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Women vs Tropes in Video Games


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#21 FableFox   Members   -  Reputation: 487

Posted 08 March 2013 - 10:53 AM

Actually there is a lot of back story about this. But it was complex and I don't have the time.

 

Anyway, since there is a lot of insiders here, can someone tell me what is her relation to Electronic Arts? There are rumors going on, which might affect her transparency with games she criticize.


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#22 AniMerrill   Members   -  Reputation: 203

Posted 08 March 2013 - 12:03 PM

- 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.

 Yeah, and Super Mario RPG. I'm not sure why a couple of the most popular side franchises are being left out...? I could understand not counting the mini-game festival or the go-kart racer, but SMRPG and Paper Mario have actual stories, quite in depth compared to the rest of the franchise, and each offer at least one game where she actively fights alongside Mario to help him defeat a baddy that's even beyond Bowser. In fact, the Paper Mario example is more of a platformer than an RPG... very similar to Super Mario 2 actually... I understand that the core franchise is MOST popular because, well, its core... but all of these games share the franchise's general popularity and have their place in the collective subconscious of gamers. This could have been a good moment to be like "Well, actually, here's this one time they did it right..." and then explain how this is better for women in gaming or empowerment or something.

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).

Here's the thing: she INTENDS to do a documentary, but what we've gotten is at the level of videos that hobbyists are doing right now for free- like the Nostalgia Critic and AVGN as he mentions. And with six months of production time for this one video, it's obvious this wasn't just money so she could do her research without the distraction of a job, since her research is very shallow. It's relatively obvious that the entire thing went into visual effects and probably licencing characters and commercials so they could be used here, which probably means she intends to sell this on DVD or something.

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.

 I'm sorry if this comes across as aggressive, but your post really pisses me off so I may sound a bit irrational here. Here's the problem with your argument: she wasn't paid to do work, or because she sold a product. She basically just talked about something she wanted to do to the internet and people gave her money. That's fine and dandy if those people want to do that. But when she turns around with that money and puts out a lackluster video with shallow research, uninteresting delivery, a tired out message, six months after she announced the project... YEAH. She could have probably done this for free. Probably most of the money got put into the special effects budget and legal stuff concerning the images and video she showed. Probably so she can turn around and sell this on DVD.

The thing about the people he was citing as examples of people who do something for fun just because they like doing it, they do actually get paid. From ad revenue, but yes the Nostalgia Critic and AVGN are a couple of the most successful video creators on the internet. But they don't get paid for promising six months after their kickstarter money comes in that they'll act like an idiot on camera and make lame jokes, they just do it because it's a hobby turned career for them and people eat it up AFTER they've done the actual work.
 
That's like people from this site going to kickstarter and being like "Hey, I've got a cool idea for a game- with no playable demo or anything -give me money so I can turn out a cheap Mario ripoff I could have done for free!"

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 think the biggest weakness of her research and/or delivery is she just tries to come off as a hip gamer. What would have been interesting, if she really cares about this, would have been to do some deep research into the trope: more than a two minute history on where it came from, why it appeals to mass audiences so much, the psychological impact on people who are ingrained with this trope, etc. But most of this stuff could probably be found on TvTropes anyway... Also, I think another thing that would have been good for her to do is instead make a blanket statement about ALLLLLLLLLLLL the games that use this trope, and end up mentioning five, would have been to reach for examples where this ISN'T the case. Be like "This is an example of a good female character".
 
The most interesting part of the video was how she explained the transition from Dinosaur Island to Star Fox Adventures... which I think I'd heard before anyway but meh. Although, level with me for a second here, in that example was it REALLY the need for an disempowered damsel that was the real nature of the change... or was it really that a game made by a tiny (and close to failing) company wasn't able to have its own voice because it wouldn't sell and so they sloppily put a franchise character from a bigger company in order to improve the sales. As an Indie Developer that makes me much more mad than the fact they used a tired out trope that has no bearing on reality.

