Brandon Strader

Tropes vs. Women / #GamerGate Conspiracies

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...threats being issued over twitter, these things are public record...

Is an anonymous threat issued over twitter really "public record," though? It's a record of something, I suppose, but I believe the author was making the point that since the identity of the tweet's author cannot be verified, much less the sincerity of his/her intentions, that's why the use of "alleged" is appropriate. It becomes speculative until someone with more information can confirm things; difficult in this day and age.

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You know, Anita is a self-proclaimed non-fan of games, and I kinda have to agree (that she is). As someone who has played games my whole life basically, playing a game with a strong female protagonist doesn't surprise me, or impress me, or make me feel like "Wow this dev team sure is being edgy" or any ridiculous thing like that. I think I grew up during a period where both gender and race relations have improved immeasurably (I cant actually measure it, but it's an obvious contrast). Maybe it's because of my comfort level with humanity, or something? But I tend to focus more on personality and character quality than surface features.

I enjoyed Remember Me from DONTNOD / Capcom and while playing it I never thought "Awesome! They made a strong, colored woman protagonist!" I certainly didn't DISREGARD her as being a strong female character, but I think at this point in my life I'm less inclined to focus on a person's gender or race as an identifying factor. I get it, our surface features are important, it's what defines us to some degree, but I think the level of fighting and attempts at shoehorning that can go on is more damaging than just letting stories and characters evolve naturally and as intended by the hive mind (the 300 or so people developing a game, including women and colored people -- sometimes people forget it's not some blob of white straight men who create these things)

I just woke up so forgive if I messed anything up here

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I'm unclear if you mean that the irrational rage is flying out from those doing the critiquing, those reacting to the critiquing, or both. I'm hoping both.

Yes, I do mean both. My disclaimer is that I haven't followed all the drama closely in the last few months, but it's easy to find irrational rage all over. What I'd really like to see instead is someone side-step the toxic discussion that is, and instead start with the thoughtful critique and counter-critique that should be.

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I enjoyed Remember Me from DONTNOD / Capcom and while playing it I never thought "Awesome! They made a strong, colored woman protagonist!" I certainly didn't DISREGARD her as being a strong female character, but I think at this point in my life I'm less inclined to focus on a person's gender or race as an identifying factor. I get it, our surface features are important, it's what defines us to some degree, but I think the level of fighting and attempts at shoehorning that can go on is more damaging than just letting stories and characters evolve naturally and as intended by the hive mind (the 300 or so people developing a game, including women and colored people -- sometimes people forget it's not some blob of white straight men who create these things)

I just woke up so forgive if I messed anything up here

I'm not trying to take down your post so much as offer a different perspective. While including minorities may not be something you personally focus on, being an ethnic minority in America is something I can't divorce from my identity. Being an Indian American is always in the back and often at the front of my mind because there are tons of things I encounter in my day that remind me that my culture is not part of the mainstream in this country. So when I see people who look like me or have a similar background to me, something just clicks in my head and makes me engage with the medium on a whole new level.

Look at Marvel Comics for example. Marvel recently re-envisioned a bunch of their characters to be minorities. One of them was Ms. Marvel: she changed from a muscular white adult woman (Carol Danvers) to a puny young Pakistani Muslim teenage girl (Kamala Khan). A lot of people criticized this change and the other character changes as too forced. Yet when I read a piece of the new Ms. Marvel, I saw a scene where Kamala Khan shape shifts into the original blonde Carol Danvers Ms. Marvel. She realizes that looking like what a super hero traditionally looks like doesn't make her feel more confident, but saving people was meaningful. I never had any Indian super heroes to admire when I was a kid, so seeing Kamala Khan be heroic despite wrestling with feeling different resonated so much with me. What's more, it told a Ms. Marvel story in a way that's never been done before and hit all the right notes specifically because of what this character's background is.

When I see how Kamala Khan makes me feel, I imagine all the people out there of different backgrounds, colors, shapes, and sizes, who aren't really represented too well in media like video games. And then I just can't help but feel like there is no harm in actively introducing more diversity as long as you can tell a good story, because overrepresentation of minorities is definitely not a problem and won't be in the near future.

