Brandon Strader

Tropes vs. Women / #GamerGate Conspiracies

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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...

Hm, interesting. I don't find Game of Thrones all that realistic. I find it rather seeking the salacious and only the salacious from a generalised single view point, to the point that other salacious events are either subject to caricature or otherwise downplayed. In other words, same as it ever was.

The only thing I can give it credit for is the moral ambiguity of the characters, otherwise it is just a bloody soap opera. A very fun soap opera though.

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That's how I feel when I see women with plunging cleavage and bouncing boobs.

(1) It's pointless to sexualise a character in a game where sexuality hardly matters to the gameplay.

(2) It's completely uneven treatment of the characters: Men are not frequently sexualised to the same degree women are.

Very good & thoughtful post - appreciated. I'm singling this specific quote out because I feel like I've covered it elsewhere:

  1. Men are more easily persuaded/manipulated by sexual imagery...
  2. Most men are heterosexual...
  3. Therefore, catering to aficionados of large, bouncing breasts falls into the same category as politicians professing their religious devotion - it's often a good idea because it makes a lot of people happy whether it's genuine or not, and doesn't draw enough offense to actually lose votes (or sales)
  4. Finally, look to culture at large, and see a reflection - women are more sexualized than men. Why should games vary? If anything, we should expect things to be amplified, given a long history of target marketing to adolescent males. And we see what we expect. And even if things "grow up" a bit - and I happen to think that they have, and are continuing to - 50/50 is still a completely silly and ridiculous goal that ignores human biology, common sense, and either meets an imaginary demand or ignores an actual one.

Hm, interesting. I don't find Game of Thrones all that realistic. I find it rather seeking the salacious and only the salacious from a generalised single view point, to the point that other salacious events are either subject to caricature or otherwise downplayed. In other words, same as it ever was.

The only thing I can give it credit for is the moral ambiguity of the characters, otherwise it is just a bloody soap opera. A very fun soap opera though.

Realistic & refreshing compared to Tolkein or pretty much all OTHER examples of fantasy, i.e. realistic in its genre...

Also, last I checked, sex is a pretty big characteristic of human existence - what strikes you as "salacious" is to me simply a plausible depiction of society before Victorian propriety, Freudian anxiety, and Puritan shame entered the picture. In eras where heirs and bloodlines dictated the rise and fall of kingdoms, who you boinked was a MUCH bigger deal...

The like button is a patreon exclusive if you want the new forums you better pledge :<

This was probably at least partially in jest/sarcastic, but I have to say, I've been using the like button on individual posts A LOT on IPB's own customer forums - it has a lot of utility and I think it'll be a great addition!

Also, as a side note this seems like relevant reading - it's not just the games industry/culture that's having this issue:

http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/09/16/the-offense-industry-on-the-offense/

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Very good & thoughtful post - appreciated. I'm singling this specific quote out because I feel like I've covered it elsewhere:

  1. Men are more easily persuaded/manipulated by sexual imagery...
  2. Most men are heterosexual...
  3. Therefore, catering to aficionados of large, bouncing breasts falls into the same category as politicians professing their religious devotion - it's often a good idea because it makes a lot of people happy whether it's genuine or not, and doesn't draw enough offense to actually lose votes (or sales)
  4. Finally, look to culture at large, and see a reflection - women are more sexualized than men. Why should games vary? If anything, we should expect things to be amplified, given a long history of target marketing to adolescent males. And we see what we expect. And even if things "grow up" a bit - and I happen to think that they have, and are continuing to - 50/50 is still a completely silly and ridiculous goal that ignores human biology, common sense, and either meets an imaginary demand or ignores an actual one.

Can you back up these propositions with evidence? I'd also have a hard time believing you could convincingly support #2 unless you change it to "most men openly self-identify as heterosexual."

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Realistic & refreshing compared to Tolkein or pretty much all OTHER examples of fantasy, i.e. realistic in its genre...