 

I'm not the biggest feminist in the world, in fact I think most feminists (like her) are kind of ridiculous, but I do understand the desire and want for the sexes to be equal. I understand things like unequal pay and a frivolous attitude to certain violent crimes towards women are some of the REAL things that still affect us socially. I also think that when you cherry pick a medium for the answer, it's ridiculous and completely ignores the real problem. Saying that video games and tropes are the cause of society's ills is exaggerating at best and just misdirection at worst. You want a good argument why this is true? Look at PETA. Look at how they pick out games, because they're topical, and try to make them seem like the cause of the attitudes they're against. It's ludicrous, video games have little to no effect, at least to my knowledge of any studies on the subject, on actual animal abuse. It comes from a society that values monetary gain above all else and are willing to fight animals against each other, beat seals to death for fur, or find the most efficient but painful and humiliating way to store farm animals for slaughter. Same thing with feminists: the idea of the patriarchy is much older than video games. Video games with this trope aren't a cause, they're a symptom of the actual problem.


Edited by AniMerrill, 08 March 2013 - 12:03 PM.

AniMerrill, a.k.a. Ethan Merrill


#23 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 9639

Posted 08 March 2013 - 12:11 PM

I'm sorry if this comes across as aggressive, but your post really pisses me off so I may sound a bit irrational here. Here's the problem with your argument: she wasn't paid to do work, or because she sold a product. She basically just talked about something she wanted to do to the internet and people gave her money. That's fine and dandy if those people want to do that. But when she turns around with that money and puts out a lackluster video with shallow research, uninteresting delivery, a tired out message, six months after she announced the project... YEAH. She could have probably done this for free.

So basically, what you are saying is that if she had made this in only 3 months, and come to a conclusion you agree with, you wouldn't be bashing her on the internet?

 

How many of the video games you see on kickstarter will actually be finished, in a timely manner, and to a quality to compete with AAA titles?

 

You can't (without a healthy dose of hypocrisy) go around bashing her for doing exactly the same thing everyone else does with kickstarter. 


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#24 BladeOfWraith   Members   -  Reputation: 245

Posted 08 March 2013 - 04:51 PM

this makes men the subject of narratives, while relegating women to the role of object. This is a form of objectification, because women are being acted upon.

This would also make the villain an object and being acted upon. Villains are almost always male. Thus nearly all* games with a damsel in distress are sexist against both men and women.


*Except Battletoads. That combined a damsel in distress with a female villain.


"You can't say no to waffles" - Toxic Hippo


#25 L. Spiro   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 12325

Posted 08 March 2013 - 06:39 PM

Am I just the least-offended person regarding this video?  Maybe it’s tolerance built up from living in so many different cultures over my life.

 

She has her views and you have yours.  Is that not the end of it?  Why 2 pages on this?

 

Ironically I see most of you battling your sides as unrealistically as you claim she is battling hers.

Criticizing her amount of research is basically just lame, since there is always a way to criticize that no matter what the production is.  You can always say they didn’t mention this or that with a subject such as this.  There is literally no such thing as “enough” research.  What you say she did not mention in this video she may mention in the next, to which you would reply, “But she still didn’t mention blah blah blah.”  Do you want a 100-hour video in which all she does it mention every possible thing there is to mention?

Seriously.

 

It is usually more about what she chooses to mention rather than what she failed to research.

And since this is a feminist video it’s fairly obvious that she will be a bit picky on what she mentions and how she presents things.

 

Frankly I applaud her restraint in some cases, but her biased view does take shape in subtle areas.  She does in a few cases mention the other side of the story, but quickly gets back to her side as if to hope that we will quickly forget the exception.

 

Both she and most people here are making both correct and moot points.

She tries to come off as a hip gamer?  No.  She doesn’t.  No clue how anyone would think that.

 

She is correct that women have a certain traditional role in video games.

She is incorrect in how to go about changing that (it is assumed this is her goal, because what else would her goal be?).

 

Video games are made by males for males.  The only hope there is for changing that is to get more women to be gamers and especially to be developers.

When women are a major target audience, games for women will become more common-place and their role in games can slowly be changed.

A recent study showed that females have a hard time in game companies and most of them leave the industry.

I am sorry, but what do you expect to change by leaving?

 

You can’t make a video bashing a male-oriented industry when the only people who have a chance at changing that are just giving up.  A video aimed at bashing the females who left the industry would be more effective.  As the only possible solution to the problem, is it not their fault that it perpetuates?

 

But I am also tired of saving princesses etc.  She is correct that that is a very shallow and easy plot point.

 

But feminism in itself is also a useless thing.

Females have a role in society, which changes based on culture, but is ultimately a role they accepted over the course of the evolution of humans as a species.

You don’t see men being portrayed as helpless victims to be rescued by women.

Why?

Because men do not and never have had any tendencies to accept that role.  In fact nature dictates that men are hunters and gave them the physical structure of such.

