Guest Post: Review & Analysis of Duke Nukem

[The following is a guest post by Willow Palacek, gamer extraordinaire and indie game designer. You can visit her blog at Willow Rants. A few weeks ago, Willow asked me if she could do a guest review of Duke Nukem Forever. Seeing as how I intended to never played the game myself, I was quite happy to have someone offer to suffer through the game for me. As such, I owe a debt of gratitude to Willow for playing such an awful game so I don’t have to. Thanks, Willow!]

Like many gamers, I fondly remember Duke Nukem 3D, blowing up aliens, exploring (and blowing up) colorful environments pulled from life, and laughing at Duke’s one-liners. By the time I first became aware of Duke Nukem Forever, it was already a joke, a game no one really expected would ever be released.

So, I was pretty impressed by any design company that has the development chops and guts to pick up Duke Nukem Forever and actually release it. I was sold as a day one purchase.

In retrospect, this was a mistake.

I am a girl gamer. This qualifies me to write a review of Duke Nukem Forever. The girl part qualifies me to call it out for being horribly sexist (which it is.) The gamer part qualifies me to call it out for not really being that good of a game.

“But,” I hear you saying, “girls aren’t real gamers.”

As of the time of writing this article, my Xbox Live Gamer Score was 38,370. Chances are very good that my gaming e-peen is bigger than yours.

Part I, or Why Duke Nukem Forever Isn’t That Good of a Game

Let’s talk first about what made Duke Nukem 3D a great game. Mechanically, it’s essentially the same game as DOOM (although with a more advanced engine, making 3D environments possible). Go around an area, collect weapons and keycards, fight bad guys, get beat up, find medkits, find the exit.

What seperates Duke Nukem 3D is both the game’s unique voice and unique polish on the FPS formula. Wise cracking Duke taunts his enemies, remarks on the environment, and yes, even tips strippers. Our DOOM protagonist is largely silent, occasionally grunting. The levels in Duke Nukem often depict, very clearly, real life locations, such as movie theaters, adult video stores, a burger joint, a supermarket, but retain a fiendish level design that rewards searching every nook and cranny for alternate routes and power-ups. Secrets are tantalizingly hidden everywhere.

To me, the most iconic feature of Duke Nukem 3D is the creative weapon selection: instead of just the standard pistol/shotgun/machine gun/grenades/rocket launcher, the grenades are remote activated pipe bombs, one has access to laser tripwires to lay traps for enemies, and there’s the ridiculous shrink ray and freeze rays, and the absurdly powerful Devastator.

Now let’s talk about Duke Nukem Forever.

In a 90s shooter, you lived by your wits and your reflexes. Health and ammo were regularly hard to come by. In most modern shooters, health is regenerative. (See Halo, Gears of War, and too many others to count.) Get hit, your screen goes red, and you need to take cover for it to recharge. I remember many fights against a nasty monster in Duke Nukem 3D where I frantically pulled out all the stops, burning through Devastator ammo, then Rockets, then using the Chaingun, finally plugging it with pistol rounds until it was dead.

Most battles in Duke Nukem Forever are repetitive. Fight the monsters, duck behind cover, heal, take ammo off their body. You can only carry two weapons at a time instead of the whole arsenal. (The classic array returns, plus the Rail Gun, which is a nice variant on the Sniper Rifle.) Ammo is plentiful. Most boss fights are boring: figure out the weakness, duck in and out of cover, and fire rockets. Rockets are the only thing that damage the bosses, and there’s no ammo scarcity: ammo crates are everywhere in boss fights. (The exception is the final boss, which has rocket wielding enemies spawn into the area you must dispatch to take their ammo. That’s actually an interesting fight.)

What about the level design? We have a few theme levels: Duke Nukem’s casino, and the Duke Burger restaurant, but most of the game is generic industria. The levels are also almost exclusively linear in scope. There is little imagination or passion to the level design. (The Duke Burger is a strong exception, featuring a shrunken Duke and enemies, and gun battles in the stock room and a flooded kitchen. It’s still linear, but at least it takes advantage of the environment to create some interesting gameplay.)

There’s some environmental puzzles, but they mostly involve finding heavy barrels and stacking them to create a weight, and are more tedious than puzzling. There’s also less variety to the power-ups available. Duke Nukem Forever has Beer (toughness), Steroids (melee power up), Duke Vision (night vision, only used in a few places), and the Holoduke (a fun way to distract your enemy, but extremely scarce.) Duke Nukem 3D also had a portable medkit and an underwater rebreather, but the best powerup was the Jetpack, allowing Duke to fly around the level and bypass many obstacles. The lack of even a single Jetpack level is a waste. Also, the controls seem a little sluggish. This is completely subjective, but it’s my damn review.

What’s not subjective is the completely glacial load times. Without the Duke Nukem brand, this game would be completely off the radar, a laughable failure. (As is, it’s a laughable embarrassment.)

Let’s sum up. In a shooter game, the shooting sections are forgetable. The level design is completely generic. During a loading sequence, I literally have enough time to go make a sandwich. I’m taking my copy of Duke Nukem to gamestop today to turn it in for credit. I always keep my games, even the ones I have scored 1000/1000 and know I’ll never play again.

Part II, or Why Duke Nukem is Horribly Sexist

There’s sexism, and then there’s sexism.

