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

by Erik_Twice Tue Jul 03, 2012 7:15 am

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

Unfortunatedly, I don't have links to this stuff and I have forgotten where I found them, sorry.

EDIT: Also, could you give a specific example of one of her weak or flawed arguments and why you think it's flawed?

I haven't watched her videos in a long time, so I can't point down much right now.

She has, however, a quite unhealthy love of the Bedchell test, which I consider terribly unhelpful and inherently flawed for it considers

1) That there's no artistical reason for a gender imbalance
2) That the arbitrary aggregation of the cast of several works of art is meaningful
3) That there's dialogue or conversation
4) That cast size doesn't affect the validty of the test
5) That the work of art isn't about a man or men
6) That arbitrary cast genders don't prevent the genre from being fulfilled
7) That the work has gendered species in it.

But even if they are debatable, the use of Fight Club in her video about how very few movies pass the test is just assinine. It's simply dishonest.


If I remember correctly, she has also made several claims that make me highly unconfrotable on physical appeareances. She dimisses busty or attractive women as sex objects, as irreal fantasies when there are women like that in real life that commonly suffer being labelled as sluts just for their body shape. Not cool in my book.

I may be conflating her with someone else on the second example, though.

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

Becuase appealing to several markets often reduces your ability to cater to single markets. For example, catering to both the facebook crowd and the expert gamer who has beaten half of the genre is an impossible affair. If you try, you will get a compromise and compromises lack edge.

isiolia wrote:I don't know that I'd call Mario a parody.

I think it's a good fit, but it's not the mocking kind. It seems to me all Miyamoto games have a certain whimsy to them, a lighthearted tone that makes them quite different from straight versions of the basic plots.

Donkey Kong is probably the best example of this. The sillyness of the everyman and the smile of the Ape simply set the game apart from the seriousness and acceptance that King Kong had, even if the damsel is the same. Just the picture of Mario, with his funny belly and moustache remove any doubt I could have of taking the game seriously. The other Mario games take this tone and change the setting to a surrealist landscape where the enemies our hero takes are such dangers as turtles, fishes and walking mushrooms.

Really, if Mario is a "Knight in Shiny Armor tale", they did a terrible job at it.

If they wanted a Knight in Shiny Armor, they did it very poorly and even a straight reading of the games wouldn't mean Peach or Pauline are supposed to represent all women rather than a specific woman, that's simply not in the game, it's a projection from the outside.
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Re: Kickstarter "Tropes vs Women in Videogames"

by isiolia Tue Jul 03, 2012 8:03 am

General_Norris wrote:Becuase appealing to several markets often reduces your ability to cater to single markets. For example, catering to both the facebook crowd and the expert gamer who has beaten half of the genre is an impossible affair. If you try, you will get a compromise and compromises lack edge.


On an individual developer level, perhaps. On an industry level, not necessarily. You can do both. Some of the absolute best selling pieces of entertainment software ever have been those that sold well to women, such as the Sims. Or, as mentioned, the Wii in general. Their existence didn't snuff out more hardcore titles from the market.

I'd also point out that very little that women might be complaining about would be core gameplay elements. Putting some pants on female characters and not treating them like rewards to hand out doesn't necessitate Facebook tie-ins or motion controls.


Menegrothx wrote: 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.


I don't really think that's entirely true. Sure, people are probably not throwing on an action movie to get preached to, or playing a shooter to learn something, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't want something new in the mix.

But, even supposing everyone really does just want to buy the same thinly-veiled title over and over again, are they really expecting the elements that might be considered sexist (or at least poorly implemented)? Is it just not Mortal Kombat if Mileena and Kitana aren't fighting in lingerie? Or is that maybe a secondary element that could be changed without modifying the core product?
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Re: Kickstarter "Tropes vs Women in Videogames"

by Nemoide Tue Jul 03, 2012 2:37 pm

General_Norris wrote:She has, however, a quite unhealthy love of the Bedchell test, which I consider terribly unhelpful and inherently flawed for it considers

1) That there's no artistical reason for a gender imbalance
2) That the arbitrary aggregation of the cast of several works of art is meaningful
3) That there's dialogue or conversation
4) That cast size doesn't affect the validty of the test
5) That the work of art isn't about a man or men
6) That arbitrary cast genders don't prevent the genre from being fulfilled
7) That the work has gendered species in it.

But even if they are debatable, the use of Fight Club in her video about how very few movies pass the test is just assinine. It's simply dishonest.


I think in one of her videos, she does say that the test does not determine the quality of a movie and acknowledges many good movies that fail the test. However, I think the fact that so few movies pass such a simple test indicates a noticeable disparity in how women are portrayed by the movie industry as a whole, as opposed to men.

I don't think it would be fair to totally dismiss a movie based on if it passes the test (The Tree of Life fails but is still a fantastic movie), but I don't think that's what she's going for. I think she's using something which started off as a joke in a comic strip (and frankly, it's such a simple test, it SOUNDS like a joke) to illustrate how marginalized women are in a large portion of movies. Considering that women make up half the population, I would have expected more movies to at least feature two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man. It's not a very high bar to pass! I think there's value in pointing this out.
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Re: Kickstarter "Tropes vs Women in Videogames"

by Erik_Twice Tue Jul 03, 2012 4:43 pm

isiolia wrote:I'd also point out that very little that women might be complaining about would be core gameplay elements.

