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Stand up and be heard

I don’t think it will be any surprise to those who have read MGC for long to learn that I’m a gamer. While I’m not big into MMOs or the like, I love me a good RPG or first person shooter. When I look for new games, I look for story and interesting characters first and foremost — well, that and great graphics. I want to be entertained as I play. Yes, I want a story along with my explosions and gunfire. What I don’t do is take a head count to see how many women, gays, non-binary genders and people of whatever color there are in the game.

What’s gotten me on this kick, you ask? Well, you could blame Sarah. We were talking last night and I asked if she had any suggestions for this morning’s post. She sent me the link to this article. I’d seen the article earlier but hadn’t paid it much attention. But with Sarah, the non-gamer, knowing about it, I thought it might necessitate a second look.

I first heard about the indie game developer the article is about several weeks/months ago when the usual suspects on FB started talking about how badly she was being treated by the gaming industry and, most especially, by those evil, pimply faced gamers who still lived in their parents’ basements (read white guys). At no point did the developer’s supporters note any of her past history or reputation. Oh no, she was the victim because those evil male gamers were talking smack about her.

You get the picture. It was the typical SJW/GHH attack and response, much like what we saw with regard to how SFWA and that particular contingent went after Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg. I’ve gotten to the point where I tend to shake my head, grit my teeth and say a silent prayer that one day common sense will rain down on the SJW/GHH crowd before they completely ruin not only SF/F and publishing but our society as well.  Unfortunately, I don’t have much hope of it, not unless we have more people — male and female — willing to stand up and rebut the shrill accusations and lies the other side is slinging at us. That is exactly what the article I’ve linked to does.

I could go on about what the article states but I suggest you read it. It doesn’t need interpretation and it speaks volumes about the bias in the media when it comes to the gaming industry and it confirms what we’ve discussed with regard to publishing. SJWs and GHHers scream so loud and long that they have either scared or convinced reviewers, the media, etc., that they are right and everyone must be brought, kicking and screaming, over to their side. It doesn’t matter if they are right or wrong. All that matters is that they are giving lip service to the politically correct cause du jour.

But, as a gamer, what absolutely sends me over the edge is how these same SJWs/GHHers claim that they can’t find games that spotlight THEM. You read their posts and reviews and you’d think there was never a game made that featured a playable character that was a person of color (hmm, does that include purple?) or gay or female or non-binary gender. If you were to believe them, every game — or almost every game — features only white males.

Give me a break.

I took a few minutes this morning to look at my Steam console as well as my Origin console. Yes, I am a gamer. Gaming is my way of relieving tension. I’m also female and most definitely not some 20-something male living in his mother’s basement.

Of the games I own, I can play as male and female, gay or straight, person of color or not. I can play as human or alien. Hmm, are they playing different games than I am?

Let’s see. Mass Effect. Three games by Bioware, one of the developers that often comes under fire from the SJWs. The main character is Commander Shepard. All three games allow you to basically create your own Shepard.  You choose the sex of your Shepard. You chose skin tone, eye color, etc. While the stats I once saw from Bioware showed more folks played as a male Shepard, it didn’t surprise me. Males are still the majority of gamers so it makes sense that they would, more often than not, play as a male character.

But there’s more. Depending on how you answer questions and interact with the other characters in the games, you can make your Shepard gay or straight. You can have relationships with other characters or not. It is your choice.

Still, the gaming industry hasn’t done enough, we’re told.

What else do I have in my games library. Hmm.

Skyrim. A huge RPG game. It had been awhile since I’d played it so I went in last night and started a new game just so I could remember the character tree. Yep, I was right. You can play as male or female. You can choose skin tone, etc. You aren’t even limited to human characters. There are elves of various types and even one race that looks a lot like a walking cat. But again, not enough diversity.

Borderlands 1 & 2.

Not so much character development here as a part of the story. But in Borderlands 1, you have one female playable character, the siren, Lilith. She is anything but helpless and she most definitely is not just an oversexed character. (That would be Moxxi who is fun and who I’d love to be able to play in a game one day). In Borderlands 2, you have a new siren — also female — Maya as a playable character. You also have, via DLC, a new female playable character, Gaige. Gearbox and 2k Games will have two playable characters in the next Borderlands game, Borderlands The Pre-Sequel.

But, Amanda, why aren’t there playable female characters in games like Assassin’s Creed, you ask.