I was able to find the humor in the elevator sequence, where a woman says “I’ll go down with you anytime, Duke.” I’ve been known to have a crude sense of humor, and I’ll laugh at a good sexual innuendo (or even a mediocre one.)
Is the fact that Duke is desired by all women in the game sexist? Probably. Is the fact that, in a dig against Halo, Duke says that “Power armor is for pussies” sexist? (Absolutely- although also funny.) But I’m not going to get my panties in a knot about either.

Then there’s Capture the Babe. Where instead of flags, you have ditzy “babes” you hoist over your shoulder, have to occasionally spank (because otherwise they cloud your field of vision), and call out sexual innuendos. (“Did we just score?”)

Capture the Babe is sexist. It’s not endearingly sexist though, or offensively sexist. It’s just stupidly sexist. My response to Capture the Babe was largely the same as Gabe’s.

No, what’s really sexist about Duke Nukem Forever is how it glamorizes violence towards women and fetishizes rape.

Think I’m overreacting? In the level the Hive, we find the women who have been kidnapped by the aliens, and transformed into some sort of (topless) human/alien hybrid breeder. What does Duke do to these women? He kills them. (“Even I can’t save you now,” he says, or even worse, “Sorry babe, it’s better this way.”)

I lack a vocabulary to convey how wrong this is, but I’m going to give it a shot anyways.

No, fuck it. If you don’t understand why that’s twisted and wrong, you’re not worth my time.

As fate would have it, my boyfriend chose that level to sit down and watch me play Duke Nukem Forever. And he was made uncomfortable. (I think he’s a keeper.)

Soon after, you fight an alien queen with three disgusting withered bare breasts.

Then there’s the strip club dream sequence level, Duke Nukem’s Titty City. In this level, you are first confronted with a stripper (naked except for a tiny thong) who gives you a quest to find a bag of potato chips, a vibrator, and a condom. Then you get an unskippable lap dance cut scene.

You know what’s worse than unskippable cut scenes? An unskippable cut scene that’s uncomfortably sexual. (I don’t know of any game that waves a giant dick in your face. If that was the case in Dragon Age 2, maybe that one guy would have had a point.)

Oh, you know what’s even worse than that? In said strip club dream sequence, there’s a number of mini-games to increase your ego. (Health). Air hockey, pinball, a basketball hoop, and the Whack-a-Mole game. Except they completely ruined Whack-a-Mole by making it sexist tripe. Called Alien Abortion. Where the game-space is a naked woman’s body. With aliens popping out of it.

In all of this, I wonder how in hell this game slipped through without an Adults Only rating.

Part III, or Why the Multiplayer is Terrible

Most of the controversy surrounding Duke Nukem Forever is about Capture the Babe (not the single player campaign, which really deserves more scrutiny.) So I knew I had to play multiplayer for my review experience to be complete.

Most of the multiplayer is ripped directly from Dukematch from Duke Nukem 3D, which is to say, it’s the same exact levels, only the gameplay is worse because the servers are terrible and there’s rampant lag. Capture the Babe is the same, only with a veneer of sexism drenched over the awkwardly implemented capture the flag mechanics.

Also, you can only play as Duke. I would have gotten a bit of a chuckle if I could go around blowing people up with one of the babes as my avatar. That would have almost made multiplayer enjoyable for me.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to Gamestop.

Mass Effect Fail: the stuff BioWare didn’t get right (Part 2)

So in my last post I looked at the visual gender fail that is all too common in Mass Effect. A lot of the commenters mentioned Tali, so I’ll just mention that Tali goes in my books as win and not fail, so you won’t see her here. But I’ll save my reasons why for my next post about non-Shep win, since she deserves more space than just a sentence or two.

Some people also mentioned that I was probably reading too much into some stuff, and sure. I’ll agree that’s probably the case. The problem I have is that having gotten an education in Fine Art, I can’t stop seeing this stuff. The bar for what pisses me off is just lower than everyone else’s, and that’s cool. I recognize that not everyone spent five years of their life having the rules of composition drilled into their brain.

Lastly, obligatory spoiler warning. This post deals with the writing of ME2, so there will be a lot more spoilers. And again, commenters if you could please refrain from DA2 spoilers in the comments that would be awesome. (I will play it, honest, as soon as I can not feel like having to choose between food and BioWare.)

(Tough choice, that.)

World-building fail: alien races

The gendering of alien races is the most obvious bit of writing fail. Only two races in Mass Effect have male and female models – the humans and Quarians. The rest of the alien races have only one model. Now that’s not terrible in and of itself – not every species on earth has sexual dimorphism; it stands to reason that not all alien races would be sexually dimorphic as well. The problem all non-Quarian and non-Asari aliens are voiced by men, which genders these alien races as male.

According to the codex, some species – the Salarians, Krogans, and Turians – have males and females – we just don’t ever see the females. For the Salarians, a complex “social code” revolving around reproduction means that very few females are produced and are all kept on the home world for breeding purposes. And for the Krogans, it’s even worse; because of the genophage, female Krogan are kept on the homeworld and any that have proven fertility are fought over as prizes of war. So two of the most prominent races essentially have their women being sexual/reproductive slaves. That’s just… great. Really progressive of you, BioWare.

