If you don’t like it you must be sexist

So there I am, wondering what to talk about this week. I’m not one for “the year in review” type stuff, and I’m not too keen on “My New Year Resolutions” either (for multiple reasons, not least of which is they don’t last. Plus I’ve got an unfortunate tendency to either madly overestimate or underestimate what I can do so things go odd.

Besides, it wasn’t long ago that I was SOCMOB when this Bad Dude of a story came and walloped me over the head and forced me to write the damn thing, so that’s been eating most of my loose time (and will continue to do so for a fair while yet. Magic, alternate earth-ish world run by dogs with humans as a despised minority, and human pirates. Oh, yeah. YA. ME! YA. I tell you, life’s gone insane).

So I started browsing a bit, and what should I find but this. Basically ruling the Tomb Raider reboot out of contention for Game of the Year because the game makers toned down Lara Croft’s trademark boobs and assuming the “It just doesn’t feel like Tomb Raider to me” from gamers is because the main character isn’t in danger of overbalancing with those ridiculously outsized missile emplacements on her chest.

So I kept reading. My brain didn’t quite explode, but damn, folks. I game. Okay, usually not the big-name franchise games (not least because my hand-eye coordination sucketh mightily and it usually takes me so long to get the motion combinations into muscle memory that the game is bloody boring for me) but still… I don’t see the festering haven of sexism the author of that article sees. Let’s look at demographics first. The biggest player demographic for big-box franchise games are male, late teen to mid thirties or thereabouts. You know, the age when Mr Happy has at least as much say as the brain in what’s going on. Is it so damn shocking that the game makers cater to their biggest demographic? (Apparently for our Feminist Glittery Hoo Haas it is – presumably it would be equally shocking for makers of baby products to largely target younger mothers). Now, sure, if you look at ALL gamers, there are a lot of women. Who tend to prefer social gaming over big box gaming. So gee, social games have a much different style.

The next thing that’s off about this article is even simpler: the original Tomb Raider games were largely puzzle/adventure with some action. What I’ve heard of the reboot is that while it’s a good game on it’s own terms, it’s much more a role playing/first-person-shooter style. Now, I’ll play the first if I can manage the controls. The second – hell no. FPS and I do not get on. I can understand people who thought they were getting the same style of play with modern graphics being disappointed. I would be. And Lara Croft’s boobs would have nothing to do with it. What’s with the presumption that someone who’s disappointed is lamenting the reduced cup size just because he happens to be male? I’d call that sexist, but according to Feminist Glittery Hoo Haa “logic”, it can’t be sexist if it’s anti-male.

On top of that, the idiot author seems to think that the Tomb Raider boobs were “meticulously sculpted to appeal to the male gaze”. Well, no. The boobs were an accident of the mouse that the design team liked so much they kept it, thus condemning poor Lara to years of back pain – and since after the first game that’s what Lara Croft looks like, that’s how she continued to look until the series faded out. This is called “reusing game assets” which is much cheaper than reimaging everything (yes, it actually IS easier/cheaper to upgrade an older image model to the latest version than to redraw it from start). Do your research, darling. It makes you look less like a failure with an axe to grind.

So after that, the oh-so-much-better-than-those-awful-icky-MALE-gamers author goes on to blast multiple other games, some popular, some less so, for their apparent anti-femaleness. I say apparent because at least one of the games mentioned it’s more like anti-everything, and another has enough of an open world that you can guarantee all sorts of things the game makers never planned on. (Don’t believe me? Google nude Skyrim mods. Yes, they exist. What’s more, the way they’ve been used by imaginative gamers is unquestionably not what the makers intended. Oh, and Rule 34 applies, so you have been warned).

Okay. I’ve ranted for long enough. I’m sure there’s other rant-worthy stupid out there, but the Bad Dude story is starting to itch again and wants me to write more.

34 comments

  1. Game “journalism” at it’s finest, I’m afraid. The social warriors have infested it. You can hardly go a day without reading crap like this, written under the provincial assumption that all games are designed in the West, by Westerners who have progressive values. (The Dragon’s Crown tempest over DD+ cups was eye opening. Cultural relativism seems to only exist when convenient for the social warriors.)

