From the mailbag: Heartbreak & Heroines win, M:TG wtf

I’ve gotten a fair number of emails recently and things have been piling up faster than I’ve had time to blog about them; I still have notes lying around for that post about Shelly Mazzanoble I’ve been meaning to write, and I still do want to do a roundup of all of the LoL characters… But these are things that deserve mention, so I thought I’d shove two half-posts together about things I think deserve some attention but wouldn’t ordinarily fill out an entire blog post of their own.

Win: Heartbreak & Heroines Kickstarter:

Amusingly, here’s the part where I have to disclose that I do have a sort of tenuous non-connection with Heartbreak & Heroines. Back at a much earlier stage in the game’s development, the author actually originally approached me asking if I would be willing to do the illustrations. At the time I was very burned out on illustration and had several other creative projects that were consuming all of my energy, so I regretfully passed. Still, the concept was interesting to me, so I’m glad to see that it’s close to turning into a finished product.

What is the concept? Well here are some key paragraphs from the Heartbreak & Heroines Kickstarter:

Heartbreak & Heroines is a fantasy roleplaying game about adventurous women who go and have awesome adventures — saving the world, falling in love, building community, defeating evil. It’s a game about relationships and romance, about fairy tales and feminism.

Heartbreak & Heroines is first and foremost a fantasy adventure game. It’s not preachy and it isn’t a textbook about feminism, but it’s written from a feminist point of view. It challenges some of our assumptions about the role of gender in gaming but at the heart of H&H, it’s about being a heroine (or hero) and finding your way to happiness in a dangerous world.

This is the kind of stuff that makes me happy, and honestly the sort of angle that I wish more mainstream companies would at least consider when writing games – telling stories from the female point of view. Roughly half of humans are female, so it does seem to make a sort of sense that one would create games that would explicitly seek to encourage storytelling from a female perspective.

But all of this sounds like crazy-talk to quite a lot of gamers. So, you know, predictably a bunch of people over on RPGnet freaked out about the game and started flailing at strawmen. Because, you know, HOW DARE someone suggest that gaming isn’t the most inclusive hobby out there. And HOW DARE someone have the gall to write a game that attempts to tell stories from a feminist perspective. Didn’t they know that gaming is THE MOST INCLUSIVE HOBBY EVAR? What a bitch.

…ahem. [/sarcasm]

Anyhow, I could write more about why inclusiveness in RPGs is important, and why RPGnet is (as usual) a wretched hive of scum and privilege, but the fine folks over on The Designer Monologues already beat me to it with a very well reasoned and well articulated post which I hope you’ll go read.

I do want to take a moment here to mention, however, that Heartbreak & Heroines isn’t the first game ever to tackle storytelling from a female perspective. While mainstream RPG companies seem to have their collective heads very far up their asses, indie tabletop gaming offers quite a wide diversity of games that allow stories to be told from pretty much any perspective you can think of. For that matter, while the world of indie RPG design is still a world in which male designers outnumber female designers, you don’t see the kind of tokenism that you do in mainstream game companies.

So specifically I want to mention that if the idea of a game that encourages feminist-friendly storytelling from a female perspective is one that interests you but Heartbreak & Heroines doesn’t seem to appeal to your personal preferences, don’t be discouraged. If you’re into period romances without the fantasy adventure bits, might I recommend Kagematsu as another game that is explicitly designed to tell stories about female characters, albeit with a bit of a gender-bending twist.

And if that doesn’t float your boat, there are so many good indie titles out there by great female designers. I could try to list them, but I’d leave awesome people off the list and that would make me sad, so I’ll just say that as full of fail as companies like Wizards, Paizo, Green Ronin, White Wolf et all are… there’s some good stuff to be had out in indie land. (And bad stuff too – no one’s perfect. But much less bad stuff overall.)

Fail: some M:TG wtf

A reader sent me a link to this blog post about Azure Mage over on the official Wizards site. As you might have guessed, the post features prominently the Azure Mage, from the Magic 2012 card gallery:

What the… but… she isn’t… those don’t… ARG!

Okay, so clearly the artist has not been reading Boobs Don’t Work That Way. Boobs are sacks of flesh attached the chest, not whatever the hell this guy is drawing. Without a bra, there is no way she would have this much cleavage. Cleavage just isn’t natural without some sort of support pushing breasts together; as sacks of flesh and fat, breasts tend to hang separately. They’re not magically attracted to each other like magnets.

Also, one assumes that those stupid silver buttons are meant to cover her nipples, which is just so very wrong. Nipples are not ON TOP of the breasts, they are generally toward the underside. Another reason her breasts are just plain freakish is her complete lack of areola. With that much exposed tit, we’d be seeing at least some areola – especially as the “nipple-concealing buttons” are in entirely the wrong place to actually conceal her nipples.

Lastly, her rib cage DOESN’T EVEN CONNECT TO ITSELF. Seriously, check this out:

It’s like the artist realized that without a bra, SOMETHING would need to push the two breasts together and then failed to remember that the arm connects to the shoulder, which connects to the rib cage… I mean, it’s not that hard. Remember the song we all had to learn in kindergarten? Maybe the Wizards artists should have to prove they know the song in the first place to get hired on…

So this is bad enough, but I had to laugh at the image that was pointed out to me at the very bottom of the article:

Were they seriously trying to rip off Crapping Frost Mage? I can’t think of any other explanation for this picture. I mean, honestly. As little sense as the Stripper Pole Dancing school of spellcasting makes to me, it at least makes more sense than the Taking a Dump school of spellcasting. Now, admittedly I might be too jaded to be an objective judge of this sort of thing, but I fail to see how this pose would be attractive on any real woman ever. Even her expression makes her look like she’s trying not to crap more than she’s concentrating on mastering arcane forces.

