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Women vs Tropes in Video Games


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#1 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 933

Posted 07 March 2013 - 09:09 PM

 

So this finally came out today and honestly I'm not sure why she needed 6000$ much less 160000$ if all her videos are gonna be like this.

 

The delivery is boring, the so called research is shallow, she goes off topic, and the production quality is low.

 

That said I agree with her general idea, DID is a boring and overdone basis for a plot and its probably so common because of patriarchal values.

 

Honestly the only value I see in this video is just adding to the general critical mass of feminism, although not that much, rather than something that's new and brilliant and impressive and needed a kickstarter.

 

And frankly its some of her better work, slightly less self contradictory, slightly less cherry picking.



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#2 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 29488

Posted 07 March 2013 - 09:32 PM

So this finally came out today and honestly I'm not sure why she needed 6000$

My personal living expenses are around $2000/month, so $6K funding would barely let me focus on a project for 3 months full time.

Of course this varies hugely depending on where you live in the world, but in a typical Western city, it isn't very much money at all... Producing video content is hard, time-consuming work. Three months expenses doesn't seem like much money at all, so it's a good thing she was over-funded on kickstarter.

 

As for the content... I haven't watched it yet, but in my experience, many post-women's-liberation feminists are often boring and shallow and irrelevant, or are just typical misguided "social justice activists", or in the worst instances, are misandrists, so I'm not exactly her target audience (note: not saying anything about the videos, I haven't watched them / don't know anything about their author, just that feminism in general seems like a successful movement that finished a long time ago, not something relevant to me now).

I grew up in a world where both genders are equal (and other/non genders, and gays, etc, too), and I don't work on games based around gender roles, so it's not really an interesting topic to me either.

I'm sure there is a large demographic that probably do find this interesting though, such as her 7k kickstarter backers, so the only thing that matters is if they like the content.



#3 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 933

Posted 07 March 2013 - 09:50 PM

So this finally came out today and honestly I'm not sure why she needed 6000$

My personal living expenses are around $2000/month, so $6K funding would barely let me focus on a project for 3 months full time.

Of course this varies hugely depending on where you live in the world, but in a typical Western city, it isn't very much money at all... Producing video content is hard, time-consuming work. Three months expenses doesn't seem like much money at all, so it's a good thing she was over-funded on kickstarter.

I once calculated that my personal expenses amounted to 5000$ a year but then I mostly need nothing but cheap packaged food and an internet connection. And rent on a serviceable apartment is like 250$. So I suppose I'm a little biased.

 

I've done some small videos, some up to 20 minutes, although it was mostly recording youtube videos of my game project, but I know a lot of people who do a lot of youtube videos, and its not hard time consuming work ITHO. Note that the you didn't watch the video, so the quality wouldn't be known to you. It looks like a standard youtube hobbyist video to me.

 

As for the content... I haven't watched it yet, but in my experience, many post-women's-liberation feminists are often boring and shallow and irrelevant, or are just typical misguided "social justice activists", or in the worst instances, are misandrists, so I'm not exactly her target audience (note: not saying anything about the videos, I haven't watched them / don't know anything about their author, just that feminism in general seems like a successful movement that finished a long time ago, not something relevant to me now).

I grew up in a world where both genders are equal (and other/non genders, and gays, etc, too), and I don't work on games based around gender roles, so it's not really an interesting topic to me either.

I'm sure there is a large demographic that probably do find this interesting though, such as her 7k kickstarter backers, so the only thing that matters is if they like the content.

I wouldn't say men and women are equal, for objective things like pay, but also for sexual violence statistics and other things. I do think certain feminist complaints are silly.

 

I wouldn't get caught dead on a feminist blog/forum saying what you just said though, they would probably ban you inside a few days.



#4 Khaiy   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1342

Posted 07 March 2013 - 09:56 PM

She got $160,000 to make this? As a single video or a series, that's insane. If it's that easy to make money I need to set up a kickstarter for myself.

 

I'm not sure where the money went, unless she needed to buy licensing rights to show the game characters and clips and/or she lived off of the money while producing the videos.

 

I'm not impressed with the analysis or research, but I think that the format is probably about right for this sort of thing-- it just happens to be something that won't engross the viewer unless they're already interested.

 

This kind of inquiry nearly always falls into "cherry picking", though that shouldn't diminish the discussion she's initiating. I won't make a broader judgment of her thesis without watching more videos, which I probably will not do, but what I saw gave me the impression of a freshman lit essay: unpolished, a little shallow, a bit self-indulgent, and not all that significant. Her kickstarter success is far more interesting than the thing that she produced.



