Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers takes a look at video games


Video Games

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Blazej wrote:
I just find it odd given that this is largely what I would say to those on the side of GamerGate. For every comment that actively condemns a lot of the bile I saw, there is another that supports, justifies, or casually dismisses comments made for the general cause.

But you are seeing comments that condemn that bile, by people trying to dissociate themselves from the misogynistic, abusive segment of that community.


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Hey, I'm sorry if I came off as super rude. I was trying to use "if" statements and general language, and present what I was saying as only my opinion.

I was honestly curious what your advice was, but I just don't agree with it. There are plenty of feminists who are capable of calm discussion, and do so. I just don't buy into the dichotomy that says that anger and rationality can't co-exist in a person or argument.

I also think that phrasing this as a "debate" is not helpful, since (to me at least) it implies that it's more important who is the "winner" of the debate rather than the subject being debated.

The other problem I often see is that I and others are told they're being "hostile" just for identifying or pointing out problems of inequality. Have you ever tried to explain the word "privilege" to people who have it? I have. It ain't easy; people get defensive even with copious explanations and links to illustrate exactly what I'm talking about.

I hope the sources that I've provided earlier and the arguments I've presented so far haven't sounded like I'm ragging on anyone (unless you can find something where I was specifically ragging on someone, in which case I probably meant it). That said, it's not my job to be an ambassador to all of feminism. There are plenty of people who aren't hostile within the movement (but are sometimes perceived as such, as I outlined above), so why focus on saying that "we" need to curtail the more extreme elements?


mechaPoet wrote:
I was honestly curious what your advice was, but I just don't agree with it. There are plenty of feminists who are capable of calm discussion, and do so. I just don't buy into the dichotomy that says that anger and rationality can't co-exist in a person or argument.

No one is saying they can't co-exist. That doesn't mean that that's the best way to present yourself.

Quote:
I also think that phrasing this as a "debate" is not helpful, since (to me at least) it implies that it's more important who is the "winner" of the debate rather than the subject being debated.

That's the wrong way to see a debate. Both are important. A debate is simply a discussion where the parties involved do not agree with one another. There is a debate happening, on a societal level. And the winner does matter.

Quote:
The other problem I often see is that I and others are told they're being "hostile" just for identifying or pointing out problems of inequality. Have you ever tried to explain the word "privilege" to people who have it? I have. It ain't easy; people get defensive even with copious explanations and links to illustrate exactly what I'm talking about.

Yes, they do. Patience is the order of the day. It's not fun, it's not fair that you have to have the patience of a mountain, but you do need to have the patience of a mountain.

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That said, it's not my job to be an ambassador to all of feminism. There are plenty of people who aren't hostile within the movement (but are sometimes perceived as such, as I outlined above), so why focus on saying that "we" need to curtail the more extreme elements?

If you don't feel like you are personally responsible for the movement, that's fine. You can disregard what I'm saying. But I think you probably should consider that you should be personally responsible for the movement. Cause ownership is an important part of movement politics.


Trying to resteer the topic awaaaaaaay from something so serious its crashed every thread where the word is mentioned...

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Is all of that borne out by the marketing data though? There actually are quite a few popular games in at least some genres that allow play as a female without apparently cutting drastically into sales.

Would Mass Effect really have done that much better if there hadn't been a female Shep option?

Thats a slightly different decision. Do you have a choice male and female vs do you have A male OR female? Looking over mass effects posters etc it looks like the male option is more heavily pushed, and he's usually front and center with the female in the background.

I suppose adding a female option to the gameplay has become a lot easier as the technology improves. There the question is "will i pick up enough extra sales from having a female option to cover the time it takes the programers to throw in a female option"


BigNorseWolf wrote:

Thats a slightly different decision. Do you have a choice male and female vs do you have A male OR female? Looking over mass effects posters etc it looks like the male option is more heavily pushed, and he's usually front and center with the female in the background.

?

The Mass Effect posters for at least 3 were 2 different versions, one Fem, one Male Shepard. Neither was pushed into the background.


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I shall wade into this with my own take.

Dr Sommers answers a few questions:

Have women taken over video gaming? Only in the casual gaming area... not hardcore gaming (20+ hrs a week). I need not link the numerous studies here. Obviously Dr Sommers own research found those same studies I did.

