Responding to comments on my previous post

Okay, the comment threads have exploded on my previous post, which I guess I should have expected considering that I had the nerve to say nasty stuff about GenCon. Only I didn’t expect it, and am now fighting con crud and find that I don’t have the energy to keep up with the multiple conversations. Also, there are a lot of comments (mostly troll comments) that pretty much duplicate each other. So I skimmed through the comment threads and picked out the stuff I felt warranted response.

Stuff that deserves a proper response:

D20 Girls

I was not aware of the D20 girls. There was no sign at that particular booth, and I didn’t get close enough to read their badges. Having read the website, I have to say I’m left with pretty mixed feelings. They have some very body-positive stuff to say, and I appreciate that they want women who are knowledgeable about products to be the ones representing them. However, the fact that they are still hiring themselves out as models makes me uncertain of how I feel about this. I’m willing to say mea culpa – I wasn’t aware that these women were any different from the usual model booth babes you get at usual conventions. But I also don’t think I want to be seen as endorsing them either. I think for now I’ll say that I’m Switzerland (neutral) on the subject until I’ve had a chance to think over how I feel about their business model.

Corsets

Man. I walked away for half a day and this conversation just exploded on me, way past my ability to track it right now. So I’m going to say some stuff that I realize might not respond to everyone’s concerns, but I’m doing my best here.

I don’t have a particular like or dislike for corsets. They’re not for me, but that has a lot more to do with the fact that I trained as a singer for many years; I habitually breathe from the diaphragm which is something you just can’t do in a corset. That said, I understand some women love them, and if it’s something they enjoy then more power to them.

As a tween, I desperately wanted a subscription to 17 magazine. My dad tried out outlaw it, but I bought it with my own money. Something he didn’t articulate until I was in my 20′s that I wish he had said to me earlier was that he was afraid that it would distort my body image and give me harmful ideas about what I was supposed to look like. And he was right – it did. And I wish that someone had SAID THAT to me when I was that tween looking through 17 and not understanding why I didn’t look like those girls. It could have saved me a lot of heartbreak and self-loathing.

So when I see this little girl looking at corsets, I can’t help but put her in a context that is full of distorted and dehumanized depictions of women. And people have made some really good points – I can’t know what’s going through her head. I can’t know that she doesn’t just want to try on that corset because she thinks is pretty. But at the same time I can’t know that the opposite isn’t true. In a situation where the image that is being sold is predominantly white, beautiful, impossibly thin, and entirely distorted, I have trouble thinking that this is entirely a healthy thing.

And who knows, maybe this is a purely personal thing. Maybe I’m doing nothing more than reading my own childhood reactions to distorted images of women into this situation.

I hope that does a better job of unpacking my feelings on the situation. If it doesn’t, then I’ll have to come back later. While I think there’s some good food for discussion, it seems like a tangent to all of the things that I have to say about GenCon.

Troll comments (ie. stuff not really worth my time)

You’re irrationally angry/Sex sells

Screw you. If you’re coming here and saying that, you obviously haven’t been reading anything that I’ve been writing for the last 8 months or so. If you want to come here and have a serious conversation, fine. But if you’re not prepared to check your privilege long enough to try listening to an opposing point of view, then I feel no need to seriously engage with anything you say.

Women need to complain less and do more to change things

You know, it’s really easy to dismiss women by saying that women need to “do things” to change the state of affairs. And the thing that gets lost when you say that is the fact that there are very good reasons for the lack of female involvement in illustration and game development. While I’m not going to say that this is universal, sexual harassment is a huge problem for any woman who “dares” to venture into the world of game development. Even if you’re lucky enough to not have to deal with harassment from your bosses and co-workers, it is not at all uncommon to be harassed by one’s fans. Just look at the fiasco that happened with Jade Raymond, where a pornographic comic was circulated suggesting that she was exchanging sexual favors for promotion of the game. And when some people, rightly, pointed out how reprehensible this was, the response from a lot of male gamers was ‘well that’s what she gets for being an attractive female in game development’. So with all of this, can we be surprised that women aren’t leaping into game design/development/illustration?

But you know what? There are already lots of female game designers, artists, etc out there. There are already women doing some amazing work, and a lot of them don’t get the attention they deserve. So it’s not that we’re not here. It’s that women getting into the development side of things face SUCH a high barrier to entry in terms of feeling welcome, and that many of the women working in game design/development/illustration don’t get the attention that they deserve.

You are against all women being sexualized ever

At the risk of being repetitive, I’m going to quote myself:

I’m not against all sex ever in RPGs. I’m not against all sex ever in art. I’m not against all people ever who like sexy art, or who like sex, or who like sex and RPGs. I’m against people who purposefully, deliberately, and systematically dehumanize women for personal gain and profit.

The problem is that these sexualized depictions of women have become a commodity. The objectification of women becomes a standard practice used to sell games, a practice in which women are reduced to nothing more than their sexy bits while men are allowed to be complete characters with dimensionality beyond their sexayness.

I don’t want to see sex removed from games, because sex is part of the human condition. But the endless parade of dehumanized chainmail bikini porn needs to be addressed, because these sexualized depictions exist solely for the male gamer. It’s not “empowerment” of female sexuality, it’s the commodification of female sexuality – something much, much different.

Men just like sexy ladies

Isn’t it kind of insulting to say that men are inclined to buy any product that has sufficiently luscious T&A associated with it? Do you seriously expect me to believe that men as consumers have all of their purchases decided by whether or not a product is seen as sexy? That’s just ridiculous.

There are men out there who like sexy ladies, sure. There are also men out there who like sexy men, and men who don’t like sexy ladies, and men who like sexy ladies but not marketing that panders to them, and – shockingly – there are also WOMEN who buy products for whom some or all of the above might also be true.

Proclaiming that “men like sexy ladies” as a justification for the systematic marketing of dehumanized sexualized female characters is doing your business a disservice, because you’re proclaiming that your market ONLY consists of straight male gamers – a fact that just isn’t true.

Feminists have no sense of humor/Feminists are dumb/I won’t listen to you unless you’re hot/Feminists are ugly

I love it when trolls quote almost directly from Anti-Feminist Bingo.

Anime encompasses many things that don’t include sexual harassment

I’m quite aware of that fact. When I made that joke about the cover of collateral damage, that was sarcasm.

The human body is art

If the human body is so artistic, then where are all of the mostly-nude depictions of men? Where are all the sexualized male characters with impossible anatomy and distorted poses? Is it only the female form that is beautiful? Or is the male body somehow less than human?

OMG HOW CAN U INSULT ECHO CHERNIK SHE’S A WOMAN SO SHE CAN’T BE SEXIST!!1!ELEVENTYONE

I have repeatedly made a point of criticizing artists who distort the human body and objectify women for personal profit, and Echo Chernik’s artwork fits that criteria very well. Even then, I was (mostly) happy to keep my hatred of her art to myself, were it not for that banner proclaiming proudly that that godawful Shadowrun cover was her work. Because that cover? Is BAD. The breasts were lopsided and defied gravity, the ribcage was wrong, the neck was wrong, the hips were wrong. In addition to being a sexualized distortion of the female figure, it was a poorly done sexualized depiction, and not even up to Echo’s usual high standards of craft and workmanship. Even if I hate Echo’s art, I am still happy to admit that the level of skill and aesthetic is very high, and the Shadowrun cover did NOT live up to that usual high standard.

But let me also add that being a woman does not give someone an automatic pass when it comes to sexism. As is common with any form of oppression (homophobia, racism, sexism, etc), members of oppressed minorities often internalize oppressive ideas. You can’t say that Echo is incapable of producing sexist art because she’s a woman, because sexism is something that all of us participate in. Even you, and even me.

[And that's enough of that. My next post will be the other half of my photos from GenCon.]

