Blizzard On Heroes Of The Storm, Female Designs In MOBAs

By Nathan Grayson on November 22nd, 2013 at 9:00 pm.

Papa Blizzard, Papa Blizzard! Why are Aunt Kerrigan and Uncle Diablo fighting? No, seriously, why? I didn’t even know they were from the same side of the family. Or the same dimension. And yet, for all the “because why not”-ness of the game’s premise, Heroes of the Storm plays quite nicely, taking MOBA mechanics and sanding down the rough edges to a point of real intuitiveness – sculpting a svelte ice swan from a figurative iceberg. I discussed the surprise hit of BlizzCon with game director Dustin Browder, and we touched on everything from business models to plans for a map editor to whether or not Heroes counts as a “casual” MOBA. That was all delightful. Unfortunately, Browder’s perspective on the MOBA genre’s epidemic of absurd, hypersexualized female characters turned out significantly less so. 

RPS: What is the Storm? How does one become a hero of it? Is it at all important to any sort of story? A blizzard is a type of storm. Is it just another way to say Heroes of Blizzard?

Browder: Honestly, theories differ. Some people have said that it’s Heroes of Blizzard, because yeah, Blizzard is a storm. Other people have said the Nexus is sort of a storm of worlds crashing together. That’s where it’s come from. And some people just thought it was a cool-sounding word.

Inside the studio, I think you get all three of those answers to where it comes from and what it means.

RPS: Is there any sort of story here – if not with narrations and cut-scenes then through, say, little mid-match character interactions ala League of Legends?

Browder: It’s very light in terms of how it’s done. Heroes meet in the Nexus to battle it out. For glory, for honor, and kind of just for the fun of it. It’s not canon or because Thrall died in some battle and now he can’t be in Orgrimmar or something. It’s very loose. I mean, this is a game where at some point a murloc is gonna get Diablo in a headlock and kill him. It’s not a serious game. It’s not a serious part of the lore.

We’re doing some character interaction stuff, though. We’ve got heroes who will talk back-and-forth to each other. We have a line where Nova kills Arthas, and she’s like, “Who’s the ghost now?” We’ll try to have relationships. We certainly had discussions about Kerrigan and Raynor when they’re on the same team, when they’re on separate teams, etc. So I think we’re going to have a lot of fun with relationships that already exist and ones you might imagine would exist if these characters came together.

RPS: Over the years, I’ve developed a wild theory: Blizzard is not, in fact, an altruistic charity like everyone presumes, but is instead some sort of business. How do you plan on making money off this one? 

Browder: At this point, the basic outline I can give you is that we’re probably gonna have a rotation of heroes you can check out or change over time. We’re gonna give you an earned currency you can use to check out or permanently purchase anything you want to use in the game. We’re excited about the idea of – though I’m not sure if we’re going to go this way or not – hero-specific quests that you can complete. Those will earn you things.

We’ve also really geeked out about what the Hearthstone guys did with their quest system. They encouraged people to play as different classes in that game. I don’t have a Druid deck, but I got a quest the other night to be one. Six hours later, I’m playing my new Druid deck and optimizing it. It got me out of my rut of playing my Warrior deck. We’re excited by the idea of maybe doing something similar to that.

We also want to give you additional earned currency for playing with your friends. So if you just went into chat and made a friend, that’s totally OK. We want to get you playing with your buddies, form new relationships, and try new things. Those are the basic values of the system we’re building.

RPS: LoL and DOTA have taken eSports by storm, but how is your Storm going to take eSports by… DOTA? No, that really doesn’t work. Please act as though I said nothing, but randomly answer a question about similar topics stated much more eloquently. 

Browder: We’re pretty much going to do what we did with StarCraft II. We’re going to provide the tools, we’re going to provide all the features we have time to create, and we’re going to create the best game possible. Then we’re going to see what the community does with it.

That’s exactly what happened with StarCraft, and now here we are years later doing WCS. This is after years of community development, and we’re looking at it saying, “How can we help this community be stronger and better? How can we help our partners to do better on their end?” So we’re trying to very gently support our community and make sure that they’re as successful as they deserve to be.

It’ll be the same way with Heroes. And if the community takes it to a place where we find ways to help them, then we will come in with everything we can to help them be successful.

RPS: I suppose Heroes of the Storm would also make for a pretty different eSports proposition than LoL or DOTA. It’s streamlined in a way that I think people are enjoying quite a bit, but that also makes it – and this has become a pretty dirty word in the gaming industry – a lot more casual. 

Browder: It’s like Hearthstone in that respect. Is that game casual? Yeah, sometimes. But after you play it for a while, is it anymore? It’s a very competitive game. It is, in many ways, simpler than what anyone else has done.

We’ve removed things that we didn’t like in the genre for Heroes, and we’ve added new things to make it even more complicated. Or maybe more challenging, is a better way to put it. It’s not about providing you with 17 choices that are all watered down. It’s about providing a few choices that are each like a nail in your brain. Like, “Oooooof! Which three… [gasps dramatically] I don’t know!” That’s what makes great game design.

I think the game will be competitive. I actually feel like it’s competitive when we play in the office. I don’t feel like it’s very casual. I feel like my need to coordinate with my team over map objectives is enormous. The better team wins, and the worse team loses. We need to come together as a group and win these matches by correct composition, by correct positioning, by hitting skillshots – the whole thing.

But I don’t know where it’s going. You could totally be right.

RPS: It’s certainly an interesting position to be in. So far, the genre has thrived on players who are super dedicated to eating up all sorts of tiny, sometimes arbitrary nuances – both in order to understand the rules and, ultimately, to be best at playing their favorite characters. The best MOBAs fuse the thrill of rapid-fire character building with the long-term satisfaction of learning. I can’t help but wonder if your game can match that level of near-bottomless depth. Do you even want it to?

Browder: That is awesome [that players can have that kind of experience with those games]. There are players who will continue to like that, and they won’t find as much of that in this game, and they won’t like it as much as a result.

RPS: What sort of crowd are you aiming to pull in? 

Browder: The crowd that likes Heroes of the Storm.

We don’t really know, to be honest. There’s this belief that we must do a bunch of market research before we start making games. We have all these clever guys and we do all these focus groups. We get this perfect target audience [demographic], this guy, and then we build our games especially for him. But really at Blizzard we build the games we want to play. We build games that get us excited and are aesthetically pleasing to us. They have clean game design. They have pretty art. The code is well-built. We like these things, and we hope they find an audience.

We don’t necessarily want Heroes to be like WoW, but I’m using WoW as a comparison. When they shipped it back in 2004, the biggest MMO at the time was EverQuest. I remember people saying, “EverQuest is the real game, and WoW is just the dumbed-down version of EverQuest.” That was some of the feedback. What WoW had done was remove some things – XP loss on death, the challenges of sitting for a long time to recover, etc – and then it added more in other areas.

It was easy to look at that and be like, “Oh, they just removed some shit.” But once people got into it, they realized there was always other stuff.

That’s what we’re going for. I don’t know if we’ve succeeded. We could totally fail. But we’re trying to create an experience where we’ve gotten rid of some stuff and added other stuff. It’s its own experience. We feel like when we play, it’s very competitive and very scary and there’s a lot of skill involved, but we’ll see.

RPS: Heroes’ maps are already fairly elaborate – at least, insofar as some have “quest”-like objectives and others have multiple locations/tiers – but how crazy are you planning to get with future additions?

Browder: That’s the beauty of having the map editor we have and building a game around different battlegrounds. We want to communicate to players very early that this is not about one map. This is not about a collection of maps. This is about a constantly evolving selection.

It’s a lot like what we did with StarCraft II. We shipped that in 2010, and the general consensus from the community was, “Make Lost Temple, and then go away. We don’t need your maps.” And we were like, “O… OK.” So we made a bunch of maps like Lost Temple. But here we are in 2013, and if we don’t update the map pool every couple of weeks or months, the community is up on us like, “Dude, where’s my new maps?” And that’s right. That’s correct. That’s one way to play with a constantly evolving set of terrain.

We really want to do that with Heroes as well. In 2015 at BlizzCon, you could come in with an idea for a battleground and pitch it to me, and I might say, “Oh, OK. Sounds cool.” I can take that back to the studio, put it into the editor, and have something up in just a couple weeks.

RPS: Surely, then – between that and this game’s origins as a StarCraft editor showcase – the natural conclusion is a Heroes map tool that anyone can use?

Browder: I certainly hope that it is.

We’re talking in the studio about the challenges that we have as a free-to-play game. You know, in StarCraft if you start using the editor to upload pornography, we can ban your game and ban your account, and you’re out. In a free-to-play game, we don’t really have that option. You can always create a new account.

So there are a few hiccups we have to work out in terms of security of the service. But once those are solved, we’ve got some ideas. We just need to decide which ones make the most sense. I think once those are out of the way, you can expect to see an arcade, a map editor, the whole thing. We’d love that as part of our game. I mean, it’s helped create this whole genre. We wouldn’t even be here without that.

[PR motions that time is running low]

RPS: You have some interesting alternate outfits for heroes. Roller Derby Nova, especially, caught my eye. On its own, that’s totally fine – just a silly, goofy thing. A one-off. But it got me thinking about how often MOBAs tend to hyper-sexualize female characters to a generally preposterous degree – that is to say, make it the norm, not a one-off at all – and StarCraft’s own, um, interesting focus choices as of late. How are you planning to approach all of that in Heroes? 

Browder: Well, I mean, some of these characters, I would argue, are already hyper-sexualized in a sense. I mean, Kerrigan is wearing heels, right? We’re not sending a message to anybody. We’re just making characters who look cool. Our sensibilities are more comic book than anything else. That’s sort of where we’re at. But I’ll take the feedback. I think it’s very fair feedback.

RPS: I have to add, though, that comics might not be the best point of reference for this sort of thing. I mean, it’s a medium that’s notorious – often in a not-good way – for sexing up female characters and putting them in some fairly gross situations. 

Browder: We’re not running for President. We’re not sending a message. No one should look to our game for that.

RPS: But it’s not even about a message. The goal is to let people have fun in an environment where they can feel awesome without being weirded out or even objectified. This is a genre about empowerment. Why shouldn’t everyone feel empowered? That’s what it’s about at the end of the day: letting everyone have a fair chance to feel awesome.

Browder: Uh-huh. Cool. Totally.

[PR says we've run over, tells me I have to leave]

RPS: Thank you for your time.

NOTE: This interview, quite obviously, ended in an uncomfortable place, and I decided to break that down at length in a separate opinion piece. It will be live soon, and I’ll link it here when it’s been posted.

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237 Comments »

  1. ScubaMonster says:

    I’m not sure why people would be worried about female empowerment in a MOBA. Also, not every female is disgusted when they have to play a sexy character. Cosplay is full of women dressing up as their favorite sexy characters. Much ado about nothing.

    • MykulJaxin says:

      Yeah… I’m all for feminism and equality, but I felt uncomfortable for the Blizzard guys (who I’ve been loving to hate lately)… I don’t want all my characters wearing loose flowing robes 100% of the time?
      EDIT: Let it be known that I love Blizzard, I’m just baffled by their explanation for the always-online stuff.

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        Rizlar says:

        Nathan even addresses that in his question – it’s not about getting rid of sexyness, it’s about asking for diversity.

        I understand that for a lot of people this stuff isn’t a big deal, but I am surprised that major figures in the entertainment industry don’t even want to engage with the issues. ‘We’re not sending a message’ – well you may not intend to, but every creative work contains messages whether you are conscious of them or not, obviously.

        • MykulJaxin says:

          I appreciate your respectful reply. I definitely didn’t read the article carefully enough, because I missed that.

      • MisterFurious says:

        Show me one female character in a loose flowing robe and I’ll show you a hundred standing around in a bikini with their ass sticking out.

    • Wulf says:

      Sigh. I saw this, and I have to comment. I hate commenting, but I have to.

      @ScubaMonster

      And I have a lady friend who feels violated by having someone else drooling over her character, and thus there are a number of games she won’t play. This is an attitude which is displayed commonly over at Tumblr.

      And whilst a tiny minority are in an always-on randy mode, the majority aren’t like that. It’s a blanket statement to say otherwise. It’s like saying that just because someone wrote a Star Trek slash-fiction, every Star Trek fan wants to be in on a Spock and Kirk gangbang. Do you want that? I can’t say that I want that. And you’re applying this sort of mentality to women, that women are pervs who exist solely for your amusement.

      This is why you don’t get many women posting on sites like this. Even if some of the articles are supportive, the comments are anywhere between misogynistic and sociopathic. That’s just the nature of our hobby, I suppose. It’s the kind of people it breeds. And many of the attitudes regarding women in gaming are likely responsible for that, which means that the hyper-empowered white, straight, cis-male has no empathy for anyone else.

      It’s the same as minorities in video games. It’s often racist and stereotypical, and that can lead to negative and acidic attitudes coming from gamers. There’s a reason, for example, that gay gamers keep to their own sites most of the time. It’s because they don’t see most gamers as being very good people, and they’d rather keep their own company.

      It’s easy to be elitist, and I know us PC gamers have lots of that, and say that games must be for our audience. But don’t be surprised if there are women out there who talk in places you don’t visit in rather disappointed tones about you. Exactly you. Shaking their head, at you, because they can’t help but see you as a little bit sad.

      So whilst a minority wear sexy outfits, you can’t blanket-statement all women with that.

      And often, women avoid gaming because it’s filled with utter creepers whom you wouldn’t want to have within a mile of your personal space, normally. To a nontrivial amount of women that I’ve talked to, having ‘gamer’ as a hobby is unattractive, to put it politely, since gamers have rather… archaic views of where women are on the social scale. That’s never a good thing.

      I look at gaming and I don’t understand why there are so many Mike Krahuliks and so few Jerry Holkins. And that’s why I don’t exactly cavort with gamers a lot, because if I were talking to you and you were to say to me that, “Hey, women like being sexualised because women do sexy cosplay for men like us, right?” I’d be moving away from you as quickly as I could before you finished that sentence.