Are those games rife with sexism? Her answer is no. Really she states NO. She starts to go on about games causing violence? Huh? What does that have to do with sexual or objectified images of women? And OF COURSE games don't cause violence though they ARE violent they give you a ready release for that violence by playing the game itself and mastering it. Then she starts in on her whole dismissive attitude about feminists. "They want the male video game culture to die" is her direct quote. And it is a completely false stance. Since when is wanting MORE titles to be marketed to and inclusive of BOTH genders equal to killing off the video game culture?! It probably never occured to this anti-feminist non-gamer that one of the reasons more girls don't enjoy hardcore gaming is because of the sexist tropes used in their marketing and stories. No one is saying throw men under the bus, just stop throwing women under the bus in the name of sales. Is that REALLY too much to ask?!

There ARE games that have proven that you CAN write games to be inclusive; Mass Effect for one. And that game franchise did pretty darn well. Well enough that you would think marketers would start at least considering being inclusive... and I suspect if a few have suceeded in this that more will follow, which means the gaming market IS slowly becoming more inclusive. So should we all just shut up? Nope. One of the driving forces behind these positive changes IS women with the courage to speak up about the sexism. The time to shut up will be when inclusivity is the norm.

She then jumps off onto another tangent about games not causing -isms. Again "causing" is the wrong way to look at it. Games don't cause bad behavior, real people cause bad behavior.

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Great video. So great in fact that I subbed her channel.

Too bad it's just a matter of time before this thread gets locked.


I follow Anita Sarkeesian on Twitter and watch her "Video Game Tropes vs. Women" series. Do I agree with her completely? Nope. Do I see some of what she is saying? Yes. More importantly, does it make me think about what we all can do to make video games BETTER for men and women? Yes. One good point she makes is about Mass Effect. Sure, you could play a female Shepard, but who was on the box? Who was in all the promotional material? The male only. It wasn't until Mass Effect 3 that Bioware finally acknowledged that maybe the female Shepard deserved some attention. Then, she makes a point about "FemShep" being the name in her video about "Ms. Male Characters" which while I don't fully agree with in Mass Effect's case, I do still see her points as valid things to think about.

For example of high sexism accusations, should no more games like Lollipop Chainsaw be made? One could call it highly sexist because she's a skimpy cheerleader, but come on it's got RAINBOWS instead of blood when you enter "Sparkle Mode" as "Mickey" by Toni Basil plays while the first boss attacks you with highly vulgar (and highly sexist) insults that create real words on the screen that actually damage you... the game is so over the top on everything, can you really say it's not everything it's meant to be, one complete hilarious joke from James Gunn, the same man responsible for the Troma films (and Guardians of the Galaxy)?

I half joke that I am an equal opportunity sexist in Star Wars Old Republic because they have in that game skimpy outfits for women, as you would expect Star Wars to have but also, thanks to the mad photoshopping skills of a gamer on the forms (pretty sure from his work and things he's said, he's gay) Bioware took notice and works with him (don't know the details of his deal with them, if any, but he's always very happy to post the latest actual screenshots of his photoshopping turned real from the test server), and I have many of my male characters wear his skimpy stuff too.

Here is an example... This is my Jedi Guardian Serdneyjo and his Padawan Kira wearing the same exact "Relaxed Vestments" set (except the pants, she's wearing a female restricted bikini bottom and he's wearing a 'loincloth' that was introduced a few months ago, then she's got a different belt which I have since this screenshot was taken decided it looks bad on her, and now in game her belt matches his).

Serdneyjo and Kira

This is truly the direction I think gaming needs to go, 'equal opportunity sexist' joke aside.

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A note on video game marketing: this is the very first ad that was run for the very first arcade cabinet game. For the record, the game looked like this. The woman in the see-through dress, as you can see, has nothing to do with the actual game, which is just really rough black-and-white vector space (and also Space! I think you fight aliens or shoot asteroids or something).

Basically, there has never been a time when video game marketing didn't use women's bodies to sell games. There has never been a time that didn't have video game marketers who saw women as objects used to sell games rather than people they should be selling games to.

So it's not really a question of, "is addressing a non-male audience financially worth it?" It's more of a question of, "How is it defensible to say that there aren't enough women who play (the right) games to market to them, when marketers have rarely, if ever, tried?"


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I do think it's interesting that earlier in the thread, people were arguing that you can't paint all the people who complain about Sarkeesian, GamerGate, what have you as misogynists, because the people behind the death/rape threats are an extreme viewpoint that doesn't reflect gamers

But some of those same people think you can paint all feminists as bad, because of a few perhaps extreme individuals

That's a pretty interesting and informative pattern right there.


