Jimquisition: Objectification And... Men?

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Mosley_Harmless:
As far as I'm concerned, videogames exist to provide a virtual fantasy world. Don't get upset because you don't belong in the target audience of the person providing the fantasy. As for sexual objectification, Roger Ebert sums it up pretty well in his "Hugh Hefner has been good for us" article:

"Nobody taught me to regard women as sex objects. I always did. Most men do. And truth to tell, most women regard men as sex objects. We regard many other aspects of another person, but sex is the elephant in the room. Evolution has hard-wired us that way. When we meet a new person, in some small recess of our minds we evaluate that person as a sex partner. We don't act on it, we don't dwell on it, but we do it. You know we do. And this process continues bravely until we are old and feeble."

Now please, stop being so goddamn sensitive.

Roger Ebert's confusion of sexuality, sexualisation and objectification offer no justification for telling people to stop objecting to things that matter. Jimquisition is not mandatory viewing. If the theme or the discussion it generates causes offence then the solution is obvious.

Hint: It isn't to tell people to be less sensitive.

Desert Punk:
But your video manages to address the issue in an interesting way, without resorting to trying to be a white knight like SOME contributors on the escapist...

... keep up the great work man, and dont be discouraged by the trolls.

The irony is strong with this one.

Moonlight Butterfly:

Sticky:
snip

Video games are part of the media...

It's debatable if lumping them in with a giant umbrella term called "The Media" is even the right way to approach this. I have problems with any argument that complain about this nebulous horror known as "The Media" but refuse to segregate it depending on the very real differences that each medium has. I would categorize "the media" in full into things that are portrayals of real life and things that are merely fictional elaborations. Fictional Books for instances are clearly works of fantasy, and I would doubt anyone would confuse them with reality much like Video Games.

Moonlight Butterfly:

Anorexia isn't a 'red herring' is an actual effect on people by the media which is what you asked for. I'm not suggesting anyone sees gaming as 'real' just that how men and women are presented to us daily has an effect on us.

Guys like to see tits and ass I understand that. The thing is though, women still have those things when they are presented as people and not just as sex objects.

You claim that you don't feel video games are trying to portray themselves as real yet you also claim that people can be harmed by them attempting to portray sections of them as very real representations.

Do you see the problem with that logic? I'm okay with less sex objects and better characterization, but trying to portray it as a problem with society, 'The Media', video games, or even the people that enjoy them is way, waaaay off the mark and confuses the real issue at hand. I can't agree with it, I can't agree that things that could never be are somehow harmful to the mental state of real people.

The real issue being that game development is difficult by definition and it's far easier to throw in stand-ins of real people into video games instead of depictions of actual people. This is made doubly easier by absolutely none of it being physically real. No real actors, no real world, no real society to base itself off of.

And while this is very freeing from a creative standpoint, it also presents the problem of offering infinite possibilities but no clear focus or goal to the artists tasked to shaping that world.

So what do they do? They throw in the cheapest, easiest stuff to create and collect their paycheck. Not because they hate women or because they want to objectify them, but because it's easy. Because it doesn't challenge anyone or anything.

THAT is what we should be fighting, THAT is a banner that everyone can rally around. Trying to subdivide it into genders only isolates everyone and results in lots of bickering. Like the thirteen odd pages of this thread.

OtherSideofSky:
I see several people in this discussion (possibly Jim included) who appear to view the presumption of agency as an absolute good. In a fictional setting, this may be true. A character expected to be powerful and in control of a situation generally can be, and the message that a person of a certain type has the potential to do great things does not appear harmful.

I would argue that this is not, however, the case in reality. Certainly, the expectation of agency can positively benefit an individual by rendering others likelier to view them as capable of certain tasks or eligible for certain positions, but this only holds true so long as the individual in question actually has some degree of agency in their situation. When the presumption of agency is applied to an individual who does not have agency in their situation, who may, in fact, need help, it has the effect of rendering others less likely to acknowledge their need or to provide them with assistance. The individual's inability to master the situation may be seen only as a failure to be mocked. Society may be unwilling to acknowledge the individual's vulnerability or victimization because that would go against its narrative of presumed agency. That is how the presumption of agency can be a harmful stereotype, and it does not take much effort to find places where this dynamic is at work in the world around us.