Edit: bonus Ms. Marvel pages:

http://i.imgur.com/2c5WTg6.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/bdtpDdH.jpg

http://38.media.tumblr.com/6f1dc0c26cff06ee362635b6f30118ec/tumblr_nbezsez1hA1t0cxrao4_1280.jpg

Edited by Ab56 v2 aka Ash

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I appreciate and understand that even though I don't think Marvel's doing it for the right moral reasons, but I am super happy that it resonates with you and gives such a positive image for so many kids who are probably picking them up. These will be the stories they talk about when they're older, so it's definitely a good step regardless of the motivations behind it. :-)

I personally think Marvel is trying too hard with all the stuff they're doing, but whatever works I guess. The part you mentioned about her turning into the white version doesn't sit well with me. It is a strength that should be in the character on her own, not as a revelation like that... you know what I mean?

Also I didn't mean to imply that race or gender isn't important, just that it doesn't deter me at all. But it's also not something I would specifically buy a game because of. I got Remember Me because it looked like an awesome game and I wasn't disappointed. I really like that the protagonist in Remember Me is who she is rather than the standard shaved-head buff man which sets unrealistic standards for men (sob, sob, :cry:)

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I disagree with presuming that Marvel's featuring diversity for the "wrong" reasons, whatever those might be. Way too many people have been presuming that, and it's what makes people feel like games, comics, and other media are too exclusive for minorities to be part of. We just don't know what Marvel and other content creators' motives are, so I don't think there's a point in critiquing the products for including diversity.

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We just don't know what Marvel and other content creators' motives are, so I don't think there's a point in critiquing the products for including diversity.

Money. What else? :lol:

On a slightly more serious note, let's do a music analogy. The Journey OST had a beautiful bass flute performed by Amy Tatum. Bass flute isn't used that much as a "workhorse woodwind" in the orchestra. Certainly not compared to the regular C flute, or even the alto flute. When I heard it in Journey, I loved it. It delivered a distinct character, one that was appropriately suited to the atmosphere of the game. I applauded Austin Wintory for writing for an instrument that is somewhat underrepresented in the orchestra, and even moreso in video game music.

But does that mean we should have bass flute in games just because it's underrepresented? Or even because it simply adds a rare, distinct flavor? I don't think so. I think it should have to say something. It should have to be indispensable; like the soundtrack and the game would be lesser without it.

SPOILERS below

* * *

Look at Clementine from The Walking Dead. They could have had a male, or an adult, or a male adult be the protagonist. But for me, playing as a female child made me feel more vulnerable, unsafe, and consequently, more badass as my heroine developed into a strong, smart, capable survivor. Part of that was somewhat transferred, I think, from playing Season 1 as Lee. Over the course of the game, Lee's fondness and protection for Clem became my own. And when he died, and I took over as Clem, that protectiveness sort of continued for me.

Even Lee himself is a topic to discuss. Leaving the matter that he's black aside, let's just focus on the fact that he's a murderer. A lot of the interactions you have with characters is based on trust, and multiple times your past is brought up in that regards. People are biased towards you. And for me, that mattered (even though the story ends up the same no matter if you chose to acknowledge their bias or ignore it). They didn't have to make Lee a murderer any more than they had to make Clementine a little girl, but they did, and they did it because it actually served the game, not just because these people are underrepresented or to make a blind attempt to sprinkle in "variety".

I anticipate some dissenting opinion about race, gender, etc. versus being a murderer (because you can't control your race or gender, but you can control whether you kill someone, yadda yadda). But that's looking at the act, which in and of itself, does not constitute bias. Instead, look at the effect is has on other people. If you're black, people are going to be biased. If you've murdered in the past, people are going to biased. Effect-wise, it's the same, and depending on how you look at it, murderers are a minority as well (at least I think they are!)

Edited by Neifion

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SPOILERS below

* * *

Look at Clementine from The Walking Dead. They could have had a male, or an adult, or a male adult be the protagonist. But for me, playing as a female child made me feel more vulnerable, unsafe, and consequently, more badass as my heroine developed into a strong, smart, capable survivor. Part of that was somewhat transferred, I think, from playing Season 1 as Lee. Over the course of the game, Lee's fondness and protection for Clem became my own. And when he died, and I took over as Clem, that protectiveness sort of continued for me.