      It’s like people don’t stop to think. Rape jokes are fine, misogyny is fine, objectification is fine, and it’s all much ado about nothing.

      On the other hand, I suspect that if one of your favourite male characters in a game series turned out to be a trans-man, or if you had to see one of your favourite, respected characters in a thong on regular basis, you’d be at the front of the freak-out conga line. Since men are empowered, and men deserve better than this. So why don’t women deserve better than this?

      You need more empathy.

      People in general do.

      And, you know, people wonder why I’m kind of disgusted with gamers? Remember why I got banned? It was for being pissed off that we were all treating console owners as second-class citizens. I spoke with people about that and I got funny looks for saying that I visited RPS because of that, they kind of saw the place as a bit of a scumpit because of how they treated other people. That it was a bit of a circle-jerk love-in, but not a pleasant place.

      I’ll stand by my opinion that it’s still not a pleasant place. And only you can fix that — by changing your attitude.

      • Everblue says:

        Excellent post – really thought-provoking.

        The comments to this article (and similarly comments on other gaming sites such as the Guardian blog, which one might think would be fairly grown up) remind me how toxic the gaming hobby is and how many unpleasant attitudes it hides.

      • instantcoffe says:

        I’m (a male player playing a female) Commander Shepard and this is my favorite comment ever.

      • Fluka says:

        Thank you for writing this, really.

        I’ve mostly stopped reading the RPS comments (really shouldn’t be reading this one, for my own sanity), mostly because of the kind of toxic stuff on articles like this. Or…like…random articles sometimes, too. I get tired of having my desire for diversity and empathy in character design get called unreasonable, or censorship, or what have you, over and over again. Or that John or Nathan or others are just looking for hits by discussing these issues. It’s just so exhausting and depressing. The community can be so much better than this, and yet it so often…isn’t.

      • HyenaGrin says:

        You know, I wanted to write this post, or something like it. I am usually happy to rely on my own words; I quite like them. But you’ve managed to articulate disappointed and angry into an informative post with some very good take-away points.

        Well done. Thank you for speaking up. The comments up above of this one were very disheartening.

      • TWChristine says:

        Whenever articles that touch on women in games or homosexuality, or anything that is not “the norm” (old Chris Farley joke there..) I always want to speak up and add my perspective because hey..here’s something that actually involves me! But within five minutes of an article being up, there will be 8 pages of comments as people argue and curse and it just becomes a general cesspit. And then it honestly becomes intimidating. I silence myself because 1. I’m not going to change any viewpoints anyway, 2. People on this site are much better at expressing their views than I, and 3. It feels like outing yourself all over again. And it isn’t a comfortable place to be.

      • tormos says:

        This was everything that I ever try to say on these threads and can’t. Thank you for that.

      • OfGloriousLife says:

        “And I have a lady friend who feels violated by having someone else drooling over her character, and thus there are a number of games she won’t play. This is an attitude which is displayed commonly over at Tumblr.”

        Wait…what? That’s such an irrational way of reacting to something that you have literally zero proof is happening. Why would she even care about what other people feel toward her fictional character, let alone whether or not it’s sexual?

        No reasonable person thinks like this. People with inferiority complexes and projection issues do.

        • TheOneWhoKnocks says:

          “No reasonable person thinks like this”

          OMG you are soooo ignorant!

          /sarcasm

          Welcome to the world of the uber left wing and uber vocal social justice warrior Tumblr crowd. Everyone’s a special snowflake that will melt if they feel offended over anything, and believe me they will find something to be offended over.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Yep I agree with this. The problem, and I’ve said this before, is there is a minority of people actively looking to be offended by things. They enjoy complaining and having the same argument over and over again. No matter how much things improved in their eyes it would never be perfect and hence regardless we would still be having this argument over and over again. If someone wants to complain they will find something to complain about.

            That is partially the issue, people are sick and tired of coming on a gaming news site (I’m sure most people come here for gaming news) and seeing pages of the same socio-political diatribes that could be copy pasted from dozens of different sources on this website alone.

            Of course they ended the interview. He’s a game developer there to talk about his game. The interviewer tried to back him into a corner and get him to say something that could be spun into a controversy piece regarding sexist issues. I don’t blame him not wanting to go near that with a barge pole as it seems almost possible to give a correct answer to that type of question, someone would find something wrong with what he said regardless and potentially use it against him/his company.

        • jalf says:

          … Why wouldn’t she?

          Why would a woman be more comfortable with seeing you drool over virtual women that represent her, than seeing you drool over any other woman that is not yours to drool over? Why would she be ok with women being objectified as long as it’s not happening to the her specifically?

          And remember that to a lot of people, in a lot of games, the character they play does represent themselves. It is an extension of their person, and it is part of them.

          And… zero proof? Perhaps if you ventured out to interact with these mythical “female” creatures, you too would believe that their experiences are not just a conspiracy they make up to undermine society.

          Anyway, some people *do* have inferiority complexes and projection issues. Are you saying that those people should not be allowed to play multiplayer games, because they can’t handle the way people like you would treat them? Or are you simply saying “I don’t care about those people. I don’t care that they would feel violated because of my actions”?

          Well done, you.

          • sim says:

            If she wants to play an unattractive woman instead of an attractive one, then she should lobby the game designers to design one. Presumably they will not listen, because the WOMEN who want to play unattractive women are few and far between. They (y’know, the same ones who enforce female beauty standards everywhere in society) are the ones who get up in arms to complain when the female characters aren’t pretty or cute or sexy enough, so if you wanna complain about how women are presented in games then you should complain to them about it, not to the people who are just designing the characters that they want to play for them.

            How many female trolls do you see in WoW, for example, that don’t have THE EXACT SAME FACE? They only added one cute face, so that’s the one that *everyone* picks! Why make ugly characters for the tiny minority that wants them, when they only have so much times and resources to dedicate to these things? People will just write articles complaining about how they hate women for making the ugly character adhere to some other trope about females (hint: every fictional character adheres to tropes – tropes exist for a reason), and nobody will spend money playing that character, or buying the skin, because they hate how it looks, so you just wasted your time and money making something that nobody wants, and the same whiny crybabies who complain about women being too sexy will complain about it anyway. And god forbid you make the character look strong without being stereotypically sexy or ugly… then they just look like a man (surprisingly, women look like men when you remove all their sexual characteristics)! And what does that say about women? That women are only strong if they’re like men? Misogyny everywhere!

            Also, pretty sure you have no business telling people whether or not they should be allowed to “objectify” themselves… unless… wait, are we in afghanistan? Oh right, when you tell other women what to do, it’s okay, because you have a good reason, right?

            If you can’t stand to play a game because you have to look at a pretty character model while you do, then I can’t imagine you’re able to cope with everyday life at all. Can turn on a machine, or go outside to look at billboards, or see magazines in stores, or see *other people walking in the streets*, or do just about anything else without being crushed by their overwhelming sense of inferiority if it’s *that* bad.

            Give it a rest… all these complaints are should be aimed at women themselves, not men, or – more absurdly – the gaming industry

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            DeVadder says:

            Oh boy, that comment of that Sim guy is gold. Best reason to never shut up about this matter.

            To clarify, i fully disagree with about everything Sim said. Strongly. And i really want a blog i read to alienate people like him.

          • Longtime Listener says:

            The WOW comparison is a good one.

            In my experience the cute/sexy character options are picked by the large majority of female players. I’ve met dozens of women playing Elves and maybe three women who had played as trolls. Even when they do play the uglier races they pick the best looking option the majority of the time. That includes if they’re playing a male character or a female one.

            Rest of Sim’s comment, not so much.

          • Ragnar says:

            Sim, you’re outlining the problem there: female characters are mostly sexy and scantily clothed. WoW gives you the choice between provocative and ugly, with no inbetween. So if you don’t want an ugly female, you have to put up with combat thongs and bare thighs.

            We’re not looking to get rid of the sexy characters, just to get the option to have attractive females that are modestly dressed, women that don’t all have huge breasts, pretty without provocative.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            There is definitely an inconsistency when it comes to people’s opinions on what a female character should be though. On one hand you hear lots of yelling for “more diverse and interesting female characters”. Yet you regularly hear negative opinions about female characters who don’t fit the “strong independant woman” cliche (i.e. A MENSA member that can deck Mike Tyson) as poorly representing women because how dare they portray a woman as being flawed or weak in any way, that’s sexist.

          • OfGloriousLife says:

            “Why would a woman be more comfortable with seeing you drool over virtual women that represent her, than seeing you drool over any other woman that is not yours to drool over?”

            - Again, that is a 100% irrational way of thinking while playing any online game. Again, there is literally zero proof that anyone would be having those THOUGHTS about your character. Although it’s equally silly to assume nobody ever finds fictional characters in games attractive, to have that concern on your mind while playing around other male characters (whom you can’t even prove are actually male) is unreasonable, not to mention a bit sexist toward males. Because, of course, that’s all we think about…fucking things.

            “And remember that to a lot of people, in a lot of games, the character they play does represent themselves. It is an extension of their person, and it is part of them.”

            - That doesn’t excuse the fact that it’s fake. All of it. You’re investing real-world etiquette and principles in a world that is completely false. You might as well be horrified whenever you’re ganked, because how dare anyone do that to you? It is YOU, after all.

            “And… zero proof?”

            - Yes, zero proof. You understand the concept of evidence, yeah? Here, try this: I want you to prove that I’m thinking about having sex with you right now. Good luck.

            “Anyway, some people *do* have inferiority complexes and projection issues. Are you saying that those people should not be allowed to play multiplayer games, because they can’t handle the way people like you would treat them? Or are you simply saying “I don’t care about those people. I don’t care that they would feel violated because of my actions”?

            Well done, you.”

            - Please, spare me your condemning “you’re a terrible person” nonsense. The amount of control one has in the fake worlds of games is astronomical, and it’s in no way cold or callous to view those who still desire total control as childish and unreasonable.

            If one has projection issues, then perhaps a hobby that’s much about projection isn’t right for them. If you have brittle bone structure, stay off the football field. It’s that simple.

        • kaleesh says:

          I find it extremely hard to believe that you are legitimately unaware of the fact that just playing a female character is generally enough to get sexual whispers from male players.

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        bglamb says:

        Just adding my support to this comment.

      • RexTheWonderHorse says:

        While I agree with your comment in principle, I don’t think it was fair to inflict all that upon that particular guy. Does it really count as a “blanket statement” when he says “not all women…”? Seems to me like he was just trying to say that some women don’t have a problem with the sexiness of female costumes. If anything, it looked like you were just projecting a whole oppressive, misogynistic personality onto him, pretending he was the kind of person you wanted to attack.

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          DeVadder says:

          He followed that ‘Not all women’ with ‘Much ado about nothing’. So either he assumes ‘Not all’ to be ‘almost none’ or the opinion of those women who do not dress up as sexy characters in cosplay just do not matter.

      • Monkeh says:

        Seems a bit weird that you’d say he shouldn’t generalize women, yet you’re kinda generalizing gamers as well, while actually there are a whole lot of lovely gaming communities. It’s obviously still a big problem in gaming, but I don’t see how that justifies hating gamers in general.

        • Kitsunin says:

          Just look at the comments here, on RPS. I can tell you things are even worse if you go to Youtube, or Kotaku, or most other sites. Unless you find your little niche with a “Keep out ignorant people” sign, you’re going to have to deal with a lot of bullshit if you want to deal with gamers.

        • jalf says:

          There are lots of great, lovely gamers. And they tend to group together in small, friendly comunities. The “gamer” culture at large is not friendly, great or lovely. That is *why* we group together into smaller communities. I typically play multiplayer games with a small group of 5-15 friends, because we know we’re in good company there, and that when I play with random strangers, I immerse myself into a toxic, disgusting and immature culture.

          This does not mean that you or any other individual gamer is a bad person. But I recognize that gamer culture *as a whole* has a serious problem.

        • Longtime Listener says:

          Actually Wulf is generalisng women to a *far* more insulting degree. Wulf’s description makes them sound like hysterical persecution complex victims who can’t bear to be seen and certainly can’t cope with personal interaction.

          Saying that one woman doesn’t want to have a sexy character is proof that all women are horrified at being seen as attractive is much worse to me than Scuba Monster’s generalisation that all women must like playing as cute/sexy characters.

          • Kitsunin says:

            His generalization is that they are people who don’t like to involve themselves with communities that are bullshit.

            So like everyone, pretty much.

          • Longtime Listener says:

            I was referring to his opening statement about a woman with a pathological fear of guys finding her character attractive. The fact that he extrapolates that this is the reaction of the majority is worse to me than the claim that some women like sexy characters.

            The fact Wulf’s comment is so heavily loaded and hostile against gamers doesn’t help his point.

          • Kitsunin says:

            He was talking about one single woman who feels violated by men ogling her character – I don’t get how you got a persecution complex out of that, nor how you figured he assumes every woman to be like that. He was offering her as a counterpoint to this woman that Scuba actually did assume every woman to be like, to show that no, every woman is not like that. After that paragraph Wulf goes on to say that women avoid gaming because of, as I said, a bullshit community. Not because they’re scared of feeling violated by random anon pervs who drool over their character.

      • TheOneWhoKnocks says:

        “This is an attitude which is commonly displayed over at Tumblr”

        LOL, oh no, the Tumblr social justice warriors believe something, let it be law.

      • TheOneWhoKnocks says:

        “You need more empathy”

        People in general do”

        Or do people in general need to stop feeling so important and untouchable and need to instead grow a thicker skin?

        • jalf says:

          By which I assume you mean *women* should grow thicker skin, yes? Because they’re the ones who don’t feel welcome or accepted as and by gamers.

          Have you ever wondered why women in particular are so much more prone to this thin-skin disease?

          Is it that they are the weaker sex?

          Or is it that they have to listen to *a lot* more rape threats and requests for sexual favors and insults against their appearance than you and I do?

          Really, I’d love for you to explain the simple facts we are seeing: women are underrepresented in most gaming communities. By all accounts, women play lots of games, but far less often interact with gaming communities, whether it is in RPS comment threads, forums for the specific games they play, or whatever else.

          Why is that?

