Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tropes vs Women in Videogame is kinda right, bros.

Wait, are you saying that feminists think games are sexist? Get me the president!!

I think discussions of diversity are worthy of discussion in videogames.  I know when they are brought up  it causes uneasy feelings. The videogamer, the one who's into the culture of videogames enough to sign on to a forum strictly dedicated to the genre, is a creature that has been bred to fear criticism from all sources, because historically that criticism is ill informed about the industry itself.  And when you don't talk about it you feel good. You look at the newest shitty pop singstress trying  singing about licking your lollipop and the newest shitty patronizing rom-com and you go "well, we doing all right over here." And hey, in some respects, we are. But we can always be better.
If only so that we don't get complacent.
And so has the reaction been to a new series, kick-started out of the money of people willing to see it. It's apparently gotten, flagged and otherwise illegitimately attempted to be brought down by...I don't know. Assholes? You know, there's thousands of terrible videos of shitty opinions out there. At least this one is well produced and researched.
I always knew I'd end up using this panel. But I NEVER thought it'd be on my own kind.
Some of the initial reactions to things like this are more akin to "The Man" trying to "Make it PC" down here, but the way I see it, and I think I might have said this before, the point isn't to take away your swear words and boobs. As long as there is a market for schlock, and the game's industry as it is is more a market for schlock rather than  a field of varied artistic depictions. Don't fight it, just look at the top sellers this week.

But the more diverse the market becomes, the more it will thrive. Do you think Hollywoold does  cg kids movies because it likes kids?  For refferences sake, this are the Mainstreem  movies I can see in my cinema right now vs the games being released this week in my console of choice. Please  assign each one a target demographic, and while you're at it, describe what the protagonist does in the  tale.

Caribean Cinemas:
(The Jackie Robinson Biopic)
(A comedy, possibly romantic)
Dos mas Dos
(Some kind of sex comedy)
(some kind of  post-WW2 thriller)
(Ferngully in CG and they put Pitbull in as a Frog)
Fast and the Furious 6
(I trust you to already know what this franchise is about)
I am the Director
(A mockumentary)
Iron Man 3
(About a B-Lister at Best Superheroe in a quest to continually humiliate DC comics)
Mi Primera Boda
(histo-drama about Pinochet years Chile)
(Sci-Fi action)
Pain and Gain
Star Trek into Darkness
(Sci Fi Comedy)
The Big Wedding
(Rom com)
The Place Beyond the Pines

Metal Gear Rising: Blood Wolf
(Action shack and slash)
(well, it's not about a kitten's birthday)
Ride to Hell: Retribution
A racing game, no doubt.
(about a killer psycho that is also a parody of the industry that borne him)
Borderland's 2: Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep
(I don't know what this is. Sounds refreshingly peppy.)

As you can see, movies catter even to different language speakers. The videogames can barely move  beyond their core male 18-30 demo. You want to know what's really killing the industry? That it hasn't really diversified. This is why comics are dying. One day there where all kinds of comics, including some for  ladyfolk. Archie sold millions. Fucki'n' Archie! Now DC and Marvel barely make ends meet by banging pots every year around the  chance  a character someone liked may die in a convoluted crosover event. I don't want one day that people are just making videogames to just "keep the dream alive" and trying to get movie deals. Do you?

 So what do  I think of the series? Well, it's certainly not  just frothing at the mouth feminism. Even though I appreciate the hosts "barely not barfing" face after some of the clips.

She either just saw a kitten torn apart by alligators or a clip from the Mario Anime.
 I certainly don't agree with everything, so I guess It's easier to just put down the parts that I disagree with. Less because I "think she needs to be shut down" and more to challenge some of you to maybe argue with points and not just try to drown out all criticism with a pillow. The industry is no longer helped by excuses and  insularity, if it  ever was. I want to make this perfectly clear: YOU GUYS ARE MAKING US LOOK BAD, AND I REVIEW PORN FIGHTING GAMES UNASHAMEDLY!