As for the Turians, the codex mentions that female Turians don’t have the same crest of horns that males do, but otherwise do not differ visually from the males. The codex also mentions that all Turians go into public service at a young age. What it fails to mention is just why it is that we never see any female Turians at all? Similarly, we know from Thane’s discussions of his wife that female Drell exist, but the codex does not mention them, nor do we see any female Drell. Now in the case of the Drell, the fact that they rarely if ever leave the homeworld is a bit more acceptible. We only see 2 Drell in all of ME2. But both games are fairly drowning in Turians, and not a single one of them female. What gives? Is “public service” for female Turians glorified housekeeping back on the Turian homeworld? With the number of Turians you run into in the game, you’d think at least a handful would be female.

As for the others – Volus, Hanar, Elcor, and Batarians, only the Hanar’s codex entry specifically mentions gender, and only then to say that it is unknown whether the Hanar have gender. And of the four races, only the Batarians appear as if they might have sexual dimorphism. The Volus wear pressure suits, the Elcor are giant armored quadrupeds, and the Hanar are sentient jellyfish. So it seems puzzling to me that all of these races would be implicitly gendered as male. I realize that the difficulty in gendering aliens lies with making two different models, but that difficulty need not exist for the Volus, Hanar, or Elcor. Why not split their voice acting evenly between male and female? Or at least throw a note in the codex that ‘hey, some Elcor are female, despite the super-deep voices’?

It’s bothersome because they only race that is ever explicitly sexualized (as a race, mind, not as individuals) are the Asari, who are also the only alien race explicitly gendered as female:

You never see Salarian strippers, or Drell strippers, or (god forbid) Krogan strippers. You never even see human strippers, which is at least something we have a cultural tradition of. No, all strippers in Mass Effect are Asari – which is baffling considering that their background essentially makes them blue space-elves. If they live a thousand years and all have biotic powers, why do so damn many of them work as strippers? Answer me that, BioWare.

Even worse is the fact that Asari can breed with any other race and have some kind of super-sex appeal that makes them attractive to all races, even ones that don’t really have sex, like Salarians. The whole bit about them having one gender is pretty interesting, but why does that gender have to be female? Oh wait, I know. It’s so that you can have hot lesbian alien sex. Right. How could I forget? After all, if the Asari can breed with anyone, then why wouldn’t they jump at the chance to breed with women? Because that’s just hawt.

Ugh.

And then there’s the Asari Commandos, supposedly the most fearsome warriors the galaxy have to offer. Only when you run into them in ME1, they’re only mildly challenging to kill and you NEVER SEE THEM AGAIN. Seriously, even the frigging vorcha are harder to kill than the stupid Asari Commandos – the Commandos at least don’t regenerate so fast that you have to take them down with one shot.

So all in all, when it comes to world-building, D-.

Writing fail: party members

There’s also a fair amount of sexism to be had when it comes to the writing of crew missions and conversations. As I complained in my last post, it’s bad enough that I have to look at Miranda’s ass cleavage all the time, but what made it worse was how every conversation came back to how perfect she was and how she was genetically engineered for hawtness. She’s supposed to be this super-smart, super competent commander, and she can’t stop obsessing over how she looks like Barbie because she had such a terrible father. Give me a break.

[Sidenote: I’ll admit that part of my dislike for the writing of Miranda’s character is based on some comments made by the BioWare devs in regards to Miranda’s design, justifying the sexy costume and camera angles by calling her a femme fatale. Since Miranda fits none of the traditional criteria for being a femme fatale except for being hawt, this made me very cynical when hearing any of her dialogue.]

I also have to say that Miranda’s loyalty mission bugged me in terms of premise. They spend so much of the game building up Miranda as a hardass commander – I mean, the first time you meet her she shoots a dude in the face without any sort of preamble. So why is it that her loyalty mission had to be a touchy-feely “show Miranda’s emotional side” sort of mission?

Why couldn’t she have had a loyalty mission like Grunt’s? Or Garrus? Or, hell, what if Miranda had gone on a Zaeed-style killing spree? Miranda’s mission was well-written, I will admit. The betrayal and the choice to whether to allow her to shoot Niket are interesting, and the dialogue where Miranda wrestles with her doubts about Niket is well-written. Still, it was disappointing that Miranda’s mission was stereotyped, even if it was entertaining and better written than some of the other missions.

Jacob’s loyalty mission, however, was a whole different kettle of fish. Unlike Miranda’s mission, it was not terribly well-written. (Jacob’s dialogue was often clunky or awkward, though the voice actor was clearly doing the best he could with what he was given.) In his mission, you discover that Jacob’s father basically creates a harem for himself and kills off those few unaffected officers who could, ahem, enjoy their company. He lets this persist for ten years until the men he exiled become a serious threat and only then signals for help.

The women are, in the words of the log, passed around the officers “like pets”. And there’s even a snippet of  voice recording by one of the unaffected officers about how you can do terrible things to them and then distract them with something shiny and they’ll forget all about how unhappy they were. And, god. This mission was just… painful. I knew what was coming as soon as I stepped into the settlement and saw that it was nothing but women:

No one ever comes out and says the word rape, but it’s there. Even more horrific is that the women who are being taken advantage of are mentally compromised and not really able to give consent in the first place. All of this is supposed to establish what a terrible, awful person Ronald Taylor is and make the moment of truth a tough decision between whether Jacob should tell his father to kill himself or turn him over to authorities. But the whole time I was playing I couldn’t stop asking myself – really? Is this necessary?