          Logically, something must be different for woman gamers. Either they themselves are different, or the environment they play in is different (they get treated differently)

          Which of those two explanations do you think is the right one?
          And if, by chance, you say that they are treated differently, then do you really think “just deal with it, don’t expect to ever get treated as nicely as men do” is the right response?

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            See this point is being overexaggerated a lot. I regularly play female characters in games. I don’t ever recall a single rape threat, yet hundreds of “you are a retard”, “I’ll fuck your mom” and other nonsensical insults that I learned to ignore at the age of about 14.
            I agree that women are definitely more likely to be given problems by socially backwards types once they introduce themselves properly to a community, and this is the far greater issue that needs addressing, sexy female characters do not cause this problem as I can attest that playing female characters has given me zero increase in problems with random idiots since I started online gaming.
            In fact if you are playing an MMO or some such a female character is just as likely being played by a male as a female, so people really just need to ignore someone who starts being as asshole, they are most likely not targeting you because of your gender.
            I will clarify that the situation could be worse on US servers, I really have no idea whether this is the case or not as I always play on Central/West EU servers. Using my WoW server as an example a good percentage of the main guilds were at least part run by women and I’ve certainly not been witness to any widespread harassment of women outside of general assholery that EVERYBODY has to deal with.

      • Premium User Badge

        lurkalisk says:

        I hate to pick on a good comment, but I just have two bones to pick:

        1. Broad generalizations are always bad. Yes, cosplayers cannot be taken to represent every videogame playing female, just the same as scantily clad cosplayers cannot be taken to represent all cosplayers, just the same as the dregs of videogame playing males cannot be taken to represent all gaming males. Nothing’s that simple. Stop it!

        2. Mind: I’m American, so my observations are limited beyond that scope, but! As far as I can tell, this is a problem that pervades western masculinity. It has nothing specifically to do with games, and is often much worse in other social groupings. In my observations, I’ve found that people tend to find gamers so obnoxiously bigoted, not because they are any more so than the average person, but for the same reason it just oozes from the internet too. These people get REALLY loud, so loud they drown out the sane voices. I hypothesize that, were you to take a handful of males from any social group surrounding an interest or hobby and tried to ferret out any hidden bigotry (the sort of thing e-anonymity does for gamers), you’d stand a decent chance of being just as, if not more disgusted.
        I’m serious. Merely working at a convenience store at a point gave me insight into sexism I’d never imagined existed, let alone seen in gamers.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          Yep I agree.
          An example in point, Sunday league Football (soccer) in Britain (this is basically referring to amateur league football that average people play at the weekends rather than any sort of skilled professional football), is literally riddled with racist thugs who go out on a sunday with the intention of hurting people because thats the sort of trash that they are.
          Now of course not everybody is like this, most people just go to enjoy a game of football, but still there is a lot of complete scum playing amateur football. Still it does not get a bad reputation amongst the general community because football is seen as this glamorous sport played by highly paid superstars, it has a very positive stereotype.

          Gaming on the other hand gets one of two very negative stereotypes 1 – “But videogames are for children!”, 2 – Fat losers in their moms basement. None of this is the overriding majority of course and I would guarantee that, as you say, there are a much bigger percentage of assholes in other spheres, such as the afforementioned sunday league football, or consider going out to bars, guaranteed there will be half a dozen total fuckwads in every bar in town, lets not mince words there will be rapists, thugs, thieves and other types of criminals around you if you go out drinking in town.
          Considering gaming in the same light is stupid because while there may be a % of idiots who are free to say whatever they want via internet anonymity it is very easy to find good communities full of decent people who won’t harass anybody, I know this because I’ve been part of a few of them myself. Because of this I can’t help think that some people do believe the sterotypes when they shouldn’t. One or two bad experiences with someone being a sexist asshole etc can lead people to believe they are surrounded by creepy loser basement dwellers and it will stop them from interacting with the large % of decent, mature gamers out there.

      • Hahaha says:

        LMAO tumbler? lets not look in to what goes on at that site and how people carry and show who they are…..fuck me.

      • Vandell says:

        While I ultimately agree with your comment, I hope Blizzard goes for variety than turning away from any sexuality at all. I mean, the main issue is with the roller-derby Nova, by all accounts. Some women do enjoy playing pretty characters, some do not.

      • rayztheroof says:

        Relax, you can hop off that high horse of yours. You read way too much into his comment. He said ” Also, not every female is disgusted when they have to play a sexy character. Cosplay is full of women dressing up as their favorite sexy characters. Much ado about nothing.”

        That is the opposite of a blanket statement. He is not saying “oh, women cosplay in sexy outfits, so clearly most women are okay with it.”
        He is actually saying something more like “women can often be seen cosplaying as these ‘sexy’ characters, so not every woman out there is up in arms about it.”

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        “To a nontrivial amount of women that I’ve talked to, having ‘gamer’ as a hobby is unattractive, to put it politely, since gamers have rather… archaic views of where women are on the social scale.”

        Seems to me that you and the women you are talking to are yourselves making blanket statements about all gamers despite decrying the majority of us for doing the same a couple of sentences before.

      • Lylleth says:

        Bravo, best post in this thread!

    • mrbeman says:

      1. Why do you people use “female” as a collective noun to refer to human women?
      2. Do you ever notice how none of you ever use “male” as a similar collective noun, or ever wonder why that is?
      3. No one ever said that all women like one or another thing. Your comment makes it obvious that your comprehension of the “women in media” debate is absolutely zero.
      4. Here are some LoL women
      5. Here are some Dota2 women
      6. Compare the above with literally any male characters.

      See how there’s a diversity of depictions of men, and how unimportant their sexual characteristics are to their depiction? Men that are armored knights are shown in heavy plate armor. Women that are armored knights are shown in weird… flowing… skirt-thingies with a leotard? and a metallic bikini?

      And even the commenters who concede a sort of general, non-specific problem will never, ever cop to any specific example. Every single time someone wants to talk about the question or uses a specific example, it’s the wrong example, the wrong time etc (like, seriously, “shame on you”? Get a god damn grip). There are infinite rationalizations, and if those of us that care about the hobby ever listened to you, what little change for the better has occurred would vanish overnight.

      The whole thing with representation of women, and races other than “white”, and everything else, is that people don’t even realize they’re doing it. All the little one-offs just pile up into a big brick wall, without anyone even trying to do it, and now here we are. People are never going to change unless they’re challenged and have to think about it. And maybe in a couple days Mr. Browder will actually drop out of shocked defensiveness and realize “I’m not running for president, but I am making a video game, and in that capacity I can either help make the industry better or reinforce the status quo.” And I do think it’s important to realize how shocked and surprised he seems to be. He had no idea this was coming, because he never thinks about this question. Maybe – let’s hope – he’ll start to think about it.

      • Ranger33 says:

        Maybe it’s because I work in the medical field, but I can’t see anything wrong with using the word “female.” Everyone I know uses it and no one cares.

        • mrbeman says:

          There are narrow places where it’s an institutional Thing. When I was in the Army it was common to refer to “male Soldiers” and “female Soldiers,” or more simply “males” and “females.” Perhaps your field of work is similar (although I’m curious if you in fact do use “males” as a collective noun to refer to men).

          Out here in the regular world though, I would strongly discourage it. It tends to be used to distinguish women from a male “norm,” and is also used to refer to women as if they’re a monolithic class rather than a kind of individual. It also accords nicely with a lot of weird misogynist thinking about women as mysterious puzzle boxes that must be solved in order to access the sex-prize they contain, rather than fellow persons.

      • Kitsunin says:

        Firstly, great comment, really.

        But one thing…is that really true, about our usage of female? I know that I use “male” in the same way just as much; to indicate one half of the whole, not to indicate deviation from the norm. But, maybe I just haven’t noticed the trend…?

      • Azradesh says:

        Re use of the word female.

        It’s not been used as a collective noun, it’s been used as an adjective and damn right I use the word male in the same way!

        I’d never say anything like, “the man police officer” or, “the woman police officer” I’d say either, “the male police officer” or, “the female police officer” as well as use the nouns policeman and policewoman.

    • Eventide says:

      I personally don’t like to play women that way. I like short haired, awesome kick-ass women. And it even shows in StarCraft 2, how male characters are always burly, and female characters are so thin, it’s like a quarter of the male model. I personally am really annoyed by that.

      But I’m also annoyed, that games where classes are bound to specific characters, almost always present the same choice. The warrior type character is mostly male and burly, and the female character is either a ranger, or a mage. So in games like Hunted, I ended up playing the burly male character, and a friend of me played the elven girl.

      We get it industry, you didn’t want to make a creator, but then why is it always the same classes we are suppost to play? In TERA Online I even played a male elven character, just so I could play without crying because everyone has cool armor, except me. Or the Elin, because sleep-wear like armor is still better than a plate-bra. And while TERA and Hunted are both terrible games, it shows what a lot of games are doing. And it annoys me to no end.

      I may be a minority here, as I love playing Tanks, and self-confident female characters. But it’s not the straightness per-se. I’m a lesbian, so I like girls, still I rather see them on my level, than as half-naked dolls.

  2. Utsunomiya says:

    Blizzard 1 : 0 RPS

    Actually, how’s Roller Derby Nova hyper-sexualized? Google search’s got nothing concrete on this for some reason; isn’t it a secondary skin that shows 10% more skin, with a fabulous pink butterfly on the tip of the gun?

    • LionsPhil says:

      Add the game title to the search terms. I found this.

      Avert your gaze, be you pure of heart, lest you see her shameful thighs. Christ, RPS. Pick your battles. You bark at everything, you lose all impact.

      • Utsunomiya says:

        Yeah, that one!
        It does look like workout attire, it’s even less sexualised than clothes my dear grandmother used to wear during World War II!

        It does look like grasping at straws. I’d really like to hear more from fellow RPS interviewers.

      • db1331 says:

        Wow, how pathetic to claim to be offended by that. I think I might have caught a glimpse of her foot knot as well.

      • agemyth says:

        Oh no! The interviewer went “off message” so Dustin Browder clammed up. Of course he can’t speak openly with RPS about how Blizzard will exploit every aspect of its characters, male and female, to sell hot new SKINZ.

      • MichaelPalin says:

        Read the question about the Roller Derby Nova again and, please, consider that maybe it is YOU the one who puts himself on the defensive too fast when someone mentions sexualization in an interview.

      • harbinger says:

        Derby Nova vs. Actual Derby Girls: http://i.imgur.com/p5SHy4v.png

        • SanguineAngel says:

          At this point I am just extremely confused as to what I am seeing! I didn’t even know this was a thing

      • Serpok says:

        I find it a bit funny how they make her legs shorter to accommodate for rollers

    • bj says:

      Nobody is claiming the roller derby Nova design is hyper-sexualized.

  3. fooga44 says:

    Just more typical clickbait crap regrading ‘hypersexualization’ of moba characters. Look, most normal people like looking at pretty men and women in their entertainment. It has nothing to do with some big hateful conspiracy against women. It’s just that people *gasp* like beautiful things.

    • Cactuscat222 says:

      Oh, for sure! Totally! Except that isn’t how design direction is in MOBA games usually.

      Which is why when it comes to male characters, you see everything from grotesque zombies, entities from ethereal planes and other dimensions, silly looking little goblins and ghouls and just about any other combination of “not-really-beautiful” at all. Many of those champions/heroes are incredibly popular and loved.

      Now, let’s look at the female heroes/champions: Tall, big breasts and wide hips. Short, big breasts and wide hips. Blue, big breasts and wide hips. Half-snake, but huge breasts. Hmmm… Total diversity there!

      • Ako says:

        Come one Dota as a lot of non sexualized female:
        Broodmother, medusa, naga siren, spectre, luna, death prophet, phantom assassin…

  4. Lemming says:

    Like a dog with a bone!

  5. slothwerks says:

    Very disappointed with RPS for trying to purposefully put Blizzard in an awkward position to push an irrelevant (to the interview) agenda. I agree that this is an issue in general, but this was not the time or place. Shame on you.

    Great interview otherwise.

    • db1331 says:

      This. It’s like they’re looking for something to be offended by. Jesus. A female gamer would be unable to feel awesome playing a game because her character’s ass or cleavage is showing? Come on.

      • Tiax says:

        Excuse me but who the fuck are you to say that ?

      • yusefsmith says:

        Hi I was hoping for the Official List of Offensive Things?

        That way I won’t accidently get offended by something you approve of.

      • Soup says:

        It’s dudes like you that make me ashamed of my gender

      • instantcoffe says:

        Jebus. A male gamer would be unable to feel awesome playing a game because his character’s greatly detailed ass or big bulging penis is showing? Come on.

        • jalf says:

          If it happened in a medium where it was the norm, in a culture where people often made sexual comments about me and about my gender in general, yes, I do think it would affect my enjoyment of the game.

        • Longtime Listener says:

          I take you don’t play Metal Gear Solid then. Or almost any Suda 51 game.
          Succulent man ass everywhere.

      • Fluka says:

        Well, speaking from my own subjective personal lady-gamer experience, I *do* tend to avoid games where the only female body/armor options are hyper-sexualized. I might play the game anyway, if it’s good enough, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me less likely to start it in the first place. It helps that lazy female character design usually goes hand in hand with lazy writing and world-building in general.

        • Corrupt_Tiki says:

          I find this is a rather good deterrent to the more obscene instances of hyper-sexualisation. – The games are usually terrible.

          I don’t like many of Nathans pieces and this one was a bit rude where he pushed the interview.

    • Premium User Badge

      _Nocturnal says:

      That’s right! RPS should absolutely be ashamed of wasting their interview opportunity by asking stupid questions about people’s feelings*. They should have tried to do some actual proper journalism by getting us much needed info about how big the graphics will be in the final version or how many points pwning a n00b’s head will give you. You know, the important stuff!

      * Well, women’s feelings, anyway. AMIRITE, LOL?

      • Stupoider says:

        It’s easy to justify it like that, and yeah maybe Nathan is admirable in flagposting certain issues. But it’s very easy to justify these mistakes, and this lack of professionalism, because you’re “championing a cause” *ahem John Walker*.