  2. Kate, I polled my Canines, and I was shocked to find Socialist Tyrants. Complete Nannystate enthusiasts.

    Free doggy treats on request. Every meal _must_ have steaming hot meat _with_ a bone in it. The dogs get the couches and chairs. Humans can sit on the floor.

    They demanded that every garbage have something worth rolling in in it.

    Perpetual open season on cats, squirrels and mailmen.

    They just went on and on, it was horrible! I really hope you’re writing a hideous dystopia, and the humans win.

    1. Not exactly a hideous dystopia, but an awful lot of the pirates are human. And the Dread Pirate Roberts owns and runs his own pirate haven (he’s human, too).

      Yes, this thing has references to damn near every Golden Age pirate somewhere there, as well as a completely bizarre mix of culture-mashups.

      It’s fun though. My main characters (human twins, about 14 years old and tough little monsters with it) are in the middle of a ridiculous scavenger hunt set up by the combination of a crazy old Captain Kidd wanting someone “worthy” to claim his fortune and ancient Azllamas looking for the next Emperor of Everything. They, of course, have no idea what the heck is behind all of this, but they’re definitely keen on becoming the richest people ever.

  3. Lucky the feministas don’t get on Second Life, Poor Lara would feel downright small. And indeed, one of the accessories you can get for your avatar are enormous boobs. And then, there are actually several competing brands (and it gets worse from there). I can say with a high degree of certainty that the players running around using female avatars equipped with these monsters are not women.

    Which probably shocks the naysayers from Lara’s first days who thought that no guy would want to play a game with a female main character.

    1. Ha! The feministas would get an eyeful if they a) got on Second Life and b) accidentally ended up in some of the more… interesting regions.

      And gamers will play any kind of game that has an interesting plot and decent gameplay that suits their style. The goal is fun, not “is it a guy”, “is it a gal”, “does it have mega-boobs”.

      1. Guys like female protagonists in 3rd person perspective games because they feel uncomfortable spending hours staring at a guy’s ass.

  4. I am suspicious of these kinds of articles (like the one at medium.com). I doubt whether the editor or the writer particularly believe there is any sexism or any other ism involved. Instead a site paid by the click has noticed that invoking sexism can get people angry – and that angry people visit – and angry people link – and if opposing groups can get angry then massive free advertising can be had with both sides linking back to the original piece.

    Kate – Good luck with the writing and just in case it is actually some manner of premonition, let me be the first to Hail Our Illustrious Canine Overlords.

    1. I don’t know – but perpetuating this kind of idiocy is a defenestration offense.

      Thank you for the good luck wishes. The writing is going rather well so far, with an awful lot of wordage produced in a relatively short time frame (by my standards which involve sneaking writing in when I”m not doing something I should be doing like… oh… the paid job.)

  5. I don’t game because so many of them trigger horrible headaches (flickering and rapid camera cuts are not my friends), but I always just assumed that certain games (Leisure Suit Larry) aimed at the teen age male demographic (GTA, Call of Duty) would have features that appeal to teenaged males. Like the beach volleyball game a few years ago that included a wet t-shirt contest and occasional breast flash. Most of the women gamers I know play WoW, Thieves Guild, or other MMORPGs and I have yet to hear any of them complaining about “sexism” in the game itself. Among gamers, yeah, but not built into the program. Sounds like a bit of a tempest in a B cup.

    1. Well, duh. That was pretty much my perspective too. If you’re after the horny guy demographic, you’re going to have an environment the horny guy demographic likes.

      1. Off topic, but when I went to read the fantasy armor strip, an ad for A Few Good Men popped up from Barnes and Noble. It was good, and then rotated away to a romance novel.

  6. I really think this is a case of someone looking for evidence of their pet theory rather than taking an unbiased look at things. Poor littow feminist didn’t get invited to the HALO party (awwwwww) and now all gamers are sexist. If you look for evidence of (insert conspiracy theory here) you will find it. That’s all this is.