Two reasons I’m hating humanity

So, I didn’t realize that it had been a whole week since my last post. Holy cow! It’s been a crazy week and time got away from me there. Anyhow, my slowitude (yes it’s a word, shut up) means that the things I’m going to be writing about might seem like old news. To those of you who think this is too little too late, I say – throw off the tyranny of internet time! I refuse to fall into the trap of feeling like I have to blog about something the very second it happens!

-ahem-

Also, I have some stuff to say about these two topics that I haven’t seen other people (quite) say. So bear with me.

Fail the first: Organizers have decided to ban women from a major Battlefield 3 launch LAN party (Via Kotaku)

A lot of people have already written about this and about the titanic amounts of fail the organizers have engaged in by deciding to ban women from their event. Tami B (who sometimes goes by cuppycake), in particular, had a great analysis over on the Border House. However, I had a few points of my own that I wanted to add to the general castigation of the organizers of this event:

Point the first: this perpetuates stereotypes and makes it easier for others to do so

Thank you so much for once again contributing to the stereotype that women don’t count as “real” gamers. Your decision has ensured that this will be a major gaming event in which no women participate, despite that Battlefield is an immensely popular titled that appeals to both men and women. But by making your event a male-only space, your reinforcing the idea that only men are “real” gamers. Even worse, you’re perpetuating the idea of gaming as a male space and actually making women less welcome at future such events. If your event is successful, other event organizers are sure to at least consider adopting your highly flawed model. It will set a precedent that other organizers may well choose to emulate. After all, why put up with the hassle of trying to make a safe space for female attendees when you can just ban them all together?

Point the second: this is cowardice

I will at least give the organizers props for acknowleging that harassment is a serious problem at large gaming events. But by deciding to avoid the unpleasantness by banning the victims of potential harassment, the organizers are taking the cowardly way out. They want this to be a fun and friendly space; standing up to your friends and calling them on their privilege/bad behavior is often uncomfortable, sometimes even downright terrifying. Rather than being courageous enough to implement a strong non-harassment policy, the event organizers are caving, giving in to those men who use harassment as a tool to drive women away from such events. Which leads into…

Point the third: They know what they’re doing is wrong

In the original version of their event FAQ, here’s how they justified their decision to exclude women from the event:

Nothing ruins a good LAN party like uncomfortable guests or lots of tension, both of which can result from mixing immature, misogynistic male-gamers with female counterparts

Naturally, they got a lot of flack for this and have since removed the above language. The above language was replaced with:

This event is a ‘gentlemen’s retreat’; as such we do not allow women to attend.

Afterward, they were kind enough to add the following clarification:

We actively discourage gamers from being the kind of mysogynistic jackwagons seen in the Reddit post, and such behaviour should not be tolerated. Frankly, we don’t like that kind of player either. So far as this event goes, it is an special event designed specifically for male gamers. Further, it is meant as a getaway designed to help said male contingent become better men both for themselves and for those who love us.

Now, a lot of smart people have written about why this is just the wrong approach to take, and given that the organizers were cognizant of the problem of potential harassment, these arguments can’t have gone completely over their heads. Rather than listening and saying ‘mea culpa, we shouldn’t exclude women’, they’ve changed the language to call this a “gentleman’s retreat”, making it clear that they have no interest in reexamining their decision to exclude women from the event.

This is, to me, the most damning fact of all – the fact that they understand that this exclusion is unjust, or at least they understand enough to change their public statement that precludes argument. Clearly, they know this is wrong and they don’t give a shit because they’re doing it anyway. So shame on you all. I hope your event is a flop, or at the very least that the backlash you receive convinces organizers of future such events that it’s in their interests to be inclusive of women.

Fail the second:“easy” trivia quiz with E3 booth babes

Someone (I forget who) sent me the link to this video that made the rounds about a month ago. In it, a total of 8 booth babes at E3 are asked five “easy” trivia questions:

What are the original three Pokemon?
What love interest are you forced to kill in the original Portal?
What video game is inspired by the Ayn Rand novel Atlas Shrugged?
What character introduced the gun stiletto?
What is the name of the main character in Zelda: Ocarina of time?

Predictably, the booth babes answered all of the questions incorrectly and were then mocked by male gamers for getting the answers to such easy questions wrong:

These aren’t trick questions. You know all of the answers, and they don’t. (Kotaku)

To be honest, they all sound very stupid, I’m sure they’d struggle with general knowledge, let alone that of video games. Who hasn’t even heard of Atlas Shrugged? *sigh* Hundreds of years of suffrage, and we’re still here. (Kotaku)

There is a reason they are [sic] both babes… brains is not it (G4tv.com forums)

Nice. Real nice. There’s one thing that you asswipes are forgetting – gaming trivia isn’t exactly general knowledge, is it? And honestly, can you really be surprised that booth babes at E3 turn out not to be gamers when they’re paid to be exposed to the very worst aspects of gaming culture? Would I be interested in a hobby that treated me like a piece of meat and largely turned a blind eye to incidents of harassment that happen on the job? No. No I wouldn’t. And I think that’s just human nature.

Secondly, some of these questions are just plain bad questions. Like the last question – we tend to be culturally conditioned to expect that if a media property (book, movie, game) names a character, that the named character will be the protagonist. After all, Hermione wasn’t the main character of Harry Potter, was she? Assuming that Zelda would be the main character is a logical assumption, kids.

Similarly, BioShock is a pretty niche game and I’m willing to bet there are a shitton of gamers who don’t know that BioShock is Atlas Shrugged plus a bazooka. And even if all gamers everywhere did know that, Ayn Rand is a shit author and I’d be happy to see her books drop off the list of what “educated” people should be expected to be conversant with. (But that’s just my opinion.)

The worst, though, is #2 – the question about portal. I’m sorry, but “love interest”?

Okay, now I know that there are people who really developed an attachment to the companion cube, and that some people felt having to destroy it very keenly. But I’m going to remind you that the companion cube IS A FUCKING BOX. Generally speaking, humans do not have romances with boxes, not even boxes with hearts on them. Putting a heart on something does not make it suddenly romance-able.

I realize I forgot to photoshop out her arm. D’oh! But I’m too lazy to care.

Not knowing the answers to these stupid questions doesn’t make these booth babes dumb. It makes them smart enough to not want to associate with a hobby that treats women like shit.

TERA followup: no, male castanics are not “as bad” (lots of pictures)

Over the weekend, someone must have linked my old TERA post to the official TERA forums as I got a flood of troll comments on that post. Most of the comments really weren’t really more than a waste of space and many of them repeated each other, since trolls often seem to lack in originality. The responses I got can be roughly summarized as follows:

  • hurr hurr you’re ugly (3 comments)
  • it’s just a game/it’s just fantasy (5 comments)
  • I’m a woman and I’m not bothered by it (1 comment)
  • you feminist bitches are so silly (3 comments)
  • you’re making this all about you (2 comments)
  • nonsensical slurs (1 comment)
  • games are for men (1 comment)
  • talking about discrimination is stupid and makes people feel bad (2 comments)
  • omg ur biased for not showing male castanics who are just as bad (2 comments)

Now it’s worth pointing out that I did get one comment from a TERA user who wasn’t comfortable with the others trolling my blog:

While we may disagree with some of the author’s points, can we avoid the personal attacks?

So, thekillerangel, thank you for trying to inject a little sanity into the flood of outraged temper tantrums.

Now ordinarily I wouldn’t bother dignifying this sort of thing with too much of a response besides dropping some pertinent links in the comment thread for people who stumble across the post in the future. However, the whole charge that male castanics are “just as bad” and that not showing them was “revealing my bias” or some such really stuck in my craw.