        There’s a time and a place, it’s only professional when you ask for an interview on a subject (Heroes of the Storm) that if you’re going to flag up an issue that you either make it clear in your interview request or precede it naturally. It was shoddy journalism, and I don’t think many interviewees are going to be so trusting of RPS from now on. Jeremy Paxman is one fierce interviewer, but he doesn’t leapfrog to an irrelevant subject in an interview on the economy- it all links, it’s all relevant. He doesn’t lull a politician into an interview on HS2 to go “and what about your sex life?”.

        Nathan broke the facade of the interviewer. He broke professionalism, went astray, started harping. When the Blizzard guy gave his two cents on the matter, Nathan kept digging, despite the dead, irrelevant end. The questions stopped, Nathan ended up becoming the interviewee, and that left the Blizzard guy speechless; perhaps the worst thing that can happen during an interview.

        Save it for when Nathan requests a developer to talk about the issue of female portrayal in video games. The amount of interviews RPS is getting in the future just shrank by quite a bit.

        • Corrupt_Tiki says:

          The quality articles on this site has been shrinking quite a bit. I’m not sure if it’s because I find most of them irrelevant, or I don’t gel with the new writers opinions/style etc.

          Definitely find myself coming back, less regularly.

        • Potem says:

          I don’t care for the feminist advocacy, but I don’t mind a bit of bite in interviews, the problem in the industry certainly isn’t journalists going all rogue and poking at devs and PR people to address some stuff that wasn’t on the menu, the problem is complacency and journalists playing along, or have we already forgotten?

      • Premium User Badge

        _Nocturnal says:

        It’s pretty depressing to see how people twist the facts in order to make their ludicrous belief that Nathan did something wrong seem reasonable.

        Did you even read the questions or just imagine what they must have been like? How is the portrayal of female characters in games similar to Heroes of the Storm not a relevant topic in a Heroes of the Storm interview?

        There was no “going astray”, “harping” or Nathan “becoming the interviewee”. There was simply the question of “how are you planning to approach this” followed by a pathetic non-answer by the Blizzard guy and Nathan explaining to him why his non-answer wasn’t good enough. Because it obviously needed to be explained, which *is* shameful, but definitely not on Nathan’s side.

        It may have seemed like a good answer to you, but sadly this just means you’re in the same boat as the Blizzard guy: failing to take notice of reality at best and uncaring about others at worst. You get to be that guy, until you wise up or some person or event in your life demands change from you. He doesn’t. He makes games that millions of people play, so when he does something wrong, it’s felt by many.

        This interview, the follow-up article and the mental gymnastics you’ve gone through to justify your feelings are readily available here. Examine them. Find out why attempting to discuss a game’s accessibility towards women makes you feel threatened, then get rid of it. That’s the shameful shit.

      • GrannyGroper says:

        Leave it to RPS commenters to come up with even more retarded strawman arguments than fucking 4chan

    • jalf says:

      So when is the correct time for it? And why is it shameful to steer away from the PR-friendly script? Why is it wrong to ask questions that are more than just a vehicle for the developer to fill with praise of their own game?

  6. Will Tomas says:

    Okay, so, for what it’s worth I’m with Nathan on this one, as I suspect are a majority of those who won’t bother commenting. It’s right to put this stuff into persepective, and yes, some of it is pretty weird. No, it isn’t the biggest deal in the world, but it is a question worth asking.

    Also for what it’s worth, he’s right about the comics thing. I was reminded of reading Alan Moore on superheroes earlier, as I think it’s kind of applicable. As media they’re misguided in which audiences they seek to target, and which they can alienate as a result.

    “I hate superheroes. I think they’re abominations. They don’t mean what they used to mean. They were originally in the hands of writers who would actively expand the imagination of their nine- to 13-year-old audience. That was completely what they were meant to do and they were doing it excellently. These days, superhero comics think the audience is certainly not nine to 13, it’s nothing to do with them. It’s an audience largely of 30-, 40-, 50-, 60-year old men, usually men. Someone came up with the term graphic novel. These readers latched on to it; they were simply interested in a way that could validate their continued love of Green Lantern or Spider-Man without appearing in some way emotionally subnormal. This is a significant rump of the superhero-addicted, mainstream-addicted audience. I don’t think the superhero stands for anything good. I think it’s a rather alarming sign if we’ve got audiences of adults going to see the Avengers movie and delighting in concepts and characters meant to entertain the 12-year-old boys of the 1950s.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/nov/22/alan-moore-comic-books-interview

    • Mathaw says:

      Agree completely.

      Anyone that thinks this is a ‘comic book style’ of portraying women hasn’t read enough comic books.

      Even Watchmen, which was made how long ago? Dealt with this very subject quite overtly. Comics can be chauvinistic, but that’s also a problem – it doesn’t create more justification for it in games. Perpetuating a problem doesn’t make the problem go away.

      I’m also disappointed to see fellow RPS readers have a problem with this stance – I come here for adult, witty, intelligent articles, interviews and discussions about games. If you think that bikini-clad women warriors aren’t a problem then you’re deluded.

      Disappointed in RPS? I’m disappointed in Blizzard. That weasel-worded response spoke VOLUMES. Especially for a company that sells so many games to women. Now, I will add, that on the most part I don’t consider Blizzard a major force with regard to this problem, they’re a pretty minor offender. But there’s a difference between being a minor offender and not being an offender at all.

      To all those that keep stating that women want to play pretty characters. OF COURSE THEY DO. This is nothing to do with attractiveness, it’s about hyper sexualisation. The two are completely different. Most male characters are handsome, but they don’t have giant cod-pieces or their schlongs hanging out. This also doesn’t mean that sexuality needn’t have a place in video games. But when only the women are sexualised then you have a problem.

      This stuff isn’t complex guys.

      And ye, the roller derby character isn’t too bad. I guess that’s why Nathan made that exact point.

      Did 4chan just send all their haters this way due to the title, without actually reading the contents of the interview?

  7. Ricc says:

    I’m conflicted on this. On the one hand I don’t think that going into in interview with as strong an agenda as this one is very helpful. Here it reads like you are simply preaching to the developers instead of getting their take on the subject. Not sure who that serves, since we already know your stance. I mean, you have done this exact thing in interviews before, kinda not leaving him much room to respond in his own words.

    On the other hand, just saying “We are not sending a message.” is a tremendously shitty answer. If he wants to or not, character design reflects a lot of their views and policies. Games are not apolitical. So yeah, a rather awkward piece.

    • subedii says:

      Indeed. “We aren’t sending a message” is pretty much false. Whether you like it or not, you are making that statement with your character designs. There are base presumptions and expectations built into them by default and going “don’t you bring politics into my game, man” doesn’t negate them, it means you’ve made them your status quo.

      Not solely this subject, but Errant Signal had a pretty good video that I felt tackles this topic really well:

      Particularly apt for all the “AARGH Agenda!” comments.

    • Premium User Badge

      Luringen says:

      As much as I think it’s a good thing that RPS is against this and giving it some attention, the end of this went from an interview to an awkward one-sided debate against the interviewee, which felt really out-of-place. Either have a debate or interview him…

      • jalf says:

        But it was only awkward and onesided because he didn’t have an answer. You’re right, it *is* awkward to ask a question in an interview that the interviewee was unprepared for, but is that the interviewer’s fault?

      • Mathaw says:

        It was only one sided because Blizz didn’t have a leg to stand on…

        That’s like me claiming the sky is purple, you disagreeing, me shrugging my shoulder, and then claiming it’s a one sided argument.

    • jmarquiso says:

      I really don’t think that a couple of questions at the end of an interview is “coming into it with an agenda”.

    • Mathaw says:

      I don’t see an agenda.

      I see a perfectly reasonable, contextual question that was answered poorly. I’m guessing it struck a nerve with Nathan, he followed it up, and Blizzard got on the defensive.

      You;re reading into this with your own bias.

  8. Yosharian says:

    Embarassing…

    • pepperfez says:

      Agreed. Why was that Blizzard dude even giving interviews if he’s so unprepared?

    • Mathaw says:

      Agree, Blizzard really embarrassed themselves there.

  9. Crane says:

    I must say, I think you’re beginning to actively hurt your cause by how often you attempt to bring up the sexualisation of female characters.
    It is, certainly, a legitimate issue, and it’s a good thing that you address it. However, you have to remember that the majority of your readers are at best disinterested in the subject.

    Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t touch on it for this reason, and I’m not saying that the majority shouldn’t be MORE interested, but the fact is that they are not.

    And when you bring up this angle as often as you do, you don’t make them take an interest, instead, you alienate them.

    In this particular instance, can you honestly claim that it’s especially egregious? From what I’m aware, the degree of the problem here is no worse than it is in dozens of other games.

    And yes, it’s still a problem, and yes, in an ideal world you could raise this and your readership would frown and make pointed remarks.

    But this isn’t an ideal world, and that’s not how most people will react. You’re banging a one-note drum, at this point. Those of us who are already aware of the problems the industry has in this field didn’t gain anything new or productive from your bringing it up on this occasion, and those of your readers who are tired of the topic aren’t going to be swayed by a mention that is almost precisely identical to dozens of others before it.

    • Will Tomas says:

      Yeah, but, how many articles have been making the point about hypersexualisation in the last week? Seriously? Also, there is an extent to which if the readership is actively antogonistic towards that tone, then they can fuck right off somewhere else… I don’t think RPS needs to ‘protect’ itself by being less activist about this, frankly. It’s basically entirely up to them.

      • LionsPhil says:

        If you are trying to enact change of opinion, then you actively need to be appealing to those at the uncertain edges. Preaching to a hardcore demographic of those that already agree with you might feel good but accomplishes nothing to fix the world. If you are driving away those that could potentially be turned to agree with you by coming in too hard, too fast, and too extreme, then you are damaging your own cause, and flippant “well, if you don’t agree, I don’t want you around” will leave you in the aformentioned preaching-to-a-tiny-choir case.

        (This is where I feel John constantly shoots himself in the foot with his hardliner no-compromises if-you-don’t-agree-you’re-a-dick-and-you-can-get-lost stance.)

        • mrbeman says:

          Except for folks like you, no example is ever good enough, it’s never the right time, the questions are never raised in the right tone of voice, etc. etc. etc. Try to think of a time you’ve said – ever – “yeah, ok, I can see that.” At best, you may admit to some sort of hazy, general problem, but you will defend to the death any and every specific instance with an unending torrent of objections along any conceivable axis.

          “Sure, yes, maybe there are forests somewhere, but this particular tree is absolutely not part of one.”

          • LionsPhil says:

            Stuff that also doesn’t work to get people to agree with you: personal attacks.

          • mrbeman says:

            The idea that there’s some magical mode of address that you’d find acceptable is, frankly, laughable. But out of curiosity, which part felt like an “attack” to you? I’d like you to quote it and actually, explicitly state how it was an attack.

          • Crane says:

            Well, I’d say it was the bit where you lumped him into a category of ‘folks like you’ and strawmanned up an idea that he was in any way defending this particular bit of shitty treatment of female characters. Which he wasn’t.

          • mrbeman says:

            I’m sorry? That’s exactly what he’s doing.

            Quote from the same person, up-thread: “Avert your gaze, be you pure of heart, lest you see her shameful thighs. Christ, RPS. Pick your battles. You bark at everything, you lose all impact.”

            His position seems to have 3 points:
            1. The particular mentioned hero outfit wasn’t revealing enough to actually care about.
            2. RPS talks about it way too much – it would work better if they talked about it less.
            3. They’re just so angry in how they go about it, and if only they were nicer it would work better.

            These are all bog-standard rationalizations for the “everything’s ok!” crowd.

          • mrbeman says:

            And again, I challenge you to think of a time – one single time – when someone had the right example and spoke at the right time in the right tone such that you could grant your approval to them trying to exert change on a pervasive cultural force. I suspect that if you honestly think about it, you’ll realize that somehow you always seem to have some list of objections and it’s just somehow never the right time etc. You may wonder how that happens.

            I mean, you probably won’t! But a person can be an optimist.

          • Crane says:

            Ah, perhaps he was, then. I’m sorry, I only read this particular comment thread, not the entire page.

            There have been several instances in the past where I’ve thought that it was quite excellent that RPS raised the issue (and indeed, occasions where other websites have raised the issue to a productive extent); one that stuck in my memory was pointing out that Skullgirls took it so far they actually had the characters’ bust sizes on their website.

            That was a particularly egregious example and deserved an especial mention.

            The thing is, I’m not saying that this instance doesn’t merit mentioning, or isn’t worth complaining about. What I’m saying is that if you want to win a war, you have to pick your battles, and that maybe this instance isn’t something we should be pushing at this moment, when there’s already a tide of reactionism against the whole debate. Perhaps, we should let that die down, and then bring up an example of poor gender treatment which actually stands out from the general background noise of shittiness?

            Can you honestly say that mentioning this specific instance of poor treatment of female characters is going to do anything to help convert people who are indecisive about this issue? Let alone do anything to convince the hard-line “I see no problem here” crowd?

            You’ve reached the stage now where you’re so fanatical about the issue that you’re lashing out at anyone who suggests that just maybe we aren’t going about spreading awareness in the best manner.

            I’m on the same side of the debate as you; what’s pissing me off is that I think you’re setting our side back.

          • mrbeman says:

            I’m really not, though (nor is Mr. Grayson)!

            What you have to keep in mind is that this is a global problem, and part of how it reinforces and perpetuates itself is the uncounted, unthinking repetition of itself. The problem is that Nova was already well within the sexy-lady-character videogame mold. She was already a secondary or tertiary character wearing a painted-on costume with individually defined boobs, whereas in the real world you need specifically constructed fetish latex gear to get that effect (otherwise really tight clothing makes the breasts into a single broad chest-lump, which would be even less jiggly and noticeable if worn with the sort of sports-bra like support a sniper would presumably want).

            And it’s not just this game, but its ubiquity across games and across media that makes it such a problem.

