Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers takes a look at video games


Video Games

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Just wanted to share this:

A sane feminist investigates the ongoing online moral panic surrounding video games and the gamers who buy them. The video's short (six and a half minutes) and doesn't play into any particular "side" of recent debates.


Thanks for the link, Necromancer. The video was well-put-together and pleasant to watch, except for maaaaybe the social-destruction accusation at around 4:15. I especially liked the series of female-protagonists displayed, as well as the assertation that the Internet is a big place, and you'll find any kind of crazy if you look hard enough.

-Matt

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Now something from the perspective of a person being attacked by crazy people on the internet: 5 Things I Learned as the Internet's Most Hated Person.

Dark Archive

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Very nice video and much more balanced and reaserched than certain other ones I can think of.


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Thanks for that link as well, Dudemeister. I had only heard of "Gamergate" in passing before that. It looks like what's going on here is that, well, the human race has this thing now called the Internet, and our connected society, we're having growing pains.

That being said, death threats are not OK. I have a feeling that our collective privileges, like anonymity, will be going away in time, because a few trolls are going to ruin things for everyone, and there's really nothing we can do about it.

I wonder... is this Internet social problem a uniquely American thing?

-Matt

Silver Crusade

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I'm Australian, and the arguments I've been having on Facebook tell me nope. Apparently people can be awful all over the world.


OK. I was wondering whether the land of school shootings, climate-change denial, and privatized health care could be credited with Internet immaturity.

-Matt

Shadow Lodge

I don't think gamersgate is as prevalent in Australia as it in America. (I'm Australian).

Most people I know, including people on social media, had barely heard of it, and when they did find about it, didn't put much stock in any of it. We're just in it for the games, not the politics.


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Further information:

A detailed look at Dr. Sommers, her claims, and the data referenced.


Necromancer wrote:

Further information:

A detailed look at Dr. Sommers, her claims, and the data referenced.

This is really, really good stuff. Thank you.


That was a nice read. Thanks Necro!

-Matt


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Scott Betts wrote:
Necromancer wrote:

Further information:

A detailed look at Dr. Sommers, her claims, and the data referenced.

This is really, really good stuff. Thank you.

"Really really Good stuff", except where it doesn't connect the points.

I agree with argument that there's a gender gap between hardcore and casual gamers and with the existence of a difference between the two classifications.

I'll even agree at least that there is no evidence that video games cause sexism or sexist attitudes and provisionally that millennials are less prejudiced.

None of this says that the games more frequently played by the hardcore gamers aren't sexist and that the sexism in those games, while they may not make those gamers more sexist, might still be part of the reason there is a gender gap.
Games not causing sexism certainly doesn't justify sexism in games. Nor does it justify the appalling abuse of some feminist commentators.

What really is the point of this again? Not quite shooting down a strawman, but not really on target either.

Dark Archive

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thejeff wrote:
Scott Betts wrote:
Necromancer wrote:

Further information:

A detailed look at Dr. Sommers, her claims, and the data referenced.

This is really, really good stuff. Thank you.

"Really really Good stuff", except where it doesn't connect the points.

I agree with argument that there's a gender gap between hardcore and casual gamers and with the existence of a difference between the two classifications.

I'll even agree at least that there is no evidence that video games cause sexism or sexist attitudes and provisionally that millennials are less prejudiced.

None of this says that the games more frequently played by the hardcore gamers aren't sexist and that the sexism in those games, while they may not make those gamers more sexist, might still be part of the reason there is a gender gap.
Games not causing sexism certainly doesn't justify sexism in games. Nor does it justify the appalling abuse of some feminist commentators.

What really is the point of this again? Not quite shooting down a strawman, but not really on target either.

I think the point is that a lot of the evidence brought foreward that video games are sexist is frankly untrue or heavily misreported.

to Clarify I do think there is a problem with sexism in parts of the industry but I dont think that problem has much to do with the games themself.


Kevin Mack wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Scott Betts wrote:
Necromancer wrote:

Further information:

A detailed look at Dr. Sommers, her claims, and the data referenced.

This is really, really good stuff. Thank you.

"Really really Good stuff", except where it doesn't connect the points.

I agree with argument that there's a gender gap between hardcore and casual gamers and with the existence of a difference between the two classifications.

I'll even agree at least that there is no evidence that video games cause sexism or sexist attitudes and provisionally that millennials are less prejudiced.

