I’ve been working a bit on some illustrations that will accompany a post on how to correctly design female fighting game characters. I’m also going to make at least one (maybe more) post in the near future about how boobs work, including correcting some of the more ridiculous images in my files. Hopefully I’ll have some of that finished soon.
And Now For Something Else
First thing’s first – credit where credit is due. I pulled many of these links from an amazing post on harassment in gaming by tekanji on the Shrub.com blog.
Okay, people. So, let me just open by saying that I’m kind of disgusted that by the realization that I’m going to have to create a harassment tag in the near future. Srsly. Yuck.
Now, there’s a lot of general gaming blogs and forums out there – way too many to go into any kind of exhaustive list – and pretty much all of them contain sexist content to some extent. For many of these sites, the sexism that you’ll find is simply the pervading assumption that women do not play and are not interested in playing games. (Card games, board games, video games, whatever.)
It’s pretty common. Just use Google to search Board Game Geek for the phrase “wife-friendly” (used synonymously with “non-gamer-friendly”) and you’ll see what I mean. This type of sexism is pervasive and irritating, the assumption that because I’m a woman I can’t be a “real” gamer. I hate that when I go into GameStop, I feel like I’m being judged for what I purchase. If I purchase a game like Civ V or Dragon Age, well clearly it’s a gift for my husband. But when I buy games like Katamari (dude, I love the doppler screaming) or DDR (it’s amazing cardio), I almost feel guilty – like I’m contributing the idea that “chicks are only interested in non-games”.
A lot of gamer men ascribe to the myth that women don’t game. Many of them can be can be accustomed to the idea that women game through actually playing games with women. Case in point, during a session of D&D our party totally demolished a guy in a fight, at which point one of the male players said “man, what a girl”. I objected, and he looked embarassed. When I suggested that “lady” would be an acceptable substitute, since “ladies” are not supposed to run around and hit things with swords, he happily switched terminology and everyone was happy.
However, there are a lot of gamer men who simply cannot tolerate the idea that women might be invading gaming. These men take this idea to the next level, actively spewing hateful things about women in an effort to drive them away from the hobby. Many of these men, unfortunately, have blogs. Many more of them comment on blogs and forums. And a select few write columns on popular gaming websites. Like Kotaku.
Kotaku isn’t exactly known for its female-friendly reputation, having sparked a Kotaku boycot a few years ago by a popular female game blogger. And it’s pretty easy to see why female bloggers would want to boycott Kotaku when you take a look at some of their past articles.
Why Do Gaming Guys Hate Gaming Girls? is a pretty good example. Written by John Brownlee, it starts off by all but listing all of the most horrible things that gaming men say to women:
I wince every time my girlfriend wanders barefoot out of the kitchen to play a game of Animal Crossing on my Gamecube: Doesn’t she know that the estrogen she’s oozing all over the controller is having an acidic reaction to the Cheetos-dust patina I’ve laboriously worked up over the years? You girls want to game? I’ve got a game you can play. It’s called “make me a sandwich.”
And then suddenly he does an about-face. Just kidding! I love women and am totally enlightened – unlike all those other slobs. And of course I’m totally NOT SEXIST. Not at all.
Right. It seems unlikely that this is a failed attempt at satire when you look at another article by Brownlee: Women Outnumber Men in Games; Men Think They Should Go Back Into The Kitchen. (The comments aren’t quite as bad as you’d expect, but they’re still pretty bad.) And then there’s Mike Fahey’s article: Kotaku Pantsu [pantsu is a Japanese word used to refer to panty-shots in anime]: A Chat With a Wii Panty Girl, during which Fahey spends the whole interview alluding to the fact that he’d love to have sex with this girl, if only it weren’t for that pesky wife. Way to keep it classy. He makes it worse by claiming in the comments that he “highly domesticated boyfriend object” and that of course he had no intent to be creepy. Sure, dude. Whatever. (The comments, unsurprisingly, on Fahey’s article are a lot more horrifying.)
Now, those articles are older articles and there are newer articles that are more even-handed, like: The Official Bulletstorm Breast Size Debate by Stephen Totilo. One can hope that maybe we’ll see more of that from Kotaku, but I won’t hold my breath. Especially not when the article received comments like:
like a disproportionately gargantuan set of sweater puppies would mean the female character can’t be strong? [Read: What's wrong with us men liking boobies? Why do you girls have to be such haters?]
Well anything in game design is going to be male dominated, and a few will always want nothing but hot bodies with no personality in their games. [Read: If you don't like it, then leave.]
Of course, horrific staff columns on gaming sites can pop up just about anywhere. Like: I Want To Have Sex With Carmen Sandiego by Andrew Burch, formerly of Destructoid. (“I like my women like I like my dogs: silent, or with my foot in their ass.” …REALLY?)
And then there’s Dan Landis over on ripten, with such gems as a 10 part series on the nicest asses in video games and a post about a fictional game called Vagina Hero.
It’s enough to make a woman bang her head against her desk until she passes out.
Thankfully, there are sane bloggers out there in the gaming blogosphere calling for some sanity. Like the aforementioned Stephen Tutilo (take a look at another article of his on the sex-i-fication of the heroine in Mirror’s edge). Also, Adam Bishop on GamaSutra speaks out against harassment in the workplace as a game developer. Sometimes on forums, people do speak out against indiscriminate sexist and homophobic remarks. And sometimes when a man makes a post that is sexist and obviously not well researched, the result is actually a positive and informative conversation. (Well, okay, until the thread gets dogpiled by people using tactics straight out of Derailing for Dummies.
Still, there are times when I feel like I’m trying to hold back the sea with nothing but my hands.