I never thought I’d see the day when Crapping Front Mage had competition for the most ridiculous crapping pose ever, but it looks like that day is here. I guess, this being the internet and all, I shouldn’t be surprised.

>In his words: why Jim Sterling is, in fact, very sexist

Before you read any further

So the funny thing about people is that they change. Imagine that! At the time of writing these posts, I never could have imagined that Jim Sterling would have a change of heart, but he did indeed. He was actually gracious enough to let me interview him about how he’s reversed his stance and how that happened; you can read the interview here on Gaming as Women.

The internet being the internet – there’s no real point in taking this down. It’s out there forever. But I can at least put it in context.

[This post is very long, because I wanted to give Jim plenty of rope to hang himself. As you might have guessed by the length, this took a few days to put together, which is why I didn’t return to posting as quickly as I wanted. Also, trigger warning for slut-shaming and jokes about abuse – especially the stuff about Fat Princess.]

[ETA: The writer behind GJAIF is Ben PADDON, not Ben Padman. Sorry about that, Ben!]

[ETA2: Hey! There’s now a followup post with even more horror! If this isn’t toe-curling enough for you, be sure to check out the sequel with even more misogyny!]


Amusingly, I’d been planning a post on why Jim Sterling is a paragon of male entitlement and sexism in the gaming industry when the flap broke out on twitter and the affiliated internets about a twitter exchange between Jim Sterling and Daphny over some “fanfic” that depicted Sterling having gay sex. (The “fanfic” was in response to Jim’s defense of David Jaffe for his comments comparing the NGP to a “fresh vagina”, which I won’t address in this post since that’s an entirely different kettle of fish.)

There’s been a lot of heat generated from the pro and anti-Sterlingites out there. I want to make clear that I have mixed feelings about Daphny’s actions. Definitely Jim Sterling deserved to be called out for calling his defense of David Jaffe “journalism”. But were some of her comments homophobic? Maybe? Apparently, Daphny is a lesbian – but that doesn’t give her a free automatic pass. One of the problems with discrimination is that minorities often engage in oppressive language and actions against their own group. Women certainly don’t have a Get Out of Jail Free card when it comes to sexism, so I’m not convinced by the arguments that Daphny CAN’T HAVE BEEN homophobic because she is herself homosexual.

THAT SAID. The things that Jim said in this twitter exchange are absolutely inexcusable. Instead of doing the reasonable thing and ignoring her, or responding in a measured way, he IMMEDIATELY started flinging misogynistic insults of the worst sort:

Jim Sterling/Daphny twitter conversation highlights (Click the link to view the conversation in its entirety)

I know exactly what cunts look like. I’m talking to one right now

Just ask your husband for permission before using the computer next time.

People like you *revel* in sexism, so sure. I’m just giving you what all attention-seeking little bitches crave.

You’re the embarrassment. To your gender, your species, and all feminazi sluts like yourself.

Pretty shocking stuff. Understandably, there’s been a lot of flap over what was said, and a fair amount of backpedaling. CLEARLY Jim only meant these comments to apply to Daphny, and in no way should these comments have been interpreted as a general hatred of women! Even weirder, Ben Paddon of GJAIF (whose blog I do love, btw) attacked Jim’s comments but defended him as not sexist, which was more than a little surprising.

And you know what… okay, it’s the internet. People have internet-freakouts. It’s a thing that happens that I’ve done myself more than once. But the thing is that Jim’s comments are hardly an isolated event. When you look at the larger picture and actually read the things that Jim Sterling has attached his name to in the guise of “game journalism” over the years, his sexist insults look less and less like an isolated freakout and more like a representative sample of Jim’s views of women.

So here is a collection of quotes by our friend Jim, with links to the original articles included to make sure I’m not “taking things out of context”, which is how a lot of pro-Sterlingites have been defending his comments. I’ve loosely categorized them for your reading convenience. Any italics is purely my emphasis. My comments are added in brackets.

Breasts make everything better

The bigger the breasts, the better the fantasy. (Huge Breast Fantasy gives away free breasts)

[Clearly, any fantasy without breasts is sub-standard. I’m looking at you, Lord of the Rings! Clearly, LoTR was a steaming pile of fail with nary a nipple, sideboob, or cleavage to be seen.]

Yep, Mai Shiranui and her milktumors are returning to the series. For fans of nipplepillows the world over, this is certainly great news! (King of Fighters XIII bringing back Mai’s breasts)

[And isn’t that what matters? Who gives a shit about graphics improvements, new game modes, or new characters? What really matters here is MAI’S BREASTS. I mean, because we all know that the only value a woman has is what titillation her breasts can provide to male gamers. Sorry, ladies. Those of you who who have had mastectomies or who are transgendered will just have to face the truth.]