None of this says that the games more frequently played by the hardcore gamers aren't sexist and that the sexism in those games, while they may not make those gamers more sexist, might still be part of the reason there is a gender gap.
Games not causing sexism certainly doesn't justify sexism in games. Nor does it justify the appalling abuse of some feminist commentators.

What really is the point of this again? Not quite shooting down a strawman, but not really on target either.

I think the point is that a lot of the evidence brought foreward that video games are sexist is frankly untrue or heavily misreported.

to Clarify I do think there is a problem with sexism in parts of the industry but I dont think that problem has much to do with the games themself.

But where was that point made?


thejeff wrote:
Scott Betts wrote:
Necromancer wrote:

Further information:

A detailed look at Dr. Sommers, her claims, and the data referenced.

This is really, really good stuff. Thank you.

"Really really Good stuff", except where it doesn't connect the points.

I agree with argument that there's a gender gap between hardcore and casual gamers and with the existence of a difference between the two classifications.

I'll even agree at least that there is no evidence that video games cause sexism or sexist attitudes and provisionally that millennials are less prejudiced.

None of this says that the games more frequently played by the hardcore gamers aren't sexist and that the sexism in those games, while they may not make those gamers more sexist, might still be part of the reason there is a gender gap.
Games not causing sexism certainly doesn't justify sexism in games. Nor does it justify the appalling abuse of some feminist commentators.

What really is the point of this again? Not quite shooting down a strawman, but not really on target either.

I wasn't commenting on the video itself as "good stuff". Rather, it was the fact-checking that I appreciated for its thoroughness. I'm not going to wade into the larger debate here, mostly because I don't feel there's really a "good side" worth supporting.


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Even the fact checking, while certainly valid as fact checking seemed designed to support the video by "rigorous fact checking" of what seem to me to be the least contested and least significant of her claims.

In the video she handwaves away claims that video games are rife with sexism, which would seem to me to be closer to the heart of the matter. But since she doesn't really address it in any detail, but moves directly to debunk the "sexist/violent games make gamer sexist/violent" claim and seems to dismiss the "Games are sexist" part in passing, there are no facts to check.

I don't know. I haven't dug deeply into this whole affair beyond what's come up here. Maybe the argument from the feminist side really is that "everyone's playing video games just about as much, with no real gender divide even in the more serious gamers and that those sexist video games they all play, including the women, are making millenials more sexist."

Cause that's nicely trashed by this fact checking.


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And why does she even drag up Zoe Quinn? I understand that you can have a disagreement with Anita's point of view (calling it an attempt to destroy gamer culture is maybe a little strong). She has opinions that you can disagree with, at least. Zoe... probably has viewpoints, but it's not like she's made a point of telling anyone about them. She just kinda exist and apparently get tagged with "well, she's also a woman and everyone hates her for some reason, so she probably wants to see the video game industry die."


An interesting dialogue between Dr. Sommers and Adam Weinstein (Gawker employee) held two weeks ago.


Necromancer wrote:
An interesting dialogue between Dr. Sommers and Adam Weinstein (Gawker employee) held two weeks ago.

What's interesting about it, other than characterizing disagreement as "male-bashing, propaganda-driven, female chauvinism"?


thejeff wrote:
Necromancer wrote:
An interesting dialogue between Dr. Sommers and Adam Weinstein (Gawker employee) held two weeks ago.
What's interesting about it, other than characterizing disagreement as "male-bashing, propaganda-driven, female chauvinism"?

Come on. That can't have been your entire takeaway.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Hmm, not sure what to think of that.

I've played Bejewelled since...well....forever.

Does that mean I'm a casual gamer? Or because I play it less than an hour a week (though occasionally, it's HOURS, especially if travelling) would I even count if looking at Bejewelled?

It's interesting to see her statistics. All that really can be drawn is that there are more women gamers than men, that women tend to be casual gamers and men more hardcore gamers, and that millennials are not as prone to violence or sexism (supposedly from her source, which actually isn't that great since she should have more sources on that).

Nothing there says there is no sexism in games...in fact, she even ADMITS that there is sexism in games, but handwaves it saying we should expect it because guys are males.

Errr.....

I'd say what you could get from it is that in the hardcore gaming crowd, sexism is prevalent. Her take is it's not a problem since a huge majority (I think she says something like 7 to 1) are all male, and males like sexism in their games.

Which I think misses the entire point of why there is the moral panic or what the females were writing about in regards to games and sexism in the first place (which mostly addressed the hardcore gaming crowd, not the casual gaming crowd). In casual games, there's a LOT less sexism, and just about every game I have on the Phone/tablet have none as far as I can see. However, in the hardcore games and gaming, which is what the entire conflict is about, and which this lady really doesn't address...there is a LOT of sexism.

