society has codified through law (specifically laws against drugs) what amounts to no less inequality than that which existed in the jim crow era. take, for example, the fact the united states currently jails more black people than it held as slaves prior to the civil war.

Edited by Radiowar

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i didnt post that clip of The House I Live In for nothing. i'll be specific: the part of that clip that was most significant to me, and informs pretty much everything that i have posted here, was when the lincoln historian (his name escapes me) says: "Now, it's important to remember - or to realize - that it isn't that the war on drug users is the same as what happened in other societies, but that both are wars on ordinary people - people who are just like us."

if there was ever a statement that i would subscribe to with the kind of "faith"-like fervency as you are implying, it would be that one. i believe that the kind of inequality and oppression that is being spoken of here has its origins in an inability on the part of one to recognize the equivalent humanity in another. everything else i've said here is simply evidence in service of that belief.

Clip is giving an error, but I'm gonna watch the whole thing as soon as I've got time.

However, I believe that a lot of what you've been saying resembles second-wave feminist gospel that DOES itself exhibit an inability to recognize the "equivalent humanity in another" - that's what I've been trying to point out. When you make isolated statements & quotes like the above, I can't help but agree with you 100%, because I strongly identify with the sentiment. The trouble arises when you start tossing around reductionist labels and applying (what I still perceive as outdated/outmoded & second-wave) feminist theory left and right. In seeking to address dehumanization & failures to recognize humanity, it ends up doing EXACTLY that, and this isn't a situation where fight-fire-with-fire makes ANY degree of sense. Quite specifically, and quite pointedly, the idea that only a "dominant" group can other or dehumanize is worthless. Even attempting to define "dominant" can be problematic; read some Paglia. It is a human practice, and addressing it requires human solutions, and this categorical way of thinking is counter-productive to such solutions.

You can slice humanity up in a hundred different ways and find a hundred different ways in which one group will irrationally assert its inherent superiority, regardless of its relative empowerment. If you find it mentally satisfying to deal in the sort of double-speak that only allows for hierarchies that fit your personal definitions of what's allowed on one specific plane, at one specific point in time, trending true across one set of statistics, at one level of scale, then so be it. I strongly disagree that this way of thinking is productive, and for what it's worth, as I keep saying over and over, third-wave feminism has largely moved on from irrationally categorical media criticism & absurdly extremist patriarchy theory and started focusing on pragmatic, real-world issues. And it's achieving real-world results, potentially thanks (in part) due to avoiding such nonsense. It resonates with a far larger & far more diverse audience because it appeals to our sense of what is fair, not who is what.

To summarize, oversimplification & reductionist theories aren't paths to understanding the equivalent humanity in all of us - which I completely agree is a fantastic goal.

I have to leave it at that, at least for now.

Edited by djpretzel

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You two didn't get the memo. Read the bitly link. Twenty times over. PLEASE.

The reason I posted a handful of studies as an example was to show there is, in fact, hard data showing that the media we consume does have a psychological and physiological effect. Perhaps not a huge effect, perhaps only short term, or perhaps significant & long-term. As with almost anything else, more research needs to be done (and is getting done right now.)

The thing is, you don't need perfect and complete data (which rarely exists) to start drawing conclusions from research and even taking action. There's an element of risk vs. reward involved which is what I was alluding to earlier. In the field of medicine, a new drug (with some research behind it, but not a huge amount) might be able to save lives - but side effects could be serious, or fatal. Not uncommon, but nonetheless we usually accept that risk.

So, if consumers choose to play fewer games with mindless sexual degradation, brutal violence against women, etc., and game developers choose to make fewer games, the REWARD in a best case scenario (i.e. we ARE influenced by these things significantly) is that over time our average cultural attitude improves and has a meaningful impact on crime and discrimination. What's the worst case scenario? What, or where, is the risk? Again, there's no coercion here - nobody is suggesting anything like that.

Furthermore, you keep talking about third-wave feminism and how it is focusing on actionable issues. Great. How is that mutually exclusive to what we're talking about here? Admittedly I was fuzzy on the exact definition of "third-wave feminism" and read on Wikipedia some of the elements. Much of it seemed to be focused on changing cultural attitudes not through legal means but simple persuasion, writing, expression, etc. It sounds an awful lot like we've been discussing - striving to change cultural attitudes, not through new laws and regulations, but through free speech.

Regarding second vs. third-wave... I'm not an expert, I've never taken any classes on the subject, and I was only vaguely familiar with the terms until this thread. But I did take history classes, and I seem to remember a lot of the significant victories for women coming out of the 60s, which evidently was when the second-wave movement started. Things like the equal pay act of 1963, more acceptance for women in 'serious' fields (or working at all, vs. being stay-at-home mothers), the civil rights act, Roe v. Wade, etc. All of that, according to Wikipedia, falls under "second-wave feminism".