Mm, you have one point that I agree with. It is most certainly refreshing and it is most certainly different from the D&D/Tolkien based fantasy. But I have to say that simply including sex does not make it more realistic, especially if the sex depicted is not itself realistic.

Edited by Xelebes

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Can you back up these propositions with evidence? I'd also have a hard time believing you could convincingly support #2 unless you change it to "most men openly self-identify as heterosexual."

Now, if you take the time to read most of those, you'll notice that it's of course an oversimplification to say "Men are more easily persuaded/manipulated by sexual imagery.." - they also speak more to arousal than "persuasion" per se. Here's a bit more on that:

You're of course right to point out what is essentially a claim and ask for evidence; of course, contradicting the claim is also a claim in and of itself, unless you're simply stating that we don't know, one way or another?? If the claims strike you as specious, I'd inquire as to whether that's because you inherently think they are unfounded, or untrue, or because you simply know that they are difficult to prove due to the squishiness of words?

I'm loathe to rely on anecdotal evidence, but for these specific claims I do also feel like I've seen quite a bit to suggest that men's heads are more easily swayed... haven't you? I put a lot of stock in the ability of society and culture to shape attitudes, but in this case they would really have to be working overtime, if there's absolutely no biological underpinning for them to start with... for example, if there's one thing I have utmost faith in, it's for American culture (and Capitalism in general) to figure out what SELLS, and to sell it in vast quantities. Can you explain the relative dearth of visual pornography targeting heterosexual females by culture/society alone? Or the discrepancies in ads, games, etc.? Is the argument here that there's an untapped audience that, in 2014, society is still holding the mighty markets back from mining?

And again, the links above are at least a little more scientific and this is just... well, me talking... but from an evolutionary psychology perspective, as pertains to sexual selection, it makes sense that females would inherently be "choosier," and about qualities/characteristics that go beyond the visual... a greater investment/risk requires a greater consideration, no?? The question would be whether that dynamic makes it all the way down to the level of sexual arousal as result of visual stimuli, but if it didn't, it seems like evolution would have "missed" an obvious opportunity...

As for #2... I was operating in the realm of biology. If you agree that homosexuality is genetic, or at least primarily genetic, you'd also be agreeing that it is a mutation. Absolutely nothing wrong with that - mutations are how species evolve, after all!! But any mutation that actively selects against reproduction would by definition be mathematically constrained. You're absolutely right that it's a huge can of worms to try and go inside people's minds, and of course it's under-reported and a larger minority than is statistically captured at this point in time. And of course, in reality, I think we can agree it's a false dichotomy and that sexuality runs along a spectrum. Nevertheless, it shouldn't be hugely scandalous to suggest that genes that favor attraction to the opposite sex have better odds of dominating the gene pool of any species that reproduces sexually than those that do not. This isn't about what's natural being right, or better, but it certainly CAN be about plain old biology and statistics, can it not?

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You're of course right to point out what is essentially a claim and ask for evidence; of course, contradicting the claim is also a claim in and of itself, unless you're simply stating that we don't know, one way or another?? If the claims strike you as specious, I'd inquire as to whether that's because you inherently think they are unfounded, or untrue, or because you simply know that they are difficult to prove due to the squishiness of words?

I wouldn't put it as strongly as saying I firmly believe your claims are unfounded or untrue. I'm open to the possibility that they are true or false, but I prefer to see the arguments laid out more clearly and supported with evidence one way or the other. (Do as I say, not as I do.)

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That's how I feel when I see women with plunging cleavage and bouncing boobs.

(1) It's pointless to sexualise a character in a game where sexuality hardly matters to the gameplay.

(2) It's completely uneven treatment of the characters: Men are not frequently sexualised to the same degree women are.

(3) It's too much suspension of disbelief for any character to run around without much clothing on or with ridiculous clothing on.

(4) It's cold. (Maybe same complaint as (3)?)

(5) Bouncing tits fupping hurt. :dstrbd:

It's not to say I don't agree with your point here - I continue to ask the same questions myself, but this series of points here keeps making me go back to a point I keep trying to make, as I've yet to find a satisfactory answer for it.

