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  1. #361
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Faldrath's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dsch View Post
    So if we take the games that are based on some notion of historical period in which, say, women were assumed to be weak, would it be justifiable to depict women as weak? What about games based on a historical trope of weak women? If we, as I suspect many on these forums do, want games to have some kind of cultural authority as an artistic medium, is it justifiable to determine their content based on social/political ideals?

    This reminds me of something from the London Olympics opening ceremony. There was a scene depicting the industrial revolution in which there appeared a group of capitalists, one of who was black. Now, I am fairly sure there were no black capitalists in 19th century England, so presumably the inclusion of the black capitalist was for some notion of equality. But is it actually more offensive to suggest that black people were involved in, in one reading of history, exploiting the workers, when they have historically been very conspicuous victims of the same culture/class?
    There's a lot of what you've been saying that is worth discussing. I think the main distinction here is: does the game explicitly want to portray a historical period? If the answer is "yes", then yes, it's ok for them to have all the nasty stuff we're trying to get rid of in the present. That's why I don't mind that, say, Crusader Kings II doesn't allow for matrilineal descent unless you're playing Basques. I don't think that will have negative social/psychological side effects. On the other hand, one thing I've always hated about Sid Meier's Colonization is that it simply did not have slavery at all. I always found that incredibly offensive.

    But when the game is a "fantasy" one, or simply happens in a non-descript setting, that's where the tropes can be more damaging. Because all "fantasy" is really based on our sociopolitical reality, we cannot simply "leave" our horizon and create a completely new one. So whatever happens there can, in a symbolic sense, have subtle and not-so-subtle reinforcement aspects that can be rather damaging.

    So my reply to hamster was based on this distinction: I felt that he was trying to carry over the obvious historical fact that women were usually forced into a weak position in the past to justify the presence of the trope in contemporary games.

  2. #362
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    Quote Originally Posted by Faldrath View Post
    But when the game is a "fantasy" one, or simply happens in a non-descript setting, that's where the tropes can be more damaging. Because all "fantasy" is really based on our sociopolitical reality, we cannot simply "leave" our horizon and create a completely new one. So whatever happens there can, in a symbolic sense, have subtle and not-so-subtle reinforcement aspects that can be rather damaging.

    So my reply to hamster was based on this distinction: I felt that he was trying to carry over the obvious historical fact that women were usually forced into a weak position in the past to justify the presence of the trope in contemporary games.
    Right, the problem with having this discussion about 'women vs tropes' is that it's not one topic, but several. I address the idea that tropes could be damaging in my longer post on the previous page, but the gist of it is that I think it needs to be presented as an explicit argument and not assumed. My more specific point about this video is that it demonstrates the existence of the trope of disempowered female characters as if the wider political point follows automatically.* From the preview of the next video, it seems as if that will just enumerate more examples.

    In many ways, this is analogous to the 'violence in games' debate. And I think (without assuming anything about anyone in particular) for those of us who have politically liberal instincts, we are less critical of the same move made in a discussion about gender equality than about violence.

    * Also, I don't think the combative [scratch that, let's go for 'assertive', as long as people don't jump on me for seeming to suggest that women shouldn't be assertive or for something else I'm not saying] stance is the most conducive to discussion, even though it is of course perfectly justifiable as persuasion rather than inquiry. It's less overtly aggressive in its rhetoric than it could have been, but I thought it was unfortunate, given the sensitiveness of the topic.
    Last edited by dsch; 10-03-2013 at 07:32 PM. Reason: add footnote; edit2: change a word

  3. #363
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Faldrath's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hamster View Post
    But some things don't change because they're a large part of our genetic makeup. Women are less athletic than men. Women have less of a disposition for violence than men. The statistics unequivocally support this.
    This gets us dangerously close to a "nature vs. nurture" debate. I will only say that my position in that regard leans heavily towards nurture.