I think you might be confusing agency with self-reliance. Agency is simply the ability to affect the world. It isn't problem solving. Video game protagonists have agency by definition. If they didn't, then it would be a movie. Video game protagonists often need help. If men are often portrayed as being loners but having agency, then if women were portrayed as relying on others but also having agency, that would be less of a problem. But women in games often seem to lack agency entirely. They aren't simply reliant on other to achieve their goals, they have no goals to speak of. They often exist only to help the male protagonist achieve his goals. And this isn't always true of male who aren't protagonists in games.

Izzyisme:
But I would argue, as I have several times before, that there is a difference between objectification of women and idealization of various traits.

Of course there is, Jim Sterling argued that very point. However, it's entirely possible for an idealized trait to be objectified. The distinction Sterling makes between objectified and idealized is arbitrary, male and female characters often fall into both at the same time. A young woman with her breasts hanging-out can be presented as the ideal woman to be as well as an object to have. This is the problem with making these sorts of distinctions, Jim Sterling doesn't get to tell people who they want have or who they want to be.

Izzyisme:
I think I understand what the key difference between us is, and correct me if I am wrong. I believe that agency is a positive trait overall. Human beings, at least in the modern day, put incredible value in the idea of autonomy and free will. It is considered by many to be an absolute good. Sexism is when men are expected to aspire to the traits that society deems the best, but women are expected to help men achieve these goals without achieving them themselves.

Agreed, except you're ignoring half the argument. Society is placing the burden of agency on men and if they choose to opt out society doesn't shrug your shoulders and say "your right as a human being" it comes up with nifty little words to shame them like panty-waist, sissy, faggot, pussy, bitch, coward, weakling, pansy, etc.

Khrowley:
If male protagonists really were objectified then they look like this:

http://eschergirls.tumblr.com/post/50005631043/psdo-sexism-is-over-parody-redraws-of-the

And for all the men who start whining and moaning about how wrong this looks; you can take your double-standards and bite my ass and choke on it.

Do you people ever get tired of ignoring viewpoints that aren't your own? And oh, eschergirls, is the owner of that blog still claiming the "boobs and butt" pose is anatomically impossible even after that very real-life girl took pictures demonstrating it is?

Izzyisme:

Then I fundamentally disagree with your definition of objectification. Objectification means that the person is rendered as simply an object to be used by someone else. Someone is defined not by what they can do or what they can achieve, but by what they can do for someone else. Objectification is not when an individual character is portrayed as such. After all, it's a work of fiction. Not every character can be driving the plot. The problem is when agency is removed by gender. That's the definition of sexism. Women are far more likely to lack agency than men are. Claiming that the portrayal of men as muscly and strong is unrealistic is perfectly true, but it isn't the same problem. The point is that when making a male character, it is possible that they will have agency and it is possible that they will not. For female characters, it is far rarer for them to have any agency, sexual or otherwise. So thus, objectification is a problem that disproportionately affects one gender, and so it is legitimate to wonder why women are objectified more than men.

Why is it only when agency is removed by gender? Why isn't it when agency is removed by role? Such as disposable hordes of men to be shot down, who have no other purpose, no characterization, no feelings, family ect. They exist solely as objects to be shot down in a gallery, whether the shooter be male or female. But again, this discussion wasn't about who objectification happens to more or less, it was about whether it could happen to male characters at all.

The reason why we have more male protagonists than female protagonists is market pressure. As you yourself pointed out, not everyone can drive the plot, so the character with the highest likelihood of retaining agency is the protagonists, and if the protagonists are most likely to be male, then we have our answer. The lack of agency isn't a sexist issue, it's an issue of protagonists being primarily male because companies believe that's what will sell best.

What might be a sexist issue, is whether the type of objectification female characters suffer is different than what male characters suffer. And it is, but that wasn't what this whole video or accompanying discussion was about.

Raioken18:

I think he meant in general, quite a few of the topics lately have been about issues of racism and sexism and the white male is made out to be the bad guy being both a male and white. It's hard not to take it personally when other people are pinning the blame to you, even if you haven't done anything.

Except that nobody is doing that. The only people I've seen accused of anything in this discussion are the developers who make games which tend to be sexist. Perhaps you can point out where "white males" were accused of anything in Jim's video or this thread?