For more than 20 years, the same complaints have been made against the level of violence in videogames spurred by Mortal Kombat, Doom and the like, and for 20 years, gamers of almost every make and model have responded with "lol moral guardians. It's entertainment. It's art, so stfu" as a basis for defending why you can massacre hundreds, thousands and hundreds of thousands of lifeforms with all sorts of creative gibbing effects and death scenes with next to no moral repercussions or any realistic form of response from the hero. The level of violence you've seen in thousands of games for the last 20 years have also been totally superfluous and completely beyond the realm of reality, yet the gaming culture has largely dismissed it as being censorship to freedom of artistic expression.

Why then do gamers, many of them the same people who rejected violent game criticism, complain about female characters with big boobs and g-strings?

I'm totally a guy gamer. I don't particularly need my female characters to have giant tits and asses, but I'm not going to pretend I don't like it when its there either. I don't "get it" for that reason (which is also a form of sexism, but anyway), but I still want to know what the difference is here. Why is it ok to have gratuitous violence in gaming, but not sexualized content?

Why is it offensive that Mileena wears this but it's not offensive to disembowel her after a match when you've already won and there's no real need to?

Why is it ok to essentially be indirectly offensive to survivors of gun violence, survivors of torture, survivors of abuse, PTSD inflicted soldiers, people with major phobias, people with disabilities, people of certain religions, people without religions, and people with other sensitivities they are justified and legal to have, but not ok to essentially be indirectly offensive to sensitive, feminist gamers?

I could even attempt to make the argument that violence in videogames continues to be a higher priority of social watchdogging than sexism. You remember how school shooters used to blame their rampages on first person shooters? How many rapists do you know of that got caught and blamed their actions on Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball? This argument intentionally makes no sense, but since we're diving that deep to come up with points for this particular issue, why not throw it out there all the same?

Again, I don't even disagree with you at the foundation, and I still ask the same questions myself. I would totally get behind a game that sexualizes men as much as women and I think it's more than fair but needed to do so. I just want to know why there's so much seemingly arbitrary focus on sexy women in gaming as a negative.

It's like, what, there aren't women with big boobs in real life? There aren't women strong enough to wear a G-string in a tundra and confident enough with themselves to show their assets off when they want? :P

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Why then do gamers, many of them the same people who rejected violent game criticism, complain about female characters with big boobs and g-strings?

One of your better posts, enjoyed reading. The troubling thing to me is how similar some of the tenuous causality claims sound between the two topics - it's one thing to complain about violence or objectification, but when you start drawing causal lines to real-world behaviors (usually in the absence of evidence), it gets ugly fast.

But I still think I can field this one and provide what I imagine a best-case response would be. If there's even a half-meaningful differentiation to be made, it's that violence is more necessary, from a narrative perspective, to many types of games than is sexual objectification. Violence is inevitable in games about war, fighting games, strategy games... it's diegetic, and intrinsically linked to the subject matter. Sexual objectification, on the other hand, is usually an afterthought... window dressing, icing on the cake, something added to cater to a certain audience. It could usually be cut without significantly altering the gameplay, and while violence could certainly be toned DOWN a bit while also maintaining fidelity to game mechanics, there's a diminishing return there and a threshold at which the game quite clearly suffers a dramatic neutering. Secondly, violence in the abstract is an equal opportunity employer and seems relatively well distributed among the demographics represented in games, so there's not the same sense that one group (females) is being singled out, unfairly.

That's how I'd differentiate the two topics, ***if*** I actually thought both were deeply problematic and I specifically wanted to justify objecting to sexualization while giving violence a free pass. How'd I do?

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Why is it ok to have gratuitous violence in gaming, but not sexualized content?

Sexualised content is okay if you intend to target the audience that finds that sexualised content okay. Problem is that target audience is smaller than the maximum audience. The problem is that when you are going after the maximum audience for maximum ability to recuperate the costs of production and marketing, you have to cater to the much smaller audience first lest you make them veeeeery angry.