My version of Clementine in Season 2 was accidentally or maybe not accidentally, very dark and kind of cruel. For example, she stood by and watched Kenny beat Carver to death with the crowbar, and earlier in the game basically intimidated Rebecca and said "you had better be nicer to me." and later shot Rebecca in the head without calling for help, but maybe that's not so bad? I don't know.

Kind of a tangent here, but all I can say is I am glad her gender/race is never really made into a story point too much. She is who she is, and it's not questioned and doesn't have some kind of exposition behind it.

I think comic books in general have... a little bit cheaper writing than other forms of media.. so maybe I shouldn't be overly harsh on Marvel, I dunno. Ironically, Walking Dead is also a comic book series, but the game isn't based on the story of the comic book.

Pretty interesting.

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Kind of a tangent here, but all I can say is I am glad her gender/race is never really made into a story point too much. She is who she is, and it's not questioned and doesn't have some kind of exposition behind it.

MORE SPOILERS

Perhaps not her gender/race, but definitely her age was an intentional inclusion, and that has it's own set of bias that's clearly put to use in the game. From a story standpoint, it's very much a coming of age topic that is of definite focus for the developers (the 400 Days story with Becca, who shows a lack of attachment as a means of coping is another example besides Clem). From a gameplay standpoint, there's a lot of extra difficulties Clem has to deal with that an adult male, for example, would be able to handle differently. Sort of toying with "how would a kid develop in this F'ed up world". I think the gender attachment thing is more personal: I have a young niece who I'm protective of and I guess I project her onto Clem a lot (and myself as a not-badass Lee, haha).

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I'll chime in here. We need pragmatic, results-oriented, third-wave feminism in gaming. We don't need polemical, irrational, and prosecutorial second-wave feminism in gaming, or much of anywhere else. The only reason it's even POSSIBLE is that the gaming community doesn't have enough of an academic/cultural foundation for some strong voices to emerge and point it out for what it is - a resurrection & regurgitation of sad, dead ideas.

This.

so much this.

thank you djpretzel for explaining it better than I ever could.

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But does that mean we should have bass flute in games just because it's underrepresented? Or even because it simply adds a rare, distinct flavor? I don't think so. I think it should have to say something. It should have to be indispensable; like the soundtrack and the game would be lesser without it.

I couldn't disagree with this more strongly. The analogy falls flat for me because adding a minority character doesn't mean adding a minority character where one doesn't belong, unless you're assuming that minorities don't belong in pop culture to begin with. Minorities can be, for lack of a better word, "regular" people too, and there are plenty of Carlton Bankses in the world who identify more strongly with lifestyles not typically associated with their race. To me, diversity in media is also about normalizing that imagery because that's how real life is in a lot of places.

Edited by Ab56 v2 aka Ash

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I couldn't disagree with this more strongly. The analogy falls flat for me because adding a minority character doesn't mean adding a minority character where one doesn't belong, unless you're assuming that minorities don't belong in pop culture to begin with. Minorities can be regular people too, and there are plenty of Carlton Bankses in the world who identify more strongly with lifestyles not typically associated with their race. To me, diversity in media is also about showing that minorities can be "regular" people too, because that's how real life is.

Agreed but it DOES get tricky. Since we were talking about Joss Whedon before, in addition to his strong female leads (which I do think at times come off as a little self-consciously progressive, but which generally I like), he also had the cajones to make Jubal Early (Firefly) AND The Operative (Serenity) black male villains... GASP!! I joke, but it's NOT somewhere most writers are willing to go.

Just watch television advertisements with a critical eye... whenever there's a group of people, and some people are stupid or doing the "wrong" thing, and others are smart and doing the "right" thing, and the group includes African Americans, ad producers are extremely reluctant (read: afraid) to have the black people be on the losing side of any equation. It seems like it's going to take a good, long while before everyone can just be comfortable with diversity and not be afraid of pointed fingers...

Herein lies the crux of my objection: Anita is quite flagrantly pointing fingers; she's doing it in the context of bad faith assumptions, she's doing it while reciting dogma that shouldn't pass the laugh test in modern classrooms, and she's doing it without any thought to persuading those who most need persuading. I don't think that'll make game developers more comfortable with the idea that "minorities can be "regular" people too, because that's how real life is," as you quite correctly put it... although statistically women are a majority that's just historically been treated like a minority.