Just because guys like to see women with nothing on and they make a majority of the crowd, makes it right. It simply reinforces why there maybe that 7 to 1 ratio, because many women aren't interested in seeing that type of stuff.


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Scott Betts wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Necromancer wrote:
An interesting dialogue between Dr. Sommers and Adam Weinstein (Gawker employee) held two weeks ago.
What's interesting about it, other than characterizing disagreement as "male-bashing, propaganda-driven, female chauvinism"?
Come on. That can't have been your entire takeaway.

Well, what's yours?

There's a lot of back and forth about nothing really. Lots of #NotAllGamers. Accusations of accusations of collective guilt.

What great revelation was I supposed to get?

If the takeaway is supposed to be "Gamers are human beings" that's not a great surprise. Who's arguing with it?

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I don't trust anyone who asserts that they're relying on "facts" as a form of asserting their authority. Especially when it's pretty obviously presented in opposition to anyone who disagrees. Sort of a "You can't argue against my argument because it is based on FACTS" thing.

Sommers may have "facts," but she's also interpreting a lot of them in a dishonest manner. Also, how is "I talked to a bunch of gamers and they said they don't care who you are as long as you love games!" any sort of valid point?

Anyway I give this video 1/10. Try harder, leave the gender essentialism in the garbage.


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The argument that a minority of women play 'core' games (I presume that's a contraction of hardcore) is pretty well-supported, but the reasons for this are not really engaged with. CALL OF DUTY did not permit female avatars until the last game in the series, the series has featured very few female characters of any note at all (even when it would have been appropriate, such as the Russian levels of the WWII games) and its reputation for online play without resorting to moronic language (especially on X-Box) is not great.

OTOH, far more women play MASS EFFECT, a series where the gameplay also mostly consists of mowing down bad guys with bullets (or lasers) but which has a far more diverse cast, far more prominent female characters, and the ability to play the main character as a woman, with such superior voice acting that a significant number of male players also choose to play with the female avatar.

There is a something of a self-confirming bias here. The issue isn't that women have an inherent aversion to violent games, but an aversion to games that are not inclusive towards them. Fewer women play certain 'core' games (and this appears to be more of a Western issue, with JRPGs and games like MARIO not being quite as gender-split as Western games) because of limitations of the medium, not because women are less interested in 'proper' games at all and so therefore games can continue being "istisms" until the cows come home.


Werthead wrote:

The argument that a minority of women play 'core' games (I presume that's a contraction of hardcore) is pretty well-supported, but the reasons for this are not really engaged with. CALL OF DUTY did not permit female avatars until the last game in the series, the series has featured very few female characters of any note at all (even when it would have been appropriate, such as the Russian levels of the WWII games) and its reputation for online play without resorting to moronic language (especially on X-Box) is not great.

OTOH, far more women play MASS EFFECT, a series where the gameplay also mostly consists of mowing down bad guys with bullets (or lasers) but which has a far more diverse cast, far more prominent female characters, and the ability to play the main character as a woman, with such superior voice acting that a significant number of male players also choose to play with the female avatar.

There is a something of a self-confirming bias here. The issue isn't that women have an inherent aversion to violent games, but an aversion to games that are not inclusive towards them. Fewer women play certain 'core' games (and this appears to be more of a Western issue, with JRPGs and games like MARIO not being quite as gender-split as Western games) because of limitations of the medium, not because women are less interested in 'proper' games at all and so therefore games can continue being "istisms" until the cows come home.

I don't think that comparison is quite balanced.

Call of Duty's a first-person shooter specifically focuses on combat whereas the Mass Effect series is, while combat-heavy, a third person RPG focusing on story progression. Both had different target audiences and I'm pretty sure most Mass Effect buyers didn't pick the game for the same reasons that a CoD fan might buy Black Ops II. Typically, modern games grounded in realism offer fewer character/avatar options, simpler stories, and more mechanic-driven gameplay than space opera/fantasy RPGs. The only exception that comes to mind offhand would be Alpha Protocol (excellent game, by the way).


Quote:
Typically, modern games grounded in realism offer fewer character/avatar options, simpler stories, and more mechanic-driven gameplay than space opera/fantasy RPGs.