            So things like Mr. Grayson’s original questions – which, by the way, were exceedingly polite – are how you get it done. You challenge the reflexive “ladies must always be sexy in specific ways to specific people” way that media gets made, and over time people start to think about it. You challenge them over and over again just as they do the same thing over and over again.

            This is exactly how it gets better.

          • mrbeman says:

            Also, fair’s fair: I challenged you to name a specific instance and you did!

            So now, think about how long ago that was. Is it really “too soon” to keep working on this (important) project?

          • Crane says:

            Well, to be fair that instance was not the last time RPS addressed this issue.
            I’m not saying it’s too soon to do anything on this topic, but I feel that when you consider the prevailing attitude of hostility towards the topic, this particular instance is not sufficiently notable to be worth raising alone.

            To use an odd metaphor, this particular example, and others of a similar cailbre are like shooting someone with a water pistol; you’re just making them slightly damp and pissing them off.

            I think that when we have an example like this, which is, as you say, part of the problem, but not an outstanding problem, it would be best to take a note of it, and bring it up as part of a group.

            If you made a note over the course of, say, six months, of all the games which treat female characters in a manner similar to this one, you’d have a pretty big list.

            If you then did a piece about the problem as a whole, and could say “In the past six months, we’ve seen a full NINETEEN major titles released which treat women as nothing more than sex objects”, that’s going to be, to return to our metaphor, like dumping a whole bucket of water on someone.

            Yes, it’ll still piss people off, but it has a chance of actually making them stop and think in a way that just constantly needling them with little examples doesn’t.

          • mrbeman says:

            I think you’ve decided that some things are true, and you’re settling on characterizations to help yourself stick with those things. For instance, in what way are Mr. Grayson’s questions “needling”? Is it really a little thing if it’s Yet Another of the overall cultural thing? Isn’t it instead just a part of that huge thing? The “collect many examples” strategy is valid, sure, but it’s not the only one, and there’s no reason to think that repeated and consistent challenge isn’t effective too. And FWIW the “collection” strategy is the one that’s made Anita Sarkeesian such a target.

            In summary: I get that your concern is genuine, but it’s misplaced. There is no time, example, collection of examples, or manner of speaking that’s uniquely efficacious (or counter-productive!). It’s just a long, hard slog, and picking at individual threads like this is valuable.

          • harbinger says:

            „I challenge you to think of a time – one single time – when someone had the right example and spoke at the right time in the right tone such that you could grant your approval”
            Every time for instance somebody makes a game that you approve of and you praise it and ask for more of it.

            I think the moment you start to think of this as some sort of “war” that has to be “fought” and you use words like “gross, problematic, creepy, inappropriate” like in the article above and a lot worse sometimes you’ve already lost the minds of a lot of people since you come off like those mad religious people with signposts in front of convention halls telling everyone how they’re all sinners or outraged parental groups railing against the violence in them videogames brutalizing the society and all the children with “bad videogames” that shouldn’t exist.

            You might believe you are fighting some sort of “war”, but what you are actually doing is telling everybody that doesn’t agree with you and enjoys the kind of games you don’t how they’re some kind of monsters and trying to shame the creators of said games that a lot of people like.

            You also aren’t speaking for the “female gamer collective” or whatever you think you are doing, because there are quite a lot of them out there that disagree with the feminist perspective, Cosplayers for instance like the ones mentioned in the first comment on this article: http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/06/24/women-of-cosplay-talk-sexism-femininity-and-cookies-in-the-mail
            And there are a lot of women even enjoying games like this, believe it or not: http://www.aeriagames.com/forums/en/viewtopic.php?t=1793473

          • LionsPhil says:

            Christ. This kind of comment rage is why I usually give these things a wide berth. (Which, amusingly supports my point—you’re convincing me I’m right to not read any of this irate crap, which means you’ve lost any ability to influence my opinion.)

            Well, I’d say it was the bit where you lumped him into a category of ‘folks like you’ and strawmanned up an idea that he was in any way defending this particular bit of shitty treatment of female characters. Which he wasn’t.

            Bingo. No, I am not saying “RPS should never comment on this, everything is fine, shut uuuuup”. I am saying that on the scale of objectification-of-women offenses in gaming, this is a minor one, and effort is best focused on the major ones, lest you get the Chicken Little/Boy Who Cried Wolf effect. Getting into that situation means that no matter how righteously indignant and self-superior you are, you’re not fixing the problem any more. I don’t care about your ego. I care about solving that problem.

          • jalf says:

            If you then did a piece about the problem as a whole, and could say “In the past six months, we’ve seen a full NINETEEN major titles released which treat women as nothing more than sex objects”, that’s going to be, to return to our metaphor, like dumping a whole bucket of water on someone.

            Yes, it’ll still piss people off, but it has a chance of actually making them stop and think in a way that just constantly needling them with little examples doesn’t.

            Hmm, I’d actually say the exact opposite. A bi-annual article saying “look, every game is still terrible about this issue” wouldn’t change anything.

            It’s just statistics, and it’s not terribly surprising. It’s not “dumping a whole bucket of water on someone” if you just confirm to them “yes, games still look exactly like you think they do”.

            But constant non-stop needling reminders that “this is not universally accepted as being okay” can gradually cause change. The reason these issues are so prevalent is that we constantly see examples of all the bad things, and hardly ever any backlash against it. It is the norm for female characters in games to be underdressed and sexualized. It is the norm for people to talk shit in chats, with racial or homophobic slurs, with rape threats against women, and all that other good stuff. We are constantly reminded that “this is just how it is done”, and we are constantly shown that “it is okay to behave like this. No one is ever told off for doing so.”.

            Every time this is brought up in a blog post or article somewhere, it is a reminder that “this behavior is actually *not* simply “how things are”, it is bad behavior that we object to”.

            And that has to be done *constantly* for it to have any effect. Developers have to be confronted with the fact that not everyone has the mental maturity of a 11-year old, that not everyone is a young white male, that regardless of what they say, their games and their characters *do* send a message. Gamers need to be confronted with the fact that “there are actually people in the world who think it is not cool to use racial slurs just because you’re losing a match of whatever game you’re playing”. And we need to be reminded of all this frequently, because we so frequently see examples of the opposite.

            I am not saying “RPS should never comment on this, everything is fine, shut uuuuup”. I am saying that on the scale of objectification-of-women offenses in gaming, this is a minor one, and effort is best focused on the major ones, lest you get the Chicken Little/Boy Who Cried Wolf effect

            That story is about someone who sees a problem where none exists (until suddenly it does, and people have learned to disregard the warnings), not someone who sees a real problem and draws attention to it *wherever* it surfaces (whether it surfaces in small or big ways).

            As long as we agree that the problem exists, it’s fine that different people have different ideas of how it should be solved. But I tend to disagree with you on this. Calling out the “big” offenders while leaving everyone else alone just means that we condone the behavior *in general*, as long as you don’t overdo it. It means you’re going after single specific targets, rather than the underlying problem.

            And as I said above, we need to be reminded that the issue exists, that having women in games only exist to be sex objects is not simply a fact of nature, that it is a decision someone made, that there is a debate to be had, that it affects people.

            Every time you let it slip without calling attention to it, it just reinforces the impression for everyone else that “this is simply how the world works, this is the only way in which women *can* be depicted, this is just how it is, and there is nothing to even discuss”. And that breeds quickly, and escalates into producing the “big” offenders that you want to go after.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            The problem in my opinion with this approach is it comes from a negative standpoint rather than a positive one. Instead of highlighting games that take a good approach to female character development the current trend seems to be attacking random developers for anything that could be even remotely sexist (btw the Roller Derby skin, which he used to segway into this line of questioning is not even remotely sexist or over-sexualised). He backed the guy into a corner to a point where pretty much anything he said, unless he managed to nail the feminist spiel verbatim, could have been taken negatively, I don’t blame them for swerving the question.

            Is female representation in video games a problem, yes it is. Is bullying people with negative press the way to change it, no, its just sensationalising the issue and doing very little other than making people sick of reading the same tired rehash over and over again.

            Its general trends that need to change. Even games like Scarlet Blade and Rumble Roses aren’t the problem here, not every product has to appeal to everybody, heck I’m male and those games don’t appeal to me, but if enough teenage boys are interested in playing those games then it shouldn’t be down to the morality police to block that product. If there is a market for that product, a big enough demographic, it should be allowed to exist. Attempting to bombard companies with negative press because they are following the rules of supply and demand is stupid.

            Browse RPS, 99% of the articles on sexism issues in video games are portraying something in a negative light. I can’t help but think positively highlighting companies/games would serve better to increase awareness of those games that are portraying women in “agreeable” ways. Increasing awareness and hence sales of said games would make companies less reluctant to release something that doesn’t contain oversexualised females. Remember companies aren’t doing it because they are inherently sexist or misogynistic, they are doing it because at the moment it is seen as the safer choice in an industry within which one poorly selling game can mean you and everyone you work with is out of a job in a months time.

      • Crane says:

        But it’s not about protecting RPS.
        That’s my point, it’s about protecting the cause of equality. If you piss off people who are on the fence about the issue, you just cause them to come down on the opposite side and dismiss the whole affair.
        And fine, you can say “Well if they’re pissed off then we don’t care what they think hurr durr hurr!”, but the fact is that the very people you’re fighting for HAVE to care what they think.
        They don’t have the option of not caring. That’s the whole damned point.

        • The Random One says:

          But the people who are pissed off, in this situation, are not on the fence. They are the people who are leaning towards the “eh, sexism is OK” camp.

          If you were completely on the fence, you’d find it strange that the interview was ended so abruptly. Maybe you might think that RPS failed to provide more information, but there is a big, meaty interview before that point is reached in which several other points about the upcoming game are addressed. But you might also think that the fact that the interviewer effectively refused to answer the question at all might mean whatever stance defends this isn’t very solid. That might tip you over to the side that thinks all this is a little pants.

          Of course, you’d also be an alien who has no concept of human society and had decided that one of the best places to start learning would be an interview about an upcoming MOBA, but whatever.

          It’s not surprising at all that people who are angry that RPS posts too much about sexism would think they’re “neutral” about the issue (not talking about you specifically, just musing at this point). One viewpoint I see those people have is that only a perspective centered on them is fair, and that any attempt to broaden or change the focus of the target audience is “an agenda” or “political correctness”. Not switching the focus away from them, just bringing others in as well. So it would follow that they’d think they are completely neutral on the issue (and being angered only by the frequency the subject is brought up, which is not that high in reality) when they are in fact skewed towards a side.

    • Mathaw says:

      Nope.

      I say bring it up every single time.

      Ignoring it hasn’t worked, maybe if we shove it down game devs throats they’ll finally get it.

      It’s an endless circle of upper-echelon male bullshit, and this is coming from a man. It’s an old-media viewpoint that’s only JUST starting to leave TV film, no harm in nipping it in the bud before the game industry becomes completely embarrassing and exclusively for 14 year old boys.

      Make content for men by men > Women don’t engage with content because it’s made for men > People complain that women aren’t well represented > Justify with the fact that women aren’t engaging with the content. > Repeat.

      Enough’s enough. If you don’t like hearing about it that’s because it’s still a problem and needs to still be discussed. What’s your preference? Mention it once and hope that someone pays attention? Is that your strategy with everything, politics, theism, science?

  10. G says:

    Rarely chip in but I’ve got to say I agree with RPS on pursuing this issue. A quick google suggests that the ‘roller derby nova’ really isn’t that bad compared to a lot of these things, but I really don’t think ‘we’re not running for President’ is really a good defence for questionable behaviour. Not all of us who play games are teenage boys (full disclosure: I did used to be) and I hope that by pushing these issues we can have a greater proportion of games that don’t seem to be designed through the filter of a teenage boy who’s watched too much porn.

    • AlecTavi says:

      I rarely comment on the Internet; there so rarely seems to be a benefit. In this case, however, I feel obligated to include my own, simple perspective. I think John asked entirely reasonable questions, appropriate to the discussion at hand, and of interest to myself and my wife, the primary game-purchasers in our household. I want John and RPS to continue to ask these sorts of questions.

      • Hahaha says:

        “I think john”

        By Nathan Grayson

      • Mathaw says:

        Here here.

        Adult male gamer checking in. I watch porn when I want to see porn. Scantily clad female warlocks are just dumb and completely unnecessary. I’d be just as offended if the male character was in a thong, but then of course that never happens.

  11. Lusketrollet says:

    Thank God he cut you off. Phew.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      The interview was over already at that point (note the PR comes in before he asks the question). Looks more like Nathan deliberately tried to catch them offguard with the clock running out.

  12. db1331 says:

    Man, those last two answers bring to mind the Belichick-Tebow press conference. They completely shut you down, and weren’t the least bit interested in listening to that nonsense. Pretty hilarious.

    • bj says:

      LALALA CAN’T HEAR YOU

    • Mathaw says:

      Pretty embarrassing for Blizz.

      Nonsense? You’ve shown your bias, it’s an important topic that permeates the industry. That you consider it nonsense is just as much of a problem as Blizz not even being able to engage Nathan on the discussion.

      Let me guess, you’re under 18 and male?

  13. Nim says:

    I am not surprised. Few like having an agenda forced down their throat by force. RPS, you need to get a bit more clever how you deal with this issue.

    • Premium User Badge

      Hanban says:

      “Few like having an agenda forced down their throat by force.”

      What?

  14. AceJohnny says:

    Huh, most reactions I see here are part of the problem of sexualization in videogames. It’s kinda sad in a bewildering kind of way.

    Counter to the trend in these comments, I want to thank Nathan for asking the uncomfortable questions! Thanks for not being just another PR mouthpiece :)

    It doesn’t diminish the gameplay appeal of the game, but yeah, Blizzard has a long history of hypersexualizing its characters.

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      It’s sad yes. Unfortunately, it’s the norm. The comments under articles that mention sexism in any way are always like that.

    • Slaadfax says:

      And this is one of the more frustrating aspects of social agenda attitude. Why is it automatically that, if someone feels nonplussed about the complete awkward in those last few questions, they’re immediately labeled as part of the problem?

      Is it so hard to consider the vague possibility that someone can take an agenda too far, or perhaps pressure someone unfairly upon pretenses that apply elsewhere?