We live in a culture where so much of our entertainment is saturated with rape, it’s almost become a shorthand for evil. How do we establish a man as a villain? Have him rape someone! Playing through this mission felt like reading through one of the Sword of Truth novels. It seemed like the writers were saying to themselves, “vanilla rape is too vanilla – what we need is extreme rape”. And the thing is, the bones of the mission are interesting. A situation where officers have to select who will decay mentally and who will not and the temptation to kill to prevent yourself from being one of the people who loses their mind – that’s interesting. All the rape stuff just felt like gratuitous baggage.

This is just my opinion

Okay, so I know there are those of you who disagree with me on this, which is why I’m tacking this on briefly at the end. I think that Jack is a prime example of sexist, over-sexualized character design. I know not everyone agrees (hell, my husband disagrees with me on this point). But the whole time I was playing, I couldn’t escape the feeling that Jack was not designed for me. That she was designed to appeal to a male audience. A male teenage goth audience, specifically. It’s hard to know really what the writers were thinking when they came up with Jack, but I don’t get the feeling that they really cared how women would react to her. (Again, my opinion)

As for her loyalty mission? I’m really not sure how I feel about it. It’s one of the very few times that we see anything approaching vulnerability from Jack, and the only time that I came close to feeling anything resembling sympathy for her. I did at least feel for little-girl Jack even if I hated psychopathic, unrepentant mass-murdering Jack. But I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Sure it provides insight into who she is, but why do we have such an obsession with making strong women “vulnerable”?

Look at the new redesign of Lara Croft where she gets cut up and bruised to show her “vulnerability”. Or look at The Third Birthday where Aya’s clothes get torn off as she takes damage to show that she’s “vulnerable”. So I go back and forth between thinking that Jack’s loyalty mission is a necessary attempt at establishing that Jack is at least a human being and thinking that it’s just another instance of undermining a strong female character (albeit without tearing her clothes off or abusing her physically).

Some gaming news WTF: Eternal Light trailer; Duke Nukem Forever not sexist?

Hi, folks. I’m working on a series of posts about Magic that is proving to be more time consuming than I thought. So I thought I’d post a bit of WTF that I stumbled across on various gaming news sites just to tide you folks over while I continue to pull together research for the posts about Magic. Hopefully I’ll be able to get the first Magic post up tomorrow.

WTF the first: Duke Nukem Forever

Okay. I’ll admit that I’ve avoided dealing with Duke Nukem Forever, mostly because it just seemed too easy. I mean, pointing out how DNF is sexist is pretty much like shooting fish in a barrel. I mean, first we have the cover:

Now I have to admit that I do love that we get an angle of Duke that is almost exclusively used with female characters (I tend to think of it as “boob perspective”) – it’s a nice example of sexualization that male characters don’t usually get, even if Duke is pretty covered. But check out the manicured female hand. They are LITERALLY using a female body part to imply sexual gratification. It’s like they thought, well why bother showing the whole woman when all you really need is the hand? Ugh. And then you have the fact that half of the preview screens that are being released are of strippers, or lesbians, or lesbian strippers, or strippers with dildos…

… you get the picture.

Add to all of this the recent kerfuffle about the “Capture the Babe” mode and it seems mind-boggling that anyone could possibly argue against Duke Nukem being blatantly and horrifically sexist. I mean, Christ. In “Capture the Babe”, women are LITERALLY objects to be fought over. They are things, not people. It doesn’t get more clear cut than that.

So it should come as no surprise that Jim Sterling, that bastion of feminist advocacy, is arguing that we shouldn’t care if Duke Nukem Forever is sexist. Because, after all:

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?

Oh, Jim Sterling. Thank you for helping me to keep sight of the big picture. Silly me! Why should I care about how women are portrayed in video games? After all, we all know that real people are never influenced by the media they consume. At all. Full stop.

Jim also did another post lampooning an article about DNF on the Fox News website about DNF’s sexism and harmful portrayals of women. And here’s the thing – I loathe Fox with every fiber of my being, but I think it was a pretty good article. I was pretty surprised, especially after the “video games cause rape” story that came out of Fox, that they were capable of producing a piece that limited itself to attacking DNF and not gaming in general. Certainly it was better than Jim’s, who couldn’t resist ending his feature on the Fox article with yet another rape joke. (Because we know how much Jim loves to joke about rape…)

Of course, Jim doesn’t get credit for the ONLY game news fail regarding DNF. I also found this feature on IGN making similar claims that Duke Nukem Forever is not sexist. In the feature, Editor Tristan Ogilvie writes about his experience as being the only gamer on a recent panel about gaming. Naturally the subject of DNF came up as a point against gaming. And here’s the thing, I think Tristan would have made a much better defense of gaming as not being a deviant hobby by coming and saying “sure, Duke Nukem Forever is sexist – but don’t judge all of gaming by one title” than by using weak-sauce arguments like:

…Similarly, if I play Duke Nukem Forever’s ‘Capture the Babe’ mode in all its bottom-slapping glory, I’m not suddenly going to start smacking women on the backside and calling them “sugartits” as though I’ve been thawed out from a state of suspended animation since the 1960s like Austin Powers (or nearing the end of a 12-hour bender like modern day Mel Gibson), because I’m well aware that to commit such acts wouldn’t be acceptable social behaviour by society’s standards…

Not very convincing, Tristan. Not very convincing at all.