 

Why are games oriented towards males?

Because they appeal to males more than they do to females.

If you want to change that, put a chemical into the rivers that will make females as competitive as males.

 

That being said, it is understandable to spite video games as a female.

Since men and women are definitely mentally different, there are male-only and female-only industries.  And neither has a problem with the other.

You never see women saying, “More women should be car mechanics,” nor do you see any men saying, “More men should be seamstresses.”

Both sides are happy to let the other just be.

Why?  Because those industries do not portray the other side at all.

 

Video-games are a male-run and male-consumed industry (you can cite statistics that show females gaming as much as males, but unfortunately the games they play are free or very cheap—an industry thrives on money, not just the total number of players, and most of it comes from males).

So why not just let the males be?

Because their games include females.

 

That is the source of females’ rage, but reasonable people would not be so bothered by that.

Females are the weaker sex.

Just not where it matters.

Physically?  Yes.  And a bit more submissive.

But physical strength is no longer a part of our lives.  Who cares?  Women still have an equally important role in society as men do.  There is no reason for males and females to be treated equally in all things.  If men and women were exactly the same, how could society even function?

We need to be different, and as long as those differences add up to the same overall value—which they do—then why all the fuss?

 

Get over it.

 

Women, want to get revenge on the men?

Disappear from the Earth.  That would drive the men absolutely batshit crazy.  A sign of females’ value to men despite any perceived objectification.

 

 

L. Spiro


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#26 Oberon_Command   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1795

Posted 08 March 2013 - 06:48 PM

We need to be different, and as long as those differences add up to the same overall value—which they do—then why all the fuss?

I would like to see some justification for this claim, please. On the face of it, it makes no sense to me.

#27 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 926

Posted 08 March 2013 - 07:04 PM

I was told on another thread about this that Sarkeesian probably payed out thousands of dollars in fees to Nintendo to use its media in her series. I had been under the impression that she was covered under fair use, but apparently this is not the case?

 

Can anyone who has a serious understanding of this topic comment on that? Did she have to spend a lot of money to use Nintendo images, videos, characters and so forth? Or was it under fair use because it was a criticism of the industry, particularly Nintendo?



#28 BladeOfWraith   Members   -  Reputation: 245

Posted 08 March 2013 - 07:19 PM

I don't think there would be much disagreement that "save the princess" is lazy and overdone. But so is "zombie apocalypse" and "legendary hero" and "super marine who can save humanity" and "small time criminal working his way up the crime chain".

 

But the same way "save the princess" is contorted into sexism, I could contort "zombie apocalypse" as Christian bashing, "legendary hero" as racism and "small time criminal" as anti-capitalist. It's really just simplistic and lazy.


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#29 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 27883

Posted 08 March 2013 - 07:28 PM

I think a lot of people here are forgetting the premise of the series, which is analyzing common tropes (which are cliched by definition) from the perspective of feminism.
If you're not interested in that premise, then of course you're going to have a lot of criticism for the content.

#30 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 926

Posted 08 March 2013 - 07:44 PM

I think a lot of people here are forgetting the premise of the series, which is analyzing common tropes (which are cliched by definition) from the perspective of feminism.
If you're not interested in that premise, then of course you're going to have a lot of criticism for the content.

Its still lazy feminism. I've seen so much better analysis for free.



#31 CRYP7IK   Members   -  Reputation: 807

Posted 08 March 2013 - 07:45 PM

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.

 

Women are free to have a different role in the media. Nothing is stopping anyone from doing what they are saying.

 

If they so badly want a female protagonist or antagonist no-one is stopping them. What she wants is others to cater around to her tastes, which is fine that's what everyone wants, but to wrap it up in 'feminist' issues is dubious at best. Not to mention there are games with female protagonists already and if she did her research she would have found them.

 

She basically pointed out that women are used as a motivator for stories, yes everyone knows this. Why is this bad and/or sexist? THAT is what she failed to deliver IMO.


Edited by CRYP7IK, 08 March 2013 - 07:45 PM.

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#32 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 9639

Posted 08 March 2013 - 07:49 PM

I've seen so much better analysis for free.

I still don't get this whole "for free" crap.

 

She made a halfway decent kickstarter pitch, managed to grab some media attention to fuel her funding, and produced what may be a mediocre result.

 

How is that different from every other bloody kickstarter? If anything, it's a flaw in kickstarter's business model, not hers.


Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @Amazon - [swiftcoding]


#33 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 926

Posted 08 March 2013 - 08:03 PM

I've seen so much better analysis for free.

I still don't get this whole "for free" crap.

 

She made a halfway decent kickstarter pitch, managed to grab some media attention to fuel her funding, and produced what may be a mediocre result.

 

How is that different from every other bloody kickstarter? If anything, it's a flaw in kickstarter's business model, not hers.

If you would like to make a thread to discuss another kickstarter that is well known and produced a mediocre result I would be happy to say the same thing about it, presuming I agreed.



#34 Khaiy   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1342

Posted 08 March 2013 - 08:27 PM

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.

 

Women are free to have a different role in the media. Nothing is stopping anyone from doing what they are saying.

 

If they so badly want a female protagonist or antagonist no-one is stopping them. What she wants is others to cater around to her tastes, which is fine that's what everyone wants, but to wrap it up in 'feminist' issues is dubious at best. Not to mention there are games with female protagonists already and if she did her research she would have found them.

 

She basically pointed out that women are used as a motivator for stories, yes everyone knows this. Why is this bad and/or sexist? THAT is what she failed to deliver IMO.

 

 

This is my biggest criticism of the video, though maybe it's addressed in later entries in the series: that her point is unclear.

 

I don't think she's complaining that there are no female protagonists/antagonists in video games, nor that there are overt forces preventing better female characters. Her complaint is that a female character in a video game tends to be relegated to a particular role, and that role is one of powerlessness and inaction until a male character comes along to save her. Even in games where there are "stronger" female characters they tend to be the player's assistants at best. Pointing out that this isn't the case 100% of the time isn't all that meaningful if it turns out to be the case, say, 95% of the time. Usually the point of an inquiry like this video is to examine if and how the trope is manifested in representative works and then think about how the trope may influence or be influenced by other media.

 

My biggest criticism of her thesis is that I think she is trying to use a historically pervasive dramatic trope in a particularly constrained medium and then single that medium out. Video games are different from books and movies because the player can interact with things. Certainly early in their history video games were far more popular with boys than girls, and the games reflected that. But were video games different in their gender representations than movies or books or TV produced at the same time? are they today? These are more interesting questions to me, and can still be investigated from a feminist perspective, but at least they reflect that video games have never been produced in a cultural vacuum; certainly no moreso than anything else ever has been.

 

More generally, all non-player characters are servants to the player's experience-- I would be unhappy in any game if an NPC had a bigger role in resolving the plot than me regardless of its gender. You could say the same about a player character as well given that he or she is distinct from the player. That makes it really really easy to cast any video game character in a feministically unfriendly way: if the player character is a woman, does that mean that she's just a puppet for her a player, statistically likely to be male? If the archvillain of a game is a woman, does that mean that the player is out to destroy a powerful woman? Certainly these arguments, and limitless others, could be made. That doesn't mean that they're right, just that they can be analytically valid.

 

I would have preferred other investigations than the ones that she presented, like the controversy over Lara Croft's origin story in the latest Tomb Raider game, or a look into gender or exclusions in games more broadly, or at least effort to break games out  by time period and compared with contemporaneous cultural norms. I think that the specific evidence she chose and the questions she framed really undermine the quality and relevance of her analysis. It's not that I think it's invalid, I just think that the video is somewhat off target and doesn't do enough to really contribute to the topic.



#35 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 9639

Posted 08 March 2013 - 08:37 PM

If you would like to make a thread to discuss another kickstarter that is well known and produced a mediocre result I would be happy to say the same thing about it, presuming I agreed.

But that's not actually what you said. You said that 'someone else' could do better on their own dime - which quite apart from being an empty tautology, implies that people shouldn't ask for money ever.

 

And that bothers me, because it just flies in the face of the entire purpose of kickstarter: enabling creativity and entrepreneurship. Why should anyone get a pass for using kickstarter to fund their project? I'm sure Subset Games could have lived on ramen instead, and I'm sure Plotkin could have kept his day job and written at night...

 

You know, I saw Anita's kickstarter during the whole controversy, and despite feeling bad for her about the number of males being colossal dicks to her over the internet, I didn't fund her kickstarter. Why? Because her pitch didn't convince me that she could produce a decent product. And I back a lot of kickstarters - anyone who feels they got 'burnt' in the deal has only themselves to blame for not recognising an amateur when they see one.


Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @Amazon - [swiftcoding]


#36 Shannon Barber   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1356

Posted 08 March 2013 - 09:04 PM

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.