If women are people too, a sentiment that I wholeheartedly agree with as a human, son, brother, husband, and now a father, with every fiber of my being, then that means that their inclusion and depiction in fictional works should run a wide spectrum, and the widening of that spectrum is a goal I think almost everyone who's contributed to this thread actually supports... I don't think that goal is accomplished via finger pointing and an ideological Sword of Damocles hanging over the head of everyone making a game that in any way involves sex or gender. You CAN argue for more variety and fewer cliches without simultaneously arguing against perceived misogyny, sexual objectification, etc. The two are NOT mutually inclusive. I have to think you'll persuade more people, piss off fewer people, and not come nearly as close to advocating censorship and/or resting your entire argument on a psychological house of cards that involves completely unsubstantiated cause-and-effect chain reactions.

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That goes back to what I was suggesting but obviously probably can't back up is the theory that the 'nerd rage' is far too profitable for Quinn and Sarkeesian.

As a side note, if you're running a business, don't have the paypal link to your personal account. That's just.... wrong. Separate it into its own account like it should be. If you go on Rebel Game Jam website and hit donate, it goes to donate to "The Quinnspiracy" rather than Rebel Game Jam -- also, is it NOT EVEN THE LEAST BIT SUSPICIOUS THAT SHE ACCEPTS DONATIONS UNDER THE QUINNSPIRACY, the name given to her situation by the internet. Wtf? lol

This Theon Greyjoys of nefarious scheme

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As a side note, if you're running a business, don't have the paypal link to your personal account. That's just.... wrong.

I think that depends on what form of business it is. If whoever you're talking about is running a sole proprietorship, I'm not sure this is a problem.

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I couldn't disagree with this more strongly. The analogy falls flat for me because adding a minority character doesn't mean adding a minority character where one doesn't belong, unless you're assuming that minorities don't belong in pop culture to begin with. Minorities can be, for lack of a better word, "regular" people too, and there are plenty of Carlton Bankses in the world who identify more strongly with lifestyles not typically associated with their race. To me, diversity in media is also about normalizing that imagery because that's how real life is in a lot of places.

You misunderstood. My fault for not elaborating more clearly. What I was referring to was exactly the instance of inserting a minority where it doesn't belong. I agree completely that minorities are regular people too. So Lee from Walking Dead is black. Chell from Portal is a woman. It's random, it's just there, and like you said, that's how real life is. That's perfectly cool.

Where I think it is not cool is, say, if you had a game that took place in historical England, and King Henry VIII was black "just because". Now, if they had a good reason to make him black besides "being ethnically diverse" or "just because", perhaps that would be fine depending on the reason. (Ridiculous example, but you get the point).

For the record, I'm an ethnic minority myself. I love seeing more diversity in all types of media. I just don't like it when it's done stupidly.

I think that depends on what form of business it is. If whoever you're talking about is running a sole proprietorship, I'm not sure this is a problem.

I run a sole proprietorship and I keep my business PayPal separate from my personal PayPal in case one or the other gets compromised by hackers, thieves, ruffians, etc. Just seems safer that way.

Edited by Neifion

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Where I think it is not cool is, say, if you had a game that took place in historical England, and King Henry VIII was black "just because". Now, if they had a good reason to make him black besides "being ethnically diverse" or "just because", perhaps that would be fine depending on the reason. (Ridiculous example, but you get the point).

How often does this kind of thing actually happen? Have public figures been advocating this?

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How often does this kind of thing actually happen? Have public figures been advocating this?

Probably not so much that specific example :) However, public figures HAVE been decrying "senseless violence" against women in video games, and many of these games (see my previous post) are set in the past (or a version of it), and the past was a time of... senseless violence against women. And everyone else, too, for that matter... Very much violence, very little sense. In a way, trying to inject modern understandings of gender equality into barbaric, dark ages-type environments is more or less like the exaggerated example of making Henry VIII black to promote racial diversity... the intentions are good... but I seem to recall a saying regarding the paving of roads to bad places...

To be clear, I think it CAN be done, and even done well... I just also think that when developers choose not to or even fail to consider the option, it doesn't automagically equal misogyny, nor will it poison young minds, nor is it even lazy, unless some aspect of the game's fiction hinges on this manipulation.

Did everyone see the Maddox on Spider-Woman's Ass??