Eternal Light Trailer

While browsing through the headlines on the IGN website, I stumbled across this trailer for the upcoming game Eternal Light (a game I’d previously never heard of). What caught my eye was the subtitle: “These monster-slaying, near-naked battle witches enjoy killing dragons. And breathing heavily.”

Curious, I fired up the trailer and discovered they weren’t kidding. Check out these screens:

The first thirty seconds features a slow camera pan around a mostly naked woman wearing a chainmail bikini… while she breathes heavily. Like, having sex heavily. Real subtle, guys. The rest of the trailer features in game combat shots that feature a lot of ridiculous camera angles where you can aaaaaalmost see ladybits but not quite. Frankly, it looks like a fanservice engine to me.

And of course the comments are pretty predictable:

I’m about as shallow as can be. I see boobs and I’m in. Don’t judge me.

i want to agree with all the haters but, boobs, 6 boobs goddamn
Like RedXIII i see 6 good arguments to buy this game, count me in!
Did someone say something about there being a dragon in this video…? All I saw was boobs.
…they go downhill from there. And people wonder why the stereotype of gamers is mouth-breathing male nerds living in their mom’s basement. Real classy, guys.

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.

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.

>Google Search Results: Revised

>First, a Disclaimer:

As always, not a professional academic or researcher. Also, not a statistician. I’m just a fine art major who happens to really, really like spreadsheets.

Revisions explained

Okay, so I got some helpful feedback yesterday that included improvements to my search methods. So I thought I’d write a quick post updating my data as well as providing some information about traffic and such. I may or may not get to the post about the context of these terms since I went a little crazy making spreadsheets. (Call me a nerd, but I love spreadsheets. They can fix anything.)

I made a major blunder in my original post, I realized. In my searches yesterday, I was only searching http://www.ign.com and not all of its various gaming subdomains. As such, I revised my search to ign.com and this substantially affected the results. Now ign.com has subdomains for tv, movies, and comics that get much less traffic than its gaming subdomains, but I still searched those subdomains and subtracted those results from the overall total. With the numbers for all of the subdomains and forums included, this wound up altering the final outcome.

I also had some requests to add some additional terms – specifically homophobic or male-gendered slurs. I did wind up adding “fag” to my list, but “dyke” did not make the cut because of the fact that “dyke” is also a name. Specifically, Gordon Van Dyke, who is one of the big figures behind the Battlefield series, skewed the results too heavily. I also did contemplate adding “prick” to the list of terms, but I made an entirely subjective judgement that “prick” is not “as bad” as “cunt”. Entirely my opinion, but I’m also trying to keep the list of terms short so I don’t go completely insane running them all through Google. For the same reason, I also did not search for racial slurs, since that would cause the list to balloon beyond the point that I can gather data in an hour or two.

Lastly, my problem with Kotaku was that instead of running “site:kotaku.com” through Google, I was using “site:http://www.kotaku.com”. That’s what I get for not copying and pasting, I suppose.

The Results

So here are the raw results. (No pretty charts today. I like spreadsheets, but charts are a pain in the ass.)

Interestingly, adding Kotaku to the list didn’t have any effect on the final outcome. Adding all of IGN’s subdomains, however, did. In terms of raw results, IGN now comes out on top with 18 points, just barely edging out Destructoid at 17. Team Liquid’s showing isn’t quite as impressive, but is still pretty solid at 11.It’s worth noting that Joystiq only scored 3 points, and that Kotaku actually managed to score 0. Something I found almost as interesting is the fact that there are absolutely no results for “feminist/feminazi bitch” on Kotaku.

Now none of this gives us more than a very sketchy general picture without at least having some information about traffic patterns and context. Context we’ll save for my next post. As for traffic patterns, I was able to find some super-basic traffic information for Destructoid, Kotaku, IGN, Joystiq, and Team Liquid by using Compete’s free traffic search features. (It doesn’t let you search subdomains.) The monthly normalized data for February for the five sites is as follows:

Sadly, data about page views is not available for free, so I can’t provide that data. But unique visitors and monthly visits will still give us a pretty good picture.In an attempt to at least half-assedly normalize the raw results, I decided to divide the unique visitors by the number of search results for each term. It doesn’t really mean much in terms of where the words are coming from – staff writers? Users? Anonymous commenters? But it at least provides some sort of context as to traffic versus usage of each term. It seems counter-intuitive, but lower numbers are “bad” and higher numbers are “good”:

I decided to go through these results and award points again, this time going from lowest to highest. When looking at unique visitors, this time Team Liquid came in first with 20 points, barely edging out Destructoid with 19 points. IGN, by comparison, came in a distant third with a meager 6 points.When you divide monthly visitors by numbers of search results, results change again – but the overall picture stays the same:

By this metric, Destructoid wins with 20 points, Team Liquid places second with 16 points, and IGN once again comes in third with 6 points.What does any of this mean?

Well, not a whole lot really. We can make sort of general statements saying that Destructoid and Team Liquid seem to have a higher per capita usage of these terms than other sites, but it’s not possible to make any definitive statements about just what any of this means. Another important factor that was not possible for me to examine is the source of the comments. With the exception of Team Liquid, all of these sites employ paid writers, but they also host user blogs. As mentioned before, it’s not really possible for me to discern the frequency of use by the writers versus the frequency of use by users or anonymous commenters.