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        Exactly my thoughts too. Unless you agree 100% and are willing to repeat back what these people want to hear verbatim then you seem to be treated as 100% against their agenda. The whole issue is treated as rigidly black and white in a “your either with us or against us” mentality and in reality this issue is far from being such.

      • Mathaw says:

        Nathan asked one question that could have been handled perfectly well by anyone who wasn’t part of the issue he brought up. It’s no more an agenda than him asking about it being a casual game was an ‘agenda’.

        He got a crappy response (and it was, objectively, a crap response), so followed it up. Then he got the ‘no comment’ treatment. And the problem you see here is with RPS’s questions?

        You people befuddle me.

  15. cafeoh says:

    Just let them have boobs already. Most players are just fine with over-womanly shapes bouncing everywhere in their videogames, only that small percent get really pissed at it, because it depicts a better version of their own vagina-equipped fleshvessels.
    And I’m not even talking about women in general, even amongst women the majority of them are smart enough to realize this just doesn’t matter.

    This might be harsh, but in all seriousness : let it go. Just, let it go and look the other way. Developers aren’t gonna change the way they work because you feel uncomfortable seeing too much skin in your vidyagaems. The artists express themselves in these juicy 3d models and artworks, it’s insulting to them to say it’s morally wrong. Just think about that.

    • mrbeman says:

      Or, alternatively, you could just let it go!

      Asking those questions was an integral part of how Mr. Grayson sees his role as an industry journalist, and saying it’s a waste of time is insulting to him. Just think about that.

      (Seriously, where do you people come up with this stuff?)

      • cafeoh says:

        Yeah, sure, I see where you’re going with this.

        But you gotta understand, the minority can never win. What I mean by that is, if their is a minority significant enough and strongly opiniated against a choice in a community, they will have to branch out and create their own.

        Maybe feminists and anti-hypersexualized characters in videogames should create their own FEMOBA, yes?
        Maybe developers should add a “boobhurt” checkbox in their option! Maybe they should also add an option to turn off any alcohol or drug reference. But we all know it’s too much work for little reward. Maybe next step is adding a AB checkbox to turn any black-skinned character white, to prevent offending neonazis?

        It’s important that people understand feminism isn’t something that “goes without saying”. Equality in front of the law for every human being goes without saying, this stupid shit about hyper-sexualizing females in mobas is enough. You don’t hear me complain because I don’t look like a 6 feet roidpumped lumberjack.

        I love RPS, and there is something about it that will always force me to come back. I also know a significant part of the community is on my side here (maybe the majority, maybe not, doesn’t matter).
        If this thing really bothered me, I would have left, and the old “if you don’t like it, just don’t read/watch/listen to it” stupidness would live on. But it doesn’t. I’m not commenting on this article as a plea or a demand, I’m just doing my job as a reader. Feeding back my own opinion.

        • mrbeman says:

          “But you gotta understand, the minority can never win. What I mean by that is, if their is a minority significant enough and strongly opiniated against a choice in a community, they will have to branch out and create their own.”

          Haha yeah, that’s exactly how women got the vote here in America, or how the civil rights movement worked, or how Indian independence came or – wait, no, that’s totally wrong.

          Change is brought about by repeatedly challenging people to do better.

          The rest of your comment is incoherent and self-contradictory. You don’t like “love it or leave it,” but anyone that wants change must splinter off. Pushing for reasonable representation of women and other minorities in media is the same as whitewashing. Feminists want to add a shitty misogynistic “boobhurt” checkbox to things?

          Do you ever listen to yourself and wonder where it all went so wrong?

          • LazyKnight says:

            I salute you.

          • Fluka says:

            Yup yup yup.

          • harbinger says:

            You aren’t fighting for human rights. Don’t try to paint this as some sort of human rights or suffrage protest movement.
            Video game characters aren’t being oppressed, human rights aren’t being broken, human lives aren’t being ruined: http://www.complex.com/video-games/2013/08/dragons-crown-is-out-and-no-women-were-harmed and “equality” in the way of judicial and political rights or creating equal opportunities isn’t being attacked.

            You are mainly having a big argument over personal taste, whereas you are claiming that people who enjoy things you don’t are bad, evil people who generally hate women and that they aren’t allowed to look at titties in completely optional entertainment products that they are buying with their very own money and nobody else is being forced to buy or play.

            The freedom of the people that might find something “uncomfortable” is the freedom to look upon the packaging and choose not to buy/rent/play/watch any content they may find unsuitable.
            The freedom of the rest of society is the freedom to make and consume content that any one specific individual or group of people might not like or approve of.
            Having to abide by presumed moral guidelines or censor oneself because certain people might feel uncomfortable with the content one has created or the things someone says (as long as it wasn’t illegal) isn’t freedom, but tyranny of that particular subgroup over the whole of society.

            This has worked very well in the past, there have been many people that had a problem and were more than “uncomfortable” in regards to the depiction of violence in video games in the past including politicians, people with judicial power and even religious and parental groups throwing a fit every now and then.
            Should games be molded to not “hurt their feelings” either? Or should they rather have the choice like everybody else to buy or not buy a game/movie/book if they don’t approve?
            This very site railed against specific people and other media holding such opinions not too long ago, be it Jack Thompson, Fox News, the NRA, all those “killer game/murder simulator” politicians or Michael Atkinson.

            On top of that you are kind of misappropriating the women’s suffrage movement as some sort of special accomplishment separate from the universal one, when it was more of a natural extension of the general suffrage movement going on all around the world at the time. For instance in the UK, previous to 1918 there was one vote per accomplished household that owned property, which didn’t discriminate and also applied to women leading said households, and worker classes or similar without such accomplishments no matter if male or female didn’t get to vote. The difference between universal voting rights for men and women for instance was actually somewhat between 7-10 years apart: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suffrage#United_Kingdom

          • Cactuscat222 says:

            @Harbinger: “You are mainly having a big argument over personal taste, whereas you are claiming that people who enjoy things you don’t are bad, evil people who generally hate women and that they aren’t allowed to look at titties in completely optional entertainment products that they are buying with their very own money and nobody else is being forced to buy or play.”

            That is a massive strawman if I have ever seen one. mrbeman said absolutely nothing to that effect.

            Get off your soapbox and actually listen to what people say, instead of attacking arguments no one is making.

        • Randomer says:

          In response to the “If you don’t like it, go make your own!” comment:

          I don’t know how to make video games. But I do have money. And I will give my money to people who make the kinds of video games that I want to play. Hey Blizzard: If you make your game into the kind of game that I want to play (including not hyper-sexualizing all the female characters), I will probably give you my money!

          Interviews and articles like Nathan’s are important because they inform the game industry that we are a relevant demographic.

          • harbinger says:

            The people buying the kind of games you don’t want to play have a lot more money though.
            That’s a reality that a lot of people learn at some point and Call of Duty/Battlefield, GTA V, sports games as well as the usual “blockbuster movies/games” etc. selling the most is an outgrowth of that fact you won’t be able to change as long as people don’t stop handing them money.

            What you can do (today more than ever before) though is support creators that do make games that you’d like to play, for instance by directly supporting creators of isometric RPGs, Adventure games or with characters that you’d like to play as on platforms like KickStarter or directly.

            Or by instead of arguing opening a sales platform like Steam or Desura and handing some of your money to games like Contrast, 99 Spirits, Lilly Looking Through, Memoria, Game Dev Tycoon, Assault Android Cactus, SpeedRunners, Hate Plus and so on that people often claim apparently don’t exist.
            Just complaining about it daily won’t do too much though other than strain your nerves a lot.

          • drvoke says:

            Chea, brah. Just like, chill out. Minorities and women can get some respect in video games when Blizzard is ready to take their money. Until then, just smoke a doob and get over it, man.

          • Longtime Listener says:

            Then how about you spend money on games that do that instead of trying to force someone to change their game?

            There are plenty of games that fit your description and that need your money. Judging by Activision’s financial reports Blizzard clearly doesn’t.

    • Reapy says:

      Right, I guess I don’t get the part where it is morally wrong, just an overused arch type, much like the gameplay and game design, nothing changes, including the art direction.

      • sim says:

        It’s morally wrong because it can be construed as hatred of all women by totally fucking crazy people who have completely lost touch with reality, and are incapable of articulating themselves rationally rather than purely through the prism of emotion.

        aka. 99% of all the people who use the word mysogyny on the internet.

        • Stardreamer says:

          What’s really crazy, and not a little disturbing, is that you sincerely believe any of what you just wrote actually applies to anyone.

        • Mathaw says:

          I think you should crawl back to your cave.

    • Mathaw says:

      So you’d also be OK with cocks flapping about the place too I suppose, if you’re ok with hyper sexualised characters? Even in games that have nothing to do with sex?

      If not, maybe it’s best you consider why not.

  16. Blinky343 says:

    It is pretty amusing that blizzards response to the outfits was the same as their response to why their stories suck ass.

  17. Premium User Badge

    daphne says:

    Where is the #1reasonwhy tag, boyling?

  18. hennedo says:

    I actually created an account, after many long nights just looking at you from behind this bush here, to point out that the arguments against bringing up sexual objectification trotted out here are the same that caused the dinosaurs to go extinct. So, you know, you’ve been warned. This is also why I’ve distanced myself from friends who’ve said these same things between conceited, dismissive, self-centered chortles. I prefer not to get hit with meteorites.

    Instead I’ll go stand by RPS as it keeps doing awesome gaming journalism and, you know, personhood related things.

    • Fluka says:

      I KNEW it!

      And also, yes, more thanks to RPS. Keep on doing what you’re doing, guys. I’ll keep reading, whether you’re writing about new games, interesting tech, the artistic and social implications of games, infinite bears, etc.

  19. Danorz says:

    jesus christ these comments i didn’t know the strawman convention was in town this week

  20. Seiniyta says:

    So many interesting things said in that interview and the only thing people care about were the last few questions. Sad.

    • jealouspirate says:

      Yeah, it’s unfortunate. A lot of great information on Blizzard’s new game and it just gets awkwardly turned into yet another discussion about this issue.

    • warcroft says:

      Yes. Very sad.

    • The Random One says:

      It’s almost as if a certain subset of people got really angry when a particular subject was breached, to the point of ignoring everything else.

      Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to ruin your pristine neutral thread with my opiniated post.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      This is what RPS is about these days. If they wanted to address these issues they could’ve brought it up during the interview or do a separate interview just about this and go into it deeper instead of catching the developers off guard with time running out so they come up with some awkward hasty answers that RPS can then turn into yet another post.
      To RPS opinion is what journalism is all about. I’m sure the comments in that next post (haven’t read it yet) will be full of people praising RPS for their daring “journalism” because if you agree with an opinion that automatically means it’s good journalism…

      • dE says:

        Let’s put another perspective on that, shall we?
        How high do you rate the chance, that you can have a calm and honest discussion about this topic with let’s say a Lead Developer or a game director?

        The answer is. Next to nothing. If you guessed right, good. Makes me wonder why you made that comment though. If you guess more than zero, that at least explains your comment, but makes me wonder if you’re an alien from another dimension. These are people that are being funneled through a marketing department, bound and leashed to say only the nicest things and use specific buzzwords. They’re even trained to reign in their enthusiasm, least the danger they leak some yet unpublished information. No way in hell are you going to get an Interview with one of them, without the involvement of the marketing department. Even less likely if the interview is about that topic. It’s a moshpit. One can only come out smeared and bruised. Extremists on both sides will make sure of that.

        So the only way to ask these questions is to sneak them in under a disguise and then fire them off before the PR Department can end the Interview right there. It usually means the Interviewer will be put on a happy blacklist and excempted from future interviews as well though.

  21. warcroft says:

    Its video games people! Not Sunday school!

  22. LazyKnight says:

    I never do this commenting malarky, but I felt I had to break my quiet enjoyment of RPS to say that they are doing great work. So people get upset by what they have to say, so what? If it is never talked about then they can carry on enjoying the status quo, nothing changes and those people who do feel upset about the hyper-sexualisation of women never get to find a support base.

    Also, they (Blizzard) really shouldn’t use the ‘it isn’t politics’ line. Every action is a political statement, and those that seem non-political are in fact showing support for how things are.

    • hennedo says:

      hey, i did the same thing! to say the same thing! /highfive

  23. Jenks says:

    It’s pretty hard to make Blizzard sympathetic. The level of douche required to do so is extraordinary.

    Impressive.

  24. Stupoider says:

    The end of that interview was physically painful to read.

    Regardless of the subject, as an interview, uhm, wow.

    EDIT: Ok, so I think I know the problem. Those last few ‘questions’, well, aren’t questions. Nathan is just telling this guy something that, well, he wasn’t there to talk about. Perhaps if he had directed them as questions, and gave the guy some direction for his response, the bloody uncomfortable moment could’ve been avoided.

  25. Post-Internet Syndrome says:

    On a non-rpsisdestroyinggamingwiththeirfeministcrap note, I’d like to adress this:

    “It’s a lot like what we did with StarCraft II. We shipped that in 2010, and the general consensus from the community was, “Make Lost Temple, and then go away. We don’t need your maps.” And we were like, “O… OK.” So we made a bunch of maps like Lost Temple. But here we are in 2013, and if we don’t update the map pool every couple of weeks or months, the community is up on us like, “Dude, where’s my new maps?” And that’s right. That’s correct. That’s one way to play with a constantly evolving set of terrain.”

    That’s a very disingenous statement. They designed the whole game to funnel people toward the ladder, on which only their own maps are available. They make everyone play inside their walled garden which they have full control over, so people don’t have much choice when it comes to maps. They manipulated the community into asking them for new maps. Now, they DO continually provide those new maps for free, so that’s cool. I just think it’s not playing fair to say it was something the community demanded.

  26. Premium User Badge

    melnificent says:

    The big problem with this overt sexualisation of women is the effect on female gamers. It has an affect on body image, Just like those adverts you see on the TV and website that are photoshopped to the limit, except for one difference. These caricatures of women are controlled by the player. Not only do you feel bad about how you look, but you control someone that looks “better” in the eyes of society. You are a second class citizen to a virtual depiction of women that is EVERYWHERE in the gaming world.

