During the ongoing #GamerGate shitstorm –and I’d like to take this opportunity to say how proud I am of the community I am a part of that we’ve not just rolled over and taken this shit like in the past– I was directed toward a blog post on Deviant Art, written by a designer on the game Divinity: Original Sin regarding their frustrations at being instructed to change a female character design because it was considered sexist, not by another member of the design team, but by games journalists who have taken it upon themselves to get outraged on the behalf of everyone else in the world whom they consider to be suffering from oppression.
That might sound like a noble goal, to the uninitiated, but the method of striking out against this oppression, generally employed by these hacks, is to just attack whatever they don’t like and try to pressure them to change it. And if the developers refuse? Blacklist and smear them everywhere possible.
I recommend reading the whole blog post just to get a feel for the absolute lunacy on display on the part of these moral crusaders who think it their duty to protect the unwashed masses from the corruption of a woman’s bare mid-riff, or you can read my old post about the MPAA which basically details the same thing in the world of cinema, but to really sample this bullshit first-hand, you need to get down in the trenches and speak to the foot soldiers who buy into this crap.
So that’s exactly what I did.
I went into the comments on that blog post and picked out, at random, one of the comments attacking the author of the blog with all of the predictable, broken arguments I’m used to seeing, and decided I would take them to task on the matter, and see if they could clear a few simple things up for me.
I present the results to you now, beginning with his opening rebuttal of the blog post, and I apologise in advance for the amount I have to repeat myself as the person being questioned consistently refused to answer even the most basic of questions.
Anyway, without further ado, go Team Retard!
B – Opposition
i – Me
Men can be sexualized in adverts and sometimes in games, but in videogames women are disproportionately sexualized to the point that it’s rare and note worthy for one not to be, and that creates a backlash. The backlash is perfectly justified and long overdue and part of a broader backlash against industry bullshit. It’s unfortunate that some artists are upset by the backlash but it wouldn’t be there if women weren’t overtly sexualized so often.
To quote Jim Sterling, if we’re going to dress women in underwear men should be dressed in underwear too. There should be nothing men can wear that women can’t in these games, and if sexualized imagery is going to be used both sexes should be sexualized.
But hey that’s just my opinion as a cis white male of privilege who recognizes that there’s an inequality in the way women and men are represented.
That’s an utterly ridiculous thing to say. There are some outfits that are designed with gender in mind, and that’s absolutely fine.
There are some games that sexualise the women, and they are still extremely powerful, positive female gaming icons (Bayonetta being the best example of this.)
Likewise, there are some games that completely play down the femininity of the character in question, and they can still be an extremely positive female gaming icon (The Boss from MGS3 being the best example of this, to my mind.)
This isn’t a mutually exclusive thing: We can have both kinds of women represented in games, along with a myriad of other tropes, just like there are plenty of examples of hapless sap men in gaming and other media (look at every single sitcom husband, ever, they’re almost always berated by their much smarter wives,) but there are also plenty examples of extremely refined powerful men.
This is what we call variety, and it’s a good thing, and it’s exactly what these faux-progressives want to destroy.
They don’t care about the context, to them Bayonetta will never be okay because it depicts a sexualised woman (nevermind the fact that she displays her sexuality with confidence and power,) Dragon’s Crown will never be okay just because of a pair of ludicrously sized bouncing breasts (completely ignorant of the fact that most other characters in the game, male and female, are even more ridiculously proportioned).
These people just want to push their own agenda, and they don’t care if it stifles and chokes all creativity out of the community, so long as they can have their way.
I’m all for progressiveness, I’m all for diversity and more women, ethnic and religious minorites, LGBT people making games and working in their development, because ultimately they will bring different perspectives to the table which will potentially lead to different outcomes and therefore gaming as a whole will be more likely to get a lot of cool new IP’s.
What these people are campaigning for isn’t diversity: it’s a rigidly controlled, committee-designed procession of by-the-numbers shit, and any game that doesn’t march in absolute lockstep will be decried and blacklisted by their cabal of agenda-driven ‘journalists’.
It’s not ridiculous at all, it’s an observation of fact. Armor designed to show off cleavage ass and midriffs and characters designed to pose provocatively are designed for sexual appeal, females are disproportionately sexualized and it’s an observable phenomina.
And all the bare chests, rippling abs and perfectly carved lats constantly on display on male characters in every single fantasy game…you don’t think they might cause issues for men suffering from body confidence? When’s the last time you say a fatass guy as the main character in a game, who was clumsy and incompetent?