 

A plot they stopped following 25 years ago ... SOMETHING MUST BE DONE, I NEED MONIEZ!!!


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#37 L. Spiro   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 12325

Posted 09 March 2013 - 02:24 AM


We need to be different, and as long as those differences add up to the same overall value—which they do—then why all the fuss?

I would like to see some justification for this claim, please. On the face of it, it makes no sense to me.


I think it is fairly obvious. Would you prefer that we are all exactly the same?

Being different keep things interesting. But I know that keeping a mix in things is much more important to me than it is to most others.


L. Spiro
It is amazing how often people try to be unique, and yet they are always trying to make others be like them. - L. Spiro 2011
I spent most of my life learning the courage it takes to go out and get what I want. Now that I have it, I am not sure exactly what it is that I want. - L. Spiro 2013
I went to my local Subway once to find some guy yelling at the staff. When someone finally came to take my order and asked, “May I help you?”, I replied, “Yeah, I’ll have one asshole to go.”
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#38 IncidentRay   Members   -  Reputation: 154

Posted 09 March 2013 - 02:54 AM

 

We need to be different, and as long as those differences add up to the same overall value—which they do—then why all the fuss?

I would like to see some justification for this claim, please. On the face of it, it makes no sense to me.

 

I think it is fairly obvious. Would you prefer that we are all exactly the same?

Being different keep things interesting. But I know that keeping a mix in things is much more important to me than it is to most others.


L. Spiro

Read http://pervocracy.blogspot.co.nz/2011/03/gray-coveralls.html please.

 

Women, want to get revenge on the men?
Disappear from the Earth.  That would drive the men absolutely batshit crazy.  A sign of females’ value to men despite any perceived objectification.

Also, do you really need to repeat this tired old cliche?  Actually, back in this thread (http://www.gamedev.net/topic/639144-sony-and-the-ps4-im-impressed-your-thoughts/page-3) you were rightly criticizing the stereotyping of men as "sex-hungry dolts".  So why the change?


Edited by IncidentRay, 09 March 2013 - 02:54 AM.


#39 ChaosEngine   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2149

Posted 09 March 2013 - 03:06 AM

Wow.

I seriously can't believe that on a forum that's supposedly populated by intelligent developers I'm seeing such pathetic defensive posts.

Her points are entirely valid. For any triple A game you can name where we have a strong female lead, I can name TEN where they are damsels or male titilation as leads.
if you think programming is like sex, you probably haven't done much of either.-------------- - capn_midnight

#40 BGB   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1545

Posted 09 March 2013 - 03:36 AM

I don't think there would be much disagreement that "save the princess" is lazy and overdone. But so is "zombie apocalypse" and "legendary hero" and "super marine who can save humanity" and "small time criminal working his way up the crime chain".
 
But the same way "save the princess" is contorted into sexism, I could contort "zombie apocalypse" as Christian bashing, "legendary hero" as racism and "small time criminal" as anti-capitalist. It's really just simplistic and lazy.

hmm...

only a rough and tough legendary hero space marine can save humanity, by concealing his marine nature, to work his way up the crime chain, forming and breaking alliances as he goes, on his quest to rescue his love-interest, a space princess, from the evil overlord crime-boss, who makes a business of bringing in criminals and heroes from across time and space to battle each other, and the hoards of the undead, in large-scale competitions and arena battles (involving melee, gunfire combat, racing combat, ...) watched from around the universe.

queue dramatic intro scene:
hero is coming home after a day doing marine stuff, only to find his love interest being abducted, him being stopped from rescuing her by a crowd of undead, as sparkly teleport effects slowly cause her to disappear, as she calls out the protagonists name, ... because the overlord saw her and was awestruck by her prettiness, ...

the overlord can be himself large and towering and overly masculine with an almost ape-like appearance and a large mustache and a massively over-sized cigar (around the of a normal person's arm), who takes everything over-serious and is uncompromising, and served by dim-witted yes-men wearing snazzy uniforms. maybe he also does lots of long range meetings and conferences over a giant TV / viewscreen, ...

maybe the hero can be aided along his quest via an insider, a mysterious black guy with psychic powers (and ninjitsu), an afro, and who talks in Jive ("hey, this cool cat know what be going on, man...").
maybe also a spunky sharp-witted teenage schoolgirl, with skills in one-liners and hacking (and can summon-up high-tech weaponry).
...

...

yep, totally original...




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