    1. Pretty much. It’s like looking for smut in books. As ye seeketh, so shall ye find…

  7. I was aware of the size of the new Lara’s breasts when I decided I had little interest in playing the game.

    I haven’t played any of the old Lara games either.

    I probably do not have the hardware for the new one.

    My manual dexterity is ppor. Stuff that requires rapid reactions often leaves me behind. I don’t always like going all out on the analysis end either. A little is fun, but when it is work, it can go past that point.

    A game will get a certain amount of time spent on it. Time I may not be able to afford. If I don’t think I should be spending my time there, the easiest thing is not to purchase it. Especially if I have budgetary restrictions. This doesn’t apply to free games that will run on a slow old computer, but for those I just need self discipline.

    The most recent game to inspire a desire to purchase hardware in me, at that time, failed the time and money tests, I’d don’t know that I’m up how much I would likely fail at the gameplay, and I’ve unanswered technical questions.

    Books have often struck me as having better ROI.

    1. I’m with you on the lousy manual dexterity. I’ve gotten reasonably good as one or two dexterity-based games, but mostly because the game itself appealed to me enough to persevere with my horrible coordination until the muscle memory finally happened.

      The games I play tend not to need the most up-to-date gear – they also tend to be cheap or free.

  8. Considering how often women, IRL, get breast implants (one of the funniest things about watching 1980’s and earlier television and movies are all the small boobs) I really don’t think this is just a guy thing, it’s just a fantasy thing. Every now and then a game lets you have a “realistic” body type and no one ever does it. Girls playing girl characters want a fantasy body and guys playing girl characters (and lots of them do, lots and lots) want a fantasy body. Once in a while if the game lets you be ridiculous (Aeon let you make bobbleheads or have your knuckles drag) you’d see a toon that you were pretty sure was a guy playing a woman because she was absurd… huge hips and breasts and a tiny waist. But usually… hey… it’s a fantasy. My characters MMORPG toons are all amazons with significant chests.

    And yes, the male character models are in the unreal fantasy realm, too.

    Lara Croft was interesting in that the game makers from the very beginning realized that boys don’t mind pretending to be a girl *at* *all* and that they’d play a game *as a girl* and it would be fabulous.

    1. No no, you see, it’s actually totally sexist. They’re not identifying with, or playing AS a girl. In their evil, sexist minds they are CONTROLLING a girl and making her submissive to them, doing what they want.

      Ugh, now I have to wash my hands, they’ve got Feminist on ’em.

  9. Apologies, this is long and unedited. I’m sick and sleepy. Okay, generally I promise myself when posting to avoid two things. Don’t be an ass, don’t hate on anybody.

    I’m breaking one of those rules. But I’m not going to hate on anyone in particular, still. Blame it on the caffeine I rarely get. I’m sick, it sucks, and I needed a soda.

    Ms. Wu apparently has the technical chops and the background, from what she’s said. I recognize the writing style, too- persuasion 101. I was trained in the same style, way back in undergraduate college. That said, this doesn’t make for a great article.

    Her bias is showing. It’s the plumber’s crack of journalism. It’s not something we want to see, it makes us uncomfortable and embarrassed for the owner of said crack. The poor little lemming excuse of “all the cool kids are doing it!” just doesn’t cut it, bias saps the strength of serious journalism and makes it weak. Fine if you’re preaching to the already converted, but it tends to automatically turn off the folks in the middle and fails to even remotely engage the folks on the other end. That’s why serious journalists, way back in the days of yore, sought to report the facts and let the audience decide for themselves where the truth lay.

    I’m not a serious journalist, and have absolutely no desire to become so.

    Knowing even a little bit of the history of “sexism” in PC and later console gaming will tell you this is neither new nor even all that interesting. In my off hours I’m a capital ‘G’ kind of Geek. I do pen-and-paper rpgs, I game, and I read all sorts of those “devil books” as my grandma would call them (she was referring, as I recall, to Dragonriders of Pern at the time). I’ve seen some of what Ms. Wu would probably call male dominated, sexist, and downright disgusting over the years.