You have two choices when Agarest War launches — the aforementioned PSN download or an Xbox 360 version that provides a sexy bundle, the centerpiece of which is a mouse mat with big breasts. … Sorry, but absurd, boob-related items always win. (Breast-Flavored Record of Agarest War Gets Release Date)

Deep cleavage, skimpy leotards, side-portions of breasts and fleeting, partially-obscured nudity? Sounds like the perfect night in, right? One again, the ESRB has completely sold me on a videogame. (ESRB Final Fantasy XIII has side portions of breasts)

People complain about the lack of a strong female character in gaming, but they don’t come much tougher than this one. Jenova is one MILF who can taste my Lifestream any day of the week. Plus the head comes off, and you can do some proper Patrick Bateman shit with that. (

[Okay, that’s just disgusting. I’m not a guy, but I’m pretty sure it’s not normal to fantasize about popping a woman’s head off and sticking one’s dick inside it.]

Boobs and video games: They pretty much are like peanut butter and jelly. (Another boob list geek lotion stock refilled)

Tits or GTFO

Slightly repurposed from an earlier Bayonetta figure, this one was been given a more natural pose and less, less, less clothing. Which is awesome. (This sexy nudey Bayonetta figure kit is sexy and nudey)

[Ladies, if you want to be deemed “awesome”, you need to wear less clothing.]

Well, if she wants to show the skin, far be it from me to stop her liberating herself. What kind of man would I be if I suggested she should cover up? A low-down, rotten sexist is what! Well, I will take a stand for feminism and applaud this strong woman’s decision to have her arse and norks prominently displayed for all [sic] the see. (More X-Blades screens, still less clothing than is sensible)

[For fuck’s sake. This is a fictional character designed by men for men. At what point does her costume constitute a choice? Exposing yourself for the gratification of male viewers is not feminism. Read a fucking dictionary.]

We’re dedicated to bringing you only the most relevant and hard-hitting weekend news, which is why we bring you grave word that Soul Calibur IV’s Ivy might show a little less of her fat wobbly tits in the American version of the game than in the Japanese version — JOURNALISM! (Japan keeps all the boobs for itself, Soul Calibur cover-up scandal)

Namco Bandai, hear this! I demand that Ivy’s lactoids be on display for all to see. We’ve already lost the fatalities in Mortal Kombat; we refuse to surrender our snuggle pups, loblollies and twangers. We deserve the sweater meat as much as any Japanese gamer. (Japan keeps all the boobs for itself, Soul Calibur cover-up scandal)

[Ivy’s tits being slightly covered is a scandal? I do not think that word means what you think it means, Jim… Seriously, this is an example of the sort of entitlement that just has to stop. Namco Bandai makes the games, and if you want them you give them your money. At no point does this entitle you, the customer, to DEMAND that publishers give you more tits in your games. Seeing tits is not an inalienable right that you are born with. If publishers decide to cover up some tits, then go buy an issue of Playboy.]

Fat Princess rules, feminism drools

It is quite ironic that (ugly) Feminists believe looks shouldn’t matter, yet are judging Fat Princess’ book solely by its cover. How hypocritical of them. Anyway, Fat Princess is obviously about the protection and veneration of women, and does more for the fairer sex than Feminism has ever done. (How Fat Princess is blatantly better than feminism)

[Right. Because we know that all feminists are shambling, drooling horrors. It’s been proven by science! Anyway, feminism hasn’t done anything for women. It’s also been proven by science!]

“Heteronormative” is one of the most pretentious words I’ve ever heard. This is obvious proof that Fat Princess is better than Feminism, since someone who claims to be a Feminist once used the word “heteronormative” and now I’ve decided that all of them use it. Dropping little made-up words to try and sound clever just makes you look like a pretentious dickhead, and it’s incredibly prugamatic to commit such indefenderable verbulascur offenseries. (How Fat Princess is blatantly better than feminism)

[So… you’re saying that sounding like a pretentious dickhead is something you have expertise in? (Okay, a little below the belt, sure…)]

Fat Princess won’t get pregnant in order to trap you: Everybody knows that women do this. They love getting themselves all preganted up so that they can force you to marry them and be stuck with their cancerous hides forever. (How Fat Princess is blatantly better than feminism)

[d00d, there’s nothing women love more than fucking up men’s lives – and what better way to do that than to get yourself pregnant? Who’s with me, fellow feminists? Let’s all go get pregnant RIGHT NOW. That’ll show those bastards! If you’re already pregnant or unable to reproduce, you can still join the party. Just bring home random foster children! And those of you with same-sex partners, well I guess you’ll have to decide which men in your life you hate most and steal their sperm somehow. For feminism!]

In Fat Princess, everybody has a role to play. This is quite contrary to the idea that every single Feminist has, that women are better than men and make better drivers and that men should be forced to have their sperm hijacked at birth so women don’t have to fuck them anymore. (How Fat Princess is blatantly better than feminism)

[Oh, shit. He’s on to me! As a feminist, I do hate having sex with men. It’s hard for me to get over my feelings of inadequacy long enough to do the deed since I’m so hideous and all. Sometimes I cry myself to sleep because I’m not a lesbian and can’t have hot lady-sex where men can see me and get off on colliding ladybits.]