So, in general, the first two episodes focused open the Damsel in Distress trope. The eventual thesis that it depowered women, in order to serve as objects in  a male characters story. Which is interesting when you string a series of  images of women screaming "help me!". But I feel it's not entirely fair to  the games, in the sense that the stories of most games are, as accurately pointed out in the videos themselves, fairly crude and simplistic.

I mean, I could string together a series of stories that don't feature damsels in distress as a core gameplay story, and make an argument that videogames are seriusly holding up the status quo with it's save the world plots or something. In truth, while this tropes are fairly lazy writing, it's no more creative to have a woman rescue a man, or a manrescue a lunch or a pet. This stories, this KIND of stories, were not going to do much else with  women. It's's like demanding reasonable female representations from porn. And... now I feel bad about myself.

My solution, as ever, is to craft these games instead of waiting (and basically asking) for them to be crafted. Becase there's a few games that have avoided the tropes I'm sure this series will outline as negative(I'm going to guess besides DiDs it will discuss sexploitation, and probably characters that are all about a man, and female villains, and games that leave the toilet seat up). Oh,  yes. Games like Beyond Good or Evil, and Urban Chaos. Games like  Mirror's Edge. Just in general games that don't sell enough. I'm not saying that those games deserved to sell just because they wern't aboug Groff Ankzt gunning down big boobed angels to avenge his mother's death at the hands of her ex- wife and rescue her daughter. In fact, Urban Chaos was a pretty shitty game.

What I'm saying is that this is not an industry that  prizes subtlety all that much. Square Enix is probably as we speak putting millions into a  game that ends with a girl keeling over dead while a guy yells no, because they don't think you'd buy it otherwise. If you don't buy it, they'll probably have to lay off hundreds of employees and be bought by a larger company. Again.

Objection! Nobody fucking bought it!

They won't believe it until it becomes "a thing" A thing where you can make a game of just Ms Arkeesian just shaving her armpits, and it won't bring bankrupcy and failure to the company. Someone has to make this games that women say they'd rather have (I mean...story games, not the puzzle games and such that they already play and that are not sexist merely by not having humans and stories in them) and  then women have to buy it. Begging Nintendo to change is going to do very little. Proving to Nintendo that there is money there is going to do a lot.

Another miss was that, as it tends to happen, games with multiple characters that include women. I'm not saying that the industry is not sexist because Chun Li. but to ignore many, many story driven games that feature multiple characters seems like a cop out. I'm sure those will come along mostly when they want to discuss the objectification of women, narrowing the dynamic of what the series considers desirable. What happens when your damsel in distress is saved by Blaze Fielding, Ada Wong or on co-op games that let you play as both genders on a quest to rescue a woman? If women in danger are inherently objectifying women as objects to men, is it less wrong when other women do it? When  Iron Patriot had to save The President of the USA  from being burnt alive, does that mean that the president belongs to him?   I know this is a short series, and that it's sticking mostly  to a specific dynamic.  My point is, that the concept of having to finally rescue SOMEONE is pretty common in videogames, and the general pervasiveness of "Rescue X" stories might be making it seem like more sexist than it is if you don't contrast it with what plots there mostly are.
The President's daughter can't wait until a team of feminists deems this acceptable.

Mario's one thing. Mario's basic plot is to rescue a Princess 99.9 percent of the time. But Sonic only rescued those 2 damsels. IN 20 FUCKING YEARS! I'm not trying to point out a counterexample to say it doesn't happen. I'm just saying if you take a franchise that's 2 decades old  and over 20 games strong and that  has plenty of female characters at this point, and some of them are not THAT stereotypical.... and point out the he twice had to rescue females... I don't know, It's practically cherry picking, and potentially a misrepresentation.
See, I don't need a crowdsourcing just to look at videogame cutscenes in Youtube.

But I think her assessment is mostly accurate. But that's just it. That's what I think. Maybe you think differently. You are free to  dissent from me and from her. However, I suggest listening to her before  you reach your conclusions on her. And if you can make a more valid point, by all means, do, please. Not because she deserves it. But because you  can't prove she's not right by shutting her down.  That only proves that you don't want to hear an opinion different than yours.


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