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Jun. 22nd, 2013 @ 10:35 am Sexism in videogames
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
This is a bit of a rant/ramble, but I don't think I could formulate it more coherently.

I think that right now, we're in the build-up to a third feminist wave. Women are more economically independent than ever, and with social media it is much easier to get organised and to have your voice heard. Unfortunately, this seems to upset a lot of younger boys/men who never had to question their status, and they can get organised through social media as well. (See for instance what happened when a teenage girl formed a feminist society at her school in the UK.)

As Edmund Burke said: "The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing." And I do consider myself a good man, so it is time I speak up.
There are a lot of things wrong with the portrayal of women in our popular culture. And because computer games are becoming mainstream, the portrayal of women in games is very much part of that. But video games seem to be lagging behind (if that is at all possible). Heck, there were even rape jokes at a major video game press conference just a few days ago. Gaming is for white, straight, college-aged males, and everyone else is merely window dressing.

We know this is not the case. 47% of gamers are female. The average age of gamers is... 30. And so it is time to make games more inclusive, less targeted to 'bro-gamers'. This means that, as an audience, we have to speak up when some dull-brained gamer thinks this is wrong because he isn't catered for 100% anymore. But it also needs to be done from within the industry: because a game is like a conversation with the audience, just like TV and film is. And some things in that conversation are just not OK.
David Gaider, lead writer for Dragon Age 3 and writer for a lot of the romance plots in Bioware games (ranging from Baldur's Gate II to Dragon Age 2), gave an excellent presentation on sex and sexuality in video games, but also branched out to other subjects. Yes, it's 50 minutes, but it's 50 minutes well spent to see how the games industry seems to think -- and why some of that is wrong.

Let's be honest here. I am a white, heterosexual male with a university education. I am playing life with the lowest difficulty setting possible. It's not always easy for me to see how others may be silenced, shut out or even merely inconvenienced just so that I can be accomodated. But that does not mean I want that, or think that should be the case. I'd rather be a force of good.
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Date:June 22nd, 2013 08:39 pm (UTC)
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Great video. Good speaker and his viewpoints make sense. Thanks for the link.
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Date:June 23rd, 2013 08:19 pm (UTC)
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You're welcome!

I'm currently in a replay of Skyrim (again, but this time with mods), and this video made me think about what's going on in that world. It doesn't matter if you play a man or a woman as a character (the texts all reflect this correctly), and the bad guys are also quite evenly distributed between men and women. So that's good.
You can also get married in the game. There are some NPCs that you can marry, if you solve a problem for them. And all of these NPCs are essentially bisexual: you can marry them regardless of whether you are a man or a woman. That's pretty neat. (There is no sex in the game, and you can only adopt children, so nobody has to worry about the mechanics of your married life. You do get a bonus if you sleep in the same bed as your spouse, but that's it.) And nobody looks weirdly at two women or two men being married, so that's a good message to send too.

However, all the other people in the world are either single, or heterosexual. There are no same-sex couples to be found that I know of. And I wonder why that is. If homosexuality is not something to get upset about, why aren't there homosexual couples about? And what kind of message does that send to the audience?
I wonder if that was a conscious decision, or if it's a case of heteronormativity that just went unchallenged.
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Date:June 24th, 2013 04:13 pm (UTC)
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I think not having same sex couples in the world solves the entire " I don't want no gay " issue quite easily. I mean, what the player does, creating gay or straight relationships, that's up to them. But having pre-set gay couples in the world, might upset a few vocal idiots.

Sounds to me like the entire setup was made to please as many people as possible, whilst at the same time offending as little people as possible.

Ps. I am happy my rig cannot run Skyrim. I'd never finish my studies :P.
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