Because it doesn’t make sense. Not in the AC games, at least not to me. Assassin Creed and all its sequels are quasi-historical games.  The playable characters are set into historical events, usually fictionalized, that set a certain social and political constraint on the story. Since the Assassin Creed games are as much story as they are action, the characters have to “fit” into the historical context. Not that it matters to the detractors who want a female or gay or non-binary sexed character no matter what (yes, they are stomping their feet and threatening to hold their breath until they get their way).

What it comes down to in the gaming industry and in writing is that the characters have to make sense in the setting we put them in. Does it make sense to have a heavily pregnant woman so close to term that the baby could come at any moment on the bridge of a starship heading into battle? Only if the ship in question was a pleasure cruiser and she was on the bridge as part of a cruise when they were attacked by pirates without warning. It doesn’t make sense to have her there in a command capacity in the middle of an on-going war. Not unless it was a world’s last ditch effort to save itself.

Nor does it make sense to have a checklist of characters and certain character traits that have to be in a story or game just to satisfy the PC crowd. A good author, be it of a book or of a game’s backstory and plot, will write so that readers will see themselves in the characters one way or another. Write the characters that are needed for the story, both main characters and supporting. That will win you more readers than writing the cookie cutter PC novel or game script.

Most of all, stand up to the bullies. Yes, bullies. That’s how so many of the SJWs and GHHers act. They run to the media and their blogs and social media to whine and cry and throw epitaths at those of us who don’t fit their ideal of politically correct goodness. Even when they are foolish enough to try to debate the issues with us, they run back to social media to crow their victory after they’ve been soundly thrashed. The problem is, too often we sit back and let them get away with it. We play into their hands when we remain silent or when we go against our better judgment and change out characters to meet whatever artificial standards they set for us.

The time is now to stand up for good stories, stories that entertain and actually make people want to buy our books and games. Who’s with me?

46 Comments
  1. I enjoy playing Sims. Though I find I can’t play it too often, or the part of my brain that makes up stories gets saturated making up stories for my Sims, and not for my characters. 😉

    Sims can be all sorts of colors, black, white, purple, green, etc. They can be male, female, straight, gay. Men can give birth (after being abducted by aliens, unless you cheat).

    What it can’t do is make Sims of different heights. Every Sim of the same age group is exactly the same height. Even putting your Sims in high heels just shortens the legs, it doesn’t make your Sim taller. LOL.

    September 2, 2014
    • Wow, I didn’t know the Sims were height discriminatory. Where are the howls of outrage? Or is it that those who do most of the howling are also height discriminatory? Hmm, inquiring minds want to know. 😉

      September 2, 2014
  2. Ironically, the Assassin’s Creed Game will have had 2 playable female characters(ignoring the multiplayer which has always had several.) AC Liberation has you playing as a Black Female Assassin. AC Unity will give you the option to play as Elise(Former Templar turned….psycho killer? Not really clear yet.) The sad truth is the gaming industry always does a mix of what they think will sell and what seems interesting.

    On the note of awesome FPS games, with some amazing RPG elements, i give you Destiny. Which ironically not only has both male and female characters, but also different races(including Android) and these characters are soldiers who are actually given cut scenes and lines. The GHH parade needs to open their eyes. The games are out there.

    September 2, 2014
    • I’d forgotten that the AC games were including the new characters. Funny, the SJW crowd has failed to talk about that. And, yes, the gaming industry do mix what they think will sell and what’s interesting. That’s the basic mode of operation for just about anything. That’s why we have so many Twilight clones in publishing.

      I’m looking forward to playing Destiny. As for the GHH parade needing to open their eyes, they do but they won’t. If they do, they’d see that the world as they’ve imagined it doesn’t exist and all their lamentations have been for naught — because they weren’t needed. No way are they going to do anything that will make them admit they aren’t necessary to the advancement and education of socieity.

      September 2, 2014
    • It’s not enough that SOME games, or even MOST games have characters catering to their whims. ALL games must bow down before the might of their huffiness.

      September 3, 2014
      • Exactly. The SJWs who are crying about this don’t want equality. They want domination.

        September 3, 2014
  3. Excellent, Amanda! I’ve been playing Spiderweb games for years. (Geneforge, Avernum, Avedon). You can pick the ‘race’ (human, sentient lizard, sentient cat) and sex of any player. I’ve played ‘Alien Shooter’ since it was released, and the gender choice has always been there. Civilzation games, since IV, have given the choice of female characters.

    It’s a pity that reporting games has fallen into the same pit as ‘news’ reporting has. I would wager bucks to beans that, in “journalism schools” the students aren’t learning how to report on something – they’re learning how to “tell a story that gets the reaction you desire” from the reader.

    It’s depressing, and makes me want to play a game to get my mind off of it… and here we go again.