So, overall these numbers aren’t that useful from an academic standpoint. However, they provide a useful illustration of the fact that misogynist (as well as other forms of hate speech) language is pervasive across all major gaming sites, and that some sites are consistently more guilty of using this language than others.

>Just because your fans tell you you’re not sexist doesn’t make it true

>Okay, a bit of a quickie here… I’m working on a post about Reaper Minis that has wound up consuming way more time than I thought it would. So in the mean time, here’s a preview of what you can expect:


She’s going to have some serious scratches later.

So there’s that.Anyhow. Dale North, who is a major contributor on both Japanator and Destructoid, asked his readers if he was sexist. Amusingly, in describing the difference between Japanator and Destructoid, he had this to say about Destructoid:

If you frequent Japanatator, then you surely know about ModernMethod’s flagship site, Destructoid. This gaming community is past hope, and we like it like that! We offend on a daily basis, and we’re championed by our readers for it.

…which, amusingly, is one of the best descriptions I’ve seen yet of Destructoid. Good to know that sexism is apparently part of the writing style guide.

Now normally I would ignore stuff like this on a site like Japanator. I do try to avoid crossing too much into anime fandom here, since the problems with anime fandom are rooted a great deal in cultural differences and Japanese misogyny. However, since Dale North is a contributor on both sites, and content that he writes for Japanator sometimes gets cross-posted on Destructoid – which are both part of the same blogging network, I consider this fair game.

So here’s the question Dale posed to his readers:

Am I, Japanator’s Editor-in-Cheif, a sexist pig? And, if I am, should I be concerned about this as a writer on anime/manga/Japanese culture?

Not surprisingly, given the wording, the rest of the post was then followed by defensiveness and strawmen. This seemed to be more a facetious inquiry to cause a bit of controversy and garner hits rather than a genuine attempt at self-examination. Especially since near the end of his post he tosses out:

I’m not really doubting myself or the work of the Japanator staff here. And in the end, like it or not, we still get paid to write this crap. Sexy? Maybe. Japanator is filled with sexy commentary and pictures and whatnot. We’re all horribly perverted, as good otaku should be. But I don’t think there’s anything here that makes us terribly sexist.

Nope! No sexism here! I mean, there’s scads of sexy women. And our staff is mostly men. And GOOD OTAKU SHOULD BE HORNY. I mean, come on. QED. But none of that makes us sexist. (Now show us your tits.)

Anyhow. None of this should be in any way shocking coming from Dale North, who titled an article about the banning of RapeLay in Japan with: “RapeLay raped off Japanese shelves for good”… and then had this as the headline image: 


For fuck’s sake.

Dale’s no Jim Sterling, but he certainly has his moments.Predictably, Japanator users fell over themselves to defend Dale. Here are some of my favorite comments. (My commentary is in brackets.)

Grow a backbone! Be more like Jim Sterling. He doesn’t give a fuck. [Note: Yes. Because we should all seek to emulate Jim Sterling…]

I’ve been a reader for over a year and I’ve never found your comments insulting (I have a vagina). I think there is a lot of coverage on “sexy news” like PVC figures, but that’s a part of the otaku experience. So, no, you’re not sexist, you’re just an excited fanboy as we all are. [Someone with a vagina says you’re not sexist! That makes it true!]

Last time I checked, I had a vagina so I can comment I suppose. =P There are those on the interwebs that love to stir up a bunch of bull. As a long time reader (though I rarely if ever comment), I have never been offended by your nor anyone else’s word choice or whatever has been shown here.

Tits or GTFO

Either way the entire otaku community has a heavy emphasis on fanservice. Girls who get all huffy at a small thing like the term “good looking gal” should just stay away completely [Yeah! Hear that, wimminz? GTFO!]

As a person with no financial relationship and thus no legal liability with Samantha Robertson, you have the opportunity, nay the duty, to be a sexist pig for all us sexist pigs out there unable to attend this convention. As a representative of this fine oasis of otaku in the vast desert of drivel we call the intarwebs, you carry the honor and privilege of commenting on all the shapely figures and voluptuous bosoms you might encounter in our stead. So go forth and offend. With pride. With courage. With conviction. And let exhaustion and weariness not touch you till you have recieved at least one restraining order.

As a girl, I have to say, not only are the things you say not sexist, but they’re downright hillarious! The call me thing was classic.

Just as the other females have said, my tits say you aren’t a bad guy at all. I think you’re hilarious. I don’t understand what the commotion is about, you guys cater to the female crowd too with the yaoi. [Right. Because all women love yaoi, right?]

Dale, I must admit that you are indeed a sexist pig. You offend the very core of my man-finger, and you continue to do so on a regular basis with your sexual innuendo, such as your reference to “I worked hard,” and referring to me as “dear reader.” I am appalled, good sir! Now back to the beautifully luscious breasts and asses of Anime Expo 2008!

As always, the internet restores my faith in humanity. Or, wait, it restores the inverse of my faith. Anyway, having female commenters tell you that you’re not sexist doesn’t automatically make it true – in the same way that “having black friends” doesn’t make you automatically not racist. Read Derailing for Dummies, for god’s sake.

(Sidenote: I’m amused by the concept disembodied body parts leaping to Dale’s defense. “Hey! I’ve got four tits and two vaginas that say I’m not sexist!” Protip: having ladybits does not automatically make you an arbiter of what is and is not sexist.)