#5 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 933

Posted 07 March 2013 - 10:02 PM

She got $160,000 to make this? As a single video or a series, that's insane. If it's that easy to make money I need to set up a kickstarter for myself.

 

I'm not sure where the money went, unless she needed to buy licensing rights to show the game characters and clips and/or she lived off of the money while producing the videos.

 

I'm not impressed with the analysis or research, but I think that the format is probably about right for this sort of thing-- it just happens to be something that won't engross the viewer unless they're already interested.

 

This kind of inquiry nearly always falls into "cherry picking", though that shouldn't diminish the discussion she's initiating. I won't make a broader judgment of her thesis without watching more videos, which I probably will not do, but what I saw gave me the impression of a freshman lit essay: unpolished, a little shallow, a bit self-indulgent, and not all that significant. Her kickstarter success is far more interesting than the thing that she produced.

To be fair she only asked for $6000. Any other money not needed to make the product could be considered profit by Kickstarter. I think that is somewhat of a failing of KS, though.

 

The red parts are pretty much my opinion, but you said it better.



#6 GaldorPunk   Members   -  Reputation: 993

Posted 07 March 2013 - 10:09 PM

Yeah, the kickstarter money it got is what really surprised me, but hey if people want to fund it that's completely fine. (although it does make me consider kickstarting my game…) There’s nothing really original or controversial in the video, like she says, the damsel in distress is very common because it appeals to the traditionally male demographic and requires very little writing to set up the character’s motivation. I'd like to see the second part, because most of the feminist writing I've seen is based on very old games like Mario or Legend of Zelda, and I don't think it's particularly useful to read too much into old games with very little in the way of story. Video games, especially when it comes to narratives have evolved a great deal from the early days, just like movies have. I'm not saying that there isn't a lot of sexism in video games, (because there is) but the damsel in distress thing is really just a case of lazy writing.

 

The damsel in distress isn’t even entirely exclusive to female characters, in fact there’s a very similar trope involving male characters, although the particulars are different. There are probably just as many if not more games where the hero's main motivation is based on a background male character being an "object" in the plot, although these stories usually involve the villain actually killing some background male character who is important to the hero. Just change princess/wife/girlfriend with father/brother/friend/mentor and the two tropes are pretty much identical in terms of how they play out. There is some gender distinction because the idea of rescuing is more often used with an apparently weaker woman or child, while it is more common for the hero to be driven to instead avenge the death of the older male mentor, but ultimately the two cases are very similar.


Edited by GaldorPunk, 07 March 2013 - 10:10 PM.


#7 Khatharr   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2961

Posted 07 March 2013 - 10:13 PM

.... so I'm not exactly her target audience

 

Not her daddy OR the boy that dumped her in grade school?

 

D.I.D. may be stale, but it's still around because it works. Boys like to fantasize about rescuing girls, so they like to play games that let them act out those fantasies.

 

Don't waste time on people like this. They want to change the world to suit their views and they never stop to think about how miserable they'd be if they actually got their way.


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#8 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 933

Posted 07 March 2013 - 10:13 PM

I think one interesting thing to note is that quests are really of limited value. There aren't that many things you can achieve by going on a quest. Rescue and vengeance, and regaining lost property are pretty much it. And property includes resources, like the quest to restart the water in The Land Before Time.



#9 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 29488

Posted 07 March 2013 - 10:37 PM

I wouldn't say men and women are equal, for objective things like pay, but also for sexual violence statistics and other things.

I just meant I was surrounded in equality in my own upbringing, e.g. I had two single parents, both worked, both were educated to the same level, both had the same responsibilities, and they never taught me to believe in gender roles and restrictions.

Yes, of course many people aren't raised in this way and so statistics still reveal discrimination is present in the wider world.

I've done some small videos, some up to 20 minutes, although it was mostly recording youtube videos of my game project, but I know a lot of people who do a lot of youtube videos, and its not hard time consuming work ITHO. Note that the you didn't watch the video, so the quality wouldn't be known to you. It looks like a standard youtube hobbyist video to me.

I watched the first 30 seconds -- graphic design an animation for the intro, recording a heap of various game footage, setting up the filming equipment, backdrop, make-up, and then editing -- it alone looks like it could be days of work for one person...

I once calculated that my personal expenses amounted to 5000$ a year but then I mostly need nothing but cheap packaged food and an internet connection. And rent on a serviceable apartment is like 250$.

Again, it depends where you live. Here in Melbourne, the minimum I'd be able to go for rent would be around $1000/month, and having a quick look at San Fran (where the author is), it looks similar in price.