And that is a problem in the industry.

The American recording industry had a similar problem in the 1950s. You could have black artists recording but they had to cater to white audiences and, more often than not, those given AAA release budgets were white artists. It just was the way things were done. Capitol and Atlantic (and later A&M) Records came along releasing at first what was called rhythm and blues and later rock and roll with integrated artists. This created much acrimony and people frustrated that they had to integrate this music and it was this controversy that propelled those labels into becoming the largest labels around.

What you are seeing now in the North American and European game development industries is the emergence of companies are that are gunning for the largest markets which now include older women. The share older women take up in the gaming market is as much or larger than younger men and the industry is beginning to recognise that. My mom now plays more videogames than I do. You know what, I don't care that they play games more than I do.

This shift is important and it requires a rethink of how one designs their games, especially in the visual side of the game. That is why in Bioshock Infinite, despite the distributor nudging the cover art to exclude Elizabeth despite the prominence of that character in the game, it does not dress the female characters impractically. And you know what, it does not take anything away from the game.

If you're given an AAA budget to produce a game and you only go after half the potential market, you really have to go after it. Do not be lazy and assume that what you did ten years ago for a market that was much different than now is going to fly so well. Eventually, you're going to face pressure from investors giving you those budgets.

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Why is it ok to have gratuitous violence in gaming, but not sexualized content?

In my opinion, the problem isn't the presence of sexualized content so much as it's that only female characters are often sexualized - the focus is so one sided that many people probably couldn't even tell you how to sexualize a male character.

Sexuality isn't the issue, here - it's sexism.

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How is it that people are complaining about this stuff in games when it's so much more prevalent on TV? Statistically just about everyone watches TV and movies and while gaming is becoming a bigger industry it's not quite as big as TV / Movies. But there's a similar FCC television standard at least in America where violence is more acceptable than sexuality. http://www.fcc.gov/guides/obscenity-indecency-and-profanity

Though "more acceptable" is a bit of a vague term, it's more that certain types of violence get broadcasted whereas many types of "sexual content" does not, though to be fair they're really pushing the envelope these days. But I've seen a lot of violence on -- for example -- the Walking Dead, but not a single breast or penis.

I'm basically wondering why this is more of a severe issue for gaming than it is for any other form of media? Is gaming somehow worse than TV or movies? Is it somehow different at all from those?

Is it possible that gaming is actually already more diverse than TV/film?

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How is it that people are complaining about this stuff in games when it's so much more prevalent on TV?

probably because it's not actually nearly as prevalent on TV

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Well, worth noting, video games are WAY bigger than movies.

http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2614915

As of 2013, the video game industry was about $93 billion.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_industry#Statistics

The entire world's film industry is only about $35 billion.

TV is a lot bigger than both though.

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http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2614915

As of 2013, the video game industry was about $93 billion.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_industry#Statistics

The entire world's film industry is only about $35 billion.

Those are just the stats for the box offices (tickets) though. If you cut down the video game stats to just games bought, movies pull ahead.

I mean, according to this anyways: http://gamesoundcon.tumblr.com/post/88397683187/video-games-bigger-than-the-movies-dont-be-so

Games are definitely on the rise though.

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Most games last a fair bit longer than a two-ish hour movie, though, so you could conceivably get the same amount of entertainment (in terms of hours played/watched, I mean) from one $60 video game and five $12 movies. Yeah, obviously, if you're seeing the same number of movies as you are buying video games, then obviously you're going to spend more on the games -- but that's not necessarily what people do.

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I personally think we need to stop worrying about potential sexism iN games and more about the sexist attitude of gamers.

This is the real problem and it needs a real solution.

we as gamers need to stamp out of sexism in the gaming community. No more bullying no more harassment.

We work on that first.

Multitasking is doable but it knackers you out after awhile and to solve this we need alot of stamina.