MMCJawa wrote:

I do think it's interesting that earlier in the thread, people were arguing that you can't paint all the people who complain about Sarkeesian, GamerGate, what have you as misogynists, because the people behind the death/rape threats are an extreme viewpoint that doesn't reflect gamers

But some of those same people think you can paint all feminists as bad, because of a few perhaps extreme individuals

That's a pretty interesting and informative pattern right there.

Of course. As a gamer I might be super-critical of Anita Sarkeesian and hate her, BUT I'm also a feminist. But, being a feminist doesn't mean I have to agree with everything Anita says, and I don't. But, as I said in my last post, I do find she makes some very compelling and valid points.

But, were I not firmly in both sides of the equation as I am, who knows if I would be like "gamers are misogynistic pigs" or "feminists are all man-hating lesbians"? I can't really say because I am a feminist gamer.


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The point of honest debate is not to win against the person you're debating, it's to win over the people who are watching and not participating. The winner is the person who can convince more people that they made the better argument for their position.


MMCJawa wrote:

I do think it's interesting that earlier in the thread, people were arguing that you can't paint all the people who complain about Sarkeesian, GamerGate, what have you as misogynists, because the people behind the death/rape threats are an extreme viewpoint that doesn't reflect gamers

But some of those same people think you can paint all feminists as bad, because of a few perhaps extreme individuals

Well, except for the sane first wave "equality" feminists like Dr Sommers. Those are okay.

Apparently we've come far enough that the idea that women should be equal under the law is pretty accepted. Anything else, any discussion of sexism beyond that is still controversial.


thejeff wrote:


Apparently we've come far enough that the idea that women should be equal under the law is pretty accepted. Anything else, any discussion of sexism beyond that is still controversial.

More like we've come far enough that many think women are equal under the law, when in fact they are not. There are still many professions where a woman gets paid less than a man, despite being fully capable of doing the same job. No, I don't think a woman who can't lift a 500 pound girder should get the same pay as a man who can. BUT if that woman can lift the 500 pound girder? Yes, she should. Same with corporate jobs. If the woman has equal or better grades than the man, she should get paid equal or better, but many times still, she won't.

Then, look at all the attacks on male presidents... we insult their intelligence, religion, etc... but never is there any reference to their gender or even appearance. Then look at female candidates... it's all about how women are hysterical and shouldn't be president and this and that, woman woman woman, and oh look at her what is up with her appearance??


AbsolutGrndZer0 wrote:
thejeff wrote:


Apparently we've come far enough that the idea that women should be equal under the law is pretty accepted. Anything else, any discussion of sexism beyond that is still controversial.

More like we've come far enough that many think women are equal under the law, when in fact they are not. There are still many professions where a woman gets paid less than a man, despite being fully capable of doing the same job. No, I don't think a woman who can't lift a 500 pound girder should get the same pay as a man who can. BUT if that woman can lift the 500 pound girder? Yes, she should. Same with corporate jobs. If the woman has equal or better grades than the man, she should get paid equal or better, but many times still, she won't.

Then, look at all the attacks on male presidents... we insult their intelligence, religion, etc... but never is there any reference to their gender or even appearance. Then look at female candidates... it's all about how women are hysterical and shouldn't be president and this and that, woman woman woman, and oh look at her what is up with her appearance??

That's all equal under the law. Everything you mention isn't about law and there are always excuses (and sometimes even reasons).

That's all icky controversial second or third wave stuff.


mechaPoet wrote:


So it's not really a question of, "is addressing a non-male audience financially worth it?" It's more of a question of, "How is it defensible to say that there aren't enough women who play (the right) games to market to them, when marketers have rarely, if ever, tried?"

I think you're highly over valuing the power of marketing.


MMCJawa wrote:

I do think it's interesting that earlier in the thread, people were arguing that you can't paint all the people who complain about Sarkeesian, GamerGate, what have you as misogynists, because the people behind the death/rape threats are an extreme viewpoint that doesn't reflect gamers

But some of those same people think you can paint all feminists as bad, because of a few perhaps extreme individuals

No one is saying that. Literally no one. Why the strawman?

What is being said is that people don't want to self-identify as feminists (or "modern feminists", or whatever) because to do so is to associate with what they see as a movement that is steered primarily by hostility and toxic behavior. No one is saying that all self-identifying feminists are hostile and toxic. But enough of them are to turn people off from wanting to identify with that group. I could give you examples of other communities that face the same challenge, but hopefully that's unnecessary.