    Games are what they're like because a male-heavy demographic demands male-trope-heavy games. It's that simple. There's no connection between the presence of tropes in video games and female objectification at all. It gets incredibly tiring hearing some hardliners bitch incessantly about fairness and unfairness and prejudice when the matter simply isn't there.
    And here we're getting to "chicken and egg" land. Couldn't it be that the male-heavy demographic itself was created by the prevalence of male-trope-heavy-games? I haven't done research on the subject, but I think it's rather plausible that gaming has created a "male-heavy demographic" based on male tropes because game designers have always been, in the majority, male. And this is because the skills needed to design games in a basic level (engineering, programming) have long been associated with men (which is, of course, another problem).

    That being said. Even if the "male-heavy demographic" is true (which I don't think it is anymore), the question becomes why should they demand male-trope-heavy games? I know plenty of males, myself included, who really dislike sexism in games. Why should men want games in which they are strong and women are weak? This is where the danger lies. Again, I could easily construe your reasoning as "a white-heavy demographic demands white-trope-heavy games". And I think you would agree that this is a bad thing. So why is it that, when it comes to gender, it becomes acceptable?
    Last edited by Faldrath; 10-03-2013 at 07:09 PM.

  4. #364
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Xercies's Avatar
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    I really don't get how people thought she came across combative except for one particular bit(the regressive crap bit) pretty much I though most of it was stating the facts and what this could do with media and how there is a problem with so many different games doing this, it came off quite inclusive and not at all angrily talking at me.

  5. #365
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xercies View Post
    I really don't get how people thought she came across combative except for one particular bit(the regressive crap bit) pretty much I though most of it was stating the facts and what this could do with media and how there is a problem with so many different games doing this, it came off quite inclusive and not at all angrily talking at me.
    No, you are right. I've changed my post above. I meant more that she was speaking from an ideological position which to a large extent predetermines her conclusions.* Which is of course her prerogative, but the contents of the video did not seem to be aware that that is the position being articulated. I felt the assumptions behind her position ought to be pointed out if we are to engage productively with the same issues she engages with.

    * 'Ideology' being loosely defined as 'that which makes assertions/opinions/assumptions seem like facts'.

  6. #366
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    Quote Originally Posted by Faldrath View Post
    But when the game is a "fantasy" one, or simply happens in a non-descript setting, that's where the tropes can be more damaging. Because all "fantasy" is really based on our sociopolitical reality, we cannot simply "leave" our horizon and create a completely new one. So whatever happens there can, in a symbolic sense, have subtle and not-so-subtle reinforcement aspects that can be rather damaging.
    Typically, though, you should be able to make a fantasy setting that carries whatever historical tendencies the writers feel are useful. For instance the Witcher setting seems to retain the general theme of male dominance from the middle ages, with a few exceptions. I think that is a good choice to help create the setting's feel. An impact of this is that there aren't very many significant female characters, which is entirely reasonable for the setting but can lead to oddities. For instance even in a Witcher game where Geralt resuces the same number of plot-important men as he does women, this would mean that proportionally far more plot-important women are rescued than men. I wouldn't put this in the set of things that are worth making a big deal about, but it's worth considering.

    You can compare this with fantasy settings like Forgotten Realms and Elder Scrolls, where it's totally normal and in keeping with the setting that there are plenty of women in historically male roles.

    I'm not really going anywhere in particular with this post, but I thought it was interesting to think about.
    Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.

  7. #367
    Lesser Hivemind Node Spider Jerusalem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dsch View Post
    Using SR3 in an non-ironic way is missing the point. Pretty sure that applies to Bulletstorm too.
    contrary to popular belief, calling something ironic isn't a panacea. often, being ironic is nowhere near enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by dsch View Post
    I haven't seen the video in OP yet, because I kind of suspect it's going to be simplistic feminism that I'll feel obliged to counter. Can anyone make the argument that this is not the case?
    i don't know what "simplistic feminism" is to you (to me simplistic feminism sounds like the most difficult to counter: women deserve equality and respect), but anita sarkeesian is a bit of a dinosaur, i suppose. she's closer to second-wave feminism than anything (not that that is inherently a bad thing), but her main problem is that her analysis is superficial, her research is often lazy, and she rarely moves past the (largely useless) outraged/offended phase toward any type of larger, useful discussion.