    September 2, 2014
    • Lin, they don’t teach reporting like they used to. Or, if they do, it is a side level in the degree program. Instead of learning to report the news, the students are encouraged to make the news. What else explains the current state of much of the MSM?

      September 2, 2014
  4. questionableprovenance #

    Common mistake intellectually honest, educated people make in dealing with SJW: you assume the “historical accuracy” argument is valid. One of the major tools of SJW is rewriting history.

    As evidence, I present the new syllabus of the College Board AP History.

    September 2, 2014
    • Do NOT get me started on revisionist history. That may have to become a post for my personal blog. Hmmmmm.

      September 2, 2014
  5. sabrinachase #

    And what about the games like Myst, where you always play as yourself? You could be a small furry creature from Alpha Centauri for all they know! (And SFCfAC don’t discuss their egg-laying proclivities. Ever. They tell their sprouts the Mushroom People brought them.)

    September 2, 2014
    • LOL. And you do know you are now a traitor to our sex, right? After all, you just pointed out a fallacy in their argument. How dare you! [giggles]

      September 2, 2014
  6. I guess the Fallout series doesn’t count either.

    September 2, 2014
    • Of course not. It isn’t something dipped in existential angst and non-normative whatever. Besides, the Evil Overlord might like it and that is, you know, the kiss of death.

      September 2, 2014
  7. Matt #

    Dragon Age 1, Origins, 2, Inquisition; Mass Effect 1, 2, 3; Fallout 1, 2, 3, New Vegas; All Elder Scrolls games; come on, seriously? How about games like Heavenly Sword or Wet where you HAVE to be a female? Or the Witcher where you aren’t really even human and don’t have a choice about it? What blows my mind the most is that this kind of nonsense, that can be refuted with less than 30 seconds research, is still being put forth and listened to. Maybe everyone should boycott the news outlets until they start reporting again, instead of reacting and storytelling…

    September 2, 2014
    • *slight smile* Portal 1 I don’t think sets your gender (I could be wrong) but I think in 2 you’re a girl.

      Of course that doesn’t ‘count’. It refutes their argument.

      Note they don’t include JRPGs like Final Fantasy, which either had strong female characters or outright female main protagonists. (Terra, Celes, Lightning, the heroine from FFX…) or Asian RPGS where picking a female avatar tends to have no bearing on your stats. Hell, Okami. You’re not even HUMAN, but a female goddess in the shape of a wolf.

      September 2, 2014
      • jselvy #

        If it refutes their argument of course it doesn’t count.

        September 2, 2014
      • Thanks for bringing up FF. Wasn’t it Final Fantasy X-I where you only had the ability to play as a female? I hadn’t thought about those games or the others your mentioned because I was on my laptop and didn’t take time to check my console games.

        September 2, 2014
      • Robin Munn #

        In Portal 1, if you set up your portals just right (e.g., facing each other at 90° angles in a corner), you can catch a glimpse of yourself as you step through the portals. You’re the same character in Portal 1 as in Portal 2: a woman named Chell. She’s never (so far as I know) named in the game itself, but her name appears in other canonical materials.

        September 2, 2014
        • One of the funniest things I’ve seen is a video of Chel and Gordon Freeman getting together after finishing their respective adventures, and of course, the entire event (one might even call it a “date”) is carried out silently.

          September 3, 2014
          • Patrick Chester #

            Doesn’t GladOS snark at Chell for not saying anything?
            (I have portal on my steam library, it is free apparently, but I haven’t downloaded and played it yet.)

            September 3, 2014
            • Get it! It’s worth it. Especially if it’s free.

              Then you’ll finally get all those “The Cake is a Lie” jokes.

              September 4, 2014
              • Patrick Chester #

                Oh I’ve seen that.

                Of course, between SWTOR, Mass Effect (still haven’t finished the SP game for 3, though I play MP all the time), X-COM and I still play Civ4, I’m not sure I can find time for even a game that’s as short as Portal is supposed to be. O_o;

                September 4, 2014
    • The problem with you suggestion is that most everyone has already boycotted those news outlets. The article I linked to made a very good point that the sort of reporting playing up the misogyny in gaming like it highlights is why there is now a split between most gamers and the game bloggers/reviewers. Gamers are like readers — they want something that is fun to play just like readers want books that are fun to read. They don’t want to be hit over the head with the politically correct cause of the day.

      September 2, 2014
  8. Bob #

    All the drama almost makes me wish I was still a gamer. These days it’s mostly just Tetris for me, so I guess I’m not affected.