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We need harsher laws to keep children from playing Call of Duty and learning awful language that they fling at each other and older players :-P I know that sounds silly but underage gamers playing M-rated stuff is as much part of the problem... those beliefs / harassment type stuff is taught and we need to make sure when we become the "older generation" like the elderly people that we don't spread that crud to the youngin's.

edit: just to clarify I'm talking about online interactions more than game content

Edited by Brandon Strader

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In my opinion, the problem isn't the presence of sexualized content so much as it's that only female characters are often sexualized - the focus is so one sided that many people probably couldn't even tell you how to sexualize a male character.

Sexuality isn't the issue, here - it's sexism.

I don't know, how do you sexualize a male character in a way that people aren't going to shrug off as "male power fantasy"?

Take the Chippendales for example. Those dudes have literally the same look as "generic, bald-head space marine" and more women attend those shows than even the Count from fucking Sesame Street could keep track of. At least, it appears they do judging from the line-up of women I always see in Vegas who just can't wait for those doors to open.

Yet when guys with this same image (just with superhero costumes or medieval armor) are put in video games, movies or tv, everyone is like "Oh, false equivalence - it's a male power fantasy". Yeah, I'm sure the dude who designed this character was probably designing this character to be some super jacked badass, but the problem here is that this is hardly any different from what is considered to be a female sexual fantasy if it's given less clothes and a stage.

I think a mistake people might be making with the whole sexualizing fictional characters thing is that what we consider sexually suggestive behaviors and appearances aren't the same for both men and women. It's just that for women it's much more obvious. Possibly because people complain about it more, possibly because it is more intentional or possibly both.

Edited by AngelCityOutlaw

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I think a mistake people might be making with the whole sexualizing fictional characters thing is that what we consider sexually suggestive behaviors and appearances aren't the same for both men and women. It's just that for women it's much more obvious. Possibly because people complain about it more, possibly because it is more intentional or possibly both.

Possibly BOTH? How DARE you suggest that a complex topic could have more than one explanation!! :nicework:

I joke, but seriously... of course both. For so many of these topics, both... Or all three. Or MORE.

For any given debate of this nature, look to the people making single-explanation arguments and drawing tenuous lines of causation that they themselves think are undeniably sound. Those are your extremists.

We've got a problem right now, and it's that extremists on one side of a topic are being validated by the behavior of extremists on the other. So long as 4CHAN et al. harass, torment, and threaten to release nudie pics of those making ANY feminist arguments, to some NO feminist argument will seem unreasonable... at least, that's my concern.

As a related note, I thought Emma Watson's speech to the UN was really well done; it just shows that even a reasonable, almost inarguable approach to feminism will STILL draw the ire of a certain community on 4Chan. I don't think they even care what's being said, or read what's being written... At any rate, contrast the calculated, inclusive approach that Emma took with her speech to the nitpicking, dogmatic shtick that Anita does... that speech was from someone who cares about the issue more she cares about what SHE thinks about the issue...

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threaten to release nudie pics

Just a heads up. That Emma Watson thing is a marketing thing by Rantic who were hired to create fake drama about 4chan.

http://www.ktvu.com/news/entertainment/emma-watson-nude-photo-threat-was-viral-stunt-shut/nhS37/?icmp=cmgcontent_internallink_relatedcontent_2014_partners2

They've done this sort of crap before with the whole GTA V is cancelled hoax(Rantic owns Foxweekly. It's not an actual news site) too.

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Just a heads up. That Emma Watson thing is a marketing thing by Rantic who were hired to create fake drama about 4chan.

http://www.ktvu.com/news/entertainment/emma-watson-nude-photo-threat-was-viral-stunt-shut/nhS37/?icmp=cmgcontent_internallink_relatedcontent_2014_partners2

They've done this sort of crap before with the whole GTA V is cancelled hoax(Rantic owns Foxweekly. It's not an actual news site) too.

Saw that this morning. Hired by whom, though? It's unclear from reading where the money came from...

At any rate, it kinda proves my previous point about trust-but-verify... which apparently no one was able to do, including all major news outlets, prior to running this story...

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