Where are you that you can get an apartment for under $60 a week?



#10 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 933

Posted 07 March 2013 - 10:43 PM

I wouldn't say men and women are equal, for objective things like pay, but also for sexual violence statistics and other things.

I just meant I was surrounded in equality in my own upbringing, e.g. I had two single parents, both worked, both were educated to the same level, both had the same responsibilities, and they never taught me to believe in gender roles and restrictions.

Yes, of course many people aren't raised in this way and so statistics still reveal discrimination is present in the wider world.

I've done some small videos, some up to 20 minutes, although it was mostly recording youtube videos of my game project, but I know a lot of people who do a lot of youtube videos, and its not hard time consuming work ITHO. Note that the you didn't watch the video, so the quality wouldn't be known to you. It looks like a standard youtube hobbyist video to me.

I watched the first 30 seconds -- graphic design an animation for the intro, recording a heap of various game footage, setting up the filming equipment, backdrop, make-up, and then editing -- it alone looks like it could be days of work for one person...

 

I once calculated that my personal expenses amounted to 5000$ a year but then I mostly need nothing but cheap packaged food and an internet connection. And rent on a serviceable apartment is like 250$.

Again, it depends where you live. Here in Melbourne, the minimum I'd be able to go for rent would be around $1000/month, and having a quick look at San Fran (where the author is), it looks similar in price.

Where are you that you can get an apartment for under $60 a week?

 

I will defer to you on the video creation, although I may ask my sister as well since she has a degree in that. But note that it took her 6 months to make this first video. Well its been 6 months since her kickstarter was funded.

 

I live in Missouri, and you can get 250$-350$ housing in KC, STL where I live, and Columbia where I went to Mizzou for a bit. Possibly even less depending on the details.



#11 TheChubu   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4075

Posted 08 March 2013 - 01:40 AM

I liked the video. It was pretty interesting and down to earth. I like how its edited, those short commercials/images/gameplay bits are set up to speak for themselves instead of her going over them and explaining them, which keeps a clear message.

 

It was a wise decision not to allow comments nor ratings on the video, the message would be drowned in the mass of the not-so respectful internet dwellers.

 

How many videos she is expected to release?


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#12 BGB   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1554

Posted 08 March 2013 - 02:28 AM

I liked the video. It was pretty interesting and down to earth. I like how its edited, those short commercials/images/gameplay bits are set up to speak for themselves instead of her going over them and explaining them, which keeps a clear message.

It was a wise decision not to allow comments nor ratings on the video, the message would be drowned in the mass of the not-so respectful internet dwellers.

How many videos she is expected to release?

the video makes some reasonably good points IMO.

looking at some of her other / earlier videos, some also make some good points, but not everything that is said is strictly agreeable (when she goes into areas more outside of media tropes or similar).

#13 Woland   Members   -  Reputation: 371

Posted 08 March 2013 - 03:17 AM

I kinda liked the video. The amount of work and research she put into it is noteworthy and I would rather tend to agree it's worth some $. While she makes some good points, starting with feministic opening + a story about degrading a female character from protagonist to DID sets a judgemental mood for the rest of the video, which I personally didn't like. If the same was done without a "women are not equals here and it's not cool" sign, but for instance a smirk of "how cliche can you get in your pursue of manhood, boys?" the whole video would get some nice edge. Show that she's actually more than a feminist researcher and more of a person that can give some new light to the topic. Well, at least she's not too aggressive with her feministic judgements.


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#14 Paradigm Shifter   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5254

Posted 08 March 2013 - 03:28 AM


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#15 Milcho   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1175

Posted 08 March 2013 - 05:37 AM

Criticism of her criticism:
- Is she saying that men caring about women and wanting to rescue women is bad? That's what the first half of the video sounds like. I think there's nothing wrong with the plot of a man wanting to rescue a woman, and instead, what her critique should have targeted is that there's few instances where a woman fights to save a man she cares about. It doesn't seem to me that this is the argument she's making (or at least it's not made that clear to me). Note that there are examples of women fighting for what they care about, albeit fewer, in both reality and fiction. Off the top of my head, Joan of Arc, and Mulan.
 
- Princess Peach actually gets to be a playable character in the Paper Mario series. At least one of them, I'm sure about, where she actively tries to escape and help Mario, and in fact does end up being a vital part in defeating Bowser. I know Paper Mario isn't exactly the main franchise, but if I've heard about it, and I don't actually research these things, she should have mentioned this also. She either didn't consider it worhty of mention - in which case I'll argue she's only considering limited examples, or she didn't do her research.
 
