Brandon Strader

Tropes vs. Women / #GamerGate Conspiracies

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When I played Everquest, the guys who chose female characters just didn't want to stare at man-butt for hours and hours. I guess that could be objectification on a low level? But isn't that then simple attraction? And why is it bad? -_- Considering how poor the graphics were, I doubt a lot of guys were ogling their character models.

 

When all the women are in chainmail bikinis that can get annoying. If there's full plate, give everyone full plate. Give an option to cover up. And, again, I think most RPGs do this nowadays.

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Due to its similarities to how people approach religion, I hypothesize that something about this subject hits that same part of the brain or human experience where the subject of spirituality is stored and wish to study that hypothesis more as people continue to fight the stupidest cold war ever devised. :P

This is a bit of a sidetrack, but it really stood out to me that you equated "religion" and "spirituality." All too often, and especially in this case, they're very different things.

"Spirituality" has been studied extensively, on a psychological and neurological level. There is a "part of the brain" associated with it, related to prayer and meditation. You can light it up regardless of your particular beliefs or lack thereof.

"Religion" is primarily a social construct. And this is where I certainly agree with you. The two extremist sides of GamerGate show strong parallels with historical case of people killing each other over religion. It has a lot more to do with group membership and social identity than it does with faith or spirit.

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Feminism, in theory, is very different from religion and spirituality too - yet they seem to be practiced to such the same degree that those differences have vanished.

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I certainly have my qualms about aspects of the arguments, although as a whole I still agree with her points, however the well has been so thoroughly poisoned I thought her right to express herself became a way more pressing concern rather than any attempt at sincere critique and constructive discussion which would inevitably get lost in the noise of pure vitriol, since people get so overly emotional about it (which is like, highly ironic considering the topic at hand). The people harrassing her don't want any real discussion, they just want her out of the picture. And I think this is also a symptom of something larger going on with the modern internet landscape which is why I'm trying to piece together all these isolated incidents into a wider perspective.

 

There's a lot of talk about the problem with "safe spaces" today and not having to be exposed to opinions that might make you uncomfortable. People usually equate this with US colleges/universities and as something leftist, but I see this kind of behavior manifesting across all sorts of internet communities for any kind of topic, and the phenomenom seems ideologically fairly agnostic. Perhaps the rapid proliferation of the internet and the possibility to pick and choose information more at our own leisure is conditioning society further into this kind of mindset, and the rise of "echo chambers". So to put this in the context of gamergate, I feel as though this is the millennial gaming and geek culture freaking out over the inevitable growth of the industry into a true mainstream force of pop culture attracting new demographics, and view this as some sort of intrusion on "their" safe space (that being video games, but also stuff like comic books, and to an extent, even the internet itself). And of course it was theirs to begin with, because the almighty gods of marketing in the 90's proclaimed it to be so.

 

 

Considering the people disputing her points literally can't even grab a beer without being forcibly evacuated by the police due to credible bomb threats I really don't think she's the one whose right to express themselves you should worry about. She's being bankrolled by intel, raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars, and is invited even to speak at the United Freaking Nations. Zoe Quinn is apparently getting into showbiz, is pulling in tons of money herself, and has thus far managed to avoid jail time for the multiple counts of perjury she's provably committed. Brianna Wu... well just check out the sweet motorcycle she bought with victimbux.

 

They're all doing fine, I'd be more worried about the people who started at the level of losing their jobs, having their bank accounts or paychecks hacked, getting knives and syringes in the mail, and having dox up to and including the schematics of their homes posted online and have endured escalating violence now culminating in multiple forcible mass evacuations by law enforcement.

 

 

Feminism, in theory, is very different from religion and spirituality too - yet they seem to be practiced to such the same degree that those differences have vanished.

 

Personally I find an abusive relationships or cults to be a much better metaphor. Religion as a metaphor works only in the sense of blind devotion in the face of facts. An abusive spouse on the other hand... they strip someone of all their self-worth, beat someone down to the point their entire identity is based around seeking their abuser's approval, control them through fear and violence, and brutalize them whenever they try to stand up for themselves or leave.