Seriously, fuck this idea that the social pendulum has to swing a little in favor of one group before balance can be achieved. (How Fat Princess is blatantly better than feminism)

[YEAH! Hear that, oppressed minorities? STFU! Hispanic men, you’re just going to have to learn to be happy making 57% of what white men make. You want wage parity? Well FUCK THAT.]

Since women are basically just 3D porn, what is an anti-pornography stance if not an anti-female stance? (How Fat Princess is blatantly better than feminism)

[You know, sometimes I get tired of being porn. Like, the other day I was at the grocery store and these two dudes were following me around and masturbating at me and it was really inconvenient because I was like – “guys, you’re blocking the cereal, can you move?” and they wouldn’t. But then I couldn’t really do anything because, you know, I’m porn and that’s what porn is for. Still, it’s inconvenient having to order my pizzas for takeout. The last time I ordered pizza for delivery it was cold by the time I got to eat it.]

If pornography is to end, then all women on Earth have to be murdered, and that’s just not my scene. Perhaps it’s okay for Adolf Hitler and his cackling Feminist cohorts, but we reasonable people who aren’t Nazis don’t agree. (How Fat Princess is blatantly better than feminism)

[Okay, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that there’s a difference between Nazis and feminists. Also, I’m pretty sure that women can’t be equal to men if they’re all dead, which makes me pretty sure that I’m not advocating for the systematic murder of millions of people. But then again, I am prone to sleep walking, so who knows? I guess you’d better watch out because I’m pretty tired and… zzzz…. ALL WOMEN MUST DIE! IT IS OUR SACRED DESTINY! WE MUST… zzz… sorry, was I saying something?]

Fat Princess is a game about having fun, first and foremost, which is something that Feminists are 100% against! Just take so-called Woman Suffrage , for example. The American government denied women the right to vote for a joke, and a bunch of stupid women took it too far and then had to be force-fed through tubes because the silly bitches wouldn’t eat thanks to some idiotic hunger strike. If they’d have laughed along like they should, they probably would have gotten the vote in another fifty or sixty years anyway. Whatever happened to patience being a virtue? (How Fat Princess is blatantly better than feminism)

[Silly bitches, votes are for men!]

Perhaps I’m just too heteronormative to understand the terrible evil that this game represents. Or maybe self-styled “feminists” who think that the movement is all about getting angry and using buzzwords are simply retarded. Who knows? (Feminists sh*t all over Fat Princess, real people laugh)

[Hey, guys I’m a feminist and… uh oh, I feel the stupid coming on… herp derp! Derp derp derp!]


screw ICO, and screw Yorda, the bedraggled, moth-brained, slack-jawed tartlet that she is! Terry Schiavo would have been a more effective ally than that ridiculous bitch. (Things I’m sick of games making me do)

[I’m blown away by the implication that mentally impaired = slut. Is keeping your legs together a higher brain function that only kicks in above a certain level of intelligence?]

Being unable to travel anywhere on your own because a bunch of shadows will drag off this mute mongoloid at a moment’s notice. Where’s the option to just say “f*ck it” and let the shadows pull her away? Chances are the shadows will throw her back anyway once they realize what an awful slag she truly is. (Things I’m sick of games making me do)

[Because once a woman has sex once, her value as a human being disappears. True story.]

Koei Tecmo employees will get $1,000 for their first child, $2,000 for their second child and a whole $20,000 if their loose and flapping vaginas can squirt out a third. (Koei Tecmo paying people to f*ck in the name of repopulation)

[Those whores. Think of how much sex you’d have to have to have a third kid. You’d have to bone a dude at least, like, half a dozen times. What are those skanks thinking?]

During these times of recession, it would be great if Walmart could pay its mostly braindead and poor workforce not to f*ck. (Koei Tecmo paying people to f*ck in the name of repopulation)

[… okay, I can’t even be sarcastic on this one. As someone who grew up in the midwest and left because of double-digit unemployment BEFORE the recession… fuck you, Jim. Fuck you.]

Abuse = funny? (NOT for the faint of heart!!)

If you love drawings of impossibly huge breasts, you’ll likely have heard of Ikki Tousen Xross Impact already. If not, then you’re in for a treat. It’s a fighting game for the PSP that recently launched in Japan, in which mammararily gifted young females lose more of their clothing as they take damage. Garmentry disintegrates as the battle wears on, and since the girls don’t seem fond of wearing underwear, there’s plenty of skin on show. Great fun for fans of domestic abuse, in any case. (Disintegrating clothing boob game gets boob wallpaper for bob fans boobs)

[Because we all know that domestic abusers are a key market segment that video game companies pursue…? …seriously? Holy shit, dude.]

In fact, the message of this commercial seems to be that if you consistently beat your woman and mess with her head until she’s a hopeless, despair-ridden wretch, all it takes is one material gift and she’ll instantly forgive you. So, a pretty realistic portrayal of all women. (Abuse your virtual girlfriend, make it all better with a teddy bear)

[Seriously. Whiskey tango foxtrot.]

The key words banned by online shop Dejipare include things like torture, bondage, loli and rape. Regular Christian sex will still be perfectly acceptable, but it seems that the whole underage rape thing that has been seen in many an ero title will no longer be tolerated … Thanks a lot, RapeLay. This is why we can’t have nice things! (Japan’s erotic game sensitivity continues)

[This is as entitled and privileged as it gets. I don’t care if Jim is serious or not with these comments. It’s one thing to demand that Ivy show her “fat wobbling tits”. It’s another to demand access to games that center on rape. Even if it’s “just a joke”, these kinds of jokes are never, ever, EVER okay.]