For one thing, they’re completely ignoring all of my points about the promotional art that centers on nearly naked women next to fully covered men. Not one of the commenters even tried to address that, I’m guessing because it didn’t fit into their comfortable knee-jerk reactions. But even ignoring that point, I can say that I’ve seen screenshots of male castanics, and sure they’ve got rippling abs and low cut pants. But that is NOT THE SAME as two spangles and a cork. It’s just not. So I want to debunk this publicly.

A brief side note before I continue

In my previous TERA post, I used problematic language when talking about the women of TERA. In a subsequent post and discussion, I repented of my use of the word slut, so for those of you following this link who missed out on that discussion, please don’t rake me over hot coals for my use of the word slut. I’m aware it was terrible, and it’s kind of tangential to the point I’m trying to make today. (Thanks.)

Back to business: some pictures

So the first order of business when examining these claims that male castanics are just as sexualized as female castanics is to round up a shit ton of screen shots. So here, for your edification, is a collection of male castanics showing some skin:

CLICK FOR LARGE VIEW

Now sure, they’re all showing a fair amount of skin. And yes several of them are wearing some low-cut pants. But you know what all of them have that none of the TERA women do? F*CKING PANTS:

CLICK FOR LARGE VIEW

Not a single one of these models is wearing anything that could be called pants. Many of them are exposing portions of thigh, which the male models don’t do. Many are also exposing portions of buttock, which the male models don’t do. And while male castanics might have low-cut pants, that’s a far sight from the dental floss that half of the female castanics seem to be wearing.

Furthermore, it is possible to find male armor sets for castanics that fully cover the male model:

Do you know how many armor sets exist that fully cover female castanic models? NOT ONE. Don’t believe me? Check out the armor sets for yourself: female armor sets here, male armor sets here.

The following is the most conservative female castanic armor I could find:

And you know what? That’s really not so bad. That is until you consider that the most conservative armor set I could find still consists of a micro-minidress with a cleavage window and stripper boots.

So really, all of you trolls complaining that male castanics are “just as bad” are helping to make my point for me. When you line male and female castanics up next to each other, it is patently obvious that female castanics are consistently more sexualized than male castanics. The fact that six armor options exist for male castanics to be covered completely and not one exists for females is a compelling fact that needs to be considered as well.

This insistence that the treatment of male and female castanics is equal is yet another illustration of how sexualization of women in games is seen as normal while sexualization of men is seen as “extreme”. The male castanics, while definitely sexay, are still only mildly sexualized. The female castanics are extremely sexualized – after all, I have yet to see any screen shots used as promo that show a male castanic greased up with two nipple pasties and a sock to go fight monsters. And yet there is a subset of gamer who has gotten so desensitized to the oversexualization of women in their games that they read these two groups as being treated equally. It’s kind of a sad statement of the state of gaming when you think about it.

Even more E3 WTF

I know I said I’d do a post about the new Tomb Raider trailer. I guess I lied. I’m just feeling really burned out on arguments right now and don’t feel up to having one that is sure to be both heated and incredibly entrenched with no hope of either side convincing the other. Been there, done that, not up to doing it again right now. So instead I thought I’d post some of the other E3 wtf I found on sites that weren’t Destructoid.

More booth babes

Looking at the various gaming sites, you’d think that E3 was a convention devoted to booth babes, not a convention devoted to gaming and other consumer electronics. The week after the show, 1up users apparently think that the E3 booth babe roundup is the top feature on 1up.com:

But IGN is not to be outdone! First they have an E3 booth babe roundup of their own, with 135 photos no less! They also went the extra mile, though, and did feature interviews each day of the show with their pick for “booth babe of the day”, sprinkled with photos of them in their hawt booth babe outfits of course. There’s an interview with this redhead (or rather, woman in a red wig), this “fairy dancer”, and – my personal favorite – this cringe-worthy interview: E3 2011: Booth Babe of the Day Hindu Goddess.

But wait! There’s more!

Lest you get the impression that E3 might actually be a show about video games and boobs, IGN would like to assert that… nope. It’s just about boobs:

Seriously? I don’t even know what’s the most messed up thing on this page. First you have the booth babe battle itself. Because, you know, it’s not bad enough that these women are getting paid to be ogled at and pawed over by grown men who really should know better. No, what they really need is for men who would like to ogle/paw at them (but can’t, by virtue of not being at the show) to judge their attractiveness and post these ratings for the world to see. Intrinsc is clearly getting into the spirit of things by setting a high standard for what constitutes a booth “babe” versus a booth “acceptable girl”. I guess it’s a useful reminder for us feminists, who are all (by virtue of being feminists) unutterably, horrifyingly ugly.

But let’s not miss that we can get “babeology” updates and exclusive content through social media. OMG! Creepy coverage of half-naked women as purveyed by a major gaming website? SIGN ME UP!

The weirdest thing in all of this is that Kotaku only had one article featuring pictures of booth babes promoting a game. Or rather, car wash babes promoting a game. Just one. So what the hell, folks? Since when is Kotaku the classiest gaming website out there? Did I fall into an alternate universe again?

Game Trailers

On IGN I also managed to find some fail-worthy trailers I hadn’t seen on Destructoid, like this trailer for Skullgirls – a hand-animated 2D fighting game. Despite being hand-animated, each character features skimpy outfits and, if you watch closely (it’s pretty zoomed out) BOOB JIGGLING. Now, automated boob-jiggling in 3D games is one thing since you can get algorithms to do the heavy lifting (heh) for you. But it just seems ridiculous in games where the boob jiggle is hand-animated. Don’t you guys have better things to do with your time? Like, say, balancing gameplay? Or are you too busy balancing other things?

I also found this awful Catwoman-centric Arkham City Trailer complete with crotchcam, asscam, and wannabe porn riffs. I didn’t think it was possible, but this makes me want to play Arkham City even less than the interview that Destructoid did with one of the devs about Catwoman as a playable character. Yuck.

Fail-worthy features

Sometimes it’s not the games that fail, it’s the coverage of the games that fails. Over on 1up, I found this feature called: Postcard from E3: Atlus and the Booth so Sexy It Had to be Hidden (Forget Duke Nukem’s booth; the sauciest place at E3 was Atlus.)

Yeah, you can practically hear the fail a mile away. I especially love gems like:

Why such an out-of-the way location for a prominent show sponsor? My theory is that Atlus’ booth was just too darned sexy for the main halls.

Not only was the booth plastered with drawings of ladies in lingerie, it also included the newly licensed King of Fighters XIII. And when we sat down to demo the game, Atlus’ spokesdude Aram and our own Janine both decided to play as the decidedly pendulous Mai Shiranui. Swing low, sweet chariot.

And people wonder why gamers get stereotyped…

Of course, this is the same guy who wrote a feature about Irrational’s preview of Bioshock Infinite and titled it: Irrational Declares Grey the Color of Girly-Men. Then, rather than explaining this rather controversial claim straight off, his opening paragraph centers on objectifying all of the staff who work at Irrational. But hey, he objectifies them equally, which makes everything okay according to Jim Sterling.

Kotaku also wanted to get in on the fail feature fun with this feature called: What Will A Middle-Aged Ivy Look Like In Soulcalibur V?

Yes, despite the new Soul Calibur title taking place 17 years after the end of Soul Calibur IV, Ivy is going to be returning. And of course the question on everyone’s minds is: will Ivy be a MILF? In this feature, Michael McWhertor asks the important questions, like:

Would it mean a more modestly dressed Ivy?

and:

Would the ravages of time have an impact on her vast… sex appeal?

I’m glad someone out there cares enough to look into these important journalistic issues.

Two bits of actual E3 coverage win

Anyhow, the first is a video in which an E3 attendee videos a line to jump in a bouncy castle with a booth babe and sarcastically reminds the viewer that E3 is a convention for only industry professional. (That professional is a term used loosely in the gaming industry should surprise no one, right?)