It is very interesting that these internet meltdowns (with associated fame) happen once death threats enter the image. Sarkeesian got more money than she knew what to do with after having been threatened. IF someone were to make fake death threats against themselves, that would be a seriously effective ad strategy.


Sissyl wrote:
It is very interesting that these internet meltdowns (with associated fame) happen once death threats enter the image. Sarkeesian got more money than she knew what to do with after having been threatened. IF someone were to make fake death threats against themselves, that would be a seriously effective ad strategy.

I suspect you'd have to fake the whole torrent of abuse along with the death and rape threats. And arrange for it all to go viral. And not get caught.

But yes it would be. Of course, getting your thing to go viral is an effective and tricky ad strategy on its own.

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MMCJawa wrote:

I do think it's interesting that earlier in the thread, people were arguing that you can't paint all the people who complain about Sarkeesian, GamerGate, what have you as misogynists, because the people behind the death/rape threats are an extreme viewpoint that doesn't reflect gamers

But some of those same people think you can paint all feminists as bad, because of a few perhaps extreme individuals

That's a pretty interesting and informative pattern right there.

I would point out people on the opposite side are doing the same thing. I've concluded most discusion on the topic is generally going in circles with both sides pointing at the opposing sides most extreme elements and using them as a way to dismiss them.


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Kevin Mack wrote:
MMCJawa wrote:

I do think it's interesting that earlier in the thread, people were arguing that you can't paint all the people who complain about Sarkeesian, GamerGate, what have you as misogynists, because the people behind the death/rape threats are an extreme viewpoint that doesn't reflect gamers

But some of those same people think you can paint all feminists as bad, because of a few perhaps extreme individuals

That's a pretty interesting and informative pattern right there.

I would point out people on the opposite side are doing the same thing. I've concluded most discusion on the topic is generally going in circles with both sides pointing at the opposing sides most extreme elements and using them as a way to dismiss them.

Observation has revealed that this IS the favored tactic in nearly ALL internet arguments(debates).


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thejeff wrote:
Ashiel wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Oh right. One of those. Pretending that any acknowledgement of race is racism. When we abolish all the laws that distinguish between people based on race, we lose the ability to know what effects racism is having. If for example, you don't track the race of citizens stopped by police, you can't see if policing is biased.
Race is a lie.
Quote:
You need the data to understand what's happening and then you need to be able to have laws to address what the data shows you.

But not different penalties. And it's nice when the data isn't misrepresented for an agenda. But I think we can both agree with that.

But actually yes. Acknowledging race IS racism. It's the statement that you are different from I and belong in a different subgroup of humanity because you have a different skin color than I do.

It's as asinine as forming into groups because we have green eyes, or brown hair, or height. Teaching people that we are all people however does. We have lived a tribal existence for too long.

If you want to be strictly biological about it, sure. Race is a lie.

Racism however, is very real.

Racism is a symptom of a disease. Biologically, yes, race is a lie. There's no more to race than there is to hair and eye color, and most would think someone insane if they started talking about "the green eyed race".

Human beings have lived a tribal existence for a very long time. It's very possible that we are engineered to prioritize those of our own tribe over those of another, sometimes violently. Studies of our closest biological relatives the chimpanzees suggest this may be true in that groups of wild chimpanzees are often very caring and nurturing to their own groups, but will brutally and savagely murder outsider chimpanzees.

We're better than chimpanzees (or should be), but it is still natural to prioritize those who are yours. It's the same way that people are naturally more likely to help their peers than they are a perfect stranger. The propagation of the lie that "race" is a thing, when scientifically it is not, is another way of drawing lines in the sand between us and making us all more exclusive rather than inclusive.

So you're right. The only thing "race" actually is, is a sociological construct. A destructive and poisonous construct. It's as wicked and stupid as Nazism, though more subtle in its evils. It's something that provides no real benefit to humanity. It is a construct that pushes people away from one-another and makes them see people as "us" and "they" instead of "us" and "we". It forces people to judge by association unless you consciously dismiss such foolish notions through higher learning.

In a world where people have black hair, brown hair, blonde hair, and red hair, and have grouped themselves as such, you would get stupid things like this. "Man, that red-headed person cut in line and then held up the line paying in pennies," - "Yeah, red-heads are a%*~~&#s" (the moral of this story is the person is an a*@#&@*, their hair has nothing to do with it, but since the social construction groups people by their hair color, non-red heads who associate mostly with non-red heads see this and commit a common logical fallacy).