Indeed. But that doesn't really address the issue that even these games - especially when recent CoD games go in for asymmetrical warfare in a big way - don't really have an excuse for not featuring more female characters or try to appeal more to female gamers. CoD did actually lean a little towards it (if only slightly) in GHOSTS, so it'll be interesting to see if that trend continues in ADVANCED WARFARE, given it's much more of an SF game and thus is not constrained by dubious notions of 'realism'.


Another feminist; two very interesting links:

Excellent article by Liana Kerzner--"Some of gaming's greatest heroes are mentally ill, and that's a great thing"

An interview (a little less than two hours) with Liana Kerzner that sheds a lot of light on recent misadventures of video game journalism and the events leading up to them from a journalist's perspective.


Werthead wrote:
But that doesn't really address the issue that even these games - especially when recent CoD games go in for asymmetrical warfare in a big way - don't really have an excuse for not featuring more female characters or try to appeal more to female gamers.

They do have "excuses" (or rather, reasons) why they've avoided the extra step: significant success without taking the extra step, few women play the games, decision to focus on additional mechanics (new weapons, vehicles, misc tech, etc.) in lieu of female models, and likely a publisher resistance to risk the inclusion of one element at the cost of other elements (e.g. mechanics or graphic improvements) that will be included by competitors. With the way some "critics" react, it's little wonder that publishers are wary of including female avatars out of a desire to avoid the inevitable "violence against women" accusations (despite the thousands of male character deaths piling up on scoreboards).


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thejeff wrote:
If the takeaway is supposed to be "Gamers are human beings" that's not a great surprise. Who's arguing with it?

In the literal sense, nobody. Pretty sure nobody's arguing gamers are aliens or something.

But in a colloquial sense, where "human being" is often translated as "Individuals with common respect towards other human beings and human desires and just all around kind of normal people"...a lot of people. All of the repeated attempts to censor, ban, or restrict games proves that. All of the attempts by RadFems/Tumblrinas to paint gamers as a collective hivemind of chauvinists, racists, and potential murderers and rapists proves that as well.

It's "not a great surprise" to normal, rational thinking people.

It is to quite a few very loud people who are neither normal, or rational.


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Rynjin wrote:
thejeff wrote:
If the takeaway is supposed to be "Gamers are human beings" that's not a great surprise. Who's arguing with it?

In the literal sense, nobody. Pretty sure nobody's arguing gamers are aliens or something.

But in a colloquial sense, where "human being" is often translated as "Individuals with common respect towards other human beings and human desires and just all around kind of normal people"...a lot of people. All of the repeated attempts to censor, ban, or restrict games proves that. All of the attempts by RadFems/Tumblrinas to paint gamers as a collective hivemind of chauvinists, racists, and potential murderers and rapists proves that as well.

It's "not a great surprise" to normal, rational thinking people.

It is to quite a few very loud people who are neither normal, or rational.

Well that's based on the assumption that either normal rational thinking people are common or that normal rational thinking people can't also be chauvinists, racists, and potential murderers and rapists.

My observations of people (and even myself) suggest that rational thinking is much rarer than we generally think it is and that chauvinism and racism are sadly common - especially subtler forms of prejudice.
So, I really don't see saying "There's a lot of sexism in gaming" to be at all incompatible with "Gamers are normal human beings", even if the claim is that it's more common in gaming than society at large.

It's probably only a few loud people making the actual death and rape threats, if that's all that's meant.

I'm not deep enough in the gaming culture to have a good sense of how sexist it actually is. I will say that neither the Sommer's video or the fact check actually offered any evidence about that. Just a casual dismissal.


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Necromancer wrote:
Werthead wrote:
But that doesn't really address the issue that even these games - especially when recent CoD games go in for asymmetrical warfare in a big way - don't really have an excuse for not featuring more female characters or try to appeal more to female gamers.
They do have "excuses" (or rather, reasons) why they've avoided the extra step: significant success without taking the extra step, few women play the games, decision to focus on additional mechanics (new weapons, vehicles, misc tech, etc.) in lieu of female models, and likely a publisher resistance to risk the inclusion of one element at the cost of other elements (e.g. mechanics or graphic improvements) that will be included by competitors. With the way some "critics" react, it's little wonder that publishers are wary of including female avatars out of a desire to avoid the inevitable "violence against women" accusations (despite the thousands of male character deaths piling up on scoreboards).

Ah yes, that's a nice bit of logic: No reason to add female characters because few women play the game.