 

Sounds exactly like tumblr and the toxicity it's brought to modern feminism.

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Feminism, in theory, is very different from religion and spirituality too - yet they seem to be practiced to such the same degree that those differences have vanished.

 

Yeah. Just wanted to add a quick example, but Islamists like Khomeini assert that [an implemented Shari'a law as a check over people's behavior] + [using religion as a rhetorical tool to gain their approval through accessibility] = true Islam/utopia = order, but in fact, Shari'a law has plenty of restrictions on women...

 

For instance, Islam women who received a statement of divorce from the man are obligated to tempt the man (with beauty) to get him to take back his call for divorce, and the divorced woman has to live with the man for 100 days before moving out---the men get the upper hand, so to speak, and Khomeini (a so-called *expert on Islamic law*) may have seen that gender inequality more clearly if he truly fought for feminism instead of his ideal for true Islam.

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A year on after all this mess, and quite honestly my opinion on it all hasn't changed much. I don't trust ANY major gaming webpages, NeoGaf is still trash and is even more ban happy if you don't "tow the party line", and places like Verge/Polygon and Kotaku continue to be as awful as ever the last time I bothered looking at them. I don't care about GG, and really don't think I ever will.

But I can say that while I agree that games can do better with representation in diversity, as can all mediuims, I'm against it being shoe horned in so as to deflect criticism, it ends up being more as tokenism. But I also think we're getting there naturally, it won't happen overnight.

What really gets me annoyed is the way all these journalists/websites say they want to have a discussion and only want to shut down any methods to discussion that doesn't align with their view, a "safe space"/coddle corner if you will. This social stuff has turned me off to any sort of discussions on these topics, I've deleted my Twitter and Tumblr account because I want nothing to do with these people and I don't find them useful anymore. I stuck to the bare minimum of engaging in gaming culture and even less so now, and I'm honestly happier for it.

I firmly think that game journalists got so butt hurt over Roger Ebert's statements in 2010 as to why he didn't think games were art that they were determined to prove him wrong by going to the extremes they do now with their reviews and videos (extra credits, and no I don't care if they first got noticed here), as if their profession will ever be taken serious by people who have no interest in this stuff. I don't care if games are art or if they're "PC" enough to the San Fran hipster Progressive crowd, is the game good and entertaining? Does it play well, or work properly? Does it covey it's story or message fairly well? That's all I want or expect.

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I don't care if games are art or if they're "PC" enough to the San Fran hipster Progressive crowd, is the game good and entertaining? Does it play well, or work properly? Does it covey it's story or message fairly well? That's all I want or expect.

 

I'm quoting this. :)

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I firmly think that game journalists got so butt hurt over Roger Ebert's statements in 2010 as to why he didn't think games were art that they were determined to prove him wrong by going to the extremes they do now with their reviews and videos (extra credits, and no I don't care if they first got noticed here), as if their profession will ever be taken serious by people who have no interest in this stuff. I don't care if games are art or if they're "PC" enough to the San Fran hipster Progressive crowd, is the game good and entertaining? Does it play well, or work properly? Does it covey it's story or message fairly well? That's all I want or expect.

 

I nominate this for best post award.

 

Seriously though, the game industry has pretty much always been trying to gain the film industry's approval and I really don't understand why.

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The game industry isn't some amorphous mass though. It's a collection of tens of thousands of developers and publishers on a spectrum from one-man teams and student projects to AAA studios. So when you say that "the game industry" has been trying to do something, you have to be more specific. If you mean AAA studios have been trying to make more and more cinematic, Hollywood-esque experiences, I'd agree with you 100%. But these are actually the mainstream games and not the ones you & Toad are (probably) disparaging. 