    There are times I can even slightly agree with that opinion. One of the earliest online rpgs I can recall was a little like Zork, a text-based MUD. One of the metrics they tracked was “lays,” the number of times your character took a wench up to the rooms of the inn and had sex with her. No erotica, just a number. Can’t recall much interest in that one at the time, gameplay wasn’t all that great, I remember the detail, thinking “what does this add to the game?” Wasn’t impressed.

    Tonight, when Rockstar goes to sleep on a giant pile of money they got from creating a hugely successful game enterprise which promote few if any redeeming values and allow you to do and see some rather horrible stuff, I doubt they are thinking “gee. Women aren’t very well represented in these games. Maybe we should change that.” Gamers just gobble up GTA. Slick gameplay, graphics, and the ability to do so much in a large open world is the siren call that opens wallets. Their fanbase is, as Kate said, largely males from teenagers to mid thirties. If you are surprised by this, you probably need some adult supervision.

    “Sexism” in gaming has been around so long, it’s not just a meme but a tired old cliché. Most gamers just roll their eyes at and amble on. Games are not made to be socially “important” they are made to make money. Ideally, Rockstar-sized gigantic piles, to sleep on. Capitalism at its finest, that.

    It’s a bit like storytelling. Well, it *is* storytelling. It’s entertainment. Things that break immersion- stabbing women in CoD, for example- those aren’t always good things for your product. You get the option of playing a female character, but there’s a bone deep aversion to harming women even in pretend to be found in most men. It isn’t the cartoon violence of most MMOs, it is more unsettling.

    The rush to take offense by the glittery hoo-haa sisterhood reminds me of a crowd of malicious eighth graders chanting “Fight! Fight! Fight!” If 2013 Lara Croft is “important” then games, stories that glorify the virtues of manhood aren’t? Oh, it’s important because there’s *lots* of those other games and few of the ones you like? Look, by and large guy gamers like girls. Especially girl gamers. Pop up in a multiplayer game as a female with a question or needing assistance and guys will usually dogpile you trying to help out. Even playing a female avatar gets this, though the percentage of cross-dressing is sometimes high.

    Wanting female voices in gamer news is good for female gamers, I get that. Wanting female gamers on high profile podcasts like Giant Bomb or IGN’s out of some perceived need for fairness or equality ain’t. If there’s a gal out there who can make the show better, great! But don’t spoil it by injecting PC horsesqueeze like “we need more awareness of gender issues.” We can poke fun at Dragon’s Crown all day long, but really, often enough it’s more that the over-the-top art style and down-talking don’t add a whole lot to the game (though some would buy it solely on those issues), and less a Vile Plot of the Patriarchy.

    Like racism, the sexism brigade simultaneously wants to be just one of the guys, “but don’t forget I’m a girl.” Instead of demanding to be treated like a person instead of an object, they can take something that’s just-plain-offensive, I-don’t-care-who-you-are (reference to using a woman as a urinal, from GTA), and make that a solely female issue. Sorry, no. That offends me both as a man and as a person.

    There are no “Guys Only” fountains here. Private enterprise means folks can hire who they want and create what they want. Equality in this case (as in many) is the stampy-footed whine of the spoiled, wanting everyone to play by *their* rules and no one else’s. It ain’t all about sex, or sexism, and especially not *all* about gender issues. The bar’s low, get over it.

    The question should be, is it fun? Games are entertainment, same with fiction. Can be educational at times (learned the difference between onagers, ballistae, and catapults from Civ). Thinly veiled social commentary usually bricks, unless you are preaching to the already converted.

    Oh, and good luck with the story. Viva le human resistance!

    1. I’m sorry you’re sick – that sucks. Even so, you managed to do a better rant than me.

      The GTA series is the one I was referring to when I made the comment about “anti-everything” – the impression I get is that the series is maybe one step or two away from the ugliest sort of anarchy. Would I try to stop anyone from buying or making it? Hell no. Nor would I say that it “should” be all puppies and hearts and flowers. It’s what it is, and it’s making the franchise owners mega$$$, so more power to them.