I have over a hundred PS3 games in my library, and I guarantee you I could point to ones that display exactly what you describe, and just as many that don’t. ANYTHING is an observable phenomena if you want to go looking for it and cherry-pick your examples.
Armour designed to accentuate the gender of the wearer does not necessarily equal sexualisation; that a woman has breasts is no great surprise nor mystery. It’s a massive insult to every artist out there to imply the only reason they gave their character armour that exposes her cleavage was for sex appeal. Who do you think you are to speak the minds of every single one of these artists, in such absolutes?
“rippling abs and perfectly carved lats constantly on display on male characters ”
That’s rarely done for sex appeal in videogames, though that is done for sex appeal in a fair amount of movies and daytime TV shows. In videogames it’s generally a male power fantasy, you’re comparing two completely different things, and you know the difference.
Congratulations, you just wiped the opinions of all straight women and gay male gamers off the table. Or are you telling me that those two massive sections of the community are completely incapable of lustful thoughts?
The reality is that the ‘male power fantasy’ is completely relative; it’s just the loaded argument for everyone who wants to skew the debate. It’s not every single man’s fantasy to be a meathead jock built like a brick shithouse, in fact a lot of us started playing games to get away from the exact type of Gears of War alpha male assholes who now comprise most console shooter characters, these days. Once again, you are making massive, sweeping generalisations on an entire group of people, what exactly do you think gives you this authority?
And again, you are deciding upon the intentions of EVERY SINGLE CREATIVE DIRECTOR IN THE INDUSTRY when you say what the purpose of designing a character in a certain way is. The reality is you have no idea why they do these things, you’re just choosing the option that best suits your narrative.
That is, unless you have incontrovertible proof of every single designer saying, ‘we make men muscly because it is a power fantasy that is only designed to appeal to straight white men, and we make all the chicks half-naked so they can jack off to them,’ in which case I am more than happy to apologise to you.
Ok well what you’re saying is stupid for many reasons but you don’t merit a thoughtful reply.
So I’ll just leave it at this, females are overwhelmingly disproportionately sexualized in videogames, and they are designed for that explicit purpose. There is a clear difference between a power fantasy character and a sexual fantasy character, the Barbarian in Diablo 2 wasn’t a shirtless muscle tank for sex appeal he was a shirtless muscle tank so that you could feel like a bad ass playing him, further your argument is stupid because there are a disproportionate number of male characters fully clad out in armor and shit, even if there are occasional sexualized males it’s rare in videogames and females are disproportionately sexualized, and that’s an obvious and self evident fact that can not be denied in good faith unless you are driven to blindness by some ideological agenda.
[Here he inserts a Jimquisitition episode on the objectification of men. I’ve made no secret of being a fan of Jim’s work, in the past, but there are several points in this video where I feel he is off the mark, which I’ll address shortly. Oh also, for some reason I didn’t notice the link the first time, possibly because I was a bit drunk at this point, so it takes another reply before I address it. – Rob]
Every single thing you just said is based on relative observation. There wasn’t a single fact.
Well done on being another blind moron who eats up the narrative you’re fed.
You’re definitely helping society move towards a more open and equal frontier! Congrats!
You’re the blind moron eating up what you’re fed, what I said is irrefutable and based on self evident observations, the video was just to drive home the point. People have been complaining about this sort of thing for decades.
“You’re definitely helping”
You’re an idiot.
Sorry, I just noticed you linked the JQ episode in your previous post, so my reply is no longer accurate, but I’m leaving it there because I don’t want to appear to be deleting my comments and running from my mistakes.
That still doesn’t make you correct, however, in your assertion that ALL women are designed to appeal to men, or that ALL men are designed to appeal to men. (Brace yourselves, wall of text incoming.)
Jim cherry picks examples in the video –I don’t understand why he chose Nathan Drake as an example of an alpha male, given that he is a actually a pretty broken, mentally unstable and hypocritical character who is constantly shit on and berated by his allies and enemies, alike; in no way synonymous with the concept of society’s ideal– that suit the point he’s trying to make, and I’ve written at length, myself, about how ridiculous it was that the Remember Me devs struggled to get Nilin as the protagonist in their game, but that refers to the mainstream, it does not refer to all of gaming.
Everyone knows that the AAA industry is currently consuming itself because they’re stamping down every single unique idea in order to turn all of their properties into bland, homogenised sludge. All you have to do is look at games like Dead Space 3 and it’s shoehorned in co-op mode and micro-transactions, or the Tomb Raider reboot getting a multiplayer that nobody asked for to see how clueless these publishers are, to push this shit on a public that largely doesn’t want it (reflected by the fact that both DS3 and TR failed to meet their initial, utterly ridiculous sales targets).