    It also affects male gamers, look at the comments here to see how many now think this is normal and acceptable depictions of women in games. It isn’t.

    Gaming is to get away from the pressures of the world for a while. Yet female avatars in gaming just continue what we have to put up with throughout the day. Men looking at us like objects and acting as though they own us. Occasionally following and not taking the hint. Seriously. Men are taught to be honest, women are taught to lie or never have a quiet life, ever.

    Lets turn this around a minute.
    When was the last time you were followed home from the shops by a female stranger? That wouldn’t take no for an answer and tried to follow you in? Or had comments from strangers on clothes, body shape, hair? Once, twice, more likely never.
    Is there a street you are fearful to walk down because your male? How about being assaulted because you said no to a female stranger that was propositioning you? No, or rare?

    So I ask Where is our downtime? Where is our game with real escapism on equal footing with the male avatars? When can we get away from what we deal with day in day out? When can we start to have avatars that we can cosplay without showing 90% flesh?

    • fangbreaker says:

      You know there are literally hundreds of games where women are on completely equal footing with men, right? Are you somehow blind to the existence of these games?

      • Soup says:

        Are you somehow blind to the fact that those games are in a tiny, tiny minority? Or did you just want to be a pedant and take things literally.

    • Jimbo says:

      Please don’t say ‘our’ and ‘we’ when you mean ‘my’ and ‘I’. Being female doesn’t make you spokesperson for all women.

      These games are incredibly popular. You would have the game you describe already if all women cared about the issue as much as you do, because it would be commercially worth somebody’s while making that game to satisfy the demand. I don’t know for sure, but I would guess that many women are quite happily playing these games, and that many/most of those women aren’t remotely bothered about the typical appearance of the female characters. Presumably if they were that offended they wouldn’t be playing anyway.

      As for the ‘Let’s turn this around a minute’ paragraph (which doesn’t seem relevant to anything here at all but whatever): most of that basically comes down to men typically being physically stronger than women. It doesn’t happen the other way around because evolution has rendered it practically impossible, not because women all just happen to be really nice people. I don’t think you can really hold the games industry responsible for that disparity in physical capability.

    • harbinger says:

      The big problem with this overt sexualisation of women is the effect on female gamers. It has an affect on body image
      That seems kind of like a stretch and I’m not sure what is so wrong with a generally healthy/fit and attractive looking body type being displayed as standard in most situation, since people (both men and women) like looking at attractive things and it isn’t exactly bad to strive for such. I’d argue you’d also have a really hard time trying to change deeply biologically ingrained traits and things guided by hormones through social engineering.
      This video and subsequent comments below alone should prove that this isn’t exactly a “one-sided” thing at all: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiVqdnTmgc4

      I’d be more concerned with what RPS or similar are considering to be “realistic” or “sanely proportioned” and what kind of message they are trying to send, since it doesn’t exactly look too healthy to me: http://i.imgur.com/VEORRDW.png

      • oddsyllable says:

        There’s really nothing wrong with encouraging healthy habits and physical fitness, but there are a lot of people who actually cannot ever match media ideals due to genetics and other factors. For example, someone with a short, stocky frame is not going to be a tall, slender person. Physically fit bodies can still look very different, take these women for instance.

        There’s also nothing wrong with having sexy characters. Regardless of gender: people may find other people sexy; people may announce those sexy feelings to the world via the internet and share pictures and videos of the people they find sexy; people may make games including characters designed around what they find sexy. It makes sense, but it has often resulted in a limited scope of characters.

        I will use League of Legends as an example because I enjoy it and am pretty familiar with the characters. League has 100+ characters who have unique backstories and playstyles. Appearance-wise, however, most of the variety comes from the men. They come in all manner of shapes and sizes, from sleek and stealthy to huge and muscular to small and brainy to fat and drunk to winged and demonic to slimy to crystalline to clunky, etc. The great majority of the women fit the description “leanly-built humanoid with a thin waist and round, sizable boobs.” Those to whom that does not apply include (and may be limited to) a little girl, three little elf-like girls, and a bird. There are two ladies who may fit the type but are wearing full-coverage armor; even then, they have at least one skin that shows off their boobs.

        I’d say the goal of most feminist gamers is not to have no sexualized ladies at all ever but rather to make that image just one of many. If you lined up the League ladies’ silhouettes, sans clothing and hair and in neutral poses, you wouldn’t get anywhere near the diversity in the above link and probably would not be able to tell most of them apart; it would be much, much easier with the dudes. It’s not so much a problem that game developers want to make attractive games. People take issue when the vast majority of female characters are nearly naked, sexualized ideals while the male characters aren’t held to a similar standard. Even the most grotesque male character may be respected for his power, but deformed female characters are nowhere to be found in most cases and thus can’t be shown the same respect. It really would not be hard to make the rotund, blistered insect, colossal stone golem, or sleek assassin robot female, and they can be feminine without being overtly sexual. Heck, your bug, golem, or robot can still have big boobs and not be overtly sexual.

        Hmm. I wrote more than intended. I guess I like discussing this subject more than I thought.

        • age says:

          The great majority of the women fit the description “leanly-built humanoid with a thin waist and round, sizable boobs.” Those to whom that does not apply include (and may be limited to) a little girl, three little elf-like girls, and a bird. There are two ladies who may fit the type but are wearing full-coverage armor;

          Firstly, Poppy isn’t “a little elf like girl”. She’s a bundle of hammer wielding pain who happens to come in a tiny package. If people are really interested in change (and not just bleating about a problem) character designs like Poppy should be praised, not simply dismissed.

          Seeing as LoL seems to be the punching bag for people trying to profess that the majority of women are hypersexualized in gaming, I thought I’d list the game’s female champions, noting how “sexualized” they really are.

          Sexualized. Major part of the champs theme/power – Ahri, Elise, Cassiopeia
          Sexualized. Associated with the champs theme/power – Miss Fortune, Zyra, Morgana, Nidalee, Le Blanc
          Sexualized. Not a part of the champs theme (sexualization lazily tacked on to the character design) – Evelynn, Katarina, Sona (not as bad after VU), Caitlyn, Janna, Ashe
          Minor offenders – Akali, Karma (worse after VU), Sivir, Soraka, Syndra
          Adult human. Non sexualized – Diana, Fiora, Irelia, Jinx (arguable), Leona, Lissandra, Lux, Quinn, Riven, Sejuani, Shyvana, Vayne, Vi.
          Others. Non human/children – Anivia, Annie, Lulu, Nami, Orianna, Poppy, Tristana

          The majority of the characters either have their sexuality as a theme that makes sense within the context of their design or are pretty much non sexual. There are a few lazily designed offenders, who should by all means be called out, but anyone (not specifically you) making huge sweeping statements about “vast majorities” or “pretty much all of them” should step back, take a deep breath and maybe look at the actual situation.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Yep, this is pretty much accurate, you also left out Kayle too, another female that you couldn’t call sexualised in any way at all. While LoL may have been worse at the start for this kind of character development, most of their recent female champions have been good in this respect. Oddly I’ve never heard a single bit of positive press in this regard from an RPS article or from any pro-feminist commenters either.
            Seems its more fun just to pick on something that you can single out as sexist and start an argument, in this case “Roller-Derby Nova” (yeah it really is that ridiculous tbh).

          • oddsyllable says:

            I just remembered that I posted here hoping for discussion. It’s a shame I forgot about it for so long. I wonder if anyone is still around to see this. Anyway, long post inbound…

            Firstly, Poppy isn’t “a little elf like girl”. She’s a bundle of hammer wielding pain who happens to come in a tiny package. If people are really interested in change (and not just bleating about a problem) character designs like Poppy should be praised, not simply dismissed.
            Yes, you’re right, they are deserving of praise. I apologize. My purpose for mentioning the characters who are exceptions was not to dismiss them but to acknowledge that there are exceptions to the description I gave. I could individually praise and critique each of the characters’ designs (and that seems like something I might enjoy doing eventually somewhere), but that’s not what this particular post of mine was about. The fact that I didn’t elaborate on my positive feelings for the minority does not make my sometimes negative opinions of the majority less valid, and I thought my approval of the oddballs was implied. Still, you’ve made a good point. Celebrate diversity!

            Seeing as LoL seems to be the punching bag for people trying to profess that the majority of women are hypersexualized in gaming, I thought I’d list the game’s female champions, noting how “sexualized” they really are.
            Speaking of diversity, the primary intent of my post was not to rail against sexualized female characters but more to talk about the lack of diversity in female characters, specifically in body type. Your breakdown of the characters’ levels of sexualization is pretty good, though I’d bump Nami and Orianna up a bit; the designers did decide to give boobs to a fish person and a robot when it’s not particularly necessary. League is huge and has had a lot of influence, especially in popularizing the MOBA, so it’s an easy target and pretty well-known. It has affected the choices of other MOBA designers, but that’s a discussion for somewhere else.

            Check out this collection of the female champions. Yes, it’s quite incomplete with only 27 included, but it’s the best I found in a quick search that helps illustrate what I’m trying to say. 19 are wearing something that clearly defines their breasts (i.e. you can easily count both of them), 12 of whom are showing cleavage. Of the remaining 8, 4 have breasts that are not being accentuated and 4 do not have breasts at all (that I can tell…dunno about Poppy and Tristana). That’s my simple breakdown of sexualization of this selection of characters in these artworks. The less sexualized may have more sexualized optional skins or appear more sexualized in their in-game sprites. The same goes for the characters not seen here.

            Furthermore, the decision by the designers to make a character fit a specific sexual ideal is a form of sexualization, even if they put her in an ill-fitting ball gown that does nothing for her (or the audience). Look at the above image again with body shape in mind. Compare the chest-waist-hip ratio, or even arm/leg length-width, of any champion there to any other. The major contrast comes of course from the 4 who don’t have breasts. The rest of the time, you see only minor changes in the ratio. It doesn’t matter how much or how little skin is showing, or if half that body is snake, most female champions stick within a narrow range of body types. Though this is not a totally comparable image of the male champions, you could probably pick a dozen at random and get more body shape diversity than found in all the females.

            The thing is, to reiterate, it is really not that hard to diversify the female champions. I’ll use Orianna as an example. Orianna is one of my favorites; her design is awesome, and her playstyle suits me well. I have to say, though, that she could have been shaped like Blitzcrank and it would have made as much sense. Yeah, her backstory has her made in her creator’s daughter’s image, but it was the designers who decided this and had a man give his robot daughter-replacement metal breasts. It could have just as easily been Blitzcrank, the big, clunky, chunky lady robot and Orion, the slender robot based on a man’s late dancer son.

            Currently, there is a single non-humanoid female, not including form changes. The next time they decide to make some disgusting hellbeast or otherworldly energy being, why don’t they make it female? Or the next magical mastermind a shy girl who’s thin as a rail? Or a superfast space ranger who’s a chubby giant of a woman? Although I am a fan of the trope of smallish folks with absurdly large weapons, why not give a lady wielding a massive axe some massive muscles to go with it?! Riot definitely gets some credit for not making Jinx a super-curvy busty lady, but they have got a ways to go. Imagine if the designers took a look at the image of female athletes in my last post and made each female character fit a different one of those body types. I’m not seriously suggesting they go back and redesign all their current lady champions, though that would be a pretty amazing undertaking in my opinion, but rather that they expand their scope. Monsters, bugs, robots, and golems can be female, and female characters, monster and human alike, can have very different and distinct body shapes.

            …anyone (not specifically you) making huge sweeping statements about “vast majorities” or “pretty much all of them” should step back, take a deep breath and maybe look at the actual situation.
            You’re right, I should avoid being so broad with my language. However, while the vastness is debatable, it’s still a majority.

      • Hahaha says:

        “she exists not as eye candy”

        So naive

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      “The big problem with this overt sexualisation of women is the effect on female gamers. It has an affect on body image, Just like those adverts you see on the TV and website that are photoshopped to the limit, except for one difference.”

      You’ve seen how muscular the majority of male lead characters are right? This is an issue that goes both ways.

      Sums up for how I feel; http://thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=sexism_videogames

      • Kitsunin says:

        There are a pretty good amount of muscly, pristinely attractive guys in games, and yeah, it does have an effect on self-image. But there are hundreds of fat, scrawny, average, whatever else you want guys in games too, and there really just isn’t the same counterpoint with women.

        I like how that webpage specifically picks out only low-budget games that are extremely obviously made by women. In particular how it has Don’t Take It Personally… apparently because its has a considerable amount of high-school drama (written in a way that is actually pretty identifiable, unlike basically all the other high-school trash), when if you actually were doing anything except shitting all over what ever games are most convenient, you would have wound up with Analogue: A Hate Story as something made by Christine Love. Ah well, I guess that when you’re trying to end up with the message that women should shut up because they collectively suck at making games, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.

        • Corrupt_Tiki says:

          Yes, but how many of those ‘normal’ looking guys does the story revolve around? It’s never them feeling empowered, they are always just another cog in the machine, background noise. You can see this in Hollywood as well, watch any of the earlier film adaptations of your favourite re-releases, and you’ll see that what was a ‘normal’ looking guy 30-40 years ago, has essentially disappeared from the screentime (Or any meaningful time on screen.)

          As for your other point, ‘Don’t take it personally babe’ was not a game, it was basically an interactive flash story. And he does point out some games made by women that were good (You see them flashing behind him as he talks, games like Portal 2 etc.) But at the end of the day, (and regardless how butt hurt it may make you) his point still stands.

    • sim says:

      What are you even talking about? Everything in your post applies to males to, and you don’t see them complaining about it (except rhetorically, to make a point about how ridiculous the complaint is).

  27. Piecewise says:

    Really?

    REALLY?

    You had to drag this whole social justice warrior bullshit in AGAIN? And even after he gave you an answer, you had to keep harping on it? Christ you people. Since when did the motto of this fucking site become “Die Cis Scum”.

    • Soup says:

      I see comments like this all the time, and they never, ever make sense. How is campaigning for equal treatment somehow anti-cis? As a white, cis male I would have thought I could somehow detect this stealth attack on our demographic but for some reason I can’t.

