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Thread: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

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    Clobberin Monster DededeMan202's Avatar
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    Tropes vs. Women in Video Games



    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/...in-video-games

    So we have someone who wants to make a documentary (well not so much a documentary as a series of videos) about the portrayal of women in video games. That's good, in my humble opinion, since I feel that gaming as a whole seems pretty biased in its portrayal of characters of certain genders and ethnicities, and most games feel a bit condescending to a certain demographic. Some people probably don't see this as "important enough to warrant it's own documentary", sort of like the Brony documentary thing, but I still feel like this documentary can only do good, even if the problem is relatively minor in the grand scheme of things.

    Unfortunately, I was VERY disappointed to see that not only has the YouTube video been flooded with dislikes, but the comments section has some... not so nice things to say about the project as as whole. I'm trying to be objective about it, but most of them have a rather sexist "get back in the kitchen/quit spoiling our fun" feel to them, and that's... pretty silly, IMHO. Some are more rational then others, but I STILL don't think any kind of argument is worth the amount of dislikes the video has...

    The Kickstarter campaign has only 7 hours to go, so it feels pointless including it, but still, maybe it's not too late to get involved. Besides, I wanted to help raise awareness for this project to those who possibly haven't heard about it, and talk about it with other people.

    Like I said, I feel this idea can only do good. What do you feel?

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    Psychiatrist to the Video Game Stars Guybrush20X6's Avatar
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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    As a guy I HATE it when someone makes a "make me a sandwitch" joke. GIFT in action I guess.

    Thanks to LightSamus on ONM for the Sig.

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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    This is a good idea, and one that could easily extend to entertainment as a whole. Wonder Woman is an amazon warrior yet dresses like a stripper. Action girls in movies almost always show much more skin than their male counterparts. Women (and their bodies) are so objectified and idealized by media in general that it makes me rather nauseous. Women are human beings and deserve to be treated as such, not as an item.

    However, hopefully this won't go to the opposite extreme. Sometimes projects like this mean well but end up becoming a festival of man-bashing, and that only fuels the flames. We'll see.
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    Clobberin Monster DededeMan202's Avatar
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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    Quote Originally Posted by Aquinas View Post
    Wonder Woman is an amazon warrior yet dresses like a stripper.
    Well, Wonder Woman has QUITE the history, especially since her creator was a female psychologist with two wives.

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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    Quote Originally Posted by DededeMan202 View Post
    Some people probably don't see this as "important enough to warrant it's own documentary"
    Quote Originally Posted by Aquinas View Post
    However, hopefully this won't go to the opposite extreme. Sometimes projects like this mean well but end up becoming a festival of man-bashing, and that only fuels the flames. We'll see.
    It is basically this woman's job* to make videos like these. Have a little faith, she's cool.

    Anyways, yeah the comments and dislikes are somewhat disheartening, but on the other hand, she's gotten well over her target in donations, which is what really matters. And on the converse, the 'misandry in video games' rival Kickstarter** has comparitively little dosh. A bunch of dudes on the internet can cower about their precious gamer subculture all they want; the money's where it counts ('cos it implies there are people who have the will and ability to support this, y'see).


    *It doesn't exactly give her a stable income but you get what I'm saying. Mehehe.
    **It's totally got nothing to do with the Feminist Frequency Kickstarter though. Honest guv.



    EDIT:
    Quote Originally Posted by Moonside View Post
    FEMINISM HO
    Pfffffff.
    Last edited by Curus; June 15th, 2012 at 08:05 PM.

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    cake Forum Veteran Chiffon's Avatar
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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    Well, the kickstarter seems to be doing mighty fine, so I wouldn't be too worried.

    Anyway, this sounds like a pretty interesting idea, so I'll be paying attention to it... though I'll agree with Aquinas on hoping that this doesn't end up going down the FEMINISM HO road.

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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    I'm a little worried by the prominent use of Skullgirls in the video. The character designs were highly sexual but all of the characters were very well developed. They weren't dumb airheads meant purely for fanservice.