    Well, that triangle piece looks kinda suggestive…and the way it plunges down into the gaps the player makes…and are there enough block colors?

    In all seriousness, what gets to me is the level of corruption involved which allowed these unscrupulous types to get ahead. I mean, these are people who live by their reputations and judgment. What were they thinking? Were they?

    September 2, 2014
  9. Kate Paulk #

    Dumberer and dumbest. I’m not much of a gamer, but the games I do play include the Myst series – where you’re mostly yourself and you don’t actually see yourself – a kiddie MMO by the name of Pirate 101, where the first part of character creation is “are you a boy or a girl” (your character is a kid – most likely around 14 or so) and you can pick from a range of colorings, and the Overlord games where it doesn’t really matter WHAT you are because you’re inside a massive suit of armor so all that’s really visible is glowing eyes. Oh, and some tan skin in the first game, or blue skin with swirls in the second. But you get to kill elves, so it’s all good.

    September 2, 2014
    • Damn it, Kate! Now I want to go back and replay those games — and curse the game developers for not bringing out an Overlord 3.

      September 2, 2014
      • Kate Paulk #

        AMEN to that! Those games are fun, and killing hippie environmentalist elves is just delightful.

        September 2, 2014
  10. tkanthonyauthor #

    I have enough trouble putting the mouse down when I’m playing Free Cell to go seeking new addictions. But now, my consciousness has been raised! Free Cell is clearly a non-diverse game. The only colors are black and red, the only sexes are male and female. And, now that I think about it, the game is woefully classist, with royalty and serfs in a rigid pecking order.

    @Bob…my theory is that the Lefty journalists are removed from reality, and they expect their readers to be just as insulated from the facts. Therefore, they think they can make anybody believe whatever they say. So their reputations are stellar, their judgments are sound, just because they say so. As I just mentioned, not a gamer. But even I, reading a pro-SJW/GHH rant, thought. “Wait a minute. Wasn’t Lara somebody or other the main character in Tomb Raider? Didn’t Angelina Jolie play her in a movie?” Facts and common sense are the ultimate enemies of the GHH crowd…which is why they’re doing all they can to stamp them out.

    September 2, 2014
    • How dare you play such an elitist game that subjugates women to their male king! And where are the non-normative sexual preferences and the different religions and creeds and stuff? Oh my, we must get Freecell banned for the good of our children. (gags)

      September 2, 2014
      • tkanthonyauthor #

        Wait…maybe we can make the cards in rainbow colors! Change up the genders! The orientations! The hierarchy will be randomized in every hand! Except for the cards that self-identify as female…they must always be on top! And there will glitter! Lots and lots of glitter!!! We’ll call it Liberated Organism! And there will be glitter!!!

        September 2, 2014
  11. But, as a gamer, what absolutely sends me over the edge is how these same SJWs/GHHers claim that they can’t find games that spotlight THEM.

    Nine Hells. I play a game to ENJOY myself. Why would I want to play a game where the character is a whiny emo backstabbing wimp? Hell, that character would get booted out of my party so fast their head would spin off their shoulders. In fact, we WOULD boot people like that out of the party because goddamn, we all play to have fun and someone who ruins that bit of downtime with their bitching ain’t welcome.

    I reckon SJWs and GHHs are quite unpleasant to be around in real life too.

    September 2, 2014
    • Considering that the game in question is, iirc, an exercise in living with depression, nope. I’m not going to play it. I game to escape the real world for a bit. If I want to be depressed, I’ll go figure out how to pay bills this month or wonder where I’m going to get the money to do some repairs around the house, thank you very much.

      September 2, 2014
  12. Jamie #

    Oh FFS. I used to go to Gamasutra all the time because I want to know more about the underpinnings of making video games. I hardly go now because of the colorfully named GHH. Was there another letter after the second H? Anyway, every other friggin article there is about women in games it seems. The article cites Leigh Alexander, who writes there; I’ve learned to scroll past her byline.

    These people always sound as if they’re playing vastly different games than I play. I got into gaming with the goldbox AD&D games. I did indeed get excited when I saw the Captain Daenor character and his sister Crysia in The Dark Queen of Krynn, because it was one of the rare times in those days that pop fiction included a black character in an adventure – and didn’t make a big deal of the character being black. It wasn’t a social issue game, it was an adventure game.

    From the rhetoric I gather that this technique is a big no-no, it doesn’t count if the character happens to be black or female, you have to make a “thing” out of it. I just want the pronouns kept straight – in the DLC where Shepard wears a LBD, it would take me right out of the game if they called her “he/him.”