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I seem to remember a lot of the significant victories for women coming out of the 60s, which evidently was when the second-wave movement started. Things like the equal pay act of 1963, more acceptance for women in 'serious' fields (or working at all, vs. being stay-at-home mothers), the civil rights act, Roe v. Wade, etc. All of that, according to Wikipedia, falls under "second-wave feminism".

I think that the issue is that things like equal pay for women and etc. are actually self-evident examples of inequality (eg. are you paying a woman the same amount as a man, if not then that's inequality), whereas a lot of the things that people with "second-wave feminist" attitudes claim are self-evident examples of inequality are not anywhere near as clear cut

the problem becomes that claiming that an issue is self-evidently an issue precludes information that is important towards determining the proper solution, while simultaneously making it difficult to universally acknowledge what issues are problematic because some people erroneously assume that some issues are more important than others (for example, assuming that the problem is that damsels in distress exist instead of assuming that the problem is that there are very few good female characters/protagonists)

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Regarding second vs. third-wave... I'm not an expert, I've never taken any classes on the subject, and I was only vaguely familiar with the terms until this thread. But I did take history classes, and I seem to remember a lot of the significant victories for women coming out of the 60s, which evidently was when the second-wave movement started. Things like the equal pay act of 1963, more acceptance for women in 'serious' fields (or working at all, vs. being stay-at-home mothers), the civil rights act, Roe v. Wade, etc. All of that, according to Wikipedia, falls under "second-wave feminism".

Second-wave feminism had some amazing accomplishments, absolutely. Like many "big things" ("men" and "women" for example!) it's difficult to talk about as a whole. A massive dent was made, and I'm afraid I may have seemed diminishing or trivializing in my referring to "second-wave" ideas as an entirety. A lot of it I quite simply agree with, 100%. The stuff that I object to is, quite happily, mostly the stuff that's been gravitated away from, and a lot of that same stuff is media criticism relating to pornography that overlaps with a lot of what you've been trying to say, as well as more extreme/unilateral forms of patriarchy theory as well. So, to be 100% clear, the portions of second-wave feminism that I object to are specifically the ones you've been employing, which are not at all representative of the entirety of second-wave theory or real-world accomplishments.

There are logical pitfalls in what you're articulating, many of which are transparent to the very audience you're trying to persuade, and the degree of certitude you've been wielding is simply inappropriate. It sounds like perhaps you've dialed it back a bit, which is great, but I still think that arguments that appeal to the increase of the positive are more effective than those that attempt to demonize - or more specifically, draw specious conclusions from - the "negative"... does that make sense?

Edited by djpretzel

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The thing is, you don't need perfect and complete data (which rarely exists) to start drawing conclusions from research and even taking action. There's an element of risk vs. reward involved which is what I was alluding to earlier. In the field of medicine, a new drug (with some research behind it, but not a huge amount) might be able to save lives - but side effects could be serious, or fatal. Not uncommon, but nonetheless we usually accept that risk.

Let's all just imagine this analogy was never made, or you were just joking, or something.

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Let's all just imagine this analogy was never made, or you were just joking, or something.

Yeah gotta concur that medicines and treatments go through extremely rigorous trials before they are ever accepted for use. I sincerely doubt people would go for a medicine like that if it has potentially fatal side-effects.

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@djpretzel: i realize by now it feels like our conversation has run its course. if i may get my own last word in:

the interpretation of feminist theory as "fighting fire with fire" does not hold up. to use the analogy more accurately, the relationship between the macro-level man and woman is the relationship between fire and wood. it would not be fair - nor useful - for us to look at a piece of wood burning and say, "but wait, fire does not only burn wood." indeed, it will be extinguished once there is nothing left to burn.

because what we are talking about, ultimately, are frameworks of privilege. these frameworks manifest themselves in all areas of society, large and small in scale: it is in the way a white drug offender's powder cocaine possession will receive a fraction of the punishment for a black drug offender's crack cocaine possession, or the way society naturalizes heterosexual relationships while demonizing homosexual ones. it is in the way that my sister or my mother might express reservations about walking down a street which i might never give a second thought to.

these frameworks are necessarily self-perpetuating because they are inherently imbalanced, and enable one to ignore or deny the experience of another. the reason why a woman might legally be denied her right to contraceptive health-care, or her right to an abortion, might be in part because those kinds of laws are decided by panels comprised mostly, if not wholly, by men. the reason why those panels might lack appropriate representation of women might be in part because women make up roughly 20% of both the united states house of representatives and the senate. and on, and on.

