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Welcome to the Puritanical Gaming Movement, please enjoy your stay.,

It’s been awhile, I’ve just started working a second job to support my “lavish” lifestyle. While I was busy slaving away for the man, apparently about two weeks ago, my favorite person in the world, Anita Sarkeesian, had some kind of get together with video-game developers in New York City, right in my backyard! according to a Kotaku article, Ms. Sarkeesian had a bit to say about how she wanted video-games to change or better yet “8 Things Game devs can do to make things less shitty for women” The list has been conveniently posted down below for you, dear reader.

  1. Avoid the Smurfette principle (don’t have just one female character in an ensemble cast, let alone one whose personality is more or less “girl” or “woman.”)
  2. “Lingerie is not armor” (Dress female characters as something other than sex objects.)
  3. Have female characters of various body types
  4. Don’t over-emphasize female characters’ rear ends, not any more than you would the average male character’s.
  5. Include more female characters of color.
  6. Animate female characters to move the way normal women, soldiers or athletes would move.
  7. Record female character voiceover so that pain sounds painful, not orgasmic
  8. Include female enemies, but don’t sexualize those enemies

On the outside, the majority of these make sense, I mean the smurfette principle is right on point, I feel the same way about token black characters who are just “there” and number five is great as well, I would love to see way more women of color in video games, as I stated in a prior article, they’re even more under represented than men of color who aren’t even really that present to begin with. Heck the majority of these are reasonable and like I said, I agree with a  few of them myself. So let me take a moment to applause and say that on those two points I definitely agree with Anita, bravo, you’re actually starting to make some kind of sense.

But let’s get down to the real nitty gritty here, real talk, people are still afraid of sex and the topic of sex in general.

Don’t over-emphasize female characters’ rear ends, not any more than you would the average male character’s.”

“Lingerie is not armor” (Dress female characters as something other than sex objects”

These two points and a few others got my eyebrows waggling as I slowly started to make a not so subtle connection

This all reminds me of America’s and the West obsession and fear of sex, any media historian who’s worth his or her salt knows that Sex and media in general have had a tumultuous relationship since the time that they were able to figure out how to put people on film and record the. From not being to show a couple sharing a bed together to how much of a woman’s upper body could be shown before it’s considered nudity. For decades film directors have gone on to challenge film censorship, pushing the envelope every time. Films like Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A Clock Work Orange with it’s graphic depictions of violence and Paul Verhoeven’s ‘Basic Instinct“‘ for it’s portrayal of Homosexuals and Lesbians as well as it’s approach to sex came under serious fire from critics and the general populace alike, Kubrick himself at one point, allegedly received death threats for ‘A Clock Work Orange’ , all because people felt offended by his vision.

At one point, 'Basic Instinct' had people people in a tizzy as well

At one point, ‘Basic Instinct’ had people people in a tizzy as well

These films are just two of many  that  were controversial during their time periods and drew the ire of many a critic  because at their respective times, the images they depicted were only ever talked about in hush tones. The public railed against them because they were “offended” it battered their moral compasses, they were simply unthinkable. Now a days, a film like “A Clock Work Orange” would be considered tame, the only parts that I think would raise eyebrows would be the parts dealing with sex because…well America and the West in general have a serious problem with sex.

Let’s step away from films  and back to video games, I feel like there’s a movement being made, a movement where people who are comfortable with the games they play  are being shamed for the games they play and the developers who produce these games are being made to feel ashamed about what they make. We’re going backwards ladies and gentlemen, were as films and television have had their ropes of censorship loosened, gamers, developers what have you not, are having those same ropes tightened not by the ESRB not by misinformed parents, but by critics and the gaming media it’s almost like an internalized lynch mob to a degree.

Let me give you a few examples, last week it was announced within the Dead or Alive community that DLC costumes that oversexualized characters, would result in soft bans from tournaments. The decision was made to try and “legitimize” Dead or Alive, so to “legitimize”DOA, they had to make a part of the game, customizing the look of your character, a ban-able offense. Fans of Dead or Alive are no stranger to it’s overly exaggerated characters, heck there are three DOA games that aren’t based on fighting but on having key characters frolic on beaches, playing volleyball. This is a series of  games that have been the object of criticism since the early days of disc based gaming. Who is the competitive community trying to fool? or a better question, who is the competitive community trying to not draw attention from?

