Sigh. Yes, I’m heartbroken. It’s the Year of the Maker 2010, and us girlgamers still face the same clichés as ever. Besides, us GAMERS, guys and gals alike, should not be the ones to prolong the stereotype of “immature, silly gamers” who can only get close to the opposite sex in virtual worlds.
Two recent infuriating examples on which I have commented are:
“Five bloody new video games for guys” on CNN, where Mr. Steinberg seems to think that only guys like violent games. So if I like those games, I must be pretty confused about my own gender to pick the nick “glamgeekGIRL”, eh?
Now get this quote from his article:
“Here are five testosterone-drenched games that rub us the right way. Try not to drool as you shoo the wife out the door or tuck the kids in to sleep and race back to whipping up on the bad guys all in your man cave.”
Excuse me? You can’t be serious! If his testosterone-drenched ramblings rub you the wrong way, please click the above link and give him a piece of your opinion! (Sometimes I can’t see my comment below the article, sometimes I can, don’t know why. I posted as glamgeekgirl and threatened to beat him with a frying pan, alluding to his “shoo your wife” remark. And the original credit for me making any kind of “frying pan remark” should go to my HS arts teacher, who was a really funny guy…)
The other article that bugged me yesterday was “The top five leading men in this console generation“:
For one thing, there doesn’t seem to be a list for the Top Leading Ladies – which is a problem in itself, because there still aren’t that many great heroines.
Secondly, MaleShep from the Mass Effect universe takes the #1 spot, for, among other reasons, his ability to “bang Tali like a snare drum” and “bone her silly” until she considers him a god!
Yes, both Shepards can have sex with some of the NPCs. But thanks to BioWare’s writing skills, the romances are done in a very respectful and charming way – quite unlike some in The Witcher or Alpha Protocol (the latter of which I haven’t played, but I read the great article “Women aren’t Vending Machines“; it even has a valid, critical point about the romances in ME that hadn’t ocurred to me before). I haven’t played either gender of Shepard as a pure renegade, so I don’t know how the romances play out then, but I can’t wrap my brains around Shepard using sex to influence his or her crewmates. (Please comment, with spoiler warning, if you know more. I’m curious!)
So we’re talking actual game content with a “sexist wishful thinking” interpretation on that gamer’s part. And for protesting against the sexism in the post, I was called a gamer-basher (thanks Damon for backing me up! [I’d link to you if I knew where!]). I then replied with this comment (excerpt): “I know it’s fun to explore your moral options especially in RPGs – being the nice guy/gal, or the arse, or something in between. But the bad behavior shouldn’t resonate in our real lives, like it has here. I wish you could leave those fantasies of “a girl considering you a god for banging her” behind when you exit the game. With that attitude, it may not happen in reality, y’know?”
I usually tell people outside the fandom that games are an exciting medium that is adult and mature, and gamers are great, funny people. Yet sometimes, like right now, I grow so tired of defending my beloved game community, because we’re proving our critics right! We’re hurting our own cause of being taken seriously!
[Funny sidenote on gripe #2: The post’s author misspelled “crewmates”, so it read “former cremates compare him to a god”, which instantly made me picture a game revolving around “Shepard the Mortician”. After all, as Davidsfunstuff pointed out later on Twitter, you CAN incinerate your enemies… 🙂 ]
8 thoughts on “This Girlgamer’s Heart Needs an Injury Kit”
I think *humorous* sexism in games can be hilarious because of the stereotyping. Take a look at Duke Nukem, for instance; he’s probably the best example of a completely inaccurate stereotype of a “guy”, where every attribute or personality trait is amplified to the extreme and doesn’t even reflect the demographic of gamers themselves (basement-dwelling nerds, for another stereotype!)
You probably won’t like me saying this, but it’s the honest truth; testosterone-fueled barbarism is an important part of “being a man”. Our behaviors have deep evolutionary roots and are not easily explainable by mere “sexism” or cultural biases, but instead hark back to our very origins. Men, by nature, are hunter-warriors, viewing our living areas as “territory” and our successes as “conquests”, subconsciously, whether we realize it or not.
Don’t judge me too quickly! 🙂 I like to read all kinds of opinions, because the way you voiced yours shows me you’re able to reflect on what you do!
I don’t mind if it is “humorous” or ironic, or justified through the tale that is being told; like a sexist character probably needs to be in a movie that deals with sexism. After my initial anger about The Witcher’s sexist sides I realized that the PC Geralt also has a very non-sexist, caring side, and there are various in-game jokes about his virility. Triss Merigold, one of the female NPCs, is described as an independent self-sufficient woman who might actually have more influence on him than he would like, also sexually.