Now, I get that Japanese culture mass-produces misogynist media, and that a certain level of tolerance for that goes with being part of anime fandom. Examining issues of sexism in anime fandom isn’t easy because it’s often hard to tell when you’re dealing with Japanese cultural issues and when you’re dealing with Western cultural issues – which is why I usually stay out of it.

But here’s a tip for all you game “journalists” out there who may be wondering if you are sexist. If you’re actually interested in obtaining a real answer, then you need to step outside your little echo chamber. The users on Japanator are there because they like the site and the content that it posts. Are they going to want to see a negative label attached to a major contributor for said site? No, because that would mean being a fan of that contributor might make them sexist as well.

But I guess that wasn’t really the point of this whole exercise.

>Apologetic linkspam: Have some WTF, and also some win

>

Okay, folks. As promised, here’s a bit of extra WTF to carry you through the weekend. I resolve to fail less starting next week, but as I’ve discovered I need my weekends. Those two days to detox from all the icky shit I look at during the week in the name of research for this blog are important. Srsly. You don’t even want to know some of the shit I stumbled across by accident while researching “clothing damage”. Brr.

Anyway. Here’s some WTF to console yourself with.

WTF the first: yet more creepy shit from Japan

So. There’s this thing in Japan called a hostess club, where lonely young men go to spend time with women who are employed by the club, and by spend time I mean just that. Some of them will have board games, others will just have coffee… whatever. Anyhow, I stumbled across this article about a Japanese romance game centering around young women who work at a particular hostess club.

…yeah. Because stalking women home from work is totally romantic.

Anyway. No idea on if it’s being translated – these screens are all in Japanese. But here’s a taste:

If you want to see more, you can see the full article with lots, and lots, and LOTS of creeptastic screens here. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you. (And don’t get caught reading it at work.)

WTF the second: dear Nukezilla, I heart you

Okay, this isn’t so much WTF as an awesome repudiation of WTF. So remember the fail-tastic IGN Gamer Girl Christmas Gift Guide? If you haven’t seen it, please do go glance through it. Don’t bother reading the text if you’re in a hurry – just check out the photos. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

… yuck, right? I mean, I’m pretty sure anyone who would attach a photo like this to an article supposedly about gifts for “girl gamers”…


Okay, why is she making Seductive Face at SACKBOY? That’s just creeping me out.
…has never really talked to a woman that games. (And yelling ‘tits or GTFO’ over XBox Live doesn’t count, fellas. Neither does sending ASCII penises in chat.)Anyway. John Kershaw over at NukeZilla wrote this amazing rant about how horrific that feature was. It starts off with “girls, meat, what’s the difference?” and gets better from there.

John Kershaw, I don’t know you, but you are my new hero.

WTF the third: The Bayonetta creator said something misogynist? NO! SAY IT ISN’T SO!

So everyone is familiar with Bayonetta, right? I have to say that she’s hands down one of the best female characters to come out of the gaming industry in the last few years. She’s strong, well rounded, not sexualized and… okay even I can’t maintain the sarcasm.

Anyway. She’s inspired a fair amount of controversy, which isn’t too surprising since one of her main attacks involves spreading her impossibly long legs to kill things with her ladybits sword.


Bayonetta. Feminist icon and role model.
Anyway, Hideki Kamiya – the creator of Bayonetta – apparently thinks that all women view each other as enemies. Which begs the question… He designed a title with a female lead… why?Oh right! The tits. I mean, sorry – the ass. Almost forgot. Kamiya is clearly an ass man.

…okay, that’s enough fail. So here, have some win:

Troll data analysis

Blogger Kirbybits got involved in that whole Penny Arcade internets fiasco and got a lot of internet traffic to her blog. Interestingly, she decided to analyze comments to see what sort of trends troll comments display. The results are super-interesting! You can read the post here, but be warned there’s lots of super-graphic language involving threats of rape.

And that’s all I have time for today. I’ll check in a few times this weekend just to make sure people aren’t setting themselves (or each other) on fire in the comment threads, but otherwise I’ll see you Monday!

>Some followup: Jim Sterling, Reddit, and DM’s Roundtable

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.


 

>DM’s Roundtable follow-up interview

Hey, folks. Before I get to the meat of my post, I just wanted to update you all that last night was the followup interview done with the folks on the DM’s Roundtable podcast. After hearing the podcast that originally went up in which I got fairly lambasted, I was pretty wary of going on. But, happily, things went really well and we had a really positive conversation. Those of you who want to give it a listen can find it here. Fair warning, though, it’s long. (A little over an hour, iirc)

Reddit response to yesterday’s post (trigger warning! rape jokes…)

Why do I read the comments on reddit? Whhhhyyyy? After the backlash I got from reddit over my post about gaming not being sexist against men, you’d think that I’d have learned my lesson? But no, I guess I’m just a glutton for punishment.

So, some dude over on reddit called me an “ignorant judgemental cunt”. The fact that all the horrible shit Jim Sterling has said was meant as humor apparently puts me COMPLETELY in the wrong. Of course, given that in THE SAME COMMENT this dude joked that the difference between football and rape is that women don’t like football.

…so, yeah. I guess I should feel vindicated rather than annoyed. But. Wow. Yuck, dude.

