Posts Tagged ‘Sexism’

BioWare’s Heir On Sexism, Racism, Homophobia In Games

GDC was jam-packed with brilliant talks, and I missed far too many of them because infinity appointments beckoned. One of the absolute best I *did* see, however, was Mass Effect 4 designer Manveer Heir making an impassioned plea to developers for more diversity in games. He gave a talk equal parts well-reasoned and resolute, arguing not that all games should change their icky ways, but that our industry’s predominate pattern needs to shift away from generic leads and hurtful stereotypes. “I sincerely hope that you are ready for that challenge, because I sure as hell am!” he bellowed before being mobbed by fellow designers. I caught up with Heir afterward to discuss some of his talk’s finer points and how BioWare’s become more sensitive to these issues as time has progressed.

Read the rest of this entry »

To Boycott PAX Or Not To Boycott PAX?

Editor’s note: RPS will no longer be covering PAX events. We believe that the values of the company operating those events conflict with ours, and as such we can no longer endorse their actions by providing coverage of PAX events. An explanation of this can be read here. However, others argue that attending can be an effective way to respond to the company’s poor behaviour, and that being there is a way to change things from within. Nathan spoke to people on both sides of the boycott at this year’s controversial event.

To Boycott PAX Or Not To Boycott PAX? That really is the question these days, isn’t it? The saga, up to this point, has been long, turbulent, and ugly. Penny Arcade’s tangled two-headed hydra of a creative force has been at the forefront of some pretty nasty movements over the years – the Dickwolves incident, which saw Mike “Gabe” Krahulik and Jerry “Tycho” Holkins stand resolutely unapologetic over a rape joke that made many fans deeply uncomfortable (instead of saying sorry, they went and sold freaking merchandise), easily stands as the most visible. In the wake of that, similar incidents, and Krahulik acting vocally intolerant of transgender people, Gone Home developer Fullbright – who we spoke to in regards to this article – went so far as to pull out of this year’s PAX altogether. But others – many of whom absolutely abhor Penny Arcade’s oftentimes turgid stances and values – attended despite all of that. Speaking with developers behind games like Journey, Always Sometimes Monsters, and Child of Light, and other fans and critics from many walks of life, I found out why. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Misogyny, Sexism, And Why RPS Isn’t Shutting Up

There were two sessions in a row on Wednesday afternoon at this year’s GDC. The first was a panel of women in the games industry, discussing the causes and results of the #1ReasonWhy and #1ReasonToBe phenomena – the reasons to be and not be in the games industry. The second was Feminist Frequency’s Anita Sarkeesian, talking about the positive and negative consequences of her Kickstarter campaign, and the way forward from here. I came out of the first – vivid, passionate declarations of purpose from the likes of Leigh Alexander, Mattie Brice and Brenda Romero – feeling certain that the industry and its audience was on a wave of significant change. An hour later I came out of the second – Sarkeesian’s challenging and demanding story of recent horror – re-grounded to the current reality, introspective, and further determined.

There is a clear message: Rock, Paper, Shotgun will never back down on the subject of sexism and misogyny (nor racism, nor homophobia, for that matter) in games, the games industry, and the games journalism industry. Good times are ahead – we can see them.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Very Best Of RPS 2012: Campaigns

At RPS our knickers are almost permanently in a twist. And that’s because we operate in an industry that’s worryingly busy with pantie-bunching nonsense. We’re also not the sort of site that likes to stay quiet about such things, and whole-heartedly believes that by making a fuss you can make a difference. Sometimes we have, sometimes we haven’t, but we’ve tended to have an opinion either way.