I don’t mind testosterone as a motivation for playing computer games, either, even though I have other motivations. 😉
What I do mind is unreflected remarks within the community based on it (if you think that’s the base of it). That’s what I meant in my comment on that site – I may be a kick-ass violent bitch in the game… but I’m a dedicated pacifist in real life, and while I love witty remarks, I try not to hurt others with my words. I don’t lash out at my opposition in the community, just because that’s one way of solving quests in the games. I can’t act in real life like I act in games; that’s just one of those ole stereotypes that I have often faced, that gamers can’t tell apart fiction from reality. And thus it bothers me when people from within our ranks make comments like these in articles and the like and prove those moralist non-gamers right.
I currently teach a course called Race & Gender in the Media. My students and I have spent the past few weeks looking at which groups produce the messages we receive from our media and how those messages present their groups (called in-groups) as well as stereotypes about other groups (out-groups).
While accurate representation of women is a problem in all media, video games seem to be ten steps behind. It is still seen as a man’s medium. When my daughter was younger she would always remark that she didn’t like video games. I would reply that video games are made “by men for men.” Game publishers and developers seem to take the stance that if women play, great, but the target audience is men. Period.
Yeah. It might still take a while until we are taken serious as a target audience for core games that don’t involve Barbie, fashion or cutesy animals… *sigh* And I do think that more women in the developers’ or publishers’ teams would help, even though that’s a big step especially into the not-so-open-minded teams.
On the other hand, I’ve met so many gamer guys on- and offline, who are critical of this sexist aspect of the game industry and aren’t afraid to speak up. It makes you more of a man, not less! 🙂
So, generally, I am positive we’re going to get there…
oh my god, will you be my best friend? I have these same discussions in my head all the time as a female gamer.
i played mass effect 2 as a renegade female Shep which was badass, and I don’t think you could have a relationship with an NPC unless you said the more paragon-y things to them. otherwise you just focus on the mission. if you check out youtube, i saw a video of a femshep turning down Jacob when he visits her room before the suicide mission and that was hilarious. but the actions taken during the relationship with an NPC isn’t really any different.
Growing up and playing video games was so annoying, too. I would only play female characters when I had the choice and they were often so much weaker and/or were healers/psychics/etc. or the frying pan was their weapon!! (Paula in Earthbound, Peach in Super Mario RPG) I fell in love with Fallout and Mass Effect because I got to be bad ass characters that were female and represented what I wanted to see within a hero/heroine/shero. Game developers like to think that only white men play their games, but the gaming community is a lot more diverse than some people realize.
I haven’t yet played True Renegade yet, just True Paragon and So-So-Approach. It makes sense though, because your team members are on the neutral to Paragon spectrum. Even Jack and Mordin, ruthless as they are, have a heart… 😉
OMG, I didn’t even know a single game that gives you a frying pan for a weapon! It was simply meant as an old inside joke from High School! Grrrr!
Did you read That all Game Characters are Created Equal? I love Fallout and Mass Effect too, but neither game makes me feel like I actually play a woman. Seems the developers don’t mind us girls tagging along, as long as we’re satisfied with everything they’ve created for the boys…
Do you think more women in the industry would help?
I think more women in the industry would help, as long as we are in some position of power in terms of the creative process or there are men in power willing to listen.
then again, I guess I never really thought of what it means to perceive the character as female. when i think of it, i just imagine dialogue involving more sexism. which I don’t know if I’d really enjoy. I did read the other article as well as the one by Jenn Frank. I think if I look back I can notice a few things, especially when “you” is harassed by the tunnel snakes in Fallout 3. It would involve a lot more degrading language if the writers considered how the sex/gender (which I’m aligning to discuss the effects on assuming the character is cisgender) was chosen by the player. It might be more realistic for female gamers and a little eye-opening for male gamers.
it’s definitely something to think about it and discuss, though.
Good point about the eye-opening for male gamers! Hadn’t really thought of that!
Yes, it would involve more harassment in a world like we see in Fallout 3 – but the heroine could fight it, and maybe could, through her actions, convince parts of that society that their behavior is unjust. And kick their butts if they don’t get it! HEHE!
I’m currently continuing my second playthrough of the game, which I started as a male. When I first played as female, I wasn’t paying attention to possible gender issues – but now I feel that the dialog suits my guy much, much better…
I love discussing games, thanks for your input! 🙂