    This has potential but I'm just hoping it doesn't end up being extreme.
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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    Quote Originally Posted by Superninfreak View Post
    I'm a little worried by the prominent use of Skullgirls in the video. The character designs were highly sexual but all of the characters were very well developed. They weren't dumb airheads meant purely for fanservice.

    This has potential but I'm just hoping it doesn't end up being extreme.
    I've been trying to find a way to word this for the past half hour or so.
    Thank you SNF.
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    resident asshole cyanide_'s Avatar
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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    What would be considered extreme to you SNF?
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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    Quote Originally Posted by cyanide_ View Post
    What would be considered extreme to you SNF?
    I explained my thing about Skullgirls, mostly because that was the most glaring thing.

    Extreme would be things like the reaction some people had to the recent Hitman Absolution trailer, or the Penny Arcade "Dickwolves" incident.

    There's a lot of sexist stuff in media that needs to be addressed, but sometimes people just go after the wrong things.

    Going back to Skullgirls, it's a game that involves an all female cast with the entire cast being very well developed. They just also dress slutty. If anything the game is pro-feminism.
    Last edited by Superninfreak; June 15th, 2012 at 08:58 PM.
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    resident asshole cyanide_'s Avatar
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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    Quote Originally Posted by Superninfreak View Post
    I explained my thing about Skullgirls, mostly because that was the most glaring thing.
    Just because a game does something to flesh out female character does not mean that the objectification of women should be ignored. Perhaps there are better targets, but this seems far from 'extreme'.


    Extreme would be things like the reaction some people had to the recent Hitman Absolution trailer, or the Penny Arcade "Dickwolves" incident.
    The fetishistic portrayal of sexual violence and the normalisation and turning of rape into a joke are both things that should be criticised.

    I hardly know the controversies well and perhaps some people took it too far, but both things can be legitimately criticised.

    Again not extreme.

    There's a lot of sexist stuff in media that needs to be addressed, but sometimes people just go after the wrong things.
    This seems to run along the line of accepting some sexist things because they're generally considered totally normal in society. This may not be what you are saying so sorry for putting words in your mouth, however, I feel it is still an important point to make:

    There are plenty of sexist things that people simply consider 'normal' and that even when they step back do not really consider sexist. These are some of the things that I feel should be highlighted most to destroy more fundamental, subconscious sexism(and racism, homophobia whatever else) within society.

    It might not be easy, and people often get charged as ludicrous, or even extreme for doing so, but it is vital.

    Going back to Skullgirls, it's a game that involves an all female cast with the entire cast being very well developed. They just also dress slutty. If anything the game is pro-feminism.
    I have an issue with the use of the word slut here really, it's rather misogynistic in itself. They have been dressed scantily and deliberately placed in the path of the male gaze. The only reason why they are considered slutty is because they are sexualised by the male gaze and placed into this position without any autonomy, their role is written by the patriarchy here.

    Now I have never played this game, but from the little described I somehow doubt that in years to come it will be mentioned in the same breath as The Second Sex or Sexual Politics.
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    Putting a cap in your benefits Forum Moderator Superninfreak's Avatar
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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    Attacking trivializing rape or sexual violence isn't necessarily extreme. The extreme thing is when you attack those things when they aren't actually present. The Dickwolves joke only worked if the reader considers rape a horrific act. If one read that joke with the assumption that rape wasn't a big deal, it would be non-sensical.

    In the case of the Hitman thing, the protagonist (an assassin, keep in mind) was attacked by scantily clad nuns and he fought back and killed them. While the sexualized costumes weren't really necessary, it wasn't glorifying assault against women, it just had a fight that happened to involve women (who started it by shooting at said protagonist).

    Neither Penny Arcade nor Hitman glorified domestic abuse or rape, but they were still attacked over it.

    You have to be careful when attacking things like this, because if you attack the wrong thing, you make the entire cause look bad. Look at the damage PETA has done to the entire animal rights movement. Sometimes if you aren't careful, your attempts to further a cause actually just make the cause look ridiculous. Animal Rights Groups that do actual good have a lot of trouble because of the stigma PETA has put on them.

    You should be passionate about causes, but not extremist. Look at the contrast between figures like MLK and Malcom X. Both were passionately in favor of civil rights, but one of them handled it in a much more reasonable and effective way.