it is important to recognize, though, that the immediate, short-term benefits caused by a system dependent on inequality will inevitably amount to a long-term loss. like the aforementioned fire, once one thing is consumed, it carries on to the next. for example, while drug laws in the united states may have their origins in attempts at covert racial control, they have so thoroughly decimated such a large population, and the economic engine they power has become so voracious, that their scope has since expanded; the problem of racial inequality becomes a problem of economic inequality. similarly, while abstract, patriarchal notions of "masculinity" and "femininity" may immediately result in individual women experiencing a lack of equality to individual men (as a result of a system of gender which assigns those notions on the basis of biological difference) it does not preclude the suffering of men who are deemed insufficiently "masculine" in spite of their biology.

whether or not we recognize the ways in which inequality targets or trends towards specific subsets of people has no bearing on the fact that the trend exists in the first place. in effect, the argument that it is the theories of society which "categorize" people, rather than the trends and phenomena they observe, is to suggest that inequality will somehow go away on its own if we simply don't talk about it at all. it is, in fact, by observing and articulating inequality that we counter the ignorance or denial which allows that inequality to exist at all.

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Yeah, our conversation probably HAS run its course, because you keep saying the same things over and over while not responding directly to what I'm saying. Your "frameworks of privilege" are NOT carte blanche to draw causal links between art and behavior with scant or conflicting evidence, do NOT exempt you from supporting your statements, are NOT free from bias themselves, should NOT be articulated with a brand of certitude that I can only describe as blindly devotional, and do NOT seem to be tempered with any degree of skepticism, or even a basic pluralism.

You keep articulating theory and framework as fact, as if the mere description of their mechanics was somehow persuasive proof of their accuracy & truth.

e.g.:

it is important to recognize, though, that the immediate, short-term benefits caused by a system dependent on inequality will inevitably amount to a long-term loss.
Making statements about "inevitabilities" like this is almost comical in its hubris & unqualified, unscoped reach. "It is important to recognize" is not "it is possible" or even "I believe that" or "Historical patterns suggest" - it's just a flat-out statement that this is a unilateral, "self-evident", & unquestionable fact. It fails to define inequality, benefit, system, long-term, or loss to extents necessary to really hold together as a meaningful claim, and even if it spelled out each of those in very concrete terms, that would only make the categorical certitude all the more obvious. Do I think inequality, as it describes the treatment of human beings in various categories & contexts, is bad? Yes. Do I think we should strive for equality? Yes. Do I think there is merit in analyzing the patterns of society & culture that tend to reinforce inequalities, in trying to understand them better, and in applying that knowledge responsibly? Yes. Do I think I think we need to paint with strokes this absurdly broad, in language this laughably confident, to persuade others to feel the same way? No.

This is pseudo-reasoning; could almost mistake it for a Sokal hoax if I didn't know better.

I find it frightening & frustrating because, while I agree with you in principle on a great many of these topics, this type of adherence is not a huge improvement over the similarly unquestioning bigotry it seeks to expose.

Edited by djpretzel

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This is pseudo-reasoning; could almost mistake it for a Sokal hoax if I didn't know better.

Just in case it isn't completely clear, @Radiowar:

From what I've read, I agree with Dave. What you've been saying are principles with which we are expected to agree. Although those principles are accurately and conventionally described, you did not follow them with any real explanation of their importance; you simply labeled them as "important to recognize" and left it at that. There's a huge difference between stating with certainty a fact without supporting explanations to connect the argument with the fact and stating with room for doubt while also using supporting explanations to connect the argument with the fact. What you had said with that certainty in those posts does have a hint of bias mainly because the certainty with which you have expressed the evidence and the lack of explanations to connect the evidence to your point illustrates a bias towards the evidence being inexplicably true.

In a sense, when Dave said earlier that your argument at one point was like it was just opinion (correct me if I'm wrong), it kind of was. One of my rhetoric teachers once said something like, "Any statement without support is just an opinion." My literature teacher said something to the effect of, "Stating a fact without support is not introducing your own ideas, and is therefore not exactly credible. You need to connect the fact with a clear explanation that belongs to you regarding how that fact connects to your point." I could add to that quote, "Otherwise, you're just regurgitating something that can be found online." All of that should accurately describe what it is you were doing, and will hopefully allow you to consider what has been said for future moments like these, before they happen. :)

Also, @Dave:

While what you said was accurate and entirely correct, the way you said it could be misconstrued as too blunt and direct. Just a few examples:

...because you keep saying the same things over and over while not responding directly to what I'm saying....
...a brand of certitude that I can only describe as blindly devotional,...
Making statements about "inevitabilities" like this is almost comical in its hubris...
...strokes this absurdly broad,...
...language this laughably confident,...

You get what I mean; you're a smart guy. Maybe it just didn't occur to you right away, as you were on a roll with the counterargument. ;) Regardless, this makes me feel proud you're the OCR founder. =D

Edited by timaeus222

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Let's all just imagine this analogy was never made, or you were just joking, or something.

Maybe you misunderstood the point of it...? Not sure what's funny about it. I'll explain and rephrase though in case it wasn't clear, since there were two elements to it.