The second is a bit of news I didn’t see on any other website and which actually makes me quite happy. Apparently, Lara Croft models at E3 will “never happen again”. Quite an encouraging bit of news when you consider that the Lara Croft models often did promo shoots that resulted in things like this:

Can't say I'll miss them

The fact that both of these come from Kotaku actually frightens me, but there you have it. Maybe they weren’t intending to be ironic? It’s hard to say.

WTF: The E3 edition (with lots of pictures!)

Hi, folks. I’ve been coming across so much WTF coming out of E3 that I decided it deserved its own post. I had big intentions of surfing all of the major gaming news sites (Kotaku, Joystiq, IGN, etc) for their E3 news, but it took me so long just to get through all of the fail on Destructoid that those intentions didn’t last. Besides, I can’t pretend that I don’t love picking on Destructoid, because I do. So! On to the WTF!

Fail the first: boobies are important news hurr hurr

Well, it seems like I can always count on Dale North to really cover the important things: boobies!

Real subtle. It helps that he also lists some variant of ‘pretty girls’ twice. Because who cares about getting to go to the biggest gaming convention of the year when there are BOOBIES to see? Come on people. Priorities.

Of course, given that Dale North seems to be the designated boobular cosplay correspondent, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at the boob-centric nature of his E3 coverage. But remember, folks, these are boobies that think that Dale isn’t sexist, which is really all that matters.

But let me not give the impression that Dale is the only one doing some boobie-loving in the name of GARME JURNALIZM (as Jim Sterling calls it). No, it seems that Destructoid felt the need to further strengthen the mental link between its brand and BOOBIEZ by having their mascot photographed with hordes of boobular cosplayers:

Way to stay classy, guys.

The most disappointing instance of this that I saw, however, was this video by Jonathan Holmes of all people that was nothing more than a few second clip of a large crowd of attractive women and talking about how this was clearly very important video game news.

Et tu Jonathan? ET TU???

I previously had become a fan of Jonathan’s when he did a Constructoid episode featuring a conversation between Princess Peach and Bayonetta in which he examined the stereotypes that they were each based on. I also quoted Jonathan in my post about Bayonetta about his view that Bayonetta is a hollow character based on stereotypes and gender misconceptions. So I have to confess that right now I’m feeling pretty betrayed. So, Jonathan:

I know you work for Destructoid and all, but you’ve proven yourself to be different from Dale North and Jim Sterling. I expect better from you.

Fail the second: Game trailers

The obvious contender here is the trailer for the new Tomb Raider game. I’m actually going to save that for it’s own post. It might wind up being a bit short, but it’s sufficiently fucked up that I feel it deserves to be singled out. Still, there’s plenty of other completely fucked up trailers that deserve mocking.

Take, for instance, this interview with Dax Ginn of Rocksteady about the upcoming Arkham City game:

Charming thumbnail. And it gets better, the fail begins at 2:40 when the interviewer asks Ginn “tell me about this lovely lady right here”. We then see lots of clips of Catwoman in action with camera angles that play up her… ahem… assets:

And oh god, the fail-worthy interview over top just makes the whole thing worse. It’s actually kind of embarrassing, and makes me less likely to have any real interest in the final product.

There’s also the Dead Island trailer that was released which seems to heavily play up the ‘tropical island = bewbs’:

To be fair, this still doesn’t have anything on DNF. But still, it seems like a pretty cynical attempt to combine breasts, zombies, and violence to appeal to the ever sought-after “18-24 male and his penis” demographic. Disappointing.

The worst, however (okay, that’s not Tomb Raider), is this trailer for Dragon’s Crown:

Holy shit, people! Those breasts put even Ivy’s to shame! It’s a good think that skeleton is dead, otherwise her nipple would put an eye out for sure.

What’s incredibly bizarre about this game is that it’s 2D, using glorified sprites. And the sorceress’ breasts STILL jiggle every time she moves. You have to watch the video to truly grasp the titanic amounts of fail that this game has. It’s been a really long time since I’ve seen something that fails harder than Soul Calibur IV, but this trailer definitely manages that feat.

Fail the Third: DNF release party

All right, this is cheating slightly since it’s not tied to E3, but it was announced during all of the E3 hype so I’m including it. Gearbox is apparently having a release party for DNF that will feature sexay wimminz and be DJed by Jazzy Jeff. And just in case you’re not getting the theme, they’re calling the party Happy Ending:

Way to go, Gearbox. You guys never disappoint.

Jim Sterling: expanding his audience while still unabashedly sexist

Preamble

Okay folks. I know I promised a post about Shelly Mazzanoble, but that’s going to take a fair bit of work and I already had this mostly put together. So that will be something I come back to down the line.

If you’ve been reading for more than a few months, you’ll probably know that I already did one of these in the wake of the whole Jim Sterling/Daphny dust-up on twitter back before I moved to WordPress. Well, since then Jim has restarted Podtoid over on Destructoid and he’s also gotten a new forum for the Jimquisition over on the Escapist. In his most recent Jimquisition, he actually made some reasonable points about the problems inherent in Duke Nukem not being portrayed ironically… until he veered right back into calling anyone who doesn’t understand that he’s joking when he makes misogynist comments a complete moron. (I’m paraphrasing.)

So since I’d been collecting material for a follow-up post, I thought now would be a good time to highlight some of the things us complete morons are too humorless to appreciate as “ironic humor”. All of the material seen here is new since my previous post in February. Also, the post is long because – as before – I want to make sure people understand that these aren’t just isolated comments.

This is not for the faint of heart

As before, trigger warnings for slut-shaming, jokes about abuse, and rampant misogyny. Quotes below are provided with links to the original article to prove that I’m not taking things out of context. Any emphasis made has been added by me and is not part of the original comment. Comments in brackets are my comments, not Jim. Lastly, comments have been loosely categorized for your reading convenience.

Okay. Let’s do this.

As everyone knows, all gamers are dudes

Atlus has announced a special edition version of Catherine, set to launch in North America on July 26. It’s been perfectly designed for rigid-cocked gamers, aching to burst their bags over drawings of girls. So, you’re all looking forward to it! (Behold the wanktastic Catherine ‘Love Is Over’ edition)

Ladies and gentlemen, we are proud to introduce you to the iPhone game that will single-handedly push the female rights movement back sixty years. … It’s called Pillowfight Girls and, while we’ve not been told exactly how it plays, we can posit a fairly confident guess. Basically, women with big tits and very little clothing will hit each other for the perverse amusement of desperate young men. Basically, it’s the kind of game that Destructoid readers would absolutely love. (Pillowfight Girls bringing sexy misogyny to iPhone)

[Wait - there's a video game with sexist content? Shit! Why didn't anyone tell me? Feminism is so fucked! Screw this. I might as well just shut down this whole blog!]

Massive jugs and rampant chauvinism. That’s what the iPhone was made for, folks! (Pillowfight Girls bringing sexy misogyny to iPhone)

[That's funny. I thought it was for watching movies, listening to music, playing games, surfing the web, and making phonecalls. I mean, it has "phone" in the name of the product, after all.]

Breasts make everything better

The game looks gorgeous, has a more involved combat system, and it doesn’t skimp on the breasts — what’s not to love? Oh, and in case you think I’m being sexist, I’m talking about Geralt’s breasts. I’ve waited over a year for that man’s fine Witcher titties, and I’ll be damned if I don’t get ‘em! (The Witcher 2 has gone gold!)