So yes, I do freely admit that 90% of games in the AAA are tailor-made to appeal to what that industry perceives to be their only demographic, teenage boys, but the thing is, you might have noticed most of the community actually makes fun of those games; we all take the piss out of CoD and it’s Team-America-played-straight approach to storytelling, as well as gaming’s preposterously swelling roster of grizzled space marines. We know that it’s dumb, it doesn’t appeal to us, but we still play some of those games because they are good games.
You don’t have to like or relate to a game’s protagonist to enjoy a game: I didn’t enjoy Gears of War because I could relate to Marcus Fenix and his band of gloomy men; I enjoyed it in spite of that.
What we are discussing in regards to Divinity: Original Sin, in regards to Dragon’s Crown, is pretty much the exact same thing that is happening in the AAA industry, but in the exact opposite direction: These people going after niche projects, smaller studios, and pressuring them to change their output to suit their agenda, because they know that a larger publisher like EA would slap that shit down in a second.
As I said in my very first comment to you, if these people want to see these changes in the industry, then they should make the games themselves. What they should absolutely not do is go to studios and start demanding they change existing work to suit them, and then throw an utter shit fit and slander them in the press when they, understandably, refuse to comply.
In other words, become the change they want to see in others, but that would take work, and the people we’re talking about don’t actually want the industry to become more progressive, what they want is to control it and bend it to their will.
I’ve said in the past that I will happily play a game about a black trans amputee with rocket boosters strapped to their stumps, provided it’s a good game. I am in no way about stifling creativity, but that is EXACTLY what these specific people are doing. They are trying to censor art, how can you be okay with that?
TL;DR: AAA gaming is mostly targeted at young men, but that doesn’t mean that all men are automatically happy with that, and it absolutely does not excuse SJW’s going after smaller studios and attacking them for pursuing the creative direction they choose to pursue, for whatever reason.
It’s self evident that female characters are disproportionately sexualized, no reasonable person can in good faith argue the contrary.
Again, sexualisation is relative, as is the male power fantasy.
Just because I see a woman in a skimpy outfit doesn’t mean I am automatically attracted to her. The human brain is not so simplistic and to imply it is is both ignorant and belittling.
Just because a game has a body-beautiful, strong man in the lead, that does not mean I automatically relate to him (in reality, I personally relate more to the broken, ugly male protagonists –Garcia Fucking Hotspur, Max Payne, Travis Touchdown– who are woefully few and far between in games; don’t see me constantly bitching about that, though, do you?).
You are trying to apply objective fact to a subjective media, I’m afraid art doesn’t work that way.
Actually let me put that to you: go and look at the work of Michaelangelo (or any classic and prolific artist). You may notice that almost all of the men he depicts are extremely muscular and well built, and that both the women and men are often nude.
By applying your logic to the work of Michaelangelo we can call it all sexist: It plays into the male power fantasy by having all men displayed as strong and powerful (one of them is touching fingers with God, for crying out loud!) and it turns women into sexual objects by putting them in skimpy outfits (low-cut tops, no sleeves etc) or often no outfits at all! Salacious or what!
Clearly all of Michaelangelo’s work was created only to appeal to men, (and that only men can therefore enjoy it,) and we should raise him from the grave and demand he go back and put clothes on all those poor women and basically stop being such an objectifying, patriarchy-enabling asshole.
It is self evident that the depictions of males and females in videogames is disproportionate, stop engaging in sophistry to try to deny this.
“sexualisation is relative, as is the male power fantasy”
Spare me your facile sophistry.
“doesn’t mean I am automatically attracted”
Whether you are automatically attracted or not isn’t relevant to the issue.
A male character designed to be a power fantasy can be ugly by mainstream standards, the point in making the Diablo 2 Barbarian a shirtless brute wasn’t to make him attractive it was to impress upon the gamer that he is a strong powerful savage badass. And female characters, especially playable characters, are as Jim Sterling pointed out, pretty much always inoffensively attractive by mainstream standards.
“does not mean I automatically relate to him”
Whether you can relate is irrelevant to the point.
Actually ALL of those points are relevant because you are implying that these characters are made to cater specifically to me, as a straight white man. According to you, I am the exact demographic that all of these games are designed for, so therefore they should all appeal to me in every single regard, going by your logic.
