The Philosophy, Art, and Social Influence of games
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isiolia
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Re: Kickstarter "Tropes vs Women in Videogames"

by isiolia Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:15 pm

Valkyrie-Favor wrote:Guess who kicks more butt.


That, in and of itself, is actually an issue too, in a sense. Look down at some of the episodes proposed, not all of them are a matter of women being scantily clad or weak.

One angle that I've seen arguments for before is that women in games are often still written as pandering to what they perceive as typically male power fantasy. Usually as a counter to the point that video games rarely portray either gender realistically.

I think the larger issue with that, or with the series shown here, is not that they're wrong, but that fixing things requires more than pointing out a problem. Regardless of intention or, to a point, tone, I think you'd see more good characters if developers really knew how to implement them. The series proposed, for example, has ten episodes picking out things to complain about and finding examples of them, and one to hold up examples of what she thinks are good.

Personally, I think fantasy is subjective - everyone is different, man or woman. Assuming that no women enjoy the thought of being a scantily clad barbarian bathing in the blood of their enemies is presumptuous...but so is assuming that all men subscribe to that fantasy.

Taking more time to actually think about and break down what would make a female character good would not only come across better, but it might actually give creators more to go on when trying to write future characters.
Unless, of course, the truth is that detractors really don't know what it is they want either, other than it not being what's there.
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Re: Kickstarter "Tropes vs Women in Videogames"

by Menegrothx Mon Jul 02, 2012 4:10 pm

isiolia wrote:video games rarely portray either gender realistically.

And here I was thinking that massproduced entertainment like video games, movies, comic books, cartoons, fiction books, anime and porn (very relevant to this particular issue) offered an escape from this reality and the "rule set" under which we live.

There are games that manage to pull it off, but those are more mature and intelligent games like Silent Hill 2 and Planescape: Torment. And usually these realistically portrayed women (and men) are far from perfect, in fact those characters are so believable because they are so imperfect in the first place. That doesn't mean that mass producer cookie cutter video games should be the same, just as Hollywood blockbuster movies use unrealistic characters for the sake of entertainment.
It is unreasonable to expect that a game (or a movie) based on some shallow plot could provide as deep and well executed dialogue and character portrayals as more artsy and philosophical games that are based on much more complex premises than "go kill the bad guy".
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Re: Kickstarter "Tropes vs Women in Videogames"

by Valkyrie-Favor Mon Jul 02, 2012 5:03 pm

Personally, I think fantasy is subjective - everyone is different, man or woman. Assuming that no women enjoy the thought of being a scantily clad barbarian bathing in the blood of their enemies is presumptuous...but so is assuming that all men subscribe to that fantasy.

Thank you. This is exactly what I thought. I always thought interesting, complex female characters were better than morally good ones. Portraying human beings realistically as people is far more important than having all the women in a game be positive examples. This is why I always point out that males aren't treated much differently - both sexes are human. Trying to improve the representation of women would be silly and backwards without also improving men, aliens, robots, moon spirits and whoever else is a "person" in that universe.

The solution to our problem is good writing and that's nowhere to be found in most games. It's rare in most books! I've watched some of her videos examining sexist tropes but there's nothing to be learned other than some trivia. The only possible solution is to write the story differently. If we're really dissatisfied with gender representation in our fiction, all we can do is buy better fiction or make it ourselves. Write novels and make indie games. Make sure they accomplish your purpose and make sure they're good. It's the only way to change anything.

I'm also pretty disappointed with the "most games are for young men" argument. Why is it assumed that young men want all the immature fanservice? Who thinks we need power trips to feel good about ourselves? What are we supposed to be compensating for?

By the way, why do people always call Mario a sexist game? If I was a woman and a fire-breathing spike monster kidnapped me, I'd want to be rescued for sure. Sitting in an underground dungeon surrounded by lava, dying of thirst or waiting to be eaten...that's no good. When a man of extraordinary skill and dedication volunteers, should I let him? Or ask for a woman instead?
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Re: Kickstarter "Tropes vs Women in Videogames"

by Erik_Twice Mon Jul 02, 2012 5:37 pm

Valkyrie-Favor wrote:By the way, why do people always call Mario a sexist game?

Because they can't understand a basic parody of one of the most common plot devices of art for millenia. If one sees a fat plumber as a knight in shiny armor, there's nothing you can do to change it because it's frankly ludicrous.

Not that I find the plot to have anything objectionable even without the parodic aspects. (First game, don't know much about the others so I can't say)
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Re: Kickstarter "Tropes vs Women in Videogames"

by threetoed Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:48 pm

General_Norris wrote:
Nemoide wrote:Yes, there are male video game characters who are not positively portrayed;

Who cares about positive portrayals? Women can also be dicks too and they should! This idea that the only valid woman is a strong, good woman is dehumanzing. It's the same logic that gives us token blacks and forbids them for ever being a villain. Women should be understood as people and people includes the worst part. Cruel, ugly, self-preservationist liars will do more for equality than idealized female characters will ever do.

Sorry but this makes my skin crawl. Were Daffy a women, all his shorts would have been banned thanks to this.