What’s that, sir? You’d like to order a new trailer for Duke Nukem Forever? You want it to have guns in? Aliens, too? Would you like some violence to go with that? Excellent choice, sir. Oh, and a double helping of NSFW breasts, while we’re at it. I think that can be arranged. (Blood and boobies: Duke Nukem Forever gives)

[Because, really, who cares about coverage of things like gameplay in hotly anticipated titles? Everyone knows the important topics that need covering - how many breasts will there be?]

I’m sure it’s clever and satirical and all that, but none of it matters right now because there are drawings of girls doing implied lesbian things. (The girls of Neptune get frisky in new artwork)

[There is nothing in this world more important than lesbians. Global hunger? Nope. Poverty? Nope. Global warming? Nope. Lesbians trump them all. LESBIANS.]

Right now it’s not clear whether or not the boobs will jiggle with motion controls, a’la Ninja Gaiden 2 Sigma, but we do know that you’ll be copping an eyeful of physics-defying mammaries. This is obviously a very important story that needs following, so we’ll be sure to keep you updated on the state of Dimensions’ massive swollen busters as when fresh information becomes available. … We’re talking about BIG FRIGGING MILKERS, PEOPLE! (3D breast wobbling confirmed in Dead or Alive Dimensions)

According to Japanese sources, Dead or Alive 3DS is not only going to feature massive, swollen, jiggling mammary milk tumors in 3D, but it will also allow those massive, swollen, jiggling mammary milk tumors to be manipulated with motion control as well. Oh Tecmo, YOU SO BREASTS! (Motion-controlled breasts coming to Dead or Alive 3DS?)

[Clearly this is an important story. So important that he felt it warranted not one, but two different stories devoted to the importance of motion-controlled digital breasts?]

All feminists are ugly, hurr hurr

There’s been a lot of talk of sexism in the videogame industry, as is inevitable in a male-dominated arena. It has come to my attention that sexism is a bad thing, and as such, it falls to leaders of social progress such as myself to right the course of this little boat we call civilization.  (The Ultimate Female Role Models In Gaming)

[Oh, Jim! We poor wimminz are too stupid to solve this problem on our own! Save us, Jim! Save us!]

Recently, Gamer Limit wrote a disgustingly objectifying article on female videogame characters, implying with 100% seriousness that the only thing females have to offer the world are their firm, supple breasts and magnificent vaginal crevices. This is NOT true! (The Ultimate Female Role Models In Gaming)

[That bastard! I mean, come on. Couldn't he have at least given a shout out to all the ass men out there?]

Metroid’s Mother Brain may look like a hideous, squirming mass of mutated grey matter, but she is a cold, calculating, inspiring role model for young women. She was created by the Chozo to act as their unwilling underling, but rebelled against their rule — an encouraging story to females who wish to break from the oppression of dominating male figures. (The Ultimate Female Role Models In Gaming)

Now, there is a touchy issue with the Berserker, in that the Locust tend to imprison them for mating purposes, and the human COG forces even speculate that they are sexually assaulted. However, the fact they’re a totally alien race notwithstanding, the very idea that Berserkers are so terrifyingly violent that the males can’t go near them without significant restraints and disproportionate force is pretty remarkable. Oh, and I’m sure a fair few male Locust end up with their heads battered into a gloopy, viscous paste before, during or after coitus. You go, girl! (The Ultimate Female Role Models In Gaming)

Vertigo is a blue snake with arms and legs, boasting hypnotic powers that she employs against fire-breathing, teleporting dinosaurs. Now if only we had a few more ladies like that in our so-called “modern” media, the world would be a fairer place. (The Ultimate Female Role Models In Gaming)

[Jim's right! If I were really serious about my feminism, I'd try harder to be a shambling, drooling horror!]

So there you have it — a list of female role models in gaming that didn’t trot out Jade, Samus or Alyx Vance, nor rely on hot girls with big boobs. How about that? Of course, I don’t know what kind of point this made, if indeed it made any point at all, but isn’t that the eventual conclusion of any game-related discussion about sexism, racism, or other social issues? Nothing is learned, nothing changes, and we just regurgitate the same old rhetoric from emotionally charged positions with no interest in what anyone actually has to say. (The Ultimate Female Role Models In Gaming)

[Because everyone knows that there's no point about talking about issues of social justice. If we all just ignore issues of inequality, everyone knows that they'll go away. Come on, people.]

Slut-shaming

Not to sound like a date rapist or anything but let’s be honest here — she was asking for it. It’s not like Bayonetta has been presented as a morally upstanding game that promotes chastity and the Christian way of life. She’s a woman who frequently gets her clothes off and thrusts her bacon slice into the camera whenever she can. Hardly the classiest of games. (Bayonetta porn angers game creator)

Just strikes me as a little rich that Kamiya is trying to pull some high horse nonsense over this. Especially if he hasn’t seen the worst of the Bayonetta porn like I have… I mean, like I haven’t. Because I haven’t. (I have) (Bayonetta porn angers game creator)

[I'm pretty open about disliking Bayonetta, but no woman is ever "asking for it", Jim.]

No matter what you say, rape, abuse, and murder are funny

How dare the ESRB expect parents to be parents? Don’t they know how many rapes and Ground Zero mosques will happen now!? (Predictable: FOX News attacks sexist Duke Nukem Forever)

Like always, the ESRB has gone through the violent and sexual content in clinical detail, revealing some hot details. There’s tons of violence, with blood spurts and “realistic” gunfights. Plenty of nudity as well, but perhaps not the best kind, considering it’s mostly mutilated murder victims with their clothes off. There is pubic hair on them, though … so I guess that’s it’s a trade-off. (ESRB: L.A. Noire has blood spurts, pubic hair, racism)

[A trade-off? Between what? Disturbed and even more disturbed?]

There’s no doubt that Duke Nukem Forever is going to upset some people. In a world where you can’t even make a joke that happens to have the word “rape” in it without someone throwing a hissy fit… (Feminist organizations welcome to use Duke)

If you say the word ‘rape’ within a joke, you’re basically a rapist too! (Jimquisition: Solving the sexism situation)

[I mean, honestly. So he told a... some... a lot of jokes about rape. Somebody call the waaaaambulance.]

And as for Duke Nukem Forever, keep Capture The Babe, but add in a new mode for the ladies – Diddle the Juke, a game in which you fiddle with Duke Nukem’s balls while he cries and begs you to stop. (Jimquisition: Solving the sexism situation)

[I fail to see how that is either comparable or at all appealing to any female demographic ever. Srsly, yuck.]

Anyone who thinks I’m sexist is a humorless moron and an idiot

Here’s the thing. Duke Nukem Forever’s premise is pretty sexist, and one can’t really deny that. You know what though? Does it really f*cking matter? When it comes to fictional people doing fictional things to each other in a fictional world, does it really affect you? No, it doesn’t, no matter how much you pretend a game like DNF could influence society with the “messages” you’ve projected onto it.

… Seriously, how does it send the message that violence against women is normal? What’s normal about spanking women while people shoot at you with a shrink ray? (Petition asks Walmart not to sell ‘sexist’ Duke Nukem)

[I think you already know each other but... Jim Sterling, this is Strawman. Strawman, Jim Sterling. I just thought a formal introduction was in order since you spend so much time together.]

I’m with Ken for sure. I think certain individuals within certain demographics want their fictional representatives to be 100% meritorious, possibly to salve their own insecurities and gain some sense of justification. Anything that deviates from this total pandering is blasted as bigotry, when it’s not that way at all. (BioWare writer accused of negatively portraying gay folk)

Personally, I think words like “misogynistic” are getting thrown around so much online that their true meanings are starting to get devalued. They get slapped on videogames, movies and individuals almost like a weapon, an insidious exploitation of emotionally-charged labels in an effort to bully people into keeping their mouths shut. It doesn’t matter if it’s a harmless joke or not, everything gets tarred with the same brush, and I think it makes a mockery of serious hate issues.