Anytime we try to come up with solutions to problems, we have to consider risk vs. reward. Sometimes, the solution is too risky - either because of unintended consequences, or the foreseeable consequences if it does not work - and not worth the payoff. I was saying that in medicine, almost ALL drugs and treatments carry some level of risk, which ranges from minor to fatal. But even despite these sometimes extreme risks, the reward (curing some kind of ailment) is often considered worth it. So just because risk exists doesn't itself mean we shouldn't try a particular solution.

The other element is the use of quantifiable, peer-reviewed, scientific data to support a proposed solution to a problem. Dave's point throughout this thread has been that there isn't enough scientific evidence to support some of the assertions that have been thrown around regarding games, sexism, etc etc. My point was that even in medicine, which is driven by scientific data, we often try things that haven't been 100% completely and thoroughly studied, or that we don't even fully understand, because the REWARD is worthwhile.

The tie-in with my original point was that I think there is *enough* evidence to support a very low-risk proposition like "developers could try developing games with less senseless sexual violence and brutality against women", or "gamers could try not supporting such games". The risk is very low - at worst, nothing happens, but nobody gets hurt. The reward is potentially great, because if games really have contributed to negative attitudes over the long-term, then perhaps the trend will reverse to some degree.

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Also, @Dave: While what you said was accurate and entirely correct, the way you said it could be misconstrued as too blunt and direct. Just a few examples:

Guilty as charged, most likely. I tend to be harder on those I perceive as arguing on the side of causes I actually AGREE with, at least in overall sentiment.

Dave's point throughout this thread has been that there isn't enough scientific evidence to support some of the assertions that have been thrown around regarding games, sexism, etc etc. My point was that even in medicine, which is driven by scientific data, we often try things that haven't been 100% completely and thoroughly studied, or that we don't even fully understand, because the REWARD is worthwhile.

Sure, medicine was a bad example, but I understood the argument just fine.

I've been making several points throughout this thread, and that is certainly ONE of them.

I've also been saying, however, that even if there were 110% scientific proof that certain types of content in art led to measurable increases in certain types of negative real-world outcomes, would that really be the end of the conversation? This is why I was asking why you were focusing on women, and violence against women, and not just violence, plain and simple... there's MORE data to suggest that violence is the more problematic component, and that even male-on-male (or perhaps even male-on-robot, or dinosaur-on-zombie, who knows) violence contributes to violence towards women.

So it's not JUST a question of evidence proving a correlation, it's where you want to start, what you want to achieve, and how you want to prioritize things. To cherry pick stuff you personally find offensive, when it might very well be the case that other types of content is actually more detrimental, is simply the exertion of personal bias, and not much more. Also, you DO really need to factor in the agency & freedom of the artist. It's reasonable to suggest that long-term exposure to films that feature a very dominant RED color palette is more likely to result in violence than films that feature a very dominant BLUE color palette. If you perform studies, what level of evidence and what degree of harmful effect would make you comfortable with advising the reduction of red colors to filmmakers?

I'm not saying that depictions of violence are the same as primary colors, but there are at least two possible beneficial things about them: in terms of some of the very same depictions of violence towards women that Anita singles out, I strongly feel that the viewer is meant to be shocked and angered. It's the exact opposite of trivialization and desensitization, really. The other role they MIGHT play is that of outlet; this is just a theory, but it hasn't been studied significantly and thus when you ask what the potential downside is, it should be considered. What if violent art, including violent games, is actually serving as an outlet for violent people who might otherwise be directing their pent-up anger towards real-world targets? Plausible? I don't even know... as far as I know, it hasn't been studied, as you would need a control group that was already more aggressive than normal, and you would need to study long-term, real-world outcomes. I suppose that a third possibility might be as follows... if you completely removed instances of brutal violence against women, there's the possibility that some people may actually be LESS aware that it actually occurs, i.e. that men are actually capable of it. Again, not sure if that's been studied, and you'd need a lot of time and some fairly naive test subjects. In other words, you might run the risk, by sanitizing the art, of not reducing the behavior itself, but simply the awareness that it is both real and plausible.

I mention these possibilities not as absolutes, but only as counterpoint, because I don't feel like you've even considered them. What I've mostly been criticizing in this thread is your willingness to jump over giant chasms of reasoning and causation and arrive so confidently at results. That includes not only the presence or absence of scientific evidence, but also the implications of its application...

The tie-in with my original point was that I think there is *enough* evidence to support a very low-risk proposition like "developers could try developing games with less senseless sexual violence and brutality against women", or "gamers could try not supporting such games". The risk is very low - at worst, nothing happens, but nobody gets hurt. The reward is potentially great, because if games really have contributed to negative attitudes over the long-term, then perhaps the trend will reverse to some degree.