      • Zelos says:

        You’re taking it too literally. When a normal human being uses the word “cis” they are being sarcastic, or ironic. The word “cis,” in most cases, is used to make fun of the people who would use the word in a serious manner.

    • harbinger says:

      I love this pic by the way, this is how a lot of people view RPS now: http://i.imgur.com/mQ4BSwX.png

  28. harbinger says:

    RPS: I have to add, though, that comics might not be the best point of reference for this sort of thing. I mean, it’s a medium that’s notorious – often in a not-good way – for sexing up female characters and putting them in some fairly gross situations.

    Browder: We’re not running for President. We’re not sending a message. No one should look to our game for that.

    RPS: But it’s not even about a message. The goal is to let people have fun in an environment where they can feel awesome without being weirded out or even objectified. This is a genre about empowerment. Why shouldn’t everyone feel empowered? That’s what it’s about at the end of the day: letting everyone have a fair chance to feel awesome.

    Browder: Uh-huh. Cool. Totally.

    Fucking brilliant. xD

    First CDProjekt, now Blizzard. Would be great if more developers would flip off people in Interviews like these instead of endulging them with answering stupid questions.

    • sim says:

      I’ve read several (relatively) mainstream comics (like the avengers) where male main characters get straight-up raped by females with power over them, often to zero interest by anyone anywhere on the planet (including in-universe, most of the time, as if the writers themselves don’t care either), but if one female character ends up in a kinky situation you’ll be people will write articles about it everywhere and decry the entire comic book scene as woman-hating.

      They tell stories about people ending up in bad situations.

      Though “people” apparently doesn’t include *women* in many people’s minds. They’re women first, and people second, and they’ll be damned if they let any of us forget that…

  29. Bensam123 says:

    And males have washboard abs, rugged looks, and the lowest voice possible? This is a double standard. Females sexualized just as much as males. Way to grate the guy you were interviewing at the end like he was personally responsible for societies views and sexism in general.

    I’m all for equal rights and what not, but real life is boring. Matter of a fact, in real life females tend to sexualize themselves anyway (perhaps due to society), so it’s not that far fetched. Cool can be sexy and sexy can be cool. I don’t complain because I’m not a beefcake like Raynor or Garen. It’s fantasy. I’d prefer the females to look sexy over ugly or bland looking like many females in real life. Just like I’d prefer the guys to be rugged and masculine over fat, hello kitty wearing dweebs with cheetoh marks on their shirt. I’m sure this is universal across both sexes.

  30. Zelos says:

    I love RPS. Quite possibly the only website on the internet comprised of all male writers and yet firmly feminist in their views.

  31. unclearimage says:

    I used to come here for video game information, now I see it’s being over run by bleeding hearts complaining about how the real world hurts his feelings.

    Sex sells, sex sells movies, it sells music, it sells toys to our kids, and it sells video games.

    Get the hell over it, or go hide in a corner and cry yourself to sleep.

    • drvoke says:

      It should be clear by now that Jim, John, Nathan, et al, don’t care for your page views if the WELL KNOWN editorial stance of the staff truly disturbs you. You’re more than welcome to take your custom elsewhere and also not shit up the comment section with your drivel. All this crying about “oh, my precious sensibilities, WHAT ABOUT THE GAMES?!?” is needless trolling at this point. If all the trolls who threatened to abandon the site actually went through with it, we’d be better off.

    • Stardreamer says:

      1. 99% of the articles here are about games. If that’s too low a percentage I suggest the problem is PBKAC.
      2. This article actually is about Games. Blizzard make games, last I heard.
      3. Why so aggressive? Are you mad as hell and just not taking it any more?
      4. “Sex sells…” is not a valid excuse for problem of mass hyper-sexualisation/objectification of women. It’s an old view of business that is being rightly challenged.

  32. namad says:

    so game designers look to other media to help inspire their designs…. and then as a result the designs are overly sexualized… how about we start working on getting all those other media types to behave too? if comics and movies weren’t oversexualized then the game artist who is being inspired by them wouldn’t be over sexualized either…. cut this stuff off at the root, don’t yell at the messenger at the end who had nothing at all to do with it!

    basically sexualization is selling every type of everything in society, this isn’t a games problem at all. it’s a problem with all visual media.

  33. SanguineAngel says:

    I don’t disagree with Nathan at all and unlike some others here, I do not think RPS should shut up about the issues they care about – by talking about them they bring them to people’s attention and give food for thought. An I am just about to read his follow up piece.

    However, the end of this interview felt awkward for me not because of the subject matter but because it seemed to devolve entirely and in the end read as if Nathan was the one answering his own questions.

  34. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I thought Sarah Kerrigan looked a lot cooler in Starcraft 1. I find it odd they justify doubling down on the porn star aesthetic because that’s “what she already looks like” – integrated high heels, really? – when she looked nothing like that in the original game. I mean I guess it’s too late for the series at this point, but the logic seems sort of circular.

    Not sure it was worth driving the interview into the ground at the end, since they clearly didn’t want to talk about it, but the point stands.

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      Well.. everyone looked cooler in starcraft 1, but yes it’s more severe with her.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Agreed, she looked kinda creepy and very, very mean in the first Star-Craft. Looking back, she was probably my favourite character. The SC2 version just ended up kinda… bland. Something’s always lost in the translation from art/cutscene to full 3d, but the weird hooker heels and sexy carapace with boob holes was insufficiently awesome and badass.

  35. sim says:

    Personally I’m more disgusted by the obviously mysogynistic hiring practices at RPS. Where are all the female writers at? Such lack of diversity can obviously only mean that everyone there hates women… and any perceived awkwardness at being asked that question would only lend credibility to that assertion!

    opinion, indeed

    • Snargelfargen says:

      That is indeed in my opinion an opinion.

      indeed

      • sim says:

        It is good that we agree that our opinions are opinions.

        sincerely,
        sim

  36. Premium User Badge

    Peptidix says:

    Thanks Nathan, for asking important questions.

  37. Eventide says:

    How some people here say, that women should beg designers to make ugly female characters, therefor implying, that every female character without giant boobs and armor-bras is an ugly character. Wow… just wow, thats the tip of it, eh?

    The reason for our pleads is, that we want to be equal. We want female characters that belong to the setting, that seem like equal beings towards men and that we can be a fan off, because she is kick ass. But some people are telling us, that we won’t get that, because apparently a woman that does not show her body arround, is ugly, and therefor bad.

    Sounds like there are two ways to implement a character, sexappeal and an awesome character. If it’s the later, it’s a man, and the first is female?

  38. Clippit says:

    mrbeman: i’m happy to see someone with their head screwed on is not only on the correct side of an important issue, but also cares enough to repeatedly and articulately argue for it in the face of such inexplicable opposition. good on you.

    RPS may be accused of ‘banging a drum” over this. whether that’s true or not (depends on your definition; boring semantic argument), they’re right to do so. i’m glad they’ve taken a position on this issue. i’m glad that they take it seriously and bring it up where it’s relevant. it’s refreshing to see mass media (successful websites are mass media) saying something intelligent (‘ideas: discuss’, ‘culture: wrong?’, etc).

    what I want from games culture isn’t complicated: i just don’t want to be constantly embarrassed by it. i can enthuse about mechanics or technology but i avoid themes and content, because it’s frequently moronic.

    • Lowbrow says:

      “what I want from games culture isn’t complicated: i just don’t want to be constantly embarrassed by it”

      Amen.

  39. goatskull says:

    nathan grayson more like u gay son
    seriously what’s wrong with a little T&A

  40. Pollo says:

    That’s it , i’m done with RPS .Fuck you all and fuck your feminist agenda , you castrated pieces of shit. I hope you die of cancer. Go fuck yourselves.

    • Premium User Badge

      Llewyn says:

      Your mature and insightful commentary will be sorely missed. Please reconsider, please!

      PS: Registering just to make your first comment a goodbye shows impressive commitment to being done. Good job!

      • Hahaha says:

        People read sites without registering for the comments….SHOCK HORROR

        Llewyn go and find the first post by a female writer on RPS ;)

  41. Hahaha says:

    “Browder: Uh-huh. Cool. Totally.”

    HAHAHAHAHA

    RPS why do you never answer when you got your first female writer?

  42. zairekaboom says:

    So women want to feel more like themselves while ending the life of thousands of discovered and undiscovered life forms? That’s a laugh. Violence should be a far greater concern than big boobs if you are starting a censoring committee. I don’t really see you guys hating on violence at all. In fact, you endorse it. Just read this: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/10/30/hotline-miami-review-2/

  43. ConcreteShelter says:

    I despise Blizzard, but at least they had the balls to answer properly to a question that has nothing to do with videogames. This american feminist new fashion is getting more annoying every day.

  44. squirtlekin says:

    Sad stuff, Nathan. lol.

    But you’ll be rewarded for your righteousness on behalf of some women’s feelings someday!

  45. Ruuster says:

    Nice interview.

    :) I mostly play male characters because it helps with the immersive experiance. It’s hard to believe you’re kicking ass when you have all the muscle tone of a malnourished twelve-year-old. I like big, and I like brawny.

    When I first played WoW I played as a male tauren. I never realised at the time but for the first four months the guild I joined when I levelled thought I was a guy; I was even an officer for two of those months, but we didn’t use voice chat so I guess there were no obvious clues. Truth came out after my best friend and roomie, who is a real girly girl started playing WoW.

    That being said, I know a few of the females I played with like playing cows and orcs and trolls-with-ugly-faces and undead-who-look-like-undead. Many of them hadn’t ever really been drawn to games before or since, except for Left4Dead and Mass Effect. I didn’t really think much of it as females don’t play computer games as much anyway, but now I sort of wonder.

    Anyway, I think it’s a good question why they didn’t put any non-sexualised female characters in when it is currently quite topical, and a slightly-jerky answer was given. They (the people who make decisions about this sort of stuff) made a game that they wanted to play, without much R&D. I don’t think that’s great business practice, I know I’m not going to buy into that game with either time or money unless I like it too.

    So, thanks for the interview :)

  46. allthingslive says:

    That brief touch on sexuality by the interviewer gave me douche chills. Male-feminists are so silly.

    Not like all males in MOBAs aren’t fucking muscle bound, gravely voiced, and handsome. Sexuality goes both ways, it’s a social thing and it’s necessary. Adhering to or opposing sexuality in this context is silly and honestly rather superficial

    • oddsyllable says:

      No, you’re silly! Douche chills sounds gross.

      Haha, actually, it’s a shame it was sort of squeezed in at the end. It threw off the whole conversation about the game’s structure and features without any segue. However, the fact that the feminist topic was discussed so briefly and awkwardly, on both sides, left me interested. I’d love to read a full conversation about it. In fact, that’s why I came here: the title of the article is “Blizzard On Heroes Of The Storm, Female Designs in MOBAs”, so I was expecting to hear Blizzard’s thoughts on Female Designs in MOBAs, specifically in Heroes of the Storm. The discussion happened in the comments instead of the interview.

      I play League of Legends often and DOTA2 sometimes, and in neither is every man super ripped, though most of them are well-toned. Among the ranks of the men, there are many animal-headed monsters, giant bugs, walking trees, steampunk robots, and other things of various shapes and sizes. That kind of diversity sounds great, but it stops there. The women tend to have the same sort of body type, an idealized, frequently sexualized one. You can see it even in the trailer on this page. Many of the men are not some perfect, sexualized model of masculinity, so why are most of the women made to be perfect, sexualized models of femininity? Where are the blocky golem, chubby drunk, or hideous troll women? Apparently, only pretty ladies are capable of being powerful champions. The men can be disfigured and gelatinous and still be counted among the heroes.

      Also, the gruff man with bulging muscles on his muscles is more a man’s ideal man. He is huge and powerful and rugged and isn’t held back by emotions or worrying about his appearance. The busty woman is a man’s ideal woman. She’s got big boobs and flaunts her curves (and can kick ass). I suppose that could be seen as a woman’s ideal woman as well, being feminine without being seen as fragile, but where is the woman’s ideal man in most of these games? Ask some women you know or Google what their ideal man is like on average. In my experience, he is not often like the man’s ideal man.

  47. Robbert says:

    Really nothing wrong with having good looking (or even sexualized characters) in a game that’s very clearly not for kids. I for one like looking at good looking women. But maybe that’s just because I’m a gross misogynistic man.

  48. iridium248 says:

    Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill. So much for professionalism, eh?

  49. Fizzbang says:

    On the subject of female presentation in MOBAs, a fellow gamedev did an excellent, thorough breakdown of character presentation by gender in League of Legends. Anyone who thinks it’s not a problem or just an accident really ought to take a look at it:

    http://obligatoryspiderqueen.wordpress.com/2012/08/25/league-of-legends-gender-disparity-analysis/

    • taristo says:

      League of Legends has over 70 million players and is played by over 90% males (look up “League of Legends Infographic”).

      From the amount of women that play the game, Miss Fortune (boobs) and Sona (boobs) are the most well-liked and played: http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?p=31555980#31555980
      “For context, did you know Miss Fortune is the most popular character among female League players? Sona is #2 – something that is appealing to the eye is more aspirational and has a higher “cool quotient” than things that are not – even without hormones in the equation (unless their cool is based on an opposing feature (Kog’Maw, for example)).”

      You know who else wants to ban characters that show boobs or too much skin?
      Fucking Iran. Iran, one of the most progressive and free countries in the world is on your side with this, maybe that should give you something to think about: http://kotaku.com/female-league-of-legends-characters-banned-at-an-irania-1213754332

  50. dicksinarainbow says:

    Blizzard 1
    Rock Paper Scissors 0

    I would’ve told you to go the hell away after you started babbling your ideas at me instead of asking questions.

    *notices how RPS used a supersized picture of Kerrigan’s butt to seduce people into reading this article*

    • Premium User Badge

      darkChozo says:

      I kinda disagree with how RPS is framing this, but I don’t think people are going to be seduced by a picture 90% of the way into the article. I dunno, do people prescreen these things?