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mechaPoet wrote:

I don't trust anyone who asserts that they're relying on "facts" as a form of asserting their authority. Especially when it's pretty obviously presented in opposition to anyone who disagrees. Sort of a "You can't argue against my argument because it is based on FACTS" thing.

Sommers may have "facts," but she's also interpreting a lot of them in a dishonest manner. Also, how is "I talked to a bunch of gamers and they said they don't care who you are as long as you love games!" any sort of valid point?

Anyway I give this video 1/10. Try harder, leave the gender essentialism in the garbage.

Could you elaborate on the facts that she is interpreting in a dishonest manner?

Also:

Quote:
I don't trust anyone who asserts that they're relying on "facts" as a form of asserting their authority.

This seems like a silly thing to say. You're essentially saying that evidence (generally taken to be the most valid basis for one's authority on a subject) is in fact one of the least valid grounds to base one's authority on. What would be your preferred basis? Popularity? Wealth? Physical strength?


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thejeff wrote:

Ah yes, that's a nice bit of logic: No reason to add female characters because few women play the game.

Actually, it's very good logic and fairly standard in the marketing universe. If you're in a niche business to begin with, trying to branch out to other markets is usually the kiss of death.

Scott MacLeod wrote about how this works in the comic book industry. Part of the reason that almost all of the comics sold in the United States are superhero comics is because that's what sells best. Some time ago, there were a number of other types of comics, but the retailers tended not to stock them (because they didn't sell as well as superhero comics), the distributers tended to to carry them (because they didn't sell as well as superhero comics) and the publishers tended not to print them (because they didn't sell as well as superhero comics). When the time came at the end of the year to cut the lines that didn't perform as well, the cowboy comics and detective comics and romance comics and sci-fi comics were usually the ones at the bottom of the circulation list, and therefore the first to go.

And when people wanted to make new lines, they looked at what would sell (which were superhero comics) and made more of them. If you tried to launch a swords-and-sandals comic, good luck getting a mainstream distributor to pick up on it or a large hobby shop chain to carry it. Retailers would look at it and consider it to be a waste of their valuable shelf space -- at least the latest X-Men knockoff would move product.

But this applies to almost any market -- the products that are available are available because they sell to the people who are already buying them. The people who aren't buying them -- whether that be rose-flavored candy bars, beer made from peaches, sword and sandal comics, or hardcore computer games with lots of female characters -- are generally happy buying something else already and you're fighting with literally every other product on the market to get their dollars.

If you have a CoD clone to sell, you can market it to everyone who plays CoD, and you know they'll be interested in it. The closer it is to CoD, the more confident you are that they'll be interested. The further you are from CoD, the more likely it is that they'll say, "yes, but..." and actively dislike the changes you made. Just like if I drink Bud Light, you can probably get me to try New Vitamin-Fortified Power Bud (with added vitamin B for hangover prevention), but possibly not peach-flavored beer.

At the same time, the people who aren't interested in what the market has been offering might take you up on your new offering. "Well, I don't like beer, but this peach stuff might be worth trying." But you're also competing against literally everything else in the world -- not only with other brands of beer, but also with iced tea, with Kool-ade, with fortified wine, and for that matter with snow tires ("Nah, looks too expensive and winter's coming. Better save up.")

Good luck breaking into the peach beer market. Peach beer, by the way, is a thing... it's called "lambic," is rather popular in Belgium, and is quite good. I recommend Lindemans Pêche. But there's a reason that the Coors Brewery in Colorado turns out 22 million barrels of beer each year, twenty-two million barrels that do not include a lambic, and Lindemans does less than a hundred thousand.

Making games is quite capital intensive and quite risky. The launch cost of Call of Duty 2 was something like $200 million (US); that's a lot to spend on a market that you're not sure will respond. Yes, the women that play Bejeweled casually might be persuaded to try playing your new feminist FPS,.... or they might just stay with Bejeweled, or take up karate as more healthy.


Scott Betts wrote:
mechaPoet wrote:

I don't trust anyone who asserts that they're relying on "facts" as a form of asserting their authority. Especially when it's pretty obviously presented in opposition to anyone who disagrees. Sort of a "You can't argue against my argument because it is based on FACTS" thing.

Sommers may have "facts," but she's also interpreting a lot of them in a dishonest manner. Also, how is "I talked to a bunch of gamers and they said they don't care who you are as long as you love games!" any sort of valid point?

Anyway I give this video 1/10. Try harder, leave the gender essentialism in the garbage.

Could you elaborate on the facts that she is interpreting in a dishonest manner?