So that’s the stuff that’s in the past. There was a fair amount of backlash over this whole thing that even resulted in some industry professionals like Mikey Neumann stating that they would not allow Jim to interview them. Predictably, this resulted in a lot of backpedaling by both Jim and his supporters, but the responses don’t really do anything but dig an even deeper hole for himself:

Jim’s responses to comments on Destructoid

Otherwise, you basically said it all. I responded in kind to some incessant abuse by someone who was using anti-male slurs and homophobic implications, and they started acting like the victim. (Jim Sterling’s comment history on Destructoid)

[No, Jim. You did not respond in kind. Sure, I’ll admit that Daphny’s depiction of you having gay sex with David Jaffe was disgusting and utterly tasteless. But your response was like killing a fly with a bazooka. She implied that you were gay, and you called her a “cunt” and a “feminazi slut”. That is a completely disproportionate response, akin to running over someone with a tank because they threw a rock at you. It’s not okay to throw rocks, but it is never EVER okay to run people over with thanks.

Furthermore, at no point did Daphny ever “act the victim”. Go back and read the conversation again. Are those the words of someone who feels victimized? They’re not. But you know what, even if she had felt victimized she would have HAD A RIGHT TO.]

I want to disagree with that statement. I do not think feminism, at its heart, is a bad thing. I think true feminism is a noble endeavor, a quest for equality and for women to not feel subjugated. I agree with that endeavor. (Jim Sterling’s comment history on Destructoid)

[This is the biggest load of horse shit I’ve heard from you yet, Jim. The only reason you’re saying this is because you finally crossed a line and alienated people in the industry – which is impressive given the base level of misogyny that exists in the gaming industry. But how can you reconcile this profession of support for feminism with all of your previous statements about feminists? Please, do explain this to me. Because you can’t say that ALL FEMINISTS are ugly, silly little bitches who hate men and want nothing more than a good dicking and then expect me to believe you when you say that you support feminism. I would have to be as retarded as you claim all feminists are in order to believe that.]

This is why I specifically said “feminazi” and not “feminist.” I believe there is a sub-set of poser-feminist that uses the movement as an excuse to demand special treatment and dampen free speech by using the accusation of “misogyny” as a weapon, a way of terrifying people into being quiet. I believe the blending of “feminist” and “nazi” in this regard — since it’s a brand of female using fear and bullying to quieten people — is quite fitting. (Jim Sterling’s comment history on Destructoid)

[Feminism, like any movement, is a collection of people. People being what they are, any group of people sufficiently large enough contains assholes who are motivated out of self-interest more than anything else. So sure, I’m sure that there exists a small minority of feminists out there who use their feminism in this way. But you know what? Those people are still NOT NAZIS. The nazis systematically exterminated millions of people, including Jews, Catholics, gays, the disabled, and political dissidents. These asshole feminists? They behaved like assholes. Trying to equate the two is an insult to the people whose lives were ruined by the Holocaust and an insult to the families of those who were killed by the Nazis.

But aside from that, you’re familiar with the maxim “where these’s smoke, there’s fire”? Maybe the reason so many people are calling you a misogynist is because, I don’t know… YOU’RE A MISOGYNIST.]

And this is why I called her an embarrassment to her gender. When you throw the “misogyny” card out there like the boy who cried wolf, using it to attack writers, comedians and others for simply making jokes or treating you how you’ve treated others, it belittles the entire female population and makes people roll their eyes at the thought of feminist issues. (Jim Sterling’s comment history on Destructoid)

[No, Jim. You’re the one who is making people roll their eyes at feminist issues. You’re the one who has systematically belittled women and feminism. You’re the one who has a large body of writing that supports the system of privilege that keeps women “in their place”. Being a comedian does not mean that misogynist jokes are okay. Being a writer does not mean that misogynist writings are okay. That is not “crying wolf”. That is speaking out against injustice. Learn the difference.]

In essence, Aurain, I believe you just demonstrated the damage this type of faux-feminist can do. You just wrote feminism off as a bad thing, and that’s the image that people like “Daphaknee” have helped to spread. (Jim Sterling’s comment history on Destructoid)

Anyway, I’m done with this. After three days of disproportionate harassment, I’ve had my fill. (Jim Sterling’s comment history on Destructoid)

[Oh noes! Poor Jim Sterling! People have been “harassing” him for THREE WHOLE DAYS! Those jerks! Don’t they know that they hurt his fuh-fuh-feeeeeeelings? …sorry, Jim. You crossed a line, and you deserve a lot more than three days of internet controversy.]

I’m not sure about the chronology of the Destructoid comments as relates to the twitter “apology” that follows, but here’s the “apology” that Jim posted on twitter as well…

Jim’s twitter “apology” (compiled from 6 successive tweets)

Am I sorry for saying it to the person in question? No. Am I sorry for calling [sic]our her hypocritical faux-feminism? No. If you, as a female or male uninvolved with the discussion, are offended by what I said, then I apologize for that.

[Okay, you know what? Go back and re-read the exchange. Go. I’ll wait.