  8. #368
    Quote Originally Posted by Faldrath View Post
    Couldn't it be that the male-heavy demographic itself was created by the prevalence of male-trope-heavy-games?
    That's an interesting question. My brief glance at the history of gaming tells me trope heavy stuff followed in the footsteps of an already established demographic. Donkey Kong is a classic boys tale, an errant knight's quest, because by the time games started to include a semblance of a plot beyond "shoot pixels", video gaming has already established itself as a "boys thing". I have no idea whether that happen due to gender profiling or simply because Pong and Space Invaders didn't appeal to girls.

    I could of course be completely wrong on this.

  9. #369
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spider Jerusalem View Post
    contrary to popular belief, calling something ironic isn't a panacea. often, being ironic is nowhere near enough.


    i don't know what "simplistic feminism" is to you (to me simplistic feminism sounds like the most difficult to counter: women deserve equality and respect), but anita sarkeesian is a bit of a dinosaur, i suppose. she's closer to second-wave feminism than anything (not that that is inherently a bad thing), but her main problem is that her analysis is superficial, her research is often lazy, and she rarely moves past the (largely useless) outraged/offended phase toward any type of larger, useful discussion.
    - No, I was not suggesting that irony fixes everything. I was saying that when a discourse has been ironised, it is intellectual naive or dishonest to use it as if it were not ironic.

    - I was making the same point as you did.

  10. #370
    Quote Originally Posted by dsch View Post
    So if we take the games that are based on some notion of historical period in which, say, women were assumed to be weak, would it be justifiable to depict women as weak? What about games based on a historical trope of weak women? If we, as I suspect many on these forums do, want games to have some kind of cultural authority as an artistic medium, is it justifiable to determine their content based on social/political ideals?
    No, if a game took place in a historical period where woman were considered weak by society it would be justifiable for female characters to be treated like they were weak rather than making all female characters weak. Just because a group was viewed a certain way during a time period doesn't mean that's how they actually were.

    If a game took place in America in 1910 and your character walked into a polling place on election day it would be justifiable to only have men there to vote. It would not be justifiable for any female characters to be incapable of making rational decisions.

  11. #371
    Quote Originally Posted by Jesus_Phish View Post
    What does that make Batman then, the he needs her help later on?
    Batman is clearly a distressed dude in Arkham City.

  12. #372
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spider Jerusalem View Post
    contrary to popular belief, calling something ironic isn't a panacea. often, being ironic is nowhere near enough.
    I'd make the argument that if the only two options you have to "get in the kitchen" and "get in the kitchen (ironically)," you don't really have options.
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  13. #373
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    I'd make the argument that if the only two options you have to "get in the kitchen" and "get in the kitchen (ironically)," you don't really have options.
    We could strangle you or drown you. We'll let you pick, because we believe in freedom of choice.

  14. #374
    Lesser Hivemind Node Spider Jerusalem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dsch View Post
    - No, I was not suggesting that irony fixes everything. I was saying that when a discourse has been ironised, it is intellectual naive or dishonest to use it as if it were not ironic.

    - I was making the same point as you did.
    yeah i realized that my post seemed way more confrontational than i intended it to. whoops.

    ^5.

  15. #375
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoLAoS View Post
    We could strangle you or drown you. We'll let you pick, because we believe in freedom of choice.
    I see you've played Tomb Raider too.
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  16. #376
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    I see you've played Tomb Raider too.
    Actually I've never played any tomb raider game.

  17. #377
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spider Jerusalem View Post
    yeah i realized that my post seemed way more confrontational than i intended it to. whoops.

    ^5.
    And mine too. Not enough smilie faces!

  18. #378
    Obscure Node Korochun's Avatar
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    It's funny how people tend to jump towards every shallow conclusion they can. "Games are made only for men, anyway!" or "But that character did a cool thing once, she can't be a damsel!"

    My favorite, though, is several people here who went immediately to defending the trope itself, as if it did something bad.

    Okay, look. Tropes are not malicious: they can't be by their very definition. There is nothing inherently wrong with Damsel in Distress trope, or Hide Your Lesbians, or any other trope. Damsel in Distress trope does not go around perpetuating sexist stereotypes.