    This documentary hasn't been made yet, so it could be a very good thing. But there's plenty of extremism out there over topics like this, and I just hope that this doesn't end up doing more harm than good.

    Anyway, Skullgirls isn't going to go down as a hallmark of feminism, but that doesn't mean that it's sexist. It portrays all the women as fully developed human beings, and not just sex objects.

    Games like Other M are legitimate sexism that should be confronted. It's honestly a perfect example of actual sexism.
    Last edited by Superninfreak; June 15th, 2012 at 09:45 PM.
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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    Quote Originally Posted by cyanide_ View Post
    Just because a game does something to flesh out female character does not mean that the objectification of women should be ignored. Perhaps there are better targets, but this seems far from 'extreme'.
    It should be noted that a good half the cast have something about them that can range from a turn-off to an almost parody of objectification. (Warning: Link contains a bit of adult material).
    I do admit the series is guilty of objectifying some characters, but that's really the only sexism it is guilty of.
    The characters have well developed personalities, they're capable of making decisions on their own and they don't rely very heavily on men to do things for them. I can say completely unironically that they are strong, independent women.
    A case could be made for Parasoul, Filia, or Cerebella on that last point, but they're shown to be capable on their own, maybe not quite as well with their partner as it were, but the same could be said for nearly any team up.
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    IDGAFOS Piepi's Avatar
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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    Perhaps you guys should consider an alternate perspective.

    While I'd agree that this is a somewhat important issue, I don't have a lot of respect for this project in particular, nor the motives of its creator.

    Quote Originally Posted by cyanide
    It might not be easy, and people often get charged as ludicrous, or even extreme for doing so, but it is vital.
    I'd argue that there are a great deal of other things more vital to women's rights and human rights in general than complaining about some stereotyped gender roles in video games (especially when nobody seems to be complaining when these same tropes are evident in television, film, and other media.)

    The fact that this kickstarter aims at video games in particular makes me think that it's intentionally made to attract as much attention as possibleľa relatively male-dominated demographic is where the project can be the most reaction-provoking (and generate the most profit as a result.) Rather than trying to target an actual issue it seems to be uncomfortably motivated by profit. Personally, I don't think the 150$k that the creator of this series now has as a result of her kickstarter is going to be needed in its entirety unless she expands the work she's doing in some way.

    It's not as if video games are guilty of stereotyping a good deal of demographics either. They never portray stereotypical and idealised male characters, do they? And they probably don't ever place a female character into an unconventional gender role.

    Honestly, I'd argue that the occurrence of this problem in video games is actually about the same as in other media. And like I said before, it's not as important as people are making it out to be.
    Last edited by Piepi; June 15th, 2012 at 09:44 PM.
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    resident asshole cyanide_'s Avatar
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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    Quote Originally Posted by Superninfreak View Post
    Attacking trivializing rape or sexual violence isn't necessarily extreme. The extreme thing is when you attack those things when they aren't actually present. The Dickwolves joke only worked if the reader considers rape a horrific act. If one read that joke with the assumption that rape wasn't a big deal, it would be non-sensical.
    Sure, it's hardly black and white but there are legitimate criticisms of it and surrounding rape culture. To brand this extreme I find very belittling to victims of rape. Personally as far as rape and humour go, I find it's best if they're not mixed.

    In the case of the Hitman thing, the protagonist (an assassin, keep in mind) was attacked by scantily clad nuns and he fought back and killed them. While the sexualized costumes weren't really necessary, it wasn't glorifying assault against women, it just had a fight that happened to involve women (who started it by shooting at said protagonist).
    Ah now the trouble with this is the broad surrounding context of film and (going to take what I think is not a large leap here) video game culture. Violence against women is a (rather disturbing) norm, and it is often done in a way that is rather fetishised and glorified. While it may obviously be bad, it can be done in such a way, say a 'cool' way that can diminish the actually severity of actions.

    Now the Hitman example taken within a vacuum would be silly to criticise, unfortunately there is too much surrounding context for this to ever happen.