I am telling you that they do not, what does that tell you?
That it is fucking relative.
How many times must we dance around this issue?
Also, would you please, for the love of God, stop quoting Jim Sterling as though he is infallible. I love Jim, and have been a fan of his work for a while, but that doesn’t mean he’s right about everything he says.
He makes some salient points in that video, but he also gets stuff wrong, too, mainly by cherry picking examples to bolster his point whilst ignoring things that would contradict it, as well as only focusing on the AAA industry which, as we’ve already established, everyone knows is in the process of killing itself with stagnation and recycling of the same old tropes.
That’s why so many developers are fleeing that sinking ship and starting smaller, independent studios (Tim Schafer, Keiji Inafune, Ken Levine) so that they can have creative control over their projects again, and make the games they want to make; not the games that the publisher’s idiot focus groups have decided everybody wants. It doesn’t automatically mean those games will be good, but there’s obviously a reason these auteur developers have fled the security of the AAA bubble.
But here’s the thing: NONE of this excuses what the actual topic of the blog we’re having this stupid little internet spat on was about: We’re not talking about keeping women out of games, or making sure they remain as little more than eyecandy: we are talking about the censorship of EXISTING work.
If I saw an article about how a dev was forced to change their design of a character to make them more sexy, and I am well aware there are plenty of examples of that exact thing happening, I would be just as pissed off as I am about them being forced to cover her up. The former makes our industry look juvenile and dumb, but the latter, censoring legitimate art, is every bit as despicable.
Both of these issues are a problem, in that they stifle creative freedom, but they are not mutually exclusive.
Another nice argumentum verbosium but no I haven’t argued that they’re made to cater specifically to you, you’re just an individual, corporations could care less about you unless you represent a large enough demographic to bother making things for. Now maybe you want to pretend that females are never dressed or posed provocatively for sex appeal or pretend that it’s not done any more than it is with men, but the opposite is self evident, your engaging in facile sophistry and you don’t merit any more thoughtful response than this.
Man, you must be giving Thesaurus.com a buttload of traffic today.
So basically your argument boils down to even though I exactly fit the demographic you are describing I am not in that demographic? I mean that’s pretty much what you just said: All games are designed for straight white men, but I, as a straight white man, am not having any games designed with me in mind.
Yep, that makes perfect sense, you’re a clever cookie.
And actually, if you refer to my very first comment you’ll see that I’ve never claimed that sexualisation doesn’t exist, once; what I said was that making a character attractive or having her dress a certain way does not AUTOMATICALLY sexually objectify her, every single time. Just because a woman is dressed provocatively, or has sex appeal, does not mean it is her single defining feature as a character, and it does not mean that she was designed with those traits solely in mind. (Again, Bayonetta is the perfect example of this.)
There is a difference between a character being confident in their sexuality and that character being sexually objectified; just because every member of the audience will not necessarily be able to discern that does not make it any less true.
But I tell you what, I’m not going to bother replying to you again, until you address the point I have repeatedly made throughout our time together, which is that the issue we’re talking about here isn’t about sexualisation in video games, but the censoring of an artist’s work under the pretense of sexism.
That is what the blog post was about, and I am yet to hear you create a credible defense as to why you think that such censorship is acceptable.
Thesaurus? Did you need to look something up?
“I exactly fit the demographic you are describing”
Not if the demographic is mainstream male gamers who are attracted to protruding butts and cleavage and have fantasies of being powerful, and you’re not in it.
Okay, I’ve given you umpteen chances to answer my simple question, now, and you have neglected to do so.
I don’t know if you’re just trolling me or you’re being wilfully ignorant because you know you don’t have any good answer, but so long as you refuse to address my point I see no reason to continue this.
Have a nice evening.
You don’t merit as much attention as you’re demanding. I didn’t see fit to read past the part I answered.
And that was it. I stuck true to my word and haven’t replied since, because at this point I honestly wasn’t sure if he was trolling me or not. If not, then he is clearly employing what I believe is referred to in debate circles as the ‘la la la I can’t hear you’ gambit.
So there you have it, I’m not likely to be replacing Jonathan Ross any time soon but hopefully some of you found this interesting to read, and dissect the mind of one of those people.
I have a few closing thoughts that I’ve compiled from other places if you want to hear more of my word vomit, if not feel free to skip down to the comments and let me know if you agree or disagree or just generally what your thoughts are on the matter; I like to think I’m more open to rational discourse than this dipshit was.
Closing Thoughts AKA Let Me Tell You Why I’m Right