    I’ve played the Black Isle Studios games, Icewind Dale and Baldur’s Gate, and everything Bioware has done since Baldur’s Gate. If the GHH crowd is claiming Bioware does not have “Strong female characters” then I’m going to assume their goals include lying their way to whatever goal they have.

    This shows two of my Shepards and one of my KOTOR Jedi. I don’t care if white dudes play as white dudes. Why wouldn’t they? They’re playing for the same reason I play, we want to be Jedi or space ship captains and visit other worlds, and we can’t do that now. Was Jade Empire less popular for having all-Chinese characters without a trace of Charlie Channing it? Or is there no credit for that?

    To the point above about historical accuracy, I’ve also noticed that this is not a defense. From what I can tell, the claim is that it’s because game designers are evil for choosing that time/setting. However, from observing social politics I’d say this is the safer option. Could you make a game about, I dunno, the Gates of Vienna? Or one about El Cid? Or something that shows the savage Aztecs in a non-cuddly manner? I’m not sure I would get away with it.

    September 2, 2014
    • Kate Paulk #

      Oh, HELL yes. And the Lara Croft games are evil because bewbs. Never mind that she is one of gaming’s archetypical kick-ass female characters (and as I recall largely works with firearms – so even more evil as well as being – horrors! – realistic).

      Wonderful rant. Thank you.

      September 2, 2014
      • I’d think the SJWs would be all over El Cid, seeing as he fought for both Muslims and Christians, thereby fulfilling their religious diversity requirements.

        September 2, 2014
      • Whoah! I thought the Diversity Enforcers LIKED it when boys played female characters, getting in touch with their inner woman, or Transgendered or some such, and certainly NOT because they wanted to spend 20 hours watching an animated heinie (And don’t even mention the idea that it’s because they get off on controlling a girl.)

        September 3, 2014
        • Kate Paulk #

          Of course – except that she has bewbs, so they’re only playing the games to gawp at the bewbs.

          September 3, 2014
          • Well, most 3rd Person perspective games have you looking from behind the character. Indeed, in the first Tomb Raider, it was an unofficial challenge point to find a way to force the camera to give you the briefest of profiles of her.

            September 4, 2014
          • Patrick Chester #

            Of course – except that she has bewbs, so they’re only playing the games to gawp at the bewbs.

            No, I remember some net.aquaintances mentioning they liked putting Lara in walk mode for as much as they could. *evil grin*

            September 4, 2014
  13. Penguin Jackie #

    It was an unusual burst of historical awareness that brought on the Assassin’s Creed kerfuffle, to the best of my knowledge. They didn’t kick a fuss until it got to the French Revolution theme. Granted, as far as I can tell (never having played it) you play the same exact guy every time and it shouldn’t have surprised them that it happened again, but still, give Charlotte Corday her due.

    September 3, 2014
  14. herbn #

    They’ve been trying this in table top rpgs (the only “real” rpgs…;) ) for a few years and while they can develop games that push it it hasn’t been as successful. In a hobby where 90%+ of the content development is by the end user and the business is selling a framework it’s a lot harder to make the content conform.

    So they’ve taken to attacking the producers of the framework. The new edition of D&D had a alternative porn star/NY gallery artist who loves good, old fashioning hunting and killing monsters and taking over the world D&D. So the SJW types decided he must be painted as a homophobic, misogynistic (despite a nearly 100% female group of players), and transphobic. After all, he was making sure D&D didn’t get SJW enough (despite being mostly in political agreement with the SJW except on the “every part of every life must conform in every way to our vision” thing and being open to good old fun and kick ass D&D).

    September 3, 2014
    • herbn #

      That should be “has as a consultant”.

      September 3, 2014
  15. Diablo II in the 90s had female characters available. Oh, boy, that game let me blow off some steam! I don’t go into games expecting to play a character similar to myself, though. I want to kill monsters as Geralt of Rivia or go hang out at Windhelm and listen to Ulfric explain why he fights (again and again and again–yeah, I love that voice!) or hack orcs as Lego Boromir. I don’t play games for reality, otherwise they’d be very, very short: overweight middle-aged woman sees dragon, dragon eats woman.

    September 3, 2014
  16. Patrick Chester #

    Hm. I must admit I do enjoy loading up a krogan character for Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, though I’m definitely not krogan.

    September 4, 2014
  17. Just like SF should be fun to read, Games should be fun to play.

    The fact that some woman wrote a “game” to exorcise her feelings of Depression and inflict her misery on everyone else, and then fucked her way to positive reviews, yeah, I can see how the whole gaming blog industry has collapsed in on itself.

    September 4, 2014

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