    However, tropes are a literal reflection of cultural zeitgeist. In fact, tropes we have in modern times are quite unique, because simply by examining where and how they most often occur you can actually conduct meaningful social analysis of attitudes in groups based on demographics, geographics or even economical conditions. That's why the trope was used in the video in the original place: it's not that the trope is being bashed, but it is being used to examine a collective attitude towards female figures in video games.

    It's not completely conclusive, of course, but it does give us a certain trend that we can easily follow, and that makes analysis easier.

    So, TLDR version: tropes aren't bad, stop defending the fact that Damsel in Distress exists.
    Last edited by Korochun; 11-03-2013 at 02:05 AM.
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  19. #379
    Quote Originally Posted by His Master's Voice View Post
    Are we sure it's deliberate? To me it looks as a by product of the fact that storytelling in games is at best a tertiary concern, which encourages lazy or barebones methods of delivering the player motivations. I think we're in much deeper shit if the industry writers actively reinforce negative gender stereotypes.
    Serenegoose replied to this well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Serenegoose View Post
    It really doesn't matter if it's deliberate. Forgetting that half the planet exists by accident is pretty terrible too.
    Each individual writer may be making the DID situation purely out of laziness, lack of creativity, or just because they like it. But the fact is, this is still problematic in terms of female representation in games. Obviously, the writers didn't all get together and agree to make shitty female characters for some evil purpose, but that doesn't make it any less harmful.


    Quote Originally Posted by thegooseking View Post
    I was thinking about Dishonored earlier. Doesn't the fact that Emily is a child exclude it from this trope? Same could be said of BioShock 2 to an extent: She is older, but in fact the whole ending of the game is about the fact that Eleanore has become her own person, and has autonomy independently of you (albeit influenced by your example), which doesn't really fit the trope at all.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Gunman View Post
    SPIOLERS
    What has saskia being bound to Philipa got to do with damsel in distress trope? Did you miss the part in the game where Saskia successfully leads a rebellion to success? Or where she turns into a Dragon and kills a load of people? Philipa controlling saskia is needed in the plot since the sorceresses are conspiring to take control of the Northerner kingdoms. Having a dragon under your control will help their cause. The fact that a women can controls dragon makes her very powerful. It seems like you have a problem with any women being in trouble.
    Actually, whether someone is a child or a dragon, and whether they are a fully developed character or not, is irrelevant when deciding whether or not they are DID. Anita brings this up specifically-- DID is something that happens to a character but does not necessarily encompass all that they are. Just because a character has good character development does not mean that they have not been "damseled." The only requirement for being a DID is that they have been "portrayed as helpless and in danger in order to put the cast into motion."

    Quote Originally Posted by hamster View Post
    The whole girls-rescuing-guys scenario isn't really that plausible anyway. How many girls do you envision go to town on bad guys vs. guys doing the same? Just not a girl thing.

    If you, as a girl, want a game designer to make a game with a strong, female protagonist, that's okay too. But this is actually a separate thing from complaining that all games are about guys rescuing the damsel in distress, and therefore objectification, and dis-empowerment and all that shit.

    The fact that you say it's not a girl thing to save people is evidence of a huge social problem. Isn't saving people not seen as a girl thing because writers don't write stories about girls saving people? You also seem to be saying that it is okay for women to be weak in video games aimed at men because men like it when they get to rescue weak women.

    But I don't think that all guys like rescuing female characters all the time. In my opinion, creating stronger female characters will actually benefit everyone. Asking for strong female characters (not just physically strong, but strong characterizations) will add diversity to gaming and combat lazy writing. Better writing is better for everyone, right?
    Last edited by daikiraikimi; 11-03-2013 at 02:59 AM.

  20. #380
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    Quote Originally Posted by Korochun View Post
    It's funny how people tend to jump towards every shallow conclusion they can. "Games are made only for men, anyway!" or "But that character did a cool thing once, she can't be a damsel!"
    /snip
    It would be much more helpful if you specified who you were replying to as there are several points of view represented in this thread, and your characterisations might be ambiguous.

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