    Oh the nuns just happened to be scantily clade, what a coincidence, this has no relation to any other games/films/media! Sadly no.

    Neither Penny Arcade nor Hitman glorified domestic abuse or rape, but they were still attacked over it.
    From what I've read (i'm pretty well read on the penny arcade affair, less so on hitman) penny arcade weren't actually attacked (within the general mass of complaints anyway, sure there might be some you can find) for 'condoning' rape. They were criticised for using rape within a humorous context and then the lack of concern they displayed after it. Mocking trigger warnings(&&&&ing moronic thing to do), creating dickwolves t-shirts, a snarky response and some fans creating 'team rape'(seriously wtf). Again a legitimate criticism of Hitman would seem to be highly contextual.


    You have to be careful when attacking things like this, because if you attack the wrong thing, you make the entire cause look bad. Look at the damage PETA has done to the entire animal rights movement. Sometimes if you aren't careful, your attempts to further a cause actually just make the cause look ridiculous. Animal Rights Groups that do actual good have a lot of trouble because of the stigma PETA has put on them.

    You should be passionate about causes, but not extremist. Look at the contrast between figures like MLK and Malcom X. Both were passionately in favor of civil rights, but one of them handled it in a much more reasonable and effective way.
    PETA are morons sure, some people are extreme and wackos.

    Without figures such as Malcolm X I highly doubt the civil rights movement would have advanced as quickly as it did. Having Malcolm X, the black panthers et al introduced the threat of violence and made political leaders much more sympathetic to the non-violent approach of MLK. I do not agree with what Malcolm X said a lot of the time, but I think his position is highly sympathetic all things considered. Although it is worth noting that Malcolm X did come round to ideas much closer to MLK, and MLK also came round to ideas closer to Malcolm X, accepting the legitimacy of violent action.

    I find the labelling of a lot of things as extreme rather troubling. It makes a lot of quite legitimate points seem illegitimate without debate. Plenty of things that would be considered normal now were once branded extreme as a rhetorical tactic. I myself hold many opinions that I'm sure most people would label extreme.

    Now this is getting onto a long derail so I'll cut it short. I think there is are points to be made on both sides of the Penny arcade/hitman examples, and I find your labelling of the other side of the debate as extreme extremely troubling.

    It's a word that crops up around feminism and in reality most of feminism isn't extreme, it's just that men have a hard time relating to it.


    Anyway, Skullgirls isn't going to go down as a hallmark of feminism, but that doesn't mean that it's sexist. It portrays all the women as fully developed human beings, and not just sex objects.

    Games like Other M are legitimate sexism that should be confronted. It's honestly a perfect example of actual sexism.
    Sure there may be better targets. Although again the scantily clad nature of the characters can only be viewed contextually. To me it feels as though it's almost a necessity that within videogames female characters must be showing a lot of flesh. How about they have fleshed out characters dressed normally eh?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheMightyBox View Post
    It should be noted that a good half the cast have something about them that can range from a turn-off to an almost parody of objectification. (Warning: Link contains a bit of adult material).
    I do admit the series is guilty of objectifying some characters, but that's really the only sexism it is guilty of.
    The characters have well developed personalities, they're capable of making decisions on their own and they don't rely very heavily on men to do things for them. I can say completely unironically that they are strong, independent women.
    A case could be made for Parasoul, Filia, or Cerebella on that last point, but they're shown to be capable on their own, maybe not quite as well with their partner as it were, but the same could be said for nearly any team up.
    Yeah I'm hardly well placed to debate on a specific game. Context is key as stated previously though.

    uses the word retarded as an insult, then uses the dumb argument that 'oh no there are other bad things happening, we can't focus on anything else!'

    also dismisses the objectification of women etc as 'not a real issue'

    think i'll give it a pass.