- Ok, I know its not really mainstream game (but agian RESEARCH!) - when she says "Zelda has never been the star of her own adventure ... in the core series" - ok, some might argue on technicalities here, but google Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon, where Zelda is on her own quest to kill Ganon. Yes, it's generally considered a not-so-good game, and it has its Link-as-the-Hero counterpart, but she doesn't mention it. The two reasons why she doesn't mention it are the same as above for Peach and Paper Mario. Either she's selectivly picking her arguments, or she hasn't done her research (both are bad in my view)
 
Criticism for funding:
- You know, somepeople produce videos like this without having to resort to a kickstarter. Look at some people like the AVGN or Nostalgia Critic (two I'm most familiar with). They didn't have tons of initial funding, and they weren't even doing it for a cause, they were just doing it for fun. If she really cared she basically could have done this with little or no funding. 
In a very ironic way, she becomes her own damsel in (financial) distress, unable to do what other people have done, without the support of an outside (funding) source.
 
Criticism of research:
- Maybe I'm more of a gamer than the average person, but I knew most of this info. Her research barely goes in more depth than what an average gamer could've done in a few weeks. Again, this is really subjective so, its highly debatable.
 
I'm not saying her video is bad - it was interesting to watch, but as she points out, its possible and often necessary to both enjoy and critically critique something at the same time.
At the end, I think a video game where an average woman goes on her quest to save the prince she loves would probably be just as fun as games the other way around - so, there's not really a good reason for companies to not do this, so she has a point in that games often go for just stereotypes since it's easier. And I think it's doable too.
 
Anyway, that's my two cents. 


#16 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 08 March 2013 - 07:29 AM

My personal living expenses are around $2000/month,

http://sfist.com/attachments/SFist_Brock/SF-Infographic.png

 

Well I'm off to go read tvtropes.com

 

I think when a lot of feminists got up in arms over the new Tomb Raider they really hurt an otherwise credible argument in my mind. When developers took active steps to show a strong female lead with depth that took steps toward being less of a sexual object and it was met with, "THIS IS EVEN MORE SEXIST!" I stopped listening.



#17 Kylotan   Moderators   -  Reputation: 3338

Posted 08 March 2013 - 07:47 AM

If she really cared she basically could have done this with little or no funding.

 

You realise that applies to everything, right?

 

If you really care about games you can make one yourself. Why pay developers?

 

If you really care about music you wouldn't expect to be paid for people downloading your album. You should be happy just to have it heard.

 

Fresh water and sanitation is important, so people should gladly treat the water and install sewers for you and enjoy the pride of a job well done and countless lives saved.

 

 

Effort takes time, and time spent incurs costs. The fact that some people either have enough free time or enough free money to do cool stuff on the side shouldn't fool us into thinking that everything worthwhile should be done for free. If you want to see a better world, reward the people who try to bring it about.



#18 kuramayoko10   Members   -  Reputation: 386

Posted 08 March 2013 - 08:11 AM

I don't know why people are caring so much about how much money she made or anything beside the content of the video.

She touches a topic that is out there: women want a different role on the media.

 

I will use Milcho post to reply to some points

 

Criticism of her criticism:
- Is she saying that men caring about women and wanting to rescue women is bad? That's what the first half of the video sounds like. I think there's nothing wrong with the plot of a man wanting to rescue a woman, and instead, what her critique should have targeted is that there's few instances where a woman fights to save a man she cares about. It doesn't seem to me that this is the argument she's making (or at least it's not made that clear to me). Note that there are examples of women fighting for what they care about, albeit fewer, in both reality and fiction. Off the top of my head, Joan of Arc, and Mulan.

She makes very clear at the end of the video that she loves the Mario series and Zelda and doesn't criticize the plot. She says that she hopes Peach, Zelda and other female characters are made protagonists in the next games.

She also explains what her next video will be about: what the current developers are doing around this theme and which games are trying to flip the coin.

 

Note that the movie industry is also flipping the coin a bit slowly right now. Animations are starting to present female protagonists: Brave

 

 

Criticism for funding:
- You know, somepeople produce videos like this without having to resort to a kickstarter. Look at some people like the AVGN or Nostalgia Critic (two I'm most familiar with). They didn't have tons of initial funding, and they weren't even doing it for a cause, they were just doing it for fun. If she really cared she basically could have done this with little or no funding.
In a very ironic way, she becomes her own damsel in (financial) distress, unable to do what other people have done, without the support of an outside (funding) source.