Oh, I agree, it was just an example. Perhaps a better one would be Dead or Alive. That game sells because it has boobs. Most women aren't going to be interested in that and you can't reasonably please both without dilluting the "experience".

The industry is very focused on the traditional young male market because it's easy to cater to, much more than women are by a long shot. And appealing to women is not lucrative compared to catering to the boys even more, the market is simply too small and losing 6% of your male costumers because you didn't force out the typical Space Marine fantasy isn't worth it out.

That said, the industry is really, really bad at this and the marketing teams themselves are the ones who are closing their own door. Now that AAA games have marketing budgets bigger than the game itself we get into the typical advertisment bullshit and that tends to drive people out.

So it makes sense they aren't catering to women but it doesn't make so much sense so as to follow the path they are going now.

Nemoide wrote:However, I think the fact that so few movies pass such a simple test indicates a noticeable disparity in how women are portrayed by the movie industry as a whole, as opposed to men.
[/quote]
And how do you know it indicates such a thing? You don't have a control group, so you can't know how many films should pass and how many shouldn't!

And there's a huge logical gap between a statistical statement (number of women who do X in a film) and the qualitative statement that "how women are portrayed" is. It's bad social science and bad criticism and both pain me a lot.

Basically the test has two problems: The first is that it isn't an useful measurable tool because you can't measure without comparing and the second is that the magnitude of error is huge.

It just doesn't make sense to consider war films, or documentaries, or biographies, or films with no dialogue or anything concerning history, reality or the social part of sex. That's a huge error here, probably around 30% of all films.

You can fix the test by removing the error above and then comparing against an inverted Bedchel test to remove internal artistical reasons. It wouldn't be perfect but it would work far better than this one.

As you say, it was a joke, it was not supposed to be a serious test, yet many out there use it as such and that's very, very bad. I mean, google it.

I just feel that the Bedchell Test is an easy answer. And I really, really hate easy answers. Easy answers don't make the world go round, nuance does.
Last edited by Erik_Twice on Tue Jul 10, 2012 5:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Kickstarter "Tropes vs Women in Videogames"

by Gamerforlife Thu Jul 05, 2012 3:48 pm

I haven't read this whole article, but perhaps it can add some discussion to this thread.

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/1732 ... r_boys.php
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Re: Kickstarter "Tropes vs Women in Videogames"

by Erik_Twice Fri Jul 06, 2012 2:44 pm

Gamerforlife wrote:I haven't read this whole article, but perhaps it can add some discussion to this thread.

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/1732 ... r_boys.php

I think I have seen this link around here recently but I don't know where.
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Re: Kickstarter "Tropes vs Women in Videogames"

by Key-Glyph Tue Jul 10, 2012 12:39 am

General_Norris wrote:Basically the test has two problems: The first is that [the Bechdel Test] isn't an useful measurable tool because you can't measure without comparing and the second is that the magnitude of error is huge.

It just doesn't make sense to consider war films, or documentaries, or biographies, or films with no dialogue or anything concerning history, reality or the social part of sex. That's a huge error here, probably around 30% of all films.
The Bechdel Test is usually applied to a sampling of films that are already grouped on some other merit, such as "Oscar Nominees." The 2011 Academy Awards were what Sarkeesian used in her video example, not a random assortment of films, nor ones hand-picked to prove her point. To say that the Bechdel Test doesn't highlight an interesting pattern when it is applied to a selection of films chosen by a committee on the basis of "recogniz[ing] excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors and writers" (Wikipedia) is being naive.

I'm glad she's doing what she's doing, although I agree with Dsh's post that she's addressing a symptom rather than a root cause.
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Re: Kickstarter "Tropes vs Women in Videogames"

by Erik_Twice Tue Jul 10, 2012 5:35 am

Key-Glyph wrote:The Bechdel Test is usually applied to a sampling of films that are already grouped on some other merit, such as "Oscar Nominees." The 2011 Academy Awards were what Sarkeesian used in her video example, not a random assortment of films, nor ones hand-picked to prove her point.

Grouping them based on perceived merit doesn't make the errors in the evaluation of gender and cast go away. Any assortment that doesn't exclude films where the test doesn't produce meaningful results is silly.

It's simply not how you do statistics.
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Re: Kickstarter "Tropes vs Women in Videogames"

by Gunstar Green Sun Jul 15, 2012 5:47 pm

I agree with General_Norris on this one. The Bechdel test is worthless especially because its simplicity means that a film can pass the test while still being misogynistic. It doesn't make a movie more or less feminist to pass or fail the test. It's a red herring distracting from real issues.
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Re: Kickstarter "Tropes vs Women in Videogames"

by Blu Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:57 pm

Sorry for the thread necro, but it looks like this is getting passed around on Social Media channels. I was curious to hear anyone thoughts.

http://www.upworthy.com/a-bunch-of-sad- ... g=3&c=upw7

Basically Sarkeesian reveals the background on a lot of the backlash from her Kickstarter program, including the cyber mob campaign used to smear or discredit Sarkeesian. I haven't voiced my opinion but I'd echo what Dave has said, that it doesn't tackle the root. But it is important to acknowledge that addressing such problems might be the start of a movement to get at the root of these problems. I don't know the fundamentals of her approach, but I hate the frequent anonymous attacks that only perpetuate the problem and of which there's never real justice.
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