doa no

Moving on, NetherRealm studios, the developer best known for “Mortal Kombat”, a series of fighting games that were the center of the “violence in video games” debate during the mid 90’s. Announced that they were going to make their women more “realistic” as in toning down their busts and level of skin exposure…that’s “realism” in a game where characters literally rip their opponents head’s from their torso’s or freeze them dead in their tracks and smashes their bodies to pieces. Just who is NetherRealm trying to appease? their fan base has been around for decades and has happily been enjoying game after game that the studio has released. This sudden move to “realism” seems coincidentally tied to the current dialogue that’s been hammered into people’s heads from Kotaku and Polygon. “You characters are too sexy, tone them down or face ridicule”

The level of violence is acceptable but the range of cupsizes  aren’t ? Before I go on that’s one thing I’d like to point out, what is it with people being offended by fictional women who’s bust size is anything over a C? From Lara Croft of ‘Tomb Raider ‘ to Ivy Valentine of ‘Soul Calibur ‘ I mean really it seems as if as soon as you cross into DD territory, folks literally fall out of their chairs and onto their laptops to pontificate about how “obscene” a character is…just a little thing I had to throw in before I got into my next example.

Dragon’s Crown,

If you’re not familiar with Dragon’s Crown, it was a side scrolling arcade like beat em up that looked Dungeons and Dragons-ish. The big issue that critics had with Dragon’s Crown was with the designs of two of the game’s playable characters, the Sorceress and the Amazon. Apparently Jason Schreier of ‘Kotaku’ had this to say about the design of the extremely busty Sorceress

“This is the newest trailer for Dragon’s Crown, the Vanillaware-developed game that will be out this year for PS3 and Vita. It features the sorceress, one character from the game. As you can see, the sorceress was designed by a 14-year-old boy. Perhaps game development studios should stop hiring teenagers? At least they’re cheap, I guess.”

Apparently If I don't mind this art, I must be prepubescent right? RIGHT?!

Apparently If I don’t mind this art, I must be prepubescent right? RIGHT?!

(Source)

Mr. Schreier has long since apologized for his comments but the use of Ad hominem to make a point? I could literally go on for hours about how off hand comments like this are what makes issues like this almost impossible to talk about. This western obsession that correlates  anything inherently sexual in gaming must be only for prepubescent boys  is in and of itself sexist. I’m a grown man of 28, hold two degrees, TEACH as an adjunct and I had absolutely no problem playing Dragon’s Crown. The same went for the many gamers who went out and bought Dragon’s Crown and enjoyed it for the excellent game that it was.

Closing thoughts.

I have had such a difficult time writing this piece, there are obviously things that need some serious changes within the gaming industry and a lot of them have to do with how people are portrayed. I’m all for changes that will make the medium more accepting and open to people. However at the same time I can’t condone making someone feel bad for making or playing the games that they like. Where do we draw the line between what’s acceptable and what is out of line? when does it start to go from free speech to censorship? I do know that carrying on, attacking one another or making jokes at each other’s expense is not the way to go about things and that acting offended while actively offending others doesn’t bring about any positives either just more negatives.

I’ll leave you with this quote from  from Dual Shockers on the subject of the Dragon’s Crown controversy. I feel that his statement though made in 2013, still holds true in 2015.

“Ultimately, I find absolutely ludicrous that we’ve spent years upon years fighting the censors and defending our hobby from the pundits on Fox News, but now we’re turning into the censors ourselves. We’re becoming the Fox News-style pundits that ride on controversy. It’s ludicrous and extremely depressing”

He goes on to say-” We’re not exercising criticism, we’re not doing journalism. We have become the bullies we so fiercely fought against for half of our lives.”

What are your thoughts? do you think there’s an issue of censorship? are people being too sensitive? or is there a need for change? Can a happy medium be reached? Share in the comments section!

The Justice League Covers Gamer Gate Pt. 2: The culture of infallibility that surrounds Anita Sarkeesian

Anita and the culture of shaming that shields Her

It’s common to just “silence” the opposition if they don’t agree with you.

A petition involving a well-known developer and Anita Sarkeesian began floating around the internet a few days ago. It was apparently about having Anita ousted from her role as an advisor on the development team that is currently working on ‘Mirrors Edge 2.’ “Alright,” I thought to myself. “What is she doing being an advisor on a videogame?” I decided to sign the petition. What I did not realize was that site would then post that link to my personal facebook. It wasn’t until I received my first comment that I realized what had happened.

“Ugh,” was the very first comment from a friend of mine, another person who has been well involved in covering the gaming industry. I remained silently amused and even contemplated removing the link because I didn’t want it to cause unnecessary drama. However, I went against my better judgment and allowed the post to stay up.