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The game industry isn't some amorphous mass though. It's a collection of tens of thousands of developers and publishers on a spectrum from one-man teams and student projects to AAA studios. So when you say that "the game industry" has been trying to do something, you have to be more specific. If you mean AAA studios have been trying to make more and more cinematic, Hollywood-esque experiences, I'd agree with you 100%. But these are actually the mainstream games and not the ones you & Toad are (probably) disparaging. 

 

Yes...so? It's the AAA companies that pull in billions of dollars annually and are almost always at the cutting edge of the technology behind it all and have people lining up worldwide at midnight to pick up their latest releases and they usually set the trends of what is popular. This is like if you said "There's this trend in the film industry..." and then someone jumped in and said "The film industry isn't an amorphous mass. There are indie films and studios and YouTubers that break that mold" the response you'd give is "So what?"

 

Just because smaller-budget, independent studios (who will always outnumber the big dogs) are doing something different doesn't mean much. One-man teams and student projects generally have little to no influence or power over "the industry" in the grand scheme of things. Those people, more often than not, aspire to be like the AAA people anyway. Same thing with the music industry.

 

More to the point - This is a debate I remember taking place for as long as I have been alive. Are movies the superior medium or games? A ridiculous argument since they're two completely different things, but it carries on none the less. Google right now something to the effect of "Games Vs Film" and you will find no shortage of stuff like this. "Have video games replaced movies as the popular modern narrative medium?" followed by two people arguing whether games or movies are better. When Grand Theft Auto V came out, people would not shut up about how it outsold everything "...more than any movie!" is how they usually end the sentence. Now, the industry employs film composers, hires directors, replaces perfectly good voice actors with Hollywood Stars, for years has segregated gameplay and story with lengthy cutscenes, Beyond Two Souls is a thing, there was a game about actually making movies, and there are no shortage of articles about "Games: Stop trying to be movies".

 

The video game industry has been trying to put itself on "par' with the film industry in terms of production value, story, music, acting etc. for years. So I can absolutely see why when, in an age where games are super-mainstream and sell obscene amounts of copies, people would be butthurt when one of the most famous film critics of all time came along and said "games aren't art lol". His reasoning was piss-poor, but that's beside the point. 

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We're getting off-topic, but the game industry is far more diverse than the film industry in terms of geography and budgets. The film industry is centered around Hollywood which has an overwhelming influence. On the other hand, blockbuster games can (and do) come from all over the place, many of them from relatively smaller studios. And when it comes to critical praise and acclaim, indie studios tend to be the ones getting universal praise... everything from Cave Story and Journey to Crypt of the Necrodancer.

 

At any rate, I don't even see where you're disagreeing with me. Yes, many AAA games aspire to be like movies. What does this have to do with Toad's post? 

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At any rate, I don't even see where you're disagreeing with me. Yes, many AAA games aspire to be like movies. What does this have to do with Toad's post? 

 

Because Toad suggested that ever since Ebert made that statement, game journalists have been out to prove him wrong. Which I'd agree with and I added that I've always noticed video games being compared to films and how with games becoming so much like film and eclipsing them in sales, some within the industry would absolutely be pissed about film critics suggesting games aren't as artistically valuable or even art at all. My "disagreement" with your post was that your point about solo game designers, student projects, studio size and being "specific" was irrelevant - because the aspiration to be like movies is obvious in the mainstream. That's all.

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The game industry isn't some amorphous mass though. It's a collection of tens of thousands of developers and publishers on a spectrum from one-man teams and student projects to AAA studios. So when you say that "the game industry" has been trying to do something, you have to be more specific. If you mean AAA studios have been trying to make more and more cinematic, Hollywood-esque experiences, I'd agree with you 100%. But these are actually the mainstream games and not the ones you & Toad are (probably) disparaging.

It's a bit of being critical of the AAA scene and even some elements of the indie scene. I don't mind things like Depression Quet or Sunset existing and would never demand every game be a "true" game, I believe there can be something for everyone. But tell that to the press we have that often tries to imply sexism or racism if a game doesn't pass the bechdel test

This is a bit off the topic but the thing that gets me is how the developers of some of these obscure indie games get upset over not becoming an multi millionaire over night. They'll complain about consumerism/capitalism when it doesn't go their way. The truth of the matter is that when you put your game or ideas out to the public, it's up to complete scrutiny no matter how much they may think they're right and everyone else wrong. Of course tell that to the countless websites that are closing comments sections because they don't like getting corrected on their mistakes and called out on constantly insulting their readership.