Jim Sterling. Sorry? Well….

Okay, so here’s the thing that prompted me to write a followup post, rather than tackling one of the many other things that I’ve been working on entries about. Kaonashi forwarded me the email from Niero that was mentioned yesterday, and the summary was pretty accurate. “Sure Jim crossed a line and he knows it but he’s a nice guy”.

Which, you know, fine. As an apology it kind of sucks. I have yet to see anything resembling an apology that isn’t full of defensive bullshit from either Destructoid or Sterling, but I’m not about to hold my breath since I honestly don’t expect it to get better than that. An acknowledgment that a line was crossed and that it’s not okay to call people feminazi cunts is about as much as I can reasonably expect since Jim Sterling has proved his worth to Destructoid by being able to get pageviews to Destructoid by saying inflammatory things. Is that out of the ordinary in the gaming world? No. Is Kotaku worse? Oh fuck yes.

Still.

I was skulking the Destructoid site yesterday looking to see if there were any editorials offering a more official apology for Jim’s conduct (there weren’t) when I spotted this post by Jim Sterling about a recent “news” segment on FOX in which the recent rise in reported rapes is blamed on sexy scenes in video games. As is to be expected from FOX, the segment offered no supporting evidence or really any reasoning beyond “be afraaaaaaaiiiiiiid! only FOX can saaaave yooooouuuuuu!”.

Now, is this worthy of ridicule? Absolutely. Does this sort of thing deserve coverage on a major gaming site? Sure. Do the people at FOX deserve to be lambasted for making the same groundless accusations that no one has been able to prove for the last thirty years? Right on. As someone who had to promise her mother not to become a serial killer in order to be allowed to buy Mortal Kombat as a child, I get just as tired of the blame that video games get for just about every social ill that exists. So for once I was cheering Jim on, until I got to the last sentence:

 

Now if you’ll excuse me, there are some vaginas that have not been raped yet, and Kirby told me I need to “get on dat sh*t!”

…really? Really, Jim? Wow. This doesn’t make me all that confident that Jim has, in fact, grasped the nature of the line that was crossed. Calling people feminazi sluts? Not okay. But you know what else isn’t okay? JOKINGLY SAYING THAT YOU’RE GOING TO GO RAPE A BUNCH OF WOMEN.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that hottest chick lists aren’t going away any time soon. Will I mock them? Sure. Are they a staple of “game journalism”? Unfortunately, yes. Ditto with all of the stuff masquerading as “news” that boils down to “hey look! Boobies! We all like boobies, amirite?”. It’s crass, it’s tasteless, and it carries with it an undertone of “tits or gtfo”. But that is still something I can roll my eyes at and walk away from. Jokes about going out and raping a bunch of women? Not so much.

So I’ve just sent the following email to Niero, the editor-in-chief of Destructoid:

Dear, Niero

A commenter on my blog was kind enough to forward the email that you sent him in response to his complaints about Jim Sterling’s comments in the twitter dust-up that occurred last week and I was very happy to see that in that email there was a clear acknowledgment that Jim’s comments were entirely out of line. I want to make it clear that in no way do I support Daphny’s actions – her comments were entirely disgusting and tasteless and I do agree with Jim that no one gets a free pass on discriminatory language just because they happen to be a member of said group.

That being said, I have grave concerns about the larger context of this twitter dust-up when viewed in light of a larger history of things that Jim has said as an official writer on your site. When the flare-up originally occurred, I refrained from taking sides on my blog, but I did put together a chronology of offensive comments that display a consistent trend of denigrating feminists, feminism, women, domestic abuse, and rape. So when I saw your email to Kaonashi, I was very pleased and had every hope that perhaps Jim would be a bit more thoughtful in his official commentary in the future.

Imagine, then, my dismay, when yesterday morning I saw a post by Jim about FOX news blaming Bullet Storm for the increase in reported rapes. Did FOX deserve to be thoroughly lampooned? Absolutely! But Jim ended by saying: Now if you’ll excuse me, there are some vaginas that have not been raped yet, and Kirby told me I need to “get on dat sh*t!”

This makes me very concerned that perhaps there wasn’t any sort of real lesson learned at all and that the apologies were just lip service to win back those publishers that Jim managed to offend with his comments.

Look. I don’t like the boob-centric nature of your website, but I’m not about to start a crusade to take down Destructoid because you folks like boobs. Whatever. I just really hope that you can understand the difference between jokes about liking boobs and jokes about going out and RAPING A BUNCH OF WOMEN. I really do. I’m not trying to be a “humorless feminist here”. I just really hope that you can make it clear to Jim that just as it is never okay to call a woman a feminazi cunt, it’s also never okay to joke about engaging in rape. The fact that it’s a joke does not obviate the fact that Jim is an influential guy within the gaming community who gets a lot of respect for the consistency of his gaming scores and, like it or not, there are people who look up to him.

I do hope that you will relay this message to Jim. And I do very much hope to see Destructoid clean up its act.

Thank you for your time and attention.

I’m not sure if I’ll get a response, or if anything positive will come of it. I mean, I’m not a user on their site and I’m a woman, which already puts me at a disadvantage. But it’s worth a shot, and I hope that those of you that agree with me that rape jokes ARE NOT OKAY in game journalism (or, you know, anywhere) will also send Niero an email and let him know where you stand on this.

That’s all for now