This is the destructive power of exclusion. Nobody wants or should be excluded.

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More accurately, race isn't a lie. It's a sociological construct. But it's very real nonetheless. Maybe we'll get to the point where we can break it down and dispense with it someday, but it would be blindness to do so today.

No, it would be progress. The only way racism is going to die is if we let it die, or better yet - kill it faster. Our generation is one of the most open and inclusive generations ever, in a world where we have fewer barriers and borders between us, where we have biological facts that show us race is a lie, and a natural distaste for conformity that most of us can relate to someone being treated poorly because of something stupid.

I'm not sure where you live, Mr. Jeff, but here in North Carolina, we're much closer to inclusive than exclusive. Many of our youth are literally waiting for racism to die off, because it's viewed as the ignorant backwards thinking of old men (regardless of skin color), and are busy hanging out with their friends of different shapes, sizes, and features. The statement you made about disregarding race getting "black people" killed is something that seems entirely alien to me. Nobody is getting killed around here. What are we doing wrong that's preventing us from killing each other for not viewing each other as different?

I'm working a retail job right now. Why is it that it's unremarkable when two people with different skin colors come into the store and are obviously romantically involved? Why is it unremarkable when their kids share features with both of their parents? Why is it unremarkable when their kids ask for candy and their mom says "No we're going to eat at your grandma's house after we leave here"?

Because no one f$%*ing cares.

Quote:
And your argument leads very quickly from "Acknowledging race IS racism." to "Acknowledging racism IS racism." Which is one of the standard tactics of racists these days.

Maybe you could elaborate. From where I'm sitting, it looks like the Cat In The Hat has a better grasp on racism than you do.


Maybe start another thread, or resurrect the Fergietown one for this, if you want to take if farther.

In the long run, if everyone does it, not just lip service, but down to the ingrained subconscious prejudices and assumptions. Otherwise you just mask the existing problems.

Maybe it seems to you like we're already there. I live in New England and we're not there yet and I know it's worse in some other parts of the country.


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Ashiel wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Ashiel wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Oh right. One of those. Pretending that any acknowledgement of race is racism. When we abolish all the laws that distinguish between people based on race, we lose the ability to know what effects racism is having. If for example, you don't track the race of citizens stopped by police, you can't see if policing is biased.
Race is a lie.
Quote:
You need the data to understand what's happening and then you need to be able to have laws to address what the data shows you.

But not different penalties. And it's nice when the data isn't misrepresented for an agenda. But I think we can both agree with that.

But actually yes. Acknowledging race IS racism. It's the statement that you are different from I and belong in a different subgroup of humanity because you have a different skin color than I do.

It's as asinine as forming into groups because we have green eyes, or brown hair, or height. Teaching people that we are all people however does. We have lived a tribal existence for too long.

If you want to be strictly biological about it, sure. Race is a lie.

Racism however, is very real.

Racism is a symptom of a disease. Biologically, yes, race is a lie. There's no more to race than there is to hair and eye color, and most would think someone insane if they started talking about "the green eyed race".

Human beings have lived a tribal existence for a very long time. It's very possible that we are engineered to prioritize those of our own tribe over those of another, sometimes violently. Studies of our closest biological relatives the chimpanzees suggest this may be true in that groups of wild chimpanzees are often very caring and nurturing to their own groups, but will brutally and savagely murder outsider chimpanzees.

We're better than chimpanzees (or should be), but it is still natural to prioritize those who are yours. It's the same way that people are naturally more likely to help their peers than they are a perfect...

I wish I could favorite this post 1000000000 times.


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thejeff wrote:
In the long run, if everyone does it, not just lip service, but down to the ingrained subconscious prejudices and assumptions. Otherwise you just mask the existing problems.

Which is perpetuated by drawing lines between us. By splitting us into groups rather than just being humans and then telling each other how much worse or better they have it because way back when before any of us were born the world was full of asshats isn't helping anyone, it's picking at the scabs. You're fostering the ingrained subconscious prejudices and assumptions that you're supposedly fighting against.

Quote:
Maybe it seems to you like we're already there. I live in New England and we're not there yet and I know it's worse in some other parts of the country.

Maybe someone should be working on those parts of the country, educating, and promoting inclusiveness and breaking down the walls.


This is definitely worth a read for anyone still insisting that gamergate was born completely from misogyny and bigotry.

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