What she intends to do is something like a documentary. This fits really well a kickstarter campaign. I dont know about those other people you cited, but the amount of money she asked for is not a ton (6k only).

 

 

- Ok, I know its not really mainstream game (but agian RESEARCH!) - when she says "Zelda has never been the star of her own adventure ... in the core series" - ok, some might argue on technicalities here, but google Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon, where Zelda is on her own quest to kill Ganon. Yes, it's generally considered a not-so-good game, and it has its Link-as-the-Hero counterpart, but she doesn't mention it. The two reasons why she doesn't mention it are the same as above for Peach and Paper Mario. Either she's selectivly picking her arguments, or she hasn't done her research (both are bad in my view)

I agree with you here. She may not cite some games so that she can make her point more clear. Or maybe on edition it was cut off.

Still, the conclusion of the video was valid imo. Games with the Damsel in Distress plot are ok, but wouldn't hurt to have a big production on a female protagonist.


Edited by kuramayoko10, 08 March 2013 - 08:12 AM.

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#19 Milcho   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1175

Posted 08 March 2013 - 08:45 AM

You realise that applies to everything, right?

 

All the examples you gave as counter arguments are talking about different things:  (also just because it can apply to almost everything, doesn't make the argument less valid....)

 

1. I didn't say she couldn't support other videos... in fact this argument isn't even countering what I said.

 

2. Yeah, in fact, if you really cared about music, you would be happy to have your music heard. Lots of spare-time musicians do this. If you're doing something as a spare time project (which is what I'm talking about in my argument), you should have no problem about this. If you're doing something as a full-time job, then it's impossible for you to live without food, place to live etc. My point was that I have indeed seen people who've made similar videos in their spare time as a hobby for free. And they've done it simply because they like doing that sort of thing. As an example, I'm still trying to make a video game of my own. While I have no funding, I don't plan on asking for funding at all, and I'm still trying despite that, mostly because I want to show others (including potential employers, yes) what I can do.

 

3. Fresh water and sanitation.. come on, that's not even close. First you're talking about things of vital importance, as opposed to hobby project. Second you're talking about full time job again. Third, you're talking about other people doing things for you for free, as opposed to you doing something for yourself (or for a cause) for free. And I'm pretty sure that people would do their best to take care of their water/sanitation if there wasn't already a tax-supported system (read: paid by you) that did this. Or at least they would try to take care of this to the best of your abilities.

 

A more valid comparison is saying something like: Would MLK Jr. have not tried to campaign for racial equality if he didn't have financial backing?

Sure, I agree that you can care about a subject and still want monetary support. But in this case I was saying that you actually CAN do a video like this (as I cited) without any funding. So was she underestimating her abilities? Was she using this video as a reason to get money? I don't know. I'm just saying it can be done without money. 

 

 

Still, the conclusion of the video was valid imo. Games with the Damsel in Distress plot are ok, but wouldn't hurt to have a big production on a female protagonist.

Indeed, and if you read my whole response (I'm assuming you did, but I wanted to point this out) I also agree with the conclusion and what you said there. smile.png


Edited by Milcho, 08 March 2013 - 08:54 AM.


#20 landagen   Members   -  Reputation: 376

Posted 08 March 2013 - 09:51 AM

I think her message is a little biased.  I do believe there are still more male lead games than female, but I don't know that is actually a problem.  Things don't have to be 50/50 for everything.  There are some things more geared towards men and there are other that are geared more towards women. 

 

I can think of several games in which a female character had a strong role and she was not objectified.  Uncharted always had a strong female character.  While she was not playable, she was instrumental in his quest and saved him just as many times as he saved her.  Heavenly Sword had a playable female character and I thought it was a great game.  Final Fantasy series typically has female characters that are playable though sometimes they do need to be rescued.  Most MMO's let you choose between being a female or a male character.  Mrs. Pacman was also a playable character.  The game industry and the movie industry both have lots of strong female characters some dating back decades ago.  Aliens always had a strong female character.  Even more so, they made the males look helpless compared to her.  What about all of the Resident Evil franchise in both movies and games.  Resident evil 5 had a female playable character (I can't speak on the rest because I haven't played them) and all of the movies have a female lead that kicks butt. 

 

She basically picks 2 franchises that maintain the same formula throughout.  Who can blame them though.  It is successful and why mess with success.  I didn't watch the whole video so maybe she did it later, but I would like to see statistics on this.  How many games have a strong female character.  How many women play games versus men.  What kind of profits did female games have on average versus male games.  In general, people get what people want.  As more people want strong female characters and those games are successful, more games will be made that way. 








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