Read the rest of this entry »

#1ReasonWhy We Are All Responsible

Over the past couple days, a certain hashtag’s been dominating the gaming industry’s sector of Twitter, and with good reason. #1ReasonWhy has given people a place to voice – often using their personal experiences as a megaphone – reasons why there aren’t more women in the gaming industry. Naturally, it’s sparked all kinds of debate, but as always, the point is clear: sexism in the gaming industry is a serious problem, and we need to clean up our act. Perhaps just as damaging as detractors, though, are those who’ve resigned themselves to inaction. For whatever reason, they’ve simply opted to not do anything – even though they know there’s a problem. And so that brings us to a couple days ago, when I encountered a real life example of this little number: “Seriously, though, I’m a guy. It’s not like I can do anything about it.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Girls Just Want To Have Dungeon Runs


“Cassandra” at Left Mouse Button writes about the sexual politics of online life in WOW and, as she puts it, the myth of the meritocracy. Hits some regular riffs, but with a lot of local colour. The quote from a 17-year old guild leader – annoyingly, with his name changed, which does undermine its credibility – is particularly memorable: “Girls just aren’t on the same level. Sometimes they’re okay as healers or whatever, and I’d rather have a girl than an empty raid slot, but they lack that primal aggression that a man needs. They don’t need the kill as bad.” It’s the modern-day equivalent of the playground game where you stomp around in a conga shouting “WE ARE PLAYING ARMY! DO YOU WANT TO JOIN US?” continuously until a girl tries to, at which point you stop and shout “NO GIRLS ALLOWED!”, innit? Of course, it’s mostly anecdotal, which is why I bring it up – what are people’s experience with this?

(Image from here)

Fahren(“Poo” – Ed)

I’ve been sitting this on a while, but figure that with Sunday being RPS’ slow day, today’s the day. If you’re part of the pan-format gaming internet, you’ll aware that last month there was a bit of a furore over the Resident Evil 5 trailer with some wondering whether a video filled with sinister black folk being gunned down by a square-jawed white fella might be a little – y’know – racist. Without going it to deeply – while Res4 turned up on the PC, in a gutted state, it’s not exactly our territory – the basic schism is between gamers who think that when viewed in the context of the Resident Evil games, the trailer is clearly fine and anyone who thinks otherwise is dumb, and those who are looking at the trailer as a cultural object in and of itself. Resident Evil’s history simply doesn’t matter, really.

But that’s not what I’m posting about. Following the debates, I wandered into the more activist portions of the gaming blogosphere for the first time in ages and found this critical dissection of Fahrenheit (aka The Indigo Prophecy) from the end of the last year, which I hadn’t seen linked anywhere else. In two parts, the first about the eventual lead and the second about the eventual supporting cast.

“Playing through bad video games is hardly a novel experience for me. In this respect, Indigo Prophecy shined; it’s the first time I’ve played a game that is so badly written that it ends up being a tale of white male supremacy. While all of the characters were no doubt written the way they were to try and tell a story of real people doing amazing things, it ended up being a story of a lone straight white man singlehandedly saving the world pretty much by virtue of the fact that he’s a straight white man.”

I’d argue Pat Miller – who’s done some interesting stuff for the Escapist, randomly – hits quite a few off notes (I’m not convinced that his reading of Carla as latino is right. As a commentator says, I thought she was Italian). Not that it really matters – the problem isn’t really her presentation as a woman of colour rather than her presentation as a woman. Putting that side, much of what he talks about is entirely correct. There’s some core issues which undermine a lot of Fahrenheit, (Which I liked on its release). My main worry is… well, how I missed it. Or rather, I noticed it, but didn’t process it. When watching films, I notoriously pick up on this stuff. To choose an ageing pop-culture example, being rendered so angry by Blade 2’s lazy plotting (initial scene: Lady fights blade to stand-still. Final scene: Woman is dragged over place screaming for help) I channeled my disgust into the basis for a new comic pitch. Or, more recently, blinking at 28 Weeks Later which seems to argue that you have to obey genocidal orders from your governments or the terrorists will win. So why didn’t Fahrenheit press buttons?

There’s an accusation that gamers give too much leeway to developers when they attempt to present any story. It’s the singing dog. We’re so amazed the dog is singing at that we’re not even thinking about whether it’s in tune or not. In the case of the often formally brilliant narrative tricks of Fahrenheit, I suspect I may have just been clapping at a dog trick. I suspect I’ll have to replay the thing to really find out.