What is "senseless" sexual violence, though? I assume you're using the adjective to allow for narrative contexts in which it is completely acceptable and non-gratuitous? That's a pretty fuzzy standard, and I'm afraid as a developer I might be legitimately confused. And why do you keep repeatedly scoping it to just women? The very studies that YOU quoted mentioned that violence in general was the more important ingredient than women OR sex. My suspicion is that you KNOW that not only does violence sell, but that it is integral to the mechanics of many genres of games, and so - pardon the expression - you don't have the cajones to go all-out and suggest its reduction, but you feel perfectly comfortable suggesting that it be reduced if it is 1. "senseless" and 2. directed at women.

At any rate, I was never saying that you can't or even that you shouldn't express your concerns to game developers. It is absolutely the role of the audience to request variety & change from artists and entertainers, and provide them with feedback. I prefer the word "request" to the word "demand" that Jay used, because I feel like artists can and should keep doin' what they're doin' if they disagree. My personal feedback is that I'd like to see characters, male and female, with more depth & dimension, and that certain tropes that Anita successfully identifies are overused, and I'd like to see more variety. If you want me to agree to anything MORE than that, you've completely failed to persuade me, but it doesn't at all mean you can't express your opinion & try to persuade others.

Edited by djpretzel

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absolutely astounding that you find this as something logical to attempt, this is censorship. There is no good evidence pointing towards the claims you make. As far as risk vs reward goes, I don't want to see games I enjoy pointlessly changed. What I do want is for these "problematic" games to persist as well as have the addition of games with stronger female roles developed.

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Here's the double edge sword in Anita's videos about damsels in distress; it's great that she's pointing out the similarities in games by highlighting the use of this motif...maybe developers will try to approach characters and plots more uniquely moving forward. However, when it's all said and done; it's a motif. It's been around for centuries. It doesn't exist to discriminate females or feed male's egos. It's built upon the natural characteristics of men and women. Each gender has elements that define one over another. Men are naturally more strong physically and women tend to be gentle. Both are positives for each gender. The damsel in distress motif simply exploits said characteristics to make entertaining stories, which may be based on how civilization operated then. Today, lines are blurred and it may not always be the case, but the characteristics that make each gender special remains the same.

Having said that, her first video rubbed me the wrong way because she was too nitpicky on classic games which used the motif. She overanalyzed way too much, going out of her way to demonize them. Back then, there wasn't any hidden messages behind classic games. Her second video, however, is really an eye-opener and well-articulated...probably due to games being more modern and cinematic, the laziness and exploitation are more obvious. She also does tread back and doesn't call developers and game creators out as being sexist and whatnot. It's just the common trend of modern games using the same motif over and over again is improper and lazy.

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absolutely astounding that you find this as something logical to attempt, this is censorship. There is no good evidence pointing towards the claims you make. As far as risk vs reward goes, I don't want to see games I enjoy pointlessly changed. What I do want is for these "problematic" games to persist as well as have the addition of games with stronger female roles developed.

It's not censorship to talk about things and use freedom of speech to persuade others. Blackface was never outlawed. Neither were racist depictions of Asians from World War II. But they've gone away thanks to changing cultural attitudes. That's not censorship at all. Do you think entertainment creators should have continued to use one-dimensional racist caricatures and stereotypes in popular media? Do you think we're somehow worse off now that those things have generally gone away? Same situation here.

there's MORE data to suggest that violence is the more problematic component, and that even male-on-male (or perhaps even male-on-robot, or dinosaur-on-zombie, who knows) violence contributes to violence towards women

Yep, that's true. I think we could do with less extremely violent games as well. Many of my favorite games are M-rated but I think some games cross the line of good taste.. for example I've found the more recent Mortal Kombat games to be too gruesome. I don't think extreme violence and gore for the sake of it does anything for games as an art form either, though of course some games do have brutality in a context where it makes sense. But anyway, this is a thread about tropes vs. women in games, not tropes vs. violence in games, hence why I'm talking about the former. :<

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Here are my thoughts on depicted violence versus actual violence.

I'd like to see proof to support the claim that depictions of violence cause an increase in instances of actual violence, before we start advocating for changes in the way we depict violence. [wording changed for clarity] People have been trying to blame depictions of violence in the media for actual violence ever since “the media” was a thing. Yet the data does not show any such causal link. I bring back a paper linked by djp, I'll quote the abstract:

Although the possibility that television and film violence has an impact on violent criminality remains, it is concluded here that, despite persistent published reviews that state the contrary, the body of published, empirical evidence on this topic does not establish that viewing violent portrayals causes crime.