Also:

Quote:
I don't trust anyone who asserts that they're relying on "facts" as a form of asserting their authority.
This seems like a silly thing to say. You're essentially saying that evidence (generally taken to be the most valid basis for one's authority on a subject) is in fact one of the least valid grounds to base one's authority on. What would be your preferred basis? Popularity? Wealth? Physical strength?

There's a difference between actually relying on facts, which generally involves presenting those facts and showing how they make your argument and just saying you're relying on facts, which I believe mechaPoet is talking about.

Which I can kind of see here as well. That's what bothered me about the Fact Check article particularly. They very thoroughly fact check a bunch of claims that I'd be basically willing to take as given and imply, without ever actually stating, that this shows how serious Sommers is and how seriously you should take her argument because Look at all that she got right and how stupid or biased anyone would have to be argue with all this evidence.

Except nothing there and very little in the video itself actually even tries to support what I assume the conclusion is supposed to be: That there really isn't much sexism in gaming and it doesn't really matter anyway because it's just guys being guys and the women complaining about death and rape threats are just being silly.

If I'm wrong here, someone please tell me what she's actually trying to argue and how she supports it. Maybe my comprehension is completely shot. But nobody here seems to have actually spoken to her argument.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Ah yes, that's a nice bit of logic: No reason to add female characters because few women play the game.
Actually, it's very good logic and fairly standard in the marketing universe. If you're in a niche business to begin with, trying to branch out to other markets is usually the kiss of death.

It's good marketing logic.

It's lousy moral logic.


thejeff wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Ah yes, that's a nice bit of logic: No reason to add female characters because few women play the game.
Actually, it's very good logic and fairly standard in the marketing universe. If you're in a niche business to begin with, trying to branch out to other markets is usually the kiss of death.

It's good marketing logic.

It's lousy moral logic.

Well thankfully the large bulk of the computer game industry is interested in making money and not pushing morals.


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I'm not sure that wasting hundreds of millions of dollars of investors' money so that you can see more boobs on your TV screen is the more moral option.


Necromancer wrote:
They do have "excuses" (or rather, reasons) why they've avoided the extra step: significant success without taking the extra step, few women play the games, decision to focus on additional mechanics (new weapons, vehicles, misc tech, etc.) in lieu of female models, and likely a publisher resistance to risk the inclusion of one element at the cost of other elements (e.g. mechanics or graphic improvements) that will be included by competitors. With the way some "critics" react, it's little wonder that publishers are wary of including female avatars out of a desire to avoid the inevitable "violence against women" accusations (despite the thousands of male character deaths piling up on scoreboards).

Yup, because the violence inflicted against the female avatar in TOMB RAIDER (all eleventy billion of them), PORTAL or METROID was a big controversy.

Wait...

Quote:
Well thankfully the large bulk of the computer game industry is interested in making money and not pushing morals.

"Hey, we're ignoring 50% of a possible revenue stream."

"Holy hell, that's crazy. We could have sold 70 million games rather than 35 million. Why did we not market to that market sector?"

"They have uteri."

Yup, from a market perspective this makes complete and total sense.


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Werthead wrote:
Necromancer wrote:
Well thankfully the large bulk of the computer game industry is interested in making money and not pushing morals.

"Hey, we're ignoring 50% of a possible revenue stream."

"Holy hell, that's crazy. We could have sold 70 million games rather than 35 million. Why did we not market to that market sector?"

"Because the ROI was too low. It would have cost us roughly $70 million in additional marketing dollars, from which the focus groups suggested we would have received about 500,000 additional sales, for a total new revenue of $10 million."

Marketing folks aren't in the habit of paying $3 for dollar bills, and those that are, don't stay in the game long.

Don't confuse a "possible" revenue stream with a "likely" one or even with a "profitable" one. If all you care about is a "possible" revenue stream, I'm sure you'll rush out with a Gupapuyngu translation of your next console platformer. Granted, there are only about 300 Gupapuyngu speakers in the world, and I don't now that any of them own a console,.... but hey, they might buy a copy of the game, and a console to run it on, and that's a possible revenue stream, right?

There's only so much money in the corporate coffers, and the investors get really insistent about wanting their-money-back-and-then-some. Similarly, the programmers really want to work on a successful game, one that they can highlight on their CV.