    I'd argue that there are a great deal of other things more vital to women's rights and human rights in general than complaining about some stereotyped gender roles in video games (especially when nobody seems to be complaining when these same tropes are evident in television, film, and other media.)
    cool you argued against a point i didn't make

    i was going into a broader point about extremism and 'illegitimate' arguments in society

    misogyny within video games is pretty damn obvious to be honest and plenty of people complain against misogynistic portrayals in the media, but for whatever reason this particular video(well, planned video) has been given exposure

    It's not as if video games are guilty of stereotyping a good deal of demographics either. They never portray stereotypical and idealised male characters, do they? And they probably don't ever place a female character into an unconventional gender role.
    The problem with this point is power structures. In society stereotypes upon people in power (in ours its basically straight white men) have a much less harmful effect upon those people without power: women, poc, gays etc.


    This post is probably very hard to read as I'm pretty drunk and tired so apologies.
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    Putting a cap in your benefits Forum Moderator Superninfreak's Avatar
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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    Sometimes extremist stuff like blank panthers can end up causing good (though that justify their actions), but it's something where you have to be very careful. I'm sure the people at PETA think that they're not being overly extreme at all, for example. If you indiscriminately attack things, it makes it easier for moderates to dismiss the entire argument.

    It's just that sometimes people attack things as being sexist just on a superficial level, when the actual context isn't sexist. My point is that if you attack things like that as sexist, you make people think that the whole idea of feminism is ridiculous. Examples have to be chosen carefully. The focus should be on stuff that actually perpetuates a dark message (like how Other M involves a previously strong female character being completely submissive to a male authority figure who doesn't care about her at all). There is nothing that makes that example any better, and it's actually a very harmful message. That's the type of thing that should be attacked, not certain characters showing some skin.

    You admit that these aren't ideal examples, but the point I'm making is that the examples picked are essential to this. Poor examples make it easy for people to reject your entire point, and it lets actual bigots feel better about themselves because they can just dismiss your point.
    Last edited by Superninfreak; June 15th, 2012 at 11:09 PM.
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    IDGAFOS Piepi's Avatar
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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    Quote Originally Posted by cyanide
    misogyny within video games is pretty damn obvious to be honest and plenty of people complain against misogynistic portrayals in the media, but for whatever reason this particular video(well, planned video) has been given exposure
    Would you take a project like this seriously, then?
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    resident asshole cyanide_'s Avatar
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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    Quote Originally Posted by Superninfreak View Post
    Sometimes extremist stuff like blank panthers can end up causing good (though that justify their actions), but it's something where you have to be very careful. I'm sure the people at PETA think that they're not being overly extreme at all, for example. If you indiscriminately attack things, it makes it easier for moderates to dismiss the entire argument.
    There's still an issue here with classification of moderate and extreme.

    Plus I don't like comparing the black panthers and PETA. They are very different and when actually coming down to viewing both movements the black panthers did an awful lot of good at a time where white people simply weren't willing to let them assimilate anyway. But I'm probably much more open to the use of violence in activist movements than you.

    It's just that sometimes people attack things as being sexist just on a superficial level, when the actual context isn't sexist. My point is that if you attack things like that as sexist, you make people think that the whole idea of feminism is ridiculous. Examples have to be chosen carefully. The focus should be on stuff that actually perpetuates a dark message (like how Other M involves a previously strong female character being completely submissive to a male authority figure who doesn't care about her at all). There is nothing that makes that example any better, and it's actually a very harmful message. That's the type of thing that should be attacked, not certain characters showing some skin.
    Sure, she said that she was going to look at hundreds of different examples, some obviously misogynistic, some less so. Some that even buck the trend (who knows, maybe skullcandy gets thrown into this category).

    I re-watched the video, and didn't really see an overly prominent use of them/


    You admit that these aren't ideal examples, but the point I'm making is that the examples picked are essential to this. Poor examples make it easy for people to reject your entire point, and it lets actual bigots feel better about themselves because they can just dismiss your point.
    Sure, but lets wait for it really, having re-watched the video there's nothing that leads me to believe she's going to use poor examples.


    Yes, but with caution.

    While this could be worthwhile (although a bit less important than challenging female roles atm) it runs the risk of falling into typical 'reddit MRA' bs. If the video creator successfully identifies common tropes of men and how this is damaging to men then thats an ok first step. It is then the line that is taken subsequently. If he successfully identifies that this is down to patriarchy and that is does have harmful effects upon both women and men, then cool. And then if it takes the final leap that these typical male roles blend in typical female roles and both hurt women and men and that the patriarchy should be smashed because, while a lot more detrimental to women, it is also bad for men.