She seems to have already actively raised the level of discourse we are having at a broad level and will probably further provoke social discourse with the release of her videos.

But what has she done to "raise the level of discourse"? Her writting is poor, and her arguments weak and often flawed, rehases of what better, more eloquent writers did elsewhere. She seems hung on the same concepts you can easily find in the web and with a tone that doesn't drive potential discussion away like her's does.

I feel like she has gotten a lot of money and space for just being a feminist instead of a good one.


I'd be curious who you think are feminists who explored this topic better. Could you link some of them? Thanks!

EDIT: Also, could you give a specific example of one of her weak or flawed arguments and why you think it's flawed?
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Re: Kickstarter "Tropes vs Women in Videogames"

by isiolia Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:02 pm

Menegrothx wrote:And here I was thinking that massproduced entertainment like video games, movies, comic books, cartoons, fiction books, anime and porn (very relevant to this particular issue) offered an escape from this reality and the "rule set" under which we live.


The point was not a complaint. Those are all popular mediums for fantasy, and there's nothing wrong with that. Rather, the point is whose fantasies a given product caters to.

For example, Ivy can still be seen as a sexist character design, even if Astaroth is just as unlikely a character in the same game/series. Both may require suspension of disbelief (Ivy's costume maybe a little bit more :mrgreen: ), but they're both probably catering more to male fantasies. Not that people can't be pandered to, but it should ideally be the exception, not the rule.

In any event, I was presenting that more as something I've seen brought up, in order to reinforce the point I followed with: that suggesting ways to improve would serve the purpose better than simply complaining. Particularly when things are more subtle.

Because they can't understand a basic parody of one of the most common plot devices of art for millenia.


I don't know that I'd call Mario a parody. Yes, the "damsel in distress" plot is exceptionally common, but Mario titles have pretty well stuck by it for a lot of main series titles. Mario isn't only saving the princess ironically.
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Re: Kickstarter "Tropes vs Women in Videogames"

by Menegrothx Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:46 pm

isiolia wrote:The point was not a complaint. Those are all popular mediums for fantasy, and there's nothing wrong with that. Rather, the point is whose fantasies a given product caters to.

The people with the money. Whether it's harem anime, super hero comic books, action movies, FPS games, RPGs or romantic chick novels, it's all the same. The point is to mass produce a certain brand of fiction that follows certain patterns and uses certain cliches and character stereotypes, because that's what the consumers crave for. It's like junk food
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Re: Kickstarter "Tropes vs Women in Videogames"

by isiolia Tue Jul 03, 2012 12:02 am

Menegrothx wrote:The people with the money. Whether it's harem anime, super hero comic books, action movies, FPS games, RPGs or romantic chick novels, it's all the same. The point is to mass produce a certain brand of fiction that follows certain patterns and uses certain cliches and character stereotypes, because that's what the consumers crave for. It's like junk food


Sure, in general, businesses are going to fund what sells. They're usually looking to improve on something though, if only to generate excitement and in turn sales.

From a business standpoint though, if you could expand your customer base, why wouldn't you? Different people have different cravings, after all. If, say, the business was junk food, would you ignore a group of potential customers complaining that most of your snacks were too salty? Probably not, if there was the potential for a net gain in sales.
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Re: Kickstarter "Tropes vs Women in Videogames"

by MrPopo Tue Jul 03, 2012 12:16 am

isiolia wrote:
Menegrothx wrote:The people with the money. Whether it's harem anime, super hero comic books, action movies, FPS games, RPGs or romantic chick novels, it's all the same. The point is to mass produce a certain brand of fiction that follows certain patterns and uses certain cliches and character stereotypes, because that's what the consumers crave for. It's like junk food


Sure, in general, businesses are going to fund what sells. They're usually looking to improve on something though, if only to generate excitement and in turn sales.

From a business standpoint though, if you could expand your customer base, why wouldn't you? Different people have different cravings, after all. If, say, the business was junk food, would you ignore a group of potential customers complaining that most of your snacks were too salty? Probably not, if there was the potential for a net gain in sales.

<insert obligatory Wii expanding the market reference here>
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Re: Kickstarter "Tropes vs Women in Videogames"

by Menegrothx Tue Jul 03, 2012 7:03 am

isiolia wrote:From a business standpoint though, if you could expand your customer base, why wouldn't you? Different people have different cravings, after all. If, say, the business was junk food, would you ignore a group of potential customers complaining that most of your snacks were too salty? Probably not, if there was the potential for a net gain in sales.

It's better to specialize than try to be a jack of all trades. The core target audience loses intrest if you try to cater to a wider audience and usually the product that tries to be both A and B ends up being inferioir to both. People dont seek new experiences when it comes to mass produced entertainment like this, they want the same old thing that they've grown accustomed to. Like I said, it's like junk food. It's not experimental or high art, it's an unambiguous product meant to satisfy that certain craving. You consume a product like this with a different kind of mindset than others. Drinking beer with friends while watching some cheap action movie or playing some blatant knock off beat em up/fighter/FPS game probably enhances the mood, while it completely kills the mood if you're trying to watch a good movie or a game like SH2/PS:T.
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