Now to bring video games into the mix. I'm sure we're all familiar the attempts to link “violent” games with real violence (what is the criteria for a game to be considered violent?), along with failed legislation against so-called violent games. This article provides a nice overview of the violent video game controversy (pay particular attention to page 3). Basically, the data linking actual violence and video games is inconclusive at best. For more specifics, click here: Reality Check on Video Game Violence, and here: Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked. You're welcome to read through these articles if you wish. My thinking is that people who are already predisposed towards (for whatever reason) will be drawn to “violent” video games.

People have depicted and explored violence for thousands of years. Before television, video games, and the internet, people used plays, art, and literature to depict and discuss acts of violence. And before writing, people simply used language to convey stories. Also, music can be used to explore violence. We depict violence in art, literature, music, and all other forms of media because *spoilers* we live in a world where violence exists. Even nature, as we all know, is violent. Should we just pretend violence doesn't exist? Should we not use the arts to explore violence as it relates to the human condition? Should journalists and news media not cover the events in Syria because it involves depictions of violence? People have been saying throughout this thread that spreading awareness of issues is a good thing. What better to do that than by showing the actual acts of violence? For example, it's nice to talk about violent crackdown of peaceful protesters, but it will resonate in people far more if they actually see the crackdown via video or first hand. The recent turmoil in the Middle East is a good example.

Shock value is a good thing, we need to be reminded that horrible stuff goes on everyday. Lest we forget. It's easy for those of us who are safe to lose sight of the world's troubles. If we see the horrors, perhaps we will be more motivated to do something to stop them.

The following quote from one of the above articles (Reality Check on Video Game Violence) sums things up nicely:

Blaming entertainment for social ills is nothing new, of course; Elvis Presley was accused of corrupting America's youth with lewd hip gyrations in the 1950s, for example, and in 1880s London the play "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" was blamed for encouraging Jack the Ripper in his crimes. In science, outside the agenda enclaves, the effects of violent entertainment and video games on behavior is very much an open question.
Edited by Cash
changed wording for clarity

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Here are my thoughts on depicted violence versus actual violence.

I'd like to see some evidence that depictions of violence cause an increase in instances of actual violence. People have been trying to blame depictions of violence in the media for actual violence ever since “the media” was a thing. Yet the data does not show any such causal link.

Hopefully you know that's asking the impossible, so you probably won't see it anytime soon. It's like asking someone to find evidence that any student who plays video games does worse in school. It's one of those cases where non causa pro causa is the primary reason it will likely not work out. I'm not trying to make any hasty generalizations, but I play video games, and I do rather well in school. I could be the minority in this situation, but I'm probably not the only one. In any case, it would be a counterexample to what I had analogized to. What's to say there's no counterexample to what you're asking?

Now to bring video games into the mix. I'm sure we're all familiar the attempts to link “violent” games with real violence (what is the criteria for a game to be considered violent?), along with failed legislation against so-called violent games. This article provides a nice overview of the violent video game controversy (pay particular attention to page 3). Basically, the data linking actual violence and video games is inconclusive at best. For more specifics, click here: Reality Check on Video Game Violence, and here: Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked. You're welcome to read through these articles if you wish. My thinking is that people who are already predisposed towards (for whatever reason) will be drawn to “violent” video games.
Yes, I agree.
People have depicted and explored violence for thousands of years. Before television, video games, and the internet, people used plays, art, and literature to depict and discuss acts of violence. And before writing, people simply used language to convey stories. Also, music can be used to explore violence. We depict violence in art, literature, music, and all other forms of media because *spoilers* we live in a world where violence exists. Even nature, as we all know, is violent. Should we just pretend violence doesn't exist? Should we not use the arts to explore violence as it relates to the human condition? Should journalists and news media not cover the events in Syria because it involves depictions of violence? People have been saying throughout this thread that spreading awareness of issues is a good thing. What better [way] to do that than by showing the actual acts of violence? For example, it's nice to talk about violent crackdown of peaceful protesters, but it will resonate in people far more if they actually see the crackdown via video or first hand. The recent turmoil in the Middle East is a good example.
Shock value is a good thing, we need to be reminded that horrible stuff goes on everyday. Lest we forget. It's easy for those of us who are safe to lose sight of the world's troubles. If we see the horrors, perhaps we will be more motivated to do something to stop them.
Nature, violent? Sure, but in an entirely different and non-deliberate way. Nature's violence is incredibly ambiguous. What could you be talking about in a phrase like that? Lightning? Sure. Tsunamis? Sure. Bear attacks? Yeah. Shark attacks? Why not. Not the same as human violence. :smile:

Accurately depicting modern violence with art depends on what "art" you use. Here's where things get iffy. You started off as defining violence as something to be discussed through harmless acting and writing, then you aimed to connect depicted violence for literary arts with real-world violence. If we take Shakespeare's work, for example (you did say "for thousands of years"), we would be talking poison, rather than a more straightforward method of violence. Poison certainly counted as violence back then, and while it does count as violence now, it's not the same as a stabbing, for example (although Hamlet did stab his uncle with a poisoned blade, but that's not the point). Poison is more premeditated and deliberate, less detectable, and reserved for the more intelligent. Stabbing is more on-the-fly, improvised, as far as I've read about. I actually don't even recall the last stabbing discussed on public television. Then again, I don't even recall any non-gun-related violence in today's highly-discussed games, like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, etc. I'm no expert in either of those games, but I have seen some gameplays which all depicted gun/military violence. Gun violence and stabbing isn't exactly poison-related, so it's not the same definition of violence; more like an equivocation to me.