It wasn’t long before I received my first reproach, being sternly told about the good that Anita’s videos have done and how her videos had gotten a lot better since her first few. “Ok, fair enough,” I thought to myself. I went ahead and typed my response, detailing why I couldn’t get behind the idea of Anita working on videogames:

Nah, I can’t stand behind someone who tries to pass off opinion as fact, refuses to be open to discussion (there have been plenty of credible individuals who have plenty of counter arguments to her videos) and tries to pass off the actions of a few crazies as the representation of an entire diverse demographic of people, and play up the idea that all people who play games and happen to be against her rhetoric, are angry white men/boys/basement dwellers. The last time I checked, I’m neither of those things but the way Anita and people who follow her talk, you’d think that anyone that picks up a controller is basically just as she describes.

However you feel about Sarkeesian is moot to me. She isn’t the correct path to change, she’s the antithesis of it. The only way to even begin any kind of dialogue is the willingness to hear out both sides of an argument.

What Anita and her ilk have done is promote the silencing of any opposition by painting them under one broad brush and that’s far from fair and I don’t want someone like that to have anything to do with the games I play.

One line of the response I received was:

“That’s a shame. Even detestable people can sometimes have a valuable, unique point of view”

For some reason this struck a nerve with me. It seems to be the go-to thing to try and shame a person for not agreeing with Anita by automatically placing them with those who have proven themselves to be detestable. The culture of shaming anyone that doesn’t align themselves with Sarkeesian or her rhetoric is a clear sign of how close minded people on the other end have become.

Something I’ve often noticed is the willingness to shame anyone that doesn’t agree with Ms. Sarkeesian or any of the issues that she speaks of. While we know that disagreement is a common aspect in society, the problem becomes apparent when you’re not just disagreed with, but you’re shamed for disagreeing.

I felt like talking about this topic because I’ve noticed the ease of which people will dismiss you, especially if you happen to be on the other side of the Anita Sarkeesian/GamerGate argument and you’re not a woman-hating bastard.

Now let me get one thing straight. By “Other side,” I don’t include the sexists, the woman haters and those who argue in bad faith. I mean people who have valid critiques of Anita Sarkeesian and others like her. What I noticed from my petition post was the willingness of the people arguing for Anita to not even bother to ask what my own opinion on her were. Instead my post was met with “ugh” and Feminist Frequency videos. Not once was I asked, “Well why are you against Anita? Is there any particular reason why you don’t want her working on Mirrors Edge 2?” These questions weren’t even asked until I pointed out the fact that they were willing to automatically go in on the attack before even knowing what my reasoning was.

(Before I go further, I’d like to clarify my use of “status quo,” in reference to people like Anita and sites like Polygon)

This needs to stop, we’re seeing a culture of shame were you’re not allowed to speak in opposition of the status quo. People are too willing and eager to throw you into a camp with the rest of the “extremists” and throw away the key. Is that how progress in video games should be made? “Oh you don’t agree with Anita has to say? Well instead of asking you why you don’t, I’m going to assume that you’re one of the many extremists that just doesn’t want to hear what a woman has to say and therefore your opinion is now invalidated because of my assumption.” People are willing to do this instead of hearing one another out.

Both sides do this

Which prompted me to write this piece. I’ve steadily noticed the increased readiness for people to throw aside others thoughts and opinions. Like I said before, this a is a common thing in the real world, it happens, but when you’re trying to start a discussion on something like gender representation in videogames, how much better are you if you’re telling someone that happens to not agree with you to basically shut and be quiet?

It has become OK to excise, vilify and attack anyone that might disagree with the opinions of the status quo. Here in lies the problem: How can one expect any kind of discussion or progress, especially on one so polarizing as a gender discussion? Disagreement is one thing, but to shout one side down because you’ve automatically assumed that the reason they stand against you is because they hate women or they’re angry misogynistic bullies isn’t entirely fair. It’s the equivalent of those “Misogynistic bullies” who call anyone who talks about gender issues a “feminazi” or “white knight.” More often than not you’re going to hear about the misogynistic bullies before you hear about the abuse that those who have their own logical arguments receive from the “status quo.” What does this mean for a man or woman who wants to argue their point? You either throw up your hands, or forge ahead to make your point clear to those who want to throw you in with the Gamergate/anti women-in-games crowd and hope that those you are having the discussion with are at least open minded enough to hear you out.

 

Bami O