…AT NO POINT DOES DAPHNY EVER MENTION THE WORD FEMINIST, FEMINISM, OR MISOGYNY. She did say that you used a sexist stereotype, but only after you told her to ask for a man’s permission before saying things on the internet which is, you know, PRETTY SEXIST. The feminist label was something that YOU applied to her so that you could YET AGAIN demonize feminism and feminists, which is pretty telling and pretty much puts the lie to your comments about supporting feminism.]

It also leaves out the disproportionate and stupid harassment I’ve had for the past few days, and have mostly done my best to ignore. Their version of events leaves out the homophobia or the fact they got in my face and begged for my attention in the first place. They opened the conversation with homophobic insults and male-specific slurs, and after a LOT of patience I responded in kind. Obviously my comments were not aimed at all women. I never once said women are bad. Just the type of woman represented by who I dealt with.

[I think by harassment you mean backlash, which is pretty well deserved considering how far you crossed a line with your comments to Daphny. Once again, calling someone a faminazi slut is NOT OKAY. Maybe instead of trying to ignore the backlash, you should do some serious self-examination about why exactly so many people are so upset with you. There was no patience exhibited in your responses. In your THIRD TWEET to Daphny, you called her a cunt. It only took two responses before you threw decency out the window and resorted to misogynist slurs. So don’t try to claim the high road here, Mr. Stirling, because it does not belong to you.

You may not have said women are bad in this particular twitter exchange, but your body of writing speaks for itself, sir.]

Concluding thoughts

So… phew. I feel pretty dirty having read through Jim’s stuff to find all of these quotes, but I feel pretty confident in pointing at these quotes and saying that… you know what? This twitter freakout is NOT an isolated incident. Jim Sterling is, in fact, incredibly sexist. What you have here is a consistent trend of Jim making comments that reduce women’s worth to the gratification their bodies provide male gamers, comments that assert that men HAVE A RIGHT to see womens bodies whenever they demand it, comments that trivialize rape and domestic violence, and comments that denigrate feminists, feminism, and anyone who would assert that changes need to be made to further the equal treatment of women. You know what that is? Misogyny.

See, the thing is that you don’t have to go around saying “shit, I fucking hate women” to be a misogynist. You don’t have to be a member of the men’s rights movement to be a misogynist. Misogynists are people who seek to justify and reproduce the subordination of women by men, and that’s what all of these quotes are doing. What’s more, Jim is a fairly influential guy within the game journalism community. I’ll freely admit that his insistence on a correct usage of the 1-10 review scale and disregard of backlash from publishers is admirable and something that game journalism needs more of.

I might not always agree with his reviews, but his consistency of standards is something that has earned him a lot of respect in the gaming community and has made him an influential person. But with that influence comes responsibility. Jim can’t have it both ways. He can’t insist that he’s a “journalist” who wants to see game journalism become less of a schill industry and then turn around and write anti-feminist screeds about Fat Princess and claim that we shouldn’t get offended because he’s just doing it for the lulz. To use a metaphor that should make sense to Mr. Stirling, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

I’m not going to advocate that Destructoid fire you, Jim, because that would be pretty pointless. Clearly, they have a vested interest in keeping you around because your brand of “humor” creates controversy and brings them pageviews and thus more ad revenue. It’s a sad fact of life, but it’s true. If you want to be the Howard Stern of the gaming world, there’s honestly not much I can do to stop you. But DO NOT try to claim that you respect women, and DO NOT try to claim that you are somehow not rampantly misogynist because the evidence just doesn’t support it.

>Two short plays in the style of Vincent Baker

>I promise that I’ll get back to criticizing images soon! I have two posts planned out on body customization in MMOs and on terrible webcomic banners. (It’s not games, but considering how many webcomics are based on games I’m bending the rules a bit.) Also, once my article on sexism in gaming goes live with the new issue of See Page XX (some time in December, I’m hoping?) I’ll be discussing that in detail.

Anyhow, what I have for you is two “short plays” in the style of “short plays” done by Vincent Baker. I find that writing small, satirical plays is a good way to deconstruct conversations – especially conversations that happen on the internet. So with no further ado:



GROUP Y: We are a statistically significant number of people who are highly articulate and intelligent, as well as linked by a common background and experience. We all agree that Thing X happens to us because we are a part of Group Y.

SOME OTHER PEOPLE: Thing X is entirely fictitious. I discount your intelligence and experience. I also ignore that a statistically significant number of people are sharing personal experiences to support Thing X.

GROUP Y: We are upset and feel unvalued!


GROUP Y: Thing X exists. Let us discuss Thing X to understand the underlying causes and implications.

SOME OTHER PEOPLE: I am interested in discussing this with you. Let us talk in a civil manner.

STILL OTHER PEOPLE: Anyone who thinks Thing X exists is dumb and/or evil!

GROUP Y: We are upset!

SOME OTHER PEOPLE: We question whether your aggressiveness contributes to this discussion.

STILL OTHER PEOPLE: People over-reacting in a way they would not be were this discussion not about Thing X. Clearly, talking about Thing X makes people crazy.

GROUP Y: Being called crazy because of Thing X pushes our Internet Crazy button! Get out of our thread!

STILL OTHER PEOPLE: This only proves my point. I am vindicated!


A PERSON: I say Thing Q about Thing X.