This is almost starting to sound like an updated version of The Producers:

Bialystock-Bloom Electronic Games are looking for backers for a new game. They'll make a game called Springtime For Hitler, release it for the Atari Jaguar with a soundtrack with options for Gupapuyngu, Pailibo, Akatek, and Polci. It will use a non-standard controller that is shipped in kit form with the game. And it will be specifically focus-grouped to appeal to appeal preferentially to non-gamers. Estimated sales price will be 500,000 Vietnamese dong, and it will only be available in dong.

This is, of course, as morally pure a game as you can see -- look at the benefit this will be to the third world economies, as a simple example. And we're just trying to raise a "mere" $50 million for the game, a fraction of what a typical game costs nowadays. BBEG sells 200% of the rights to this game, and Max and Leo disappear with $25 million each when it folds after the first night.


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Don't confuse a "possible" revenue stream with a "likely" one or even with a "profitable" one. If all you care about is a "possible" revenue stream, I'm sure you'll rush out with a Gupapuyngu translation of your next console platformer. Granted, there are only about 300 Gupapuyngu speakers in the world, and I don't now that any of them own a console,.... but hey, they might buy a copy of the game, and a console to run it on, and that's a possible revenue stream, right?

Superb. Urban Dictionary's definition of "Strawman" was a bit old so this will do nicely as a replacement.

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This is almost starting to sound like an updated version of The Producers:

Logical fallacy.

THE PRODUCERS was a (fictional) stage play deliberately designed to fail so it would earn the backers a substantial insurance pay-out.

As a comparison to the real-world problem of sexism and many game-developers alienating 50%+ of potential customers, it is both an abject and utter failure to the point of inanity.

Better luck next time.


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Werthead wrote:


THE PRODUCERS was a (fictional) stage play deliberately designed to fail so it would earn the backers a substantial insurance pay-out.

Goodness, no. It was a real movie about a fictional stage play for which the producers sold 25,000% of the profits to backers. Insurance didn't enter into it; it was outright fraud of the backers and a violation of the fiduciary duty at a number of levels.

What thejeff -- and you -- are proposing is similarly a violation of the fiduciary duty on behalf of the game developers, who are supposed to be making profitable games.

If you're seriously suggesting pandering to the people who aren't going to be buying your games anyway, no matter what you do, I can only assume you're working with Bialystock.

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As a comparison to the real-world problem of sexism and many game-developers alienating 50%+ of potential customers,

Don't confuse "potential" customers with "likely" or "profitable" customers. You'll lose money trying to attract "potential" customers, because the vast majority of them will spend their money elsewhere.


Werthead wrote:
Necromancer wrote:
They do have "excuses" (or rather, reasons) why they've avoided the extra step: significant success without taking the extra step, few women play the games, decision to focus on additional mechanics (new weapons, vehicles, misc tech, etc.) in lieu of female models, and likely a publisher resistance to risk the inclusion of one element at the cost of other elements (e.g. mechanics or graphic improvements) that will be included by competitors. With the way some "critics" react, it's little wonder that publishers are wary of including female avatars out of a desire to avoid the inevitable "violence against women" accusations (despite the thousands of male character deaths piling up on scoreboards).

Yup, because the violence inflicted against the female avatar in TOMB RAIDER (all eleventy billion of them), PORTAL or METROID was a big controversy.

Wait...

You've just named three games where a female is the protagonist. Despite maybe getting beat up occasionally, the woman is the one doing the major ass kicking. And what do you think the male to female ratio is for players of those games?

Is it better to make and try to market a game for women that men probably won't end up playing?


Simon Legrande wrote:
Werthead wrote:
Necromancer wrote:
They do have "excuses" (or rather, reasons) why they've avoided the extra step: significant success without taking the extra step, few women play the games, decision to focus on additional mechanics (new weapons, vehicles, misc tech, etc.) in lieu of female models, and likely a publisher resistance to risk the inclusion of one element at the cost of other elements (e.g. mechanics or graphic improvements) that will be included by competitors. With the way some "critics" react, it's little wonder that publishers are wary of including female avatars out of a desire to avoid the inevitable "violence against women" accusations (despite the thousands of male character deaths piling up on scoreboards).

Yup, because the violence inflicted against the female avatar in TOMB RAIDER (all eleventy billion of them), PORTAL or METROID was a big controversy.

Wait...

You've just named three games where a female is the protagonist. Despite maybe getting beat up occasionally, the woman is the one doing the major ass kicking. And what do you think the male to female ratio is for players of those games?

Is it better to make and try to market a game for women that men probably won't end up playing?

As was said earlier on, better than that on games where female avatars weren't an option. At least on Metroid, since that was the one referenced earlier.