…That, to me, is more harmful than any fictional character doing imaginary things to a not-real woman. (Feminist organizations welcome to use Duke)

[Translation: everyone knows that feminists actually want to enslave men. All that nonsense about wanting equality is just pablum they spew to make men feel complacent enough to give them all the power. Only morons think that sexism is a serious situation that actually needs attention.]

In many cases, I think the issue of sexism is overblown and it’s very easy to get caught up in our inability to distinguish jokes from actual hatred. In fact, I don’t think we as a community even deserve to have these discussions if we’re still going to get up in arms about a simple little joke [unintelligible] … just to focus on the bit that we find particularly offensive. (Jimquisition: Solving the sexism situation)

[Translation: hate crimes don't happen to women. True story.]

Here’s a simple truth. Men like to look at tits. I’m sorry if a few people find that offensive, but that’s simply the way we’re wired. I didn’t come up with the concept. It’s a little thing we call “fucking genetics”. And it’s the reason why the human species is here. Men like to, I guess, objectify women because that’s what they’ve evolved to do. (Jimquisition: Solving the sexism situation)

[What about ass men? Or leg men? For that matter, what about the ten percent (roughly) of the population that is gay? Are you willing to include lesbians who like looking at tits to offset the gay men who don't care about them one way or the other?]

(some of) Jim Sterling’s twitter responses to criticism on the Escapist forums

Amusingly, it came to my attention that my previous post collecting Jim Sterling quotes was linked several times in the Escapist forums in response to Jim’s Solving the Sexism Situation episode of the Jimquisition. There were some people in the thread who stuck up for Sterling and said they liked the video, but the majority of people in the thread said that Jim was 1) not funny 2) stupid 3) and/or blatantly sexist.

Rather than attempt to converse with anyone about this on the forums, Jim posted a bunch of hyper-defensive tweets calling the Escapist forum users “elitist cunts”.

Are we taking about the same forum? I don’t need to generalize. Escapist forumers are angry people.

Ah, no. Dtoid forum guys are generally lovely folk.

[Right. These would be the ones who you said would love sexy misogyny and masturbating to virtual video game women?]

I see the Escapist forum folk are bagging on it before they’ve even watched it. Thus marks my stopping reading what they have to say.

Yep, pretty much. Their criticisms have become so insular and ridiculous that I’ve given up trying to appeal to them.

Haha, so the Escapist’s elite are saying I am a sexist for daring to suggest that men have evolved to find breasts attractive.

[Haha, so I'm mischaracterizing the response of the large number of people calling me sexist so that I don't have to put serious thought into the fact that maybe they're right.]

To be fair, a lot more of ‘em are warming to me. Once the proper elitist cunts restrain themselves and stop watching, we can all be happy.

[Once the people who disagree with me go away, we can all enjoy ourselves in our nice sexist echo chamber. It's such a drag that people persist in trying to point out our sexism. Don't they know we don't care?]

Yep, and I objectify men regularly. So really, how can that be sexist? Pretty equal opportunity!

Yep! With the irony being that they’re making themselves look like some proper ignorant cunts.

[I fail to see how anyone enlightened or rational can fail to agree with me. These people do not, therefore they are cunts. QED.]

My favorite tweet, however, was one that Jim re-tweeted in response to a tweet sent to him by @NintendoTweet:

@JimSterling nothing sexist about telling women to go back to the kitchen! Women belong there darn it (retweeted by JimSterling)

Nope! Nothing sexist to see here! No sirree!

Phew

So there you have it. Despite a twitter dust-up in which Jim Sterling actually managed to anger a few publishers with his misogynistic comments, Jim actually seems to have been working hard at continuing to make sure there is as much sexist commentary with his name on it out there as possible. All of these were collected in just four months. Impressive. Or, wait, did I mean disgusting? I get so confused, what with being a humorless moron and all.

Game wallpaper sites: for men only?

[Brief note: Quickie post today. I have an injury that makes sitting at my computer incredibly painful. Sorry for the relative brevity.]

I’m one of those people who compulsively changes their wallpaper; I think the longest I’ve ever kept a wallpaper is maybe two months. Most of the time I wind up changing it when I stumble across something new that I like when I’ve had my current wallpaper for a while. But sometimes I find myself itching to change my wallpaper with nothing new in mind, and then I’ll go looking – which is how I stumbled across gamewallpapers.com.

Almost immediately, I had to suppress the urge to facepalm when I saw the boobular banner taking up most of the right side of the page. Even better, the very second category in the navbar is “Cyberbabes”, a link which takes you to the following screen:

…yup. About what I expected. Boobs, boobs, boobs, and more boobs. And, oh hey look – it’s Lara Croft’s cleavage. Because, really, what collection of game wallpaper would be complete without the iconic ta-tas of Lara Croft?

I was also completely unsurprised to note that our friends over at Destructoid are partners with gamewallpapers.com, since Destructoid frequently goes out of its way to assert how important boobs are to games and gaming in general. And I suppose I should be glad that the pornular wallpapers on gamewallpapers.com are at least free of overt misogyny like this infamous gem published on Destructoid a few years ago:

Way to go, guys. You always know how to bring the charm.

Anyhow. I was curious to see how the “Top 100″ would compare in boobularity to the Cyberbabes gallery. As it turns out, the results were kind of mixed. Looking at the first screen of the Cyberbabes page, 19 out of 21 featured wallpapers feature boobs. When looking at the Top 100, only 15 of the top 20 feature boobs. However, the boobs featured were more extreme:

And I think it’s especially telling that the top voted wallpaper is the Age of Conan wallpaper (top middle) that features bare breasts and only just baaaarely covers up the poor woman’s bajingo. Also, four of the top 20 are various iterations of Lara Croft, which is yet another discouraging sign.

Lastly, the site features several awful boobular ads that cycle randomly in the sidebar, and none of these ladies would look out of place in an Evony ad.

You know, I love how all of these ladies either have “SIGNING UP” or “ACCESS” either right near or right over their tits. There’s varying degrees of crassness, but the Age of Conan girl is definitely the worst, thanks to strategic cropping. The nipples and the start of her ladybits are juuuust out of frame. And unlike the others, proclaiming that you can get access to a variety of wallpapers, the Age of Conan banner just says “get full access”… Nice and subtle there, guys.

Not that the others are much better. All of them except for Nariko (Heavenly Sword) suffer from outrageous sphere-boob and costumes that they’re on the verge of popping out of. Like, the elf on the far left – what the hell is with those not-pants? And the elf in the middle – did someone seriously photoshop a picture of Liv Tyler? Because that’s what it looks like to me.

Anyhow. I don’t know why any of this should surprise me. After all, this is just yet another example of how our culture assumes that all gamers are (straight) men. Why the hell would a woman be looking for games wallpapers? Everyone knows women gamers don’t count after all.

WTF: The MMOsite.com edition

MMOsite is one of many schill MMO “reviews” sites that basically exist as a promotional machine for all the shitty free MMOs and k-MMOs out there. They make their money entirely through advertising and don’t even pretend to be objective. I’ve used MMOsite in the past several times to collect egregious screenshots when lambasting free MMOs like Kabod Online and TERA and had noted just how much boobage there is on that site.

I didn’t have anything specific in mind to blog about today, so I thought I’d head over to MMOsite and see how much boobage I could find in twenty minutes or so by clicking through to random links. It was, unsurprisingly (considering what they cover), a lot. I mean, I found this right on the main page:

Oh look! Another browser-based free MMO… Because the world really needed more of those. Anyway, I love that the logo is right next to the woman’s tits. (And what’s with the outfit? She looks like a cross between a stewardess and a sailor, as portrayed in a porno.)