GROUP Y: Saying Thing Q upsets me!

A PERSON: Upon reflection, Thing Q was not called for. I apologize.

GROUP Y: Let’s move on and have a productive conversation.


ANOTHER PERSON: I say Thing R about Thing X.

GROUP Y: Saying Thing Q upsets me!

ANOTHER PERSON: Whoa! Let me clarify. What I said was Thing R, not Thing Q.

GROUP Y: We apologize. Let’s move on and have a productive conversation.


A THIRD PERSON: I say Thing Q about Thing X! Unapologetically!

GROUP Y: Saying Thing Q upsets me!

A THIRD PERSON: Thing Q is righteous! Your disapproval makes me a martyr!

GROUP Y: We are upset and feel unvalued!

EVERYBODY ELSE: Alas, Internet Crazy has killed the conversation. Let us talk about something else.


I wrote this back in 2007, and sadly I don’t see it becoming obsolete any time soon. One of the biggest problems about trying to discuss anything controversial on the internet, be it racism, sexism, gender issues, or anything else that pushes people’s Crazy Buttons, people never get to have a productive conversation because it always ends in flames and people walk away. As such, important conversations about discrimination in the hobby we love never happen.

Sometimes, however, I find myself prompted to try to educate myself further about subjects that border on controversial. When this happens I will spend half an hour crafting a question that is absolutely neutral and totally controversy proof. And then this happens:


Me: [A Specific Question about a very specific aspect of Controversial Subject that, none the less, attempts to avoid controversy]

A Small Number of People on The Internet: [Thoughtful and informative response to Specific Question]

Many More People on The Internet: [Controversy targetted! Commence strawman arguments and offended flailing!]

Me: [An attempt to clarify the original Specific Question]

Many More People on The Internet: [Philosophic questions about the broader nature of controversial subject totally not related to the initial Specific Question]

Me: [Polite refusal to engage in philosophic discussion of Controversial Subject for therein lies the path directly to Internet Crazy]

Many More People on The Internet: [Internet Crazy!]

A Small Number of People on The Internet: [We will send you whispers supporting you, but have given this conversation up as a lost cause. Turn back! For this way lies madness!]

Many More People on The Internet: [Personal attacks FTW!]

Me: [An attempt to take the high ground by refusing to participate further]

Many More People on the Internet: [Let us continue with personal attacks and strawmen now that the Specific Question has been completely destroyed]

Me & A Small Number of People on The Internet: [Note to self: quit asking controversial questions on The Internet]

Some days I find humanity tiresome.

>Et Tu Nintendo?

>With the noteable exception of Princess Peach, Nintendo has been doing better than Sony and Microsoft in terms of positive depictions of women in its video games. The female characters in Super Smash Brothers kick just as much ass as the males, and with the Wii Nintendo has largely steered clear of the jiggle-tastic fighting game series that have proliferated on the PS3 and Xbox360. (Mostly. I’m looking at you, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon.) And of course, Nintendo had one of the first female hero characters ever, the unbelievably bad-ass Samus Aran of Metroid series fame.

Of course, what most people know Samus for is her assortment of cannons and the bulky power armor. There’s been a lot of suits over the years, but they’ve all been large, bulky, and powerful-looking:

Now I’ll admit that I haven’t played any of the Metroid games after the original GameBoy games (My first console was a PlayStation and I’ve stuck with Sony since), so I’m a little fuzzy on the chronology of which suit came when. But I can definitely say that I love, love, love these suits. Samus started out as a total badass and has continued to be a total badass.


Except then they created the “Zero Suit” – a much less powerful spandex version of Samus’ suit. Gone is the badass armor, gone is the huge cannon. They replaced the Samus that I love with some blonde bimbo with a handgun:

Et tu Nintendo? ET TU??? It seems like a pretty blatant attempt to re-design Samus to be more appealing to the lowest common denominator of gamers that marketing departments seem so convinced are their “core” market – lonely horny teenage boys looking for action games with wank-fantasy females.

Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t guys who were unhappy with the re-design. But for every guy who complained that he wanted his power-suited Samus back, it seemed like there were twenty more who welcomed the new Zero Suit Samus with open… um… arms. And they’re all too eager to dogpile on people who complain about the new Samus with gems like:

dont be mad shes not a frumpy carpet muncher

get laid, mouth-breather

i really don’t like the idea, but she’s hot man.. and i hope that playing with no suit will be an extra o something like that.

Please, stay off the internet for the rest of your life.

lol, youre a fag.

*sigh* I wish those weren’t actual quotes.

And now, of course, the damage has been done. According to Wikipedia, the Zero Suit was introduced in 2008, but it seems to have come to dominate the popular representations of Samus, despite that the Zero Suit was never a total replacement, just a new option. If you search for “Samus Aran” on Google Image search, 15 out of 44 images on the first two pages are of the Zero Suited Samus – some very NSFW. So despite that there are seven suits to choose from, if you include the Fusion Suit that only appeared in one game, the Zero Suit accounts for 34% of the results on the first two pages – definitely a disproportionate representation.

(An interesting side note, though I’m honestly not sure if this signifies anything, is that despite the fact that the helmet is one of the most distinctive features of her power suits besides the cannon and the large shoulders, only 16 of 44 images on the first two pages show Samus actually wearing the helmet. Almost two thirds, 63% show Samus without her helmet on. Not sure if that’s good or bad.)