And that's the point. Also that "violence against women" really only comes up when it's about beating up helpless victims, not when it's a female avatar getting hurt.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Werthead wrote:


THE PRODUCERS was a (fictional) stage play deliberately designed to fail so it would earn the backers a substantial insurance pay-out.

Goodness, no. It was a real movie about a fictional stage play for which the producers sold 25,000% of the profits to backers. Insurance didn't enter into it; it was outright fraud of the backers and a violation of the fiduciary duty at a number of levels.

What thejeff -- and you -- are proposing is similarly a violation of the fiduciary duty on behalf of the game developers, who are supposed to be making profitable games.

If you're seriously suggesting pandering to the people who aren't going to be buying your games anyway, no matter what you do, I can only assume you're working with Bialystock.

Don't blow it too far out of proportion. The original suggestion was
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even these games - especially when recent CoD games go in for asymmetrical warfare in a big way - don't really have an excuse for not featuring more female characters or try to appeal more to female gamers. CoD did actually lean a little towards it (if only slightly) in GHOSTS, so it'll be interesting to see if that trend continues in ADVANCED WARFARE, given it's much more of an SF game and thus is not constrained by dubious notions of 'realism'.

I don't think that qualifies as pandering or that an attempt to draw a little more of the female market is "a violation of the fiduciary duty". Making Call of Duty: Romance edition in nice pink box with hearts and flowers would, but no one is suggesting that.


More importantly though, if the argument is simultaneously that sexism isn't a significant problem in the gaming industry or community and that it would be a disaster for a company to put out a game with less T&A and/or more female characters, that's blatant nonsense.

Your argument is basically that the industry is sexist and that's driven by consumer demand.

Which might even be true, but it's still admitting the sexism.


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Time for a totally sweet guitar break.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

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Making Call of Duty: Romance edition in nice pink box with hearts and flowers would, but no one is suggesting that.

"Cupid is back on the job! To fight against a world where superficial online interactions have left the world cynical, he's trading in his bow and arrows for a modern arsenal of 28 unique weapons, designed for maximum romantic carnage. The government wants him to stop, so he'll need all of it to get past armored tanks, take down enemy snipers, and eliminate the mutant super-soldiers sent to kill him. He won't rest until the city of New York is head-over-heels--or he'll die trying!

In stores Spring 2015."

I'd play it.


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thejeff wrote:

Your argument is basically that the industry is sexist and that's driven by consumer demand.

Which might even be true, but it's still admitting the sexism.

Actually, my argument isn't that the industry is sexist and that it's driven by consumer demand.

It's not clear that the industry is sexist. What is clear is that there's strong divisions in the industry, in the same way that there are divisions in the wine industry -- most wine is bought by females, but most pinot noir is bought by men. If you think that you'll make more wine sales by trying to market pinot noir to women (and white zinf to men), you're thinking exactly backwards. Affinity group marketing works by using established groups, not by breaking such groups. (And this isn't even affinity group marketing --it's just "me too" marketing.)

But those divisions aren't necessarily sexist, and catering to those divisions is also not necessarily sexist.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Your argument is basically that the industry is sexist and that's driven by consumer demand.

Which might even be true, but it's still admitting the sexism.

Actually, my argument isn't that the industry is sexist and that it's driven by consumer demand.

It's not clear that the industry is sexist. What is clear is that there's strong divisions in the industry, in the same way that there are divisions in the wine industry -- most wine is bought by females, but most pinot noir is bought by men. If you think that you'll make more wine sales by trying to market pinot noir to women (and white zinf to men), you're thinking exactly backwards. Affinity group marketing works by using established groups, not by breaking such groups. (And this isn't even affinity group marketing --it's just "me too" marketing.)

But those divisions aren't necessarily sexist, and catering to those divisions is also not necessarily sexist.

Leaving analogy and marketing behind, which sections are you talking about? Specifically, which division of the video game industry is catering to women?


thejeff wrote:
Leaving analogy and marketing behind, which sections are you talking about? Specifically, which division of the video game industry is catering to women?

As far as I can tell, relatively little of the design portions of the game industry are catering to women or to men, with the notable exception of children's games (e.g., Mermaid Barbie Adventure).

The marketing, of course, is catering to whoever bought the game that the designers ripped off to create the current me-too game. If you're selling a WoW clone, you sell to the people who bought (or are likely to have bought) WoW, and if you're selling a Farmville clone, you sell to the people who bought Farmville.

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