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This is a bit off the topic but the thing that gets me is how the developers of some of these obscure indie games get upset over not becoming an multi millionaire over night. They'll complain about consumerism/capitalism when it doesn't go their way. The truth of the matter is that when you put your game or ideas out to the public, it's up to complete scrutiny no matter how much they may think they're right and everyone else wrong.

 

It's funny that you say this, since many people on the GamerGate side seem to have a very hard time with that concept. You actually hit the nail on the head. When you release a game, you're opening yourself up for critique. That's freedom of speech at work. You're simultaneously complaining about games journalism critiquing games for sexism, racism, etc, but in the same breath saying that indie game devs shouldn't complain when they're critiqued. Huh? Double standard much?

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Our generation hates being criticized. For anything. Ever. This same generation also has no problem throwing accusations and criticisms of sexism and racism around freely for things like a female character, gasp, having big boobs, or a non-white character being voiced by a white voice actor. This sort of thing is a major vein in the body of the Gamergate scandal.

 

That's a far more troubling double standard, which is what many of the anti-gamergate people like to utilize and either fail to acknowledge to acknowledge their PRIDE in it. Garbage on both sides, like I said.

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It's funny that you say this, since many people on the GamerGate side seem to have a very hard time with that concept. You actually hit the nail on the head. When you release a game, you're opening yourself up for critique. That's freedom of speech at work. You're simultaneously complaining about games journalism critiquing games for sexism, racism, etc, but in the same breath saying that indie game devs shouldn't complain when they're critiqued. Huh? Double standard much?

The breadth of the accusations of sexism/racism gets to the point of exhaustion and some are into being so offended to the point of absurdity or it being all that makes them happy. Maybe it's just that I'm a straight white male and therefore my thoughts are completely invalid, even though I can agree games can do without a bunch of T&A. I'm towards the end of Xenoblade on my 3DS, and there have been a few outfits that were completely eye roll worthy if not outright laughably dumb. The only thing I keep in mind is the game was designed primarily for a culture that isn't bothered by this stuff. Doesn't necessarily excuse it, but it is what it is, for now.

If a indie game designer wants to get angered by the gaming community's stupidity or rejection of their game by all means go for it. Tale of Tales made it a point to have a public melt down over Sunset being a commercial failure, and that is my go to example of how not to handle yourself. It's amazing how irresponsible people can be with social media and by the same measure be so affected by it, the unfortunate cost of anonymity and a public profile I guess.

Apologies if you think I'm trying to be double standard on this. I'm trying to see both sides on it

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Our generation hates being criticized. For anything. Ever. This same generation also has no problem throwing accusations and criticisms of sexism and racism around freely for things like a female character, gasp, having big boobs, or a non-white character being voiced by a white voice actor. This sort of thing is a major vein in the body of the Gamergate scandal.

 

That's a far more troubling double standard, which is what many of the anti-gamergate people like to utilize and either fail to acknowledge to acknowledge their PRIDE in it. Garbage on both sides, like I said.

 

While "this character has big boobs" isn't sexist in and of itself, creating female characters that are nothing but fanservice generating machines is, and large breasts are frequently a part of that.  And "whitewashing" roles by casting white actors as non-white characters is a habit that contributes to a lack of minority representation in media, which arguably contributes to a racist system and racist attitudes.

 

The standards for those criticisms are "female characters shouldn't exist solely as something for guys to oogle" and "the industry should encourage diversity in both its cast and characters".  Where's the double standard?

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Nothing but fanservice? Can you name for me a game when a character's giant tits were actually important to the story and also wasn't just used as a strawman "message" for or against feminism? The other option is just making sure female characters only have modest-sized breasts which becomes a problem when talking about "diversity" as you call it.