But if you really want to see how much of a wank-fantasy Zero Suit Samus has become, just search for “Zero Suit” and look at the huge number of fanart results that come up on the first two pages. The fanart universally falls into three categories: Ridiculous Cheesecake (Sphere Boob Ahoy!), Soft Core Porn, and Holy Shit That’s Disgusting. (Needless to say, links NOT SFW.)

None of these images depict Samus as anything other than a sex object, and none of them show the toughness that made Samus such a popular character in the first place – which is hugely disappointing. There are so few really good female characters that have their own franchises, so it’s really disheartening to see Nintendo give in to the Sex Sells Marketing Machine after around two decades of a Samus who in no uncertain terms could feed you your spleen on a plate if she felt like it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go soak my eyeballs in Lysol. Srsly. Yuck.

>Sexist blogging

>Coming Soon

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 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.

>It’s not just the game companies

>I’ve been lampooning game developers here, but please don’t think that it’s just the developers that are guilty of sexism and that gamers themselves are totally innocent. No, gamers are just as guilty as the publishers. While you can find sexist gamers in just about any portion of the hobby, it’s usually true that the most horrific behavior comes out on Xbox Live servers or in StarCraft II ventrillo servers.

So, first up: “Xbox Girls Get Revenge” (CollegeHumor). (Really, REALLY NSFW)

I found this to be pretty amusing, though I recognize that as far as satire goes it’s still pretty offensive. I wanted to link to this, though, to highlight the kind of abuse that women can be subject to by their fellow gamers. Sadly, it’s a trueism that Normal Person + Internet + Audience = Total Fuckwad, and this phenomenon only exacerbates the abuse that is heaped on female gamers when it comes to venues like blogs and official forums. But hey, don’t take my word for it…

[Note: All spelling and grammar errors left as is. All links are added by me for emphasis.]

Dungeons and Dragons
from Gender violence in gaming (Astrid’s Parlor)

I would love to see a ranger with favored enemy: women just for the lulz. It’d atleast be different. And would ward off those annoying chaotic neutral male playing females I hate so much…

…God-damn I wish there was a FATAL d20. I love that book, but I definitelly don’t feel like attempting to run or play in a game with such draconic mechanics! As far as personal gaming experiences, no. I havn’t had the pleasure of being an overly misogynistic or gay bashing game. And my gaming career has suffered cause of it. That sounds friggin’ awesome.

… when there’s demons attacking your soul and dragons eating entire villages. Smacking a woman around for speaking outside of form just doesn’t have the sortof shock value it would have in a mundane world like ours…

— “JimProfit”, entire post

[In response to a post where a player objected to a campaign setting where misogyny and gender violence was common and the DM changed it as a result of that complaint.

Was the world really the problem or was it your problem and you decided to make it the groups problem?

As a PC you could have had a chance to change things if you could deal with it for a while. If your DM had said “This is the way things are and no one in the world could ever change it” I can see that being upsetting and warranting a discussion. But, hey, it probably made you feel really good forcing change of the whole world with no effort and making everyone else play in the mystical (b)land of “Everyone’s Equal Because I Say So“, which is what’s unacceptable in my book.

–“RubicantX”, entire post

[In response to a post questioning “Misogyny for the lulz”]

Oh ****. I thought the concept of the man-hating feminist was hyperbole. I now see that it is reality. I guess its time all of us men packed our bags and got ready to be put in death camps.

— “MusicOfCre”, entire post

[Editor’s note: Oh! Godwin’d!]

World of Warcraft
from The New Fountain in Dalaran’s Central Square [A complaint that a statue of heroes of the war against the Lich King has ONLY male heroes and not a single female hero]

How unnecessary. You’re complaining about females being unrepresented in a fictional universe that bares little parallel to our own. It would matter if females were slaves of males in this game, it’s not real life.
–“Emmelin”, post #5

Women and their freaking opinions about everything just pisses me off, back to the kitchen I tell you.
–“Xiu”, post #10

from ***ty Costumes at Blizcon

[On – why do women wear skimpy costumes to BlizCon?]

I’m not saying I don’t enjoy the view, I just don’t understand why girls like to do it so much.
— “Maelan”, post #10


from Are You Sexist? (Team Liquid forums)

Do you think women are intellectually equal to men? Do you think they have the same perseverence? Do you think they are as rational? I ask this because my experience stresses this claim so strongly, especially that they are not as perseverent or rational. … they are also more emotionally impulsive about long-term loving and hating (guys will fight you then offer you a beer, a woman will pick at you for years then just come back).
— “-_-“, entire post

No they aren’t equal. They CAN be intellectually equal to men, but only in book smarts. Street smarts? They have none. They are too emotional, too. They don’t think rationally, but base everything on their emotions.
— “SweeTLemonS[TPR]”,entire post

I’ve said it before, ill say it again
— “BigBalls”, entire post

obviously it’s wrong to judge an entire group of people based on a single person, but i find it that, in most cases, women are inferior to men intellectually. so i guess i’m sexist.
— “ItchReliever”, entire post

Yes, I am sexist. I do not believe they can are equals of men. They probably don’t want that either.
— “Cambium”, entire post

…okay, here’s where I have to stop for now – it’s just getting too depressing.