Clicking through to the news section of their site brought up some interesting headlines. For instance, there was a gallery with designs of the characters in the new Dynasty Warriors game. (I’m a bit confused as to why this would be covered on MMOsite, since Dynasty Warriors 7 is going to be a console release and not an MMO…) Going through the gallery reveals a whole lot of men and very few women. And while there were two female characters who actually are decently covered (even if one of them is a bit cleavagey), there’s also these as well:

Le sigh.

Even more depressing than the Dynasty Warriors designs was this feature on the boss battle that is part of k-MMO Vindictus’ Episode 8, a new content patch recently released. I guess the folks at MMOsite really wanted to make sure that people saw the feature, because there’s a nice eye-catching ad for it right at the top of the news page:

When are game designers going to learn that BOOBS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY? You cannot put a strap around your boobs and expect it to cover up your nipples unless you’re attaching it with superglue, which I don’t suggest. I am SO FUCKING TIRED of the leather nipple-strap school of character design. (I’m looking at you Namco and BioWare!)

It gets worse when you click through to the article, unfortunately. Apparently, this boss features clothing destruction that lets you render her almost nude. Not only that, but she has a “sexy” attack called “suck essence” in which she utilizes her succubus wiles to suck your soul or something. (I bet that’s not all she’s sucking! Amirite? Winkwink nudgenudge?)

At the top of the page, there’s even a video of the attack in which she straddles the hero, writhes around a little (showing off the jiggle physics), presses her boobs against the hero’s chest, and then arches her back while magic effects go off. All of this, of course, while she moans sexily. I guess Vindictus decided to go after the players that they purportedly lost to TERA by giving them a little show, which is just all kinds of disgusting.

Moving on, most of the rest of what I found is your garden variety nudity, like this account creation screen for Perfect World:

Looks like they’re still not willing to go quite as far as TERA. I mean, sure she’s mostly naked, but she’s not greased up and her underwear is actually modest by TERA standards. (Is it a bad sign that I’m getting blase about this level of nudity?)

And of course, what fun would nudity be without costuming double-standards? Because we all know that in k-MMOs, only men get to be fully covered. (Silly wimminz! Clothes are for men!) While poking around, I managed to find these “fashion” screens for a cutesy, anime-styled k-MMO called Dragon Nest:

Ah yes. Because nothing says “master of the arcane elements” like “here are my tits”. But since Dragon Nest is a pretty obscure example, I’ll finish off with an example from a more popular game – Runes of Magic:

Okay. I’m actually not too surprised about the rogue, since the female thief as porn star meme seems to be dominant in all MMOs, not just Korean ones. But the warrior? Are you kidding me? If I ran into that woman, I’d stab her in the boob just on principle. Also, the warrior slogan is a bit unfortunate when considered next to the female warrior image. “Battle isn’t the only thing she’s a wild beast in! Rawr!” (Sarcasm is my way of coping.)

So all in all, not to surprising. Still, even though the results were exactly what I expected, it’s still discouraging. Knowing that sexism is prevalent in MMOs is one thing. The fact that they’re not even trying to hide it is even worse.

Fetishizing actual gamers is yucky. Please stop.

Okay. So this ad for Top Spin – a tennis game by 2K Games – was brought to my attention via a thread on the Escapist forums appropriately titled: “Serena Williams’ Butt Stars in Mind-Boggling Top Spin 4 Ad“. It features Serena Williams and pro gamer Rileah Vanderbilt playing Top Spin while showing off their bits in outfits that look a lot more like something out of the Single Ladies video than tennis outfits. I mean, check out these screens:

"The World's Sexiest Tennis Gamer"

Outthrust butt from behind

Bouncing cleavage

Now the original post in the Escapist forum thread is very much on the side of “what the fuck, 2K Games?”, and a fair number of respondents are on board with that sentiment. However, some respondents didn’t really see anything wrong with the ad:

Aaaaaaand sold. Marketing successful.

I’d hit it. Far as the ad itself, who cares? Just another ass on the screen which is fine by me.

She has a great ass and you got your head all up in it-Al pacino

…disheartening. I mean, here we have the packaging of an honest-to-god real woman, who happens to play games, for the sexual gratification of the male gaming audience. THIS IS NOT OKAY.

Here’s the thing. I bitch a lot here about the awful design of fictional game women and how they get fetishized. Even then, there are very few female game characters that I will point to and say shouldn’t exist. As much as I loathe Bayonetta and characters like her, I’m not going to say people shouldn’t be allowed to play the game. But there’s a huge difference between sexualizing women who don’t actually exist and encouraging the sexualization of women who actually do.

“But, wundergeek!” you say. “Rileah was consenting! She wants to be sexualized!”

That’s not the point. The point is that gaming women are being packaged as yet another sexual commodity to promote games. Rileah may not care, but I sure as hell do. I am a woman who games and who also happens to have larger-than-average breasts. So I hate it when I see shit like this that takes a female gamer and reduces her to a collection of bits the same way that game companies do with the female characters in their games, because it only furthers the fetishization of real, three-dimensional gaming women. Which is yucky.

And shit like this is rampant. Before the release of the newest Halo game, Microsoft “found” a hot “Halo fan” and took pictures of her playing Halo in “her bedroom”. The promo shots are patently fake, the worst of them being this one:

Yeah. Way to make me believe that you really play Halo, there. There’s no fucking way this wasn’t shot in a studio. Look at that perfect lightning. More importantly, follow the link and notice the complete lack of anything personal in any of the shots. Next time you try and create a fake gamer girl, please at least try a little harder to make the studio look “lived in”, Microsoft.

Of course, the situation gets a bit murky when women start participating in their own sexualization. Take, for instance, the Miss Video Game pageant of 2007. Sadly, the domain is now defunct, but you can read this promo written at the time by female gamer Faith Naked on her blog. Note that one of the first requirements is a photo. If it’s really about skills and “creativity”, why the photo requirement then, hmmmm? Unsurprisingly, in the end, it did turn out to be little more than a beauty pageant after all…

Then you have female “gaming personalities” (I’m really not even sure what to call them) like Raychul Moore, self described gamer and model whose ass is shown right in the header of her site. Furthermore, the category icon for the “gaming” section of her site is her holding a controller over a partially bare ass:

/sigh

Raychul? YOU ARE NOT HELPING.

Perhaps the most discouraging is when you stumble across things like the Nerdcore gallery over at Destructoid that features pictures of naked women with strategically placed controllers to cover their naughty bits.

The problem with all of this is that a good number of gamer men have just gotten used to the idea that any woman who professes to game is 1) not a real gamer and 2) should not object to being asked to show off their tits. I mean, look what happened with this interview of Michele Boyd of The Guild fame. The interview itself is a good one and sticks to her gaming preferences and habits. But, of course, a few of the commenters can’t resist talking about how much they want to have sex with Michele:

She needs to be at the top of the list once they perfect cloning….

She can ride my Spectral tiger anytime!

Seriously? What is WRONG with you people? Isn’t it enough that there are legions of fictional game women packaged for the sexual titillation of male gamers? Why is it that you have to force REAL women to fit into that role as well? How hard is it to accept that you are not entitled to have every woman who expresses an interest in your hobby strive to satisfy your sexual desires?

If you want to be the type of gamer who drools over nude mod releases, plays Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball, and seeks out games with clothing destruction… okay, whatever. But for fuck’s sake, leave us three-dimensional gaming women out of it.

Google Results: a little context

Okay, now that I’ve finally got things set up properly, time to get back to business.

So last time I expanded my list by one to include “fag”. I realize good arguments can be made for other words, but it’s a pain in the ass searching these words across multiple sites and I’m drawing the line at 8 search terms just to preserve my sanity. Also, for this post I’m only looking at the first page of search results for each site. Partly because reading all the quotes to find what I wanted to use is time-consuming, and partly because reading the results that came up gets a little soul-destroying when you get to the third day.