And I'm not sure if you're aware, but part of acting requires a person to be able to, watch out, pretend to be something they are not. Last I checked, there weren't any asians being dragged out into the street and beaten to death just because Shredder in the TMNT cartoon was played by a black guy (twice), or any disabled but promising women of color denied entry to a high-ranking job just because Dr. Hibbert is played by Harry Shearer. Obviously it's another thing for a white guy to get all blackfaced up and portray a slave who is thankful to work on a plantation while a rich white guy whips him and having it played totally straight, but that's not what goes on

What you social justice warriors fail to understand is that you're so supersensitive to these things that you can't even tell them apart from genuine problems anymore. You think a JRPG not having a strong black character on the roster is the same thing as Apartheid. You think some insecure girl who doesn't like how well-endowed the girls on Dead or Alive are is the same thing as the Salem Witch Trials. You know what gets hurt when there's not enough diversity in an IP? It's not your face from a brick being hurled at it for being different, it's PRIDE. These people get offended because their PRIDE got hurt and get other people, like you, to come along and defend it. It's not even YOUR pride!

Let's take you off the liberal hivemind grid and reinforce that art, as a concept, cannot be held responsible for encouraging people to be sexist, racist, etc. any more than it can be held responsible for school and theater shootings among other violence. This precedent has been scientifically proven, thus rendering any concepts that real world values plummet as a result of big, awesome boobies null and void.

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art, as a concept, cannot be held responsible for encouraging people to be sexist, racist, etc. any more than it can be held responsible for school and theater shootings among other violence. This precedent has been scientifically proven, thus rendering any concepts that real world values plummet as a result of big, awesome boobies null and void.

Citation please? It's all but impossible to perform scientific experiments on long-term effects of cultural factors, because you can't remove people from a culture in any kind of methodical way. There have been studies that do suggest that exposure to certain types of media can influence behavior, at least in the short and medium term (i.e. for a few weeks). For instance, exposure to violent games or movies increases violent behavior in the medium term, and media laden with violence specifically against blacks increases racist attitudes against blacks in the medium term. Unfortunately, all the long-term studies I'm aware of are correlational, not causational, which is just about worthless given self-selection (and parental involvement, for kids). But causal effects that persist over several weeks are likely to be persistent if exposure continues. That's basically the way attitude formation works.

I'm not personally aware of any studies that look at sexist portrayals of women and how that affects attitudes or behavior later on, but I'd hate to be the psychologist trying to run that experiment, because sexist portrayals of women are prevalent everywhere you look. You wouldn't be able to have a control group without a controllable context. Maybe if you ran it at a summer camp or something. But it would be bizarre to imagine that repeated exposure to objectified portrayals of women wouldn't result in objectivist attitudes.

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Let's take you off the liberal hivemind grid and reinforce that art, as a concept, cannot be held responsible for encouraging people to be sexist, racist, etc. any more than it can be held responsible for school and theater shootings among other violence. This precedent has been scientifically proven, thus rendering any concepts that real world values plummet as a result of big, awesome boobies null and void.

 

Uh-oh, I find myself agreeing with Meteo and nodding my head reading his post... getting worried :)

 

Since I'm a word freak: there's a difference between something BEING responsible for something else, and something being HELD responsible for something else.

 

Based on your "scientifically proven" comment (it's more that it hasn't been proven that causation exists, not that it's been proven that it doesn't exist, FYI), I'm thinking you meant BEING responsible, not being HELD responsible, right?