    Forgive me for being skeptical that this will happen though.
    Last edited by cyanide_; June 16th, 2012 at 10:07 AM.
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    Clobberin Monster DededeMan202's Avatar
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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    A video that relate to this topic:

    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/vide...es-vs-MovieBob

    The video tries to address the slightly more rational arguments against this project, and I'm inclined to agree with him. Really, though, I can't deny some of the arguments against her and her project have a point, but at the same time, I don't think enough of this kind of stuff exists, or rather it DOES exist but people choose not to listen to it for arbitrary reasons...

    I completely understand the idea this particular woman not being qualified to speak about a topic that is, indeed, a problem with gaming, but I don't buy the idea that there is no problem at all... Even I'M a bit uncomfortable at the way some women are portrayed in AAA games. MAYBE it doesn't matter because those games aren't specifically supposed to appeal to women, or even me for that matter, but I still think that this sort of thing exists in games, regardless of who, exactly, they're supposed to appeal to, and it's still something that can be improved upon, even just a little.

    That said, when I realized that this WASN'T a documentary and that it was just a video series, I did think it was ludicrous to need $6,000 to pull it off... Now she has over $150,000 so all I can say is, those videos better be well-informed, to the point, and look as amazing as possible with a budget like that!

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    Too ignorant to be an oil tycoon VIP Curus's Avatar
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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    Quick clarification on what AAA games are?

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    Clobberin Monster DededeMan202's Avatar
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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    "Triple-A games" are games made by the biggest companies in the business, namely Nintendo, EA, Activision, Capcom, Sony and Microsoft's video game divisions, etc. They're usually the games with the biggest budgets, and are games that most of the general public see and know about.

    At least I assume that's what it is.

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    Too ignorant to be an oil tycoon VIP Curus's Avatar
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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    Quote Originally Posted by DededeMan202 View Post
    "Triple-A games" are games made by the biggest companies in the business, namely Nintendo, EA, Activision, Capcom, Sony and Microsoft's video game divisions, etc. They're usually the games with the biggest budgets, and are games that most of the general public see and know about.

    At least I assume that's what it is.
    Wait, so you're saying that all games made by those companies, the biggest most popular games, are very specifically not for women/aimed at men? Or am I reading this wrong? 'Cos I'm finding that hard to believe.

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    Clobberin Monster DededeMan202's Avatar
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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    I don't think they're "aimed" at anyone, just that there's a lot of sex appeal in the kinds of games those companies produce (no so much Nintendo, but still), and that can be a bit polarizing.

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    Too ignorant to be an oil tycoon VIP Curus's Avatar
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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    Quote Originally Posted by DededeMan202 View Post
    I don't think they're "aimed" at anyone, just that there's a lot of sex appeal in the kinds of games those companies produce (no so much Nintendo, but still), and that can be a bit polarizing.
    Ah. Well then, yes that is part of the problem that is being looked at here. That excessive sexualisation of women can alienate women; especially as it happens to a lot of female characters.
    I feel the need at this point though to state that this is not the one, singular, holy grail problem - I mean, this video series is going to be looking at a whole lot of different tropes. And, just as a cover-arse, neither is sexualisation 'de problim' in and of itself - just when it's done to loads of characters for very little reason.

    Hmm, I'm doing that thing where I just clarify someone else's post, aren't I? I hate when that happens, it's real awkward. Sorry.

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    Putting a cap in your benefits Forum Moderator Superninfreak's Avatar
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    Re: Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

    I watched a couple of the videos she's already released.

    They're okay. Her videos are much fairer than I expected them to be, though I don't fully agree with her arguments (ie. she'd go after certain tropes as inherently bad while I'd argue that they have their place, and occasionally she'd bring up an example where I thought the trope was justified).

    So she's much more nuanced and less extreme than I initially feared, which is good.
    "Have killed many, Shepard. Many methods. Gunfire, knives, drugs, tech attacks, once with farming equipment. But not with medicine." Mordin Solus, Mass Effect 2


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