The interesting thing that happens when you start reading the excerpt text for these terms is that you realize they fall into two groups: terms used exclusively as slurs for the purpose of shaming and/or silencing and terms with alternative usages. So let’s look at the two groups separately.

Terms with alternative usages: whore, cunt, and rape

Now before I go any further, I want to just say for the record that just because I’m making a distinction in usage does not mean that I support the use of these words in any way in a gaming context. As I said previously, I think the fact that there are 150,000-odd instances of the word rape on Destructoid alone is horrendous. However, as it has been pointed out by many, looking at numbers alone doesn’t provide a clear enough picture. So…

“Whore” is interesting, since it’s commonly used to denote someone who obsessively collects or goes after certain things, often self-directed. For example – on the first page of results for “whore” on Joystiq, I come up with the following phrases: two instances of “loot whore”, one instance of “gamer score whore”, two instances of “achievement whore”, and three instances of “graphics whore”. That leaves only two out of the first ten results being an actual traditional usage of “whore”:

“I thought she was a whore with a heart of gold and instead she turned out to be a whore with a regular old whore heart.” [comment]

“Production company ready to whore out Castlevania” [feature headline]

Of course, usage varies by site. Certainly other gaming sites aren’t as “moderate” with their use of the word whore. Some of the lowlights include:

If you’ve ever had your dick sucked then you’ve paid a whore to suck it. You might not have given her cash directly but she still got paid [IGN]

When i was reading Hasley’s journal i suspected that….she must have been a whore [IGN]

YTMND Thursday: Kerrigan is a whore, edition [Destructoid]

Were supposed to be talking about whores here [Destructoid]

all i know is it is about a whore who is your mom [Team Liquid]

TeamLiquid: Where all the women are attention whores, all the men are trolls [Team Liquid]

and #1 sure as shit aint moping around ‘awwwwwww shucks, everyone knows i slept with a whore‘. [Team Liquid]

I know I keep going on and on about how Kasumi is a giant whore, but I can’t help it, because she’s a giant whore. The latest proof? [Kotaku]

And of course, it bears mentioning that a few usages of the word “whore” were in reference to characters in games who are actual prostitutes. (I’ll save the rant about game companies’ obsessions with putting brothels in their games for another day…)

Moving on, the usages of “cunt” and “rape” aren’t nearly as complex. “Rape” has, unfortunately, become popular as a term describing a shameful loss by a huge margin. This is especially true in StarCraft II, where it’s not uncommon for a major victory is described as a “rape” of the loser, and where there are actual tactics with “rape” in the name like: “sugarbear’s Thor Rape technique” and “ZvP Protoss, Ramp Block, Turtle and rape”.

More than half of the instances of “rape” that come up on the first page for Destructoid, TL, Kotaku, Joystiq, and IGN are actually discussions of current events, like the the horrific coverage of that poor girl in Texas, or about the perpetual controversy surrounding rape games like RapeLay. And you can find thoughtful pieces about the use of the word “rape” in the gaming community, like here on Team Liquid and here on WoW Insider (hosted on Joystiq). Only two out of fifty results, but they’re there!

But sometimes, as Freud said, a cigar is just a cigar. Destructoid, and Jim Sterling especially, has a bad habit of making rape jokes about, ya know, actual rape. Like using “Games cause rape psychologist’s book gets raped” as the title of a feature, or saying that Kirby told him to go rape a bunch of vaginas. So when it comes to making tasteless jokes about “rape rape”, Jim Sterling gets a gold star. (Or something.)

The least complex word is “cunt”. It gets several hits as being a shooter by the creator of Super Meat Boy, but other than that it’s used pretty exclusively as an insult. However, the reason I put it in the first category is because it seems to be directed as men just as much as women. See:

George Steinbrenner, devoted father, owner, and beloved cunt. [IGN]

Although Az is being a complete cunt like normal he does bring up a good point [IGN]

You know who one of the biggest cunts on the site is? Some guy named Jack of All trades. [Destructoid]

Fuck off destructoid. I refuse to pay you any respect or visit your site until you get rid of that cunt Jim Sterling [Destructoid]

Seriously, that guy is a cunt. [Joystiq]

Oh, gamers. Now I remember why I’m often ashamed to admit that I’m one of you to my non-gaming peers.

100% awful: slut, fat slut/whore, feminazi, feminist/feminazi bitch, fag

(Okay, I’m going to be a bit more abbreviated here because this post is getting long, and I’m getting depressed. The fact that “fat slut/whore” and “feminist/feminazi bitch” are 100% awful should surprise no one, so I’m going to skip those. I invite you to Google gaming sites for these terms and cry if you feel like doing extra credit.)

Slut only ever means one thing, and – depressingly – gamers have no problem slinging around “slut” like it’s going out of style:

[IGN] lol this slut on okcupid … [IGN] Cassandra was a slut … [IGN] Holy ****, Alison Brie was a slut in college … [Destructoid] Kaidan is such a slut. … [Destructoid] the developers decided to increase her slut factor by ten … [Team Liquid] is it ok to like a slut? … [Team Liquid] being a stud is good but being a slut is bad … [Kotaku] without having to be a virtual slut … [Joystiq] I’m pretty sure Suzu is the guild slut … [Joystiq] if she wants to slut it out it’s really her problem … [Joystiq] Unlike that Hannah Montana slut …

…you get the picture, I’m sure.

Feminazi is a bit more mixed. There is at least some discussion of the term – especially considering the recent twitter dustup involving Jim Sterling. However, the vast majority of uses are either to tar feminism or to slam any woman who dares to stand up for herself:

[IGN] If a woman decides to be a man-hating-femi-Nazi … [IGN] Whichever Femi-nazi wrote that needs to go back to grade school … [IGN] What a feminazi thing to say … [Team Liquid] /me waits for some feminazi to make a retort … [Team Liquid] Your feminazi ways are clearly evident … [Team Liquid] That’s probably why you came off as feminazi or something … [Kotaku] God I hate feminazi’s … [Kotaku] I’m not a misogynist but these feminazi double standards are ridiculous … [Joystiq] I’m willing to bet some femi-nazi mother who didn’t do her research … [Joystiq] Thats something you Feminazi’s fail to understand … [Joystiq] Also, most of the feminazi’s I’ve seen are usually tiny prissy little things. They’re like the yippy rat dogs of the human world …

While “feminazi” doesn’t get hurled around as often as “slut”, in every instance the intent is clear: “tits or gtfo, bitches”. (Because clearly, any woman who objects to SHOW ME UR TITS BITCH is an ugly feminazi who hates men. /eyeroll)

Lastly, fag is interesting because it seems to be the most… well… immature in it’s usage. A good half of the results boil down to [Person] IS A FAG LOL or UR A FAG LOL. Often this devolves into a fight of NO UR THE FAG NO YOU NO YOOOOOUUUUU… which reminds me why I don’t encounter “fag” often in my gaming life since I avoid any place on the internet where illiteracy is predominant.

In closing

So what can we conclude from this collection of filth? Well, as I said with my previous post – ultimately not a whole lot. However, I think the fact that only a bare handful of the hits for these search terms were critiques of the terms themselves says something about how acceptable it is for gamers to use hate speech, especially misogynist hate speech without real fear of contradiction or reprisal from the gaming community as a whole. Even the alternate usages of words like “whore” and “cunt” are still awful because they support the stereotype that comes with those words.

Gamers like to get up in arms about how mainstream society judges gaming as a deviant hobby, but it seems to me that if gamers don’t want to be seen as deviants, then maybe they should consider just why it is that the gaming community is so tolerant of hate speech. It certainly doesn’t help any argument that we’re not as socially maladjusted as the stereotype.

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