      I’m female in a male-dominated field. There are more female testers than female programmers, but female testers-who-code are still rather rarer than male testers-who-code. I don’t demand special consideration because I have a glittery hoo haa (last time I looked there’s no glitter down there). All I want is that I get judged on the quality of the work I do.

      Games can be very educational, sometimes directly, sometimes very indirectly – I’ve uncovered a lot of odd history via the games I play.

      Thanks for the good luck wishes. The human resistance is going to be doing a lot of resisting through this thing.

      1. Thanks for the kind words and well wishes. I hate being sick most of all because it is distracting, and there are so many things to be done (and to think about) that, well, I begin to favor the twenty-eight hour day, just so I can get things done. *chuckle*

        Is it bad that your story has a song to it in my head already?

        “Breakin’ rocks in the
        hot sun;
        I fought the dogs and the
        dogs won…”

        With apologies to Sonny Curtis and the Crickets (though most people know the song better by the Bobby Fuller Four, or later, the Clash). *grin*

  10. It was never any secret to the more hardcore D&D players that guys will play girl characters, without any masculinity problems being involved. My brother Kevin’s first D&D char was a female fighter, and that was back when we were still a bit worried about getting cooties all over us. The trick is that it’s not the guy; it’s his heroic fictional character.

    I think that a lot of the bitching is caused by feminist women who don’t have adequate experience with knowing men (or possibly, with women, since they have such weird exaggerated ideas about women’s superiority). Either their ideology or their ignorance causes them to think, “Wow, a lot of gamer men are sexist jerks! Now I know how evil and stupid all men really are!” rather than, “Wow, it’s sad that a small percentage of trolls, jerks, and griefers among gamers would make the experience more unpleasant for the rest of us! But the admins will take care of it.”

    Of course, recognizing that men have independent thoughts and feelings would make them actually have to wonder why certain individual men don’t wuv them, or why certain individual men don’t promote them, and why this might say something about their own personal failings as individuals. They might have to think about their rage against their divorced fathers, or their suppressed rage against their divorced mothers, or about all the times their feminist friends haven’t acted like friends to them.

    So it’s much better (in their view) to refrain from self-examination by attacking the entire faceless class of men and programmers.

  11. That said, I’m not going to be interested in playing a game where the chars are traipsing around half-nekkid. But developers aren’t targeting me, either, especially since my hand-eye coordination stinks.

    Moving along, probably the best gamer anime ever is Log Horizon, whose female characters have fairly conservative but attractive body and armor designs. Since the premise is being trapped in a real version of the game world, inside your character’s body, many of the gamers experience difficulty with body proportions that are now difficult to work with. Indeed, the first episode finds a tall stoic ninja assassin guy who’s desperate to polymorph back to being a female with her own real height and proportions. (Going directly to the topic, one of the first non-Japanese fanfics for Log Horizon concerns a man who plays a woman and is finding that rather inconvenient for life, much less hanging out with his girlfriend.) OTOH, there’s a boy in the series who was disabled in an accident, who now finds himself able to move freely once again, albeit in his character’s body.

    1. You have some pointers to that fic? Is it based on the anime or the light novels? I’ve been reading some of Vathara’s Dislocation, but I’d be open to more.

    2. The recommendation for Log Horizon is seconded (with maybe a nod towards Sword Art Online, which the wife and I were re-watching last night). Someone either here or at Sarah’s blog recommended it to me, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

      To the point where I’m now downloading and reading the fan-translated light novels. (Wow, those folks could use a copy editor. Or just an editor. Whoa.)

      1. SAO and Accel World, by the same author covering a different VR game, are apparently coming out in official english translation soon. One of the AW Openings has some lyrics about going fast that Rex Mason might approve of.

        Mahouka may also be of interest. It may be as close as we can hope for to a Kratman magical girl anime.

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