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Women vs Tropes in Video Games

82 posts in this topic

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.
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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?

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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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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.
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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.

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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
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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.

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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.

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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 [i]different[/i] 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, [i]all[/i] 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.

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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.

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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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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
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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
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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.
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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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My only beef with the whole thing is the quality of it vs. how much she got from Kickstarter, nothing to do with her message. Honestly I've started to lose faith in Kickstarter, and everyone who says its actually their fault for bad business practices... I agree. And its not that I'm mad because I actually funded it either. I'm mad because you could probably go on YouTube, right now, and find more in depth discussion by women and men alike on a topic like this that they recorded in their spare time in their pajamas. And, more than likely, some of those people probably make decent ad money in comparison to the costs they put into their video- which for most is close to none.
 
 

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.

 
And I think this is a perfectly good argument as to why her points AREN'T completely valid, at least not the way she delivered them. In the end, characters are ALL objects, objects of our amusement... regardless if they're male, female, or asexual frog people. They're ALL puppets in a plot, to tell a STORY. Mileage may vary if you do or do not like the story (I knew I grew out of the "rescue the princess" plot when I was... like six), but that's all it is. Encapsulation of the human experience. Again, it is a symptom not a cause of the real, actual problems I would agree with a feminist any day that actually, really exist. Stories about objectification and sexual exploitation are grossly common, but that's because its a sad part of human nature we need to change in REALITY.
 
Of course I want video games with more empowered, more female-centric plots and less stupid damsel characters... because that's going to be the moment where video games stop being a gross mass media and start becoming an art. Telling the stories of general, real human experience and not just the stories an 18-35 year old male want to hear.
 
EDIT:
Here, video on same general topic, taking a slightly different angle, and making a good interesting argument in under 8 minutes.

Edited by AniMerrill
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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?

Because it can in this cased be used to support my stance on the topic.
Name a single human who does not wheel certain facts into his or her direction for his or her own sake.

In fact I was really hoping someone would call me on that and point it out. Thank you so much.

And we return to my original point.
Why am I the least-bothered by this video?

Because I truly accept that everyone has a view on a subject.
Yep, I have my views on “Take a running start here” in those same PlayStation Portable ads in your link prompting people to to commit train suicide.
And just now I mentioned that instead of the “Your girlfriend’s white bits here” part that I originally mentioned.
Why? Because it supports the point I want to make more.
Exactly what she did during the entire video.

That is not to say she is entirely wrong. I mean you can skew things in your favor, but sometimes those things are really true.
The basic fundamental idea is that I believe no one is special. We all skew things. No one is immune.
Not me, not you, not even Hodgman.

As long as I can accept that reality this video does not bother me.

I am a scientist and I do care about facts, but if you can’t distinguish between personal things and scientifically provable things then you are in for a world of hurt.
But past that a lot people do know what is science and what is not, but still put their feelings into it.

I watched the video and as a veteran of the industry I certainly know the history more than she does. I can easily give her credit in some spots because there were a few details I did not know. And I was just happy to learn.

If you are a person who only seeks knowledge and cares nothing about ego, do you not see her video the same way as I do?
Being in the industry for so long of course I knew most things on the video, but really I did also learn a few things.
The fact that her viewpoint is not my own is not a factor in the “I have gained new knowledge and thus become a better human overall” equation.

Sorry but I am absorbed in this selfless attitude in which people can present tons of information in strange and maybe biased ways, but as long as I feel I have learned something true I am satisfied, regardless of peoples’ biases. I do try to sort out their biases, but as long as I feel I am doing that correctly I am fine. And by this point any mistake is my own fault.

The fact that their ideas are not my own do not factor into this. Not even remotely. I didn’t even consider that was possible.
I guess I got carried away with this idea which is why it shocked me that this would ever go beyond a single page.


Seriously, how much is there to discuss??
Her views do not align with your own. End of story?
Please?
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My only beef with the whole thing is the quality of it vs. how much she got from Kickstarter, nothing to do with her message. Honestly I've started to lose faith in Kickstarter, and everyone who says its actually their fault for bad business practices... I agree.

I still think that is profoundly unfair to her, and represents a fundamental misunderstanding of kickstarter's model.
 
She didn't ask for that money (she only asked for $6,000, or about 3 months living expenses). She was freely given the extra $150,000 after a bunch of assholes created massive media coverage for her. And for I'd say that the resulting quality/length/research is about right for $6,000 - not every project scales infinitely.
 
Kickstarter isn't a microinvestment platform (where you would expect a return on your investment), and it isn't a sales platform (where you expect goods in return for your investment). It's purely a platform to fund creativity - you see something you think would make the world a better place, you donate a few bucks to make it happen. If it doesn't happen, or the result sucks? No loss, you only spent a few bucks, and you'll know better next time...

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My only beef with the whole thing is the quality of it vs. how much she got from Kickstarter, nothing to do with her message. Honestly I've started to lose faith in Kickstarter, and everyone who says its actually their fault for bad business practices... I agree.

I still think that is profoundly unfair to her, and represents a fundamental misunderstanding of kickstarter's model.
 
She didn't ask for that money (she only asked for $6,000, or about 3 months living expenses). 

 

I dunno. There's a lot of youtube content creators that didn't need $6,000 to make very high quality videos. The fact that she needed any money at all should indicate a higher level of quality than the average youtube video.

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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.

I don't think that's the point people are making.

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I dunno. There's a lot of youtube content creators that didn't need $6,000 to make very high quality videos. The fact that she needed any money at all should indicate a higher level of quality than the average youtube video.

Everyone has living expenses - either those youtube content creators do it as a hobby while working a day job, or they are making a living from ad revenue/sponsors.

 

Do you think there is something wrong with wanting to make a living from what you love, rather than just doing it as a part time hobby?

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And rent on a serviceable apartment is like 250$.

Where do you live? In American cities big enough to have some software companies to work for, I haven't seen apartments that cheap, basically, ever.

 

I worked in a smaller city in the 1990's and at that time and place about the cheapest you could go was $400 a month -- and even that is certainly not possible now, even there.

Edited by jwezorek
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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.

Maybe I should clarify. I'm not disputing that having a society consist of an army of identical drones is a bad thing; I don't want that, either. I value and cherish individuality as do most of my friends. But that's not what we're talking about here. Your claim in the context of this thread was that the genders need to be different, not individuals; that in order for society not to fall apart, people with different genitalia need to have different personalities, specifically as a consequence of what genitalia they have. THAT is the claim I was disputing; THAT is the claim that has yet to be justified. Edited by Oberon_Command
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Do you think there is something wrong with wanting to make a living from what you love, rather than just doing it as a part time hobby?

There's nothing wrong with it. I'm not saying she shouldn't have done the kickstarter/made the video. I'm saying she should have done a better job of it. Expectations go way up when you want to be paid for doing something.
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Seriously, how much is there to discuss??
Her views do not align with your own. End of story?

Life would be incredibly boring if people just stopped talking to each other when they don't agree. Welcome to internet forums :) 

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