 

Also, conservatives have had their share of demonizing art & asserting its causation with undesirable behaviors; it's a bipartisan hobby :)

 

Here's my point: I'm interested in good art. If that art speaks to the human condition, explores new ideas, and asks me to face complexity and think about things differently, we're all good. Even if that art CAN be "scientifically proven" to increase violence in 5% of the population, over a short period of time after consumption, what then? Even if it IS responsible - to whatever extent - should it ever be HELD responsible? Also, what other effects are you studying? Maybe there's a compensating short or long-term benefit? Difficult to know... you don't really want to go down this road, as it doesn't lead to nice places w/ regard to artistic expression. Anita walks all the way down the road, stops at the big door at the end of the road, and ALMOST knocks... but then reminds everyone that she's NOT advocating for censorship OR saying that the games she criticizes shouldn't exist. Therein lies the problem: the "reasoning" all fits a certain pattern, but it's being excused because of a repeated disclaimer, which seems disingenuous given all the vitriol & certitude...

 

Nothing but fanservice? Can you name for me a game when a character's giant tits were actually important to the story and also wasn't just used as a strawman "message" for or against feminism? The other option is just making sure female characters only have modest-sized breasts which becomes a problem when talking about "diversity" as you call it.

 

He's... not wrong; NativeJovian seemed to give objectification an "out" as not inherently being sexist, but only if that objectification was for characters that weren't JUST window-dressing. Well, either you're okay with mindless sexual objectification or you're not... you need to decouple those issues. Is all pron sexist? Only some? In some ways, as Meteo points out, it's WORSE if a meaningful, well-written character is also inordinately voluptuous... it was a rather meaningless stipulation, in my mind...

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It's funny that you say this, since many people on the GamerGate side seem to have a very hard time with that concept. You actually hit the nail on the head. When you release a game, you're opening yourself up for critique. That's freedom of speech at work. You're simultaneously complaining about games journalism critiquing games for sexism, racism, etc, but in the same breath saying that indie game devs shouldn't complain when they're critiqued. Huh? Double standard much?

 

The issue here is that's not what's happening. Critique is critique. It is not critique when someone holds themselves up as having a divine mandate to declare things objectively sexist, racist, and the cause of everything from rape to mass shootings. It is not critique when almost the entirety of someone's claims are provably misrepresentations if not outright fabrications, it is not critique when someone is simply saying "This is evil and must be banned", and it is most assuredly not critique when all of this is held as an objective truth that only racists and misogynists would dare disagree with.

 

Claiming that depression quest is an inaccurate or even patronizing misrepresentation of depression and practically a non-game is simply incomparable to an entire industry of people zealously enforcing a single narrative from a single person that "X makes you a misogynist, and if you disagree you're part of the reason women are raped and abused and mass shootings happen".

 

That's not critique, that's cult worship.

 

 

Anita walks all the way down the road, stops at the big door at the end of the road, and ALMOST knocks... but then reminds everyone that she's NOT advocating for censorship OR saying that the games she criticizes shouldn't exist.

 

Anita and the person that writes all her material and runs the twitter account (Jonathan McIntosh) are both more than happy to explicitly admit they want to see all games they don't like completely banned, and are more than happy to celebrate when games get pulled from shelves because of their half-truths and whole lies.

 

They're not just knocking on that door, they're blowing it in with a breaching charge and storming the building.

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The issue here is that's not what's happening. Critique is critique. It is not critique when someone holds themselves up as having a divine mandate to declare things objectively sexist, racist, and the cause of everything from rape to mass shootings.It is not critique when almost the entirety of someone's claims are provably misrepresentations if not outright fabrications, it is not critique when someone is simply saying "This is evil and must be banned", and it is most assuredly not critique when all of this is held as an objective truth that only racists and misogynists would dare disagree with.

 

Even those strawman examples are simply freedom of speech being exercised. It's hypocritical to say that game developers should be able to put whatever content they want in their games, and then take such issue with people talking about said games. And those strawman examples aside, there's certainly been plenty of meaningful academic and journalistic critique of games. Just because you disagree with it doesn't make it not critique.

 

 

 

Claiming that depression quest is an inaccurate or even patronizing misrepresentation of depression and practically a non-game is simply incomparable to an entire industry of people zealously enforcing a single narrative from a single person that "X makes you a misogynist, and if you disagree you're part of the reason women are raped and abused and mass shootings happen".

 

An entire industry? A single narrative? Again, straw man and hyperbole much?

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