Of course, that's way too far back. Nobody poisons or writes about poisonings anymore (I hope), except maybe Sherlock Holmes stories, but those are classics. Basically, just because what happened back then counted as some form of violence doesn't mean that today's violence is of the same magnitude or can be considered of a similar magnitude. It's not comparable. The definition of violence has changed... arbitrarily.

While spreading awareness is a good thing, it's not quite necessary to suggest the insertion of depictions of violence in video games as a "method" to illustrate violence and to promote its reduction. The original argument was whether or not evidence could be found to provide a link between "depictions of [modern] violence" and "an increase in instances of actual [modern] violence", so if you aim to consider that as an option, you'd be contradicting yourself as you were hoping to reduce violence.

Yes, violence for shock value is a possibility. I have no issues with that being a possibility. However, some people still think that depictions of violence cause an increase in instances of actual violence (sometimes parents). Seeing violence in video games is different from seeing violence "on TV" (TV shows, movies), and seeing violence "on TV" is different from seeing violence played back on the news. When people see violence in video games, they see it as more mentally harmful (in the sense of corruption) than violence on the news (mentally harmful in the sense of psychological damage) because video game violence is entirely and utterly fake. Planned. Scripted. News violence is entirely real. When people see violence on the news, it's a much more intense reaction due to the possibility that if you live near where it happened, that could happen to you, whereas video game villains can't jump out of the console and attack you. The issue with what you said is that you wanted more video game violence in hopes of reducing real-world violence. Some people are indeed oblivious enough to believe that if certain acts of violence happens in video games, it can influence those players to be violent in the real world. Are you going to be okay with them breathing down your neck? :<

Edited by timaeus222

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Hopefully you know that's asking the impossible, so you probably won't see it anytime soon. It's like asking someone to find evidence that any student who plays video games does worse in school. It's one of those cases where non causa pro causa is the primary reason it will likely not work out. I'm not trying to make any hasty generalizations, but I play video games, and I do rather well in school. I could be the minority in this situation, but I'm probably not the only one. In any case, it would be a counterexample to what I had analogized to. What's to say there's no counterexample to what you're asking?

That all well and good, but we shouldn't make decisions based on inconclusive evidence.

Accurately depicting modern violence with art depends on what "art" you use. Here's where things get iffy. You started off as defining violence as something to be discussed through harmless acting and writing, then you aimed to connect depicted violence for literary arts with real-world violence.

I'm not sure what you mean by "connect depicted violence for literary arts with real-world violence". I thought I made the point that depicted violence does not cause actual violence. By the way, I didn't actually define violence.

The issue with what you said is that you wanted more video game violence in hopes of reducing real-world violence. Some people are indeed oblivious enough to believe that if certain acts of violence happens in video games, it can influence those players to be violent in the real world. Are you going to be okay with them breathing down your neck? :<

Woah there, I didn't say I want more violence in video games, simply that depictions of violence are not always a bad thing. In fact, my point is that depicting violence is a useful tool to spread awareness of a violent act, in addition to simply talking about it. I guess I didn't make myself clear.

Alright, I missed a point in my previous post. A major problem with this issue of depicted violence and real violence is that we have yet to define violence. My question: what is violence? Dictionary.com defines violence as 1. a swift and intense force and 2. rough or injurious physical force, action, or treatment (a few more definitions I didn't include). But what acts should we include when we measure violence?

Nature, violent? Sure, but in an entirely different and non-deliberate way. Nature's violence is incredibly ambiguous. What could you be talking about in a phrase like that? Lightning? Sure. Tsunamis? Sure. Bear attacks? Yeah. Shark attacks? Why not. Not the same as human violence. :smile:

You're right, nature violence is different. I just threw that in my post without really thinking.

Edited by Cash

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That all well and good, but we shouldn't make decisions based on inconclusive evidence.

That was actually a statement regarding room for a reasonable doubt, rather than a suggesting a real decision was hoped to be made. In a case like this, the negative is easier to be sure about than the affirmative (and no, I'm not actually doing any special pleading. :P).

I'm not sure what you mean by "connect depicted violence for literary arts with real-world violence". I thought I made the point that depicted violence does not cause actual violence. By the way, I didn't actually define violence.