There's a problem a' brewin', and it seems to center around the commodification of moral outrage... at the expense of informed analysis and due diligence.

We need fewer Social Justice Warriors and more Social Justice Scholars :)

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How often does this kind of thing actually happen? Have public figures been advocating this?

Well, that particular example? Hopefully never. :grin: But in general, I don't know. It's hard to tell, maybe impossible. We're seeing a lot more diversity in all types of media. But how much of it is putting minorities in randomly to "normalize", as you say, and how much of it is putting minorities in for positive press, monetary gain, "being hip/current?"

I'm just not excited about jumping up and applauding developers/publishers every time we get a perfectly diverse cast of characters. As I mentioned, I like seeing diversity, it's great and all, but it's not something I'm going to write home about all the time. Maybe I'm over the whole thing, I don't know. Like you said, in this day and age, why can't we just see everyone as "people" and not think about it?

Do we really need video games to tell us that a woman can be smart or that an Indian guy can kick ass? Or for a public figure to tell us one way or the other? In my opinion, just make a good game, and if your character is the Prince of Persia, make him Persian, and if it doesn't matter, make him whatever you want.

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Probably not so much that specific example :) However, public figures HAVE been decrying senseless violence against women in video games, and many of these games (see my previous post) are set in the past (or a version of it), and the past was a time of... senseless violence against women. In a way, trying to inject modern understandings of gender equality into barbaric, dark ages-type environments is more or less like the example of making Henry VIII black to promote racial diversity... the intentions are good...

Good point. It reminds me of when PETA was after Ubisoft for having whaling in Assassin's Creed IV. It's something that happened back then. A lot. It's not like Ubisoft was encouraging or otherwise praising the act in today's society.

Look at Game of Thrones. Of course it's not historical, but it does portray a lot of no-no's in modern society (racism, prejudice, violence again women). It's not like the show is upholding these ideas. And it's not like, by watching it, you automatically assimilate those ideas and now you're a terrible person. You watch it for entertainment, to be temporarily absorbed in fiction, and hopefully you realize that none of that is meant to be an education in modern ethics.

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And it's not like, by watching it, you automatically assimilate those ideas and now you're a terrible person. You watch it for entertainment, to be temporarily absorbed in fiction, and hopefully you realize that none of that is meant to be an education in modern ethics.

I honestly and truthfully find it ethically HELPFUL and informing to see things depicted as I suspect they really were; a palpably barbarous past should make us appreciate our present, by contrast, much more. Unless, of course... we are impressionable imbeciles... I liked The Borgias for this reason; of course Game of Thrones is fictional, but I think it actually depicts a more realistically HUMAN past than most works of historical fiction manage.

There is something to be said for the power of COUNTEREXAMPLE. Unless, of course... you're Anita...

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Look at Game of Thrones. Of course it's not historical, but it does portray a lot of no-no's in modern society (racism, prejudice, violence again women). It's not like the show is upholding these ideas. And it's not like, by watching it, you automatically assimilate those ideas and now you're a terrible person. You watch it for entertainment, to be temporarily absorbed in fiction, and hopefully you realize that none of that is meant to be an education in modern ethics.
I honestly and truthfully find it ethically HELPFUL and informing to see things depicted as I suspect they really were; a palpably barbarous past should make us appreciate our present, by contrast, much more.

Quoted because it's my thoughts exactly. How much more compelling is it being exposed to the grim realities of, say, warfare in something like Spec Ops: The Line, compared to debating the thing in a vacuum? Of course, nothing can quite match the ability to learn from having lived the experience, but then it'd be incredibly stupid to recommend to someone that they go fight in a war to learn about how war sucks, or go abuse a woman so that they can learn that abusing woman is a bad thing to do. Games, books, movies, television... these provide a safe medium in which we can explore these ideas without ever needing to perpetrate the injustice against a specific individual.

It's when we strip these contexts and deeper moral questions from games/book/cinema and start glorifying it that we start to run into potential issues, particularly with the more impressionable members of our society.

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Has anyone seen Cynical Brit's new video on game journalism? I think it's probably the smartest and most level-headed take on all the salt and drama from this whole thing:

I've always liked his take on things and the way he expresses his thoughts in general. I truly think he's one of the most down-to-earth and trustworthy personalities in the industry.

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