You were making that point; that's a given. However, in order for your assertion to work, you needed a good connection between violence for literary arts and real-world violence. Otherwise, these sentences you wrote would be useless:
We depict violence in art, literature, music, and all other forms of media because *spoilers* we live in a world where violence exists.
Should we not use the arts to explore violence as it relates to the human condition?
If you want to use literary art as something to be compared safely and reasonably with real-world violence, it could be a case-by-case basis. Obviously you can't compare the murder of a person by poison on a TV show with the murder of a person by a gunshot shared on the news. Poison is much slower than a gunshot, so it's not a close enough comparison to be a strong analogy/comparison.

Also, by writing this paragraph:

People have depicted and explored violence for thousands of years.

...

The recent turmoil in the Middle East is a good example.

you implicitly compared two different definitions (or measurements, using your word) of violence by accident: fictional/literary/scripted violence and real-world violence. I believe that those are different enough in their severity to warrant that an equivocation was made.
Woah there, I didn't say I want more violence in video games, simply that depictions of violence are not always a bad thing. In fact, my point is that depicting violence is a useful tool to spread awareness of a violent act, in addition to simply talking about it. I guess I didn't make myself clear.
You may not have meant to say that, but that's how it came across from what I read. You're right, depictions of violence are not necessarily and unequivocally bad. The encouragement of them for two contradictory reasons is what confused me. In the same post, you had written this sentence:
I'd like to see some evidence that depictions of violence cause an increase in instances of actual violence.
and this one:
What better [way] to [spread awareness of issues regarding violence] than by showing the actual acts of violence?
and finally this one:
If we see the horrors, perhaps we will be more motivated to do something to stop them.
Line those up, and you'll find that contradiction you made, probably by accident somehow. You were at first hoping to see any sort of real concrete evidence proving that depictions of violence would actually cause an increase in instances of actual violence. Then you said it would be great to spread the awareness of issues regarding violence by use of the depictions of violence, and followed that up with a hope that seeing violence will help us to not do it. It's your hope that was contradictory though, and not the content you were talking about. You see, your hope for evidence of an increase was direct hope. Your hope for a decrease was a conditional hope, so if either of those are accurate, only one, or neither, would happen, and obviously not both. If you were meaning to say "if it's really the case that depictions of violence cause an increase in violence, then here's how we might be able to work towards fixing it little by little, and it involves bringing in more depictions of violence---albeit harsher than the previous ones---as an experiment to see if harsher unconventional violence might be enough to steer people away from committing them", then yes, I agree, at the extent to which it works well enough.
Alright, I missed a point in my previous post. A major problem with this issue of depicted violence and real violence is that we have yet to define violence. My question: what is violence? Dictionary.com defines violence as 1. a swift and intense force and 2. rough or injurious physical force, action, or treatment (a few more definitions I didn't include). But what acts should we include when we measure violence?
Yep, that's the issue with a lot more than just violence (the ACA, for example, but let's not go offtopic), as a lot of legal terms are ambiguous too (like in Regulating vs. Mandating by Howard Schweber). I agree that it can be vaguely described with examples, but the varying degrees of violence is what makes it so hard to compare versions. That's why it's important to use as recent evidence as possible. Edited by timaeus222

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Timaeus, stop right there. You misunderstood my post.

When I said

I'd like to see some evidence that depictions of violence cause an increase in instances of actual violence.

I was asking people to prove that claim.

This statement was meant as a response to those who say violence in the media causes an increase in actual violence. It was a request for proof NOT a hope for evidence; I wasn't trying to establish any link between depicted violence and real-world violence. I was making a general response to previous points made by zircon and Radiowar.

My statement should been thus:

I'd like to see proof to support the claim that depictions of violence cause an increase in instances of actual violence, before we start advocating for changes in the way we depict violence.

I apologize for an unintended lack of clarity. (Did anyone else have the same interpretation as timaeus?)

So for the sake of clarity, I figure I should make my original point again. I think depicting violence in the media, specifically video games, can be a useful tool to spread awareness of a violent action(s), and possibly promote it's reduction. It seems to me that actually seeing a violent action is far more effective than discussion and citing statistics at getting someone actively involved in reducing instances of said action. After all, a picture is worth 1000 words.

Edited by Cash

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So Remember Me came out yesterday and I got my hands on it. You may recall that Capcom tried to force the developer, DONTNOD, to change the main character to a male when they found out it was a female. When that failed, they pushed to get scenes with the protagonist in a romantic relationship with a male removed.

I admire DONTNOD for what they've done. The protagonist, Nillin, is a strong female character who isn't over-sexualized or made to be some female punching bag. She's smart, capable, and very aware of herself and others. In other words, she's a normal human being, not just another flat, one-dimensional imitation of a woman.

I wonder what Anita (and any other feminists, or women in general for that matter) have to say about Nillin and the way she is portrayed in Remember Me.

Edited by Cerrax

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