Seems like a rather knee-jerk reaction to me. I suppose I'm a "white male" too, but that doesn't mean I identify myself primarily by those characteristics. That could be one of the problems right there. Why is your race and your sex such a defining feature that you automatically identify with all other people of that race and sex, to the degree that you immediately jump to such conclusions?

Khrowley:
If male protagonists really were objectified then they look like this:

http://eschergirls.tumblr.com/post/50005631043/psdo-sexism-is-over-parody-redraws-of-the

And for all the men who start whining and moaning about how wrong this looks; you can take your double-standards and bite my ass and choke on it.

I like it. I would want the game more if they looked like that. The dwarf still isn't sexy, because the dwarf is neither a sex object nor an ideal no matter what you do to him (seriously, look at Second Life or anything else that gives men the option to create idealized images of themselves; do any of them choose to look like the dwarf?), but the others are pretty nice.

Unfortunately, that ain't equivalency. All of those characters are now wearing noticeably less clothing than any female character except the Amazon, and none are even close to being as well-clothed as the elf. Furthermore, their outfits are all designed to emphasize and very nearly reveal their penises. Now, I shouldn't have to tell you this, but the distaff counterpart to a penis is a vulva (clitoris, if you want to get technical). The point is, do any of the female designs for Dragon's Crown emphasize the characters' genitals? No, they emphasize their tits and ass. A proper spear counterpart would emphasize the chests and asses of the male characters as well. You could argue that this is not viewed as being as sexual in our society, but I would reply that you cannot fall back on a gendered double-standard for justification when protesting a gendered double-standard without being a hypocrite.

That said, I would not complain about these designs in a game because I like staring at dicks (science has proven that most men do). In fact, the responses I have seen to these images from men, even on /v/, have been mostly positive, with none of the moaning about this looking 'wrong' or 'disgusting' that its makers seem to have expected.

Sticky:

Moonlight Butterfly:

Sticky:
snip

Video games are part of the media...

It's debatable if lumping them in with a giant umbrella term called "The Media" is even the right way to approach this. I have problems with any argument that complain about this nebulous horror known as "The Media" but refuse to segregate it depending on the very real differences that each medium has. I would categorize "the media" in full into things that are portrayals of real life and things that are merely fictional elaborations. Fictional Books for instances are clearly works of fantasy, and I would doubt anyone would confuse them with reality much like Video Games.

Moonlight Butterfly:

Anorexia isn't a 'red herring' is an actual effect on people by the media which is what you asked for. I'm not suggesting anyone sees gaming as 'real' just that how men and women are presented to us daily has an effect on us.

Guys like to see tits and ass I understand that. The thing is though, women still have those things when they are presented as people and not just as sex objects.

You claim that you don't feel video games are trying to portray themselves as real yet you also claim that people can be harmed by them attempting to portray sections of them as very real representations.

Do you see the problem with that logic? I'm okay with less sex objects and better characterization, but trying to portray it as a problem with society, 'The Media', video games, or even the people that enjoy them is way, waaaay off the mark and confuses the real issue at hand. I can't agree with it, I can't agree that things that could never be are somehow harmful to the mental state of real people.

The real issue being that game development is difficult by definition and it's far easier to throw in stand-ins of real people into video games instead of depictions of actual people. This is made doubly easier by absolutely none of it being physically real. No real actors, no real world, no real society to base itself off of.

And while this is very freeing from a creative standpoint, it also presents the problem of offering infinite possibilities but no clear focus or goal to the artists tasked to shaping that world.

So what do they do? They throw in the cheapest, easiest stuff to create and collect their paycheck. Not because they hate women or because they want to objectify them, but because it's easy. Because it doesn't challenge anyone or anything.

THAT is what we should be fighting, THAT is a banner that everyone can rally around. Trying to subdivide it into genders only isolates everyone and results in lots of bickering. Like the thirteen odd pages of this thread.

Aha. Here is the issue. You seem to be implying that the only way that something can affect someone is if it is real. I would only think smoking is cool if I read a non-fiction work about a person who achieved great things while smoking. Often times, the opposite is true. What is more convincing and more moving is fiction. It is not as though you consciously say, "Oh. This work of non-fiction tells me that X is true. X must be true. But Y is fictional. So everything in Y is false." Fiction is grounded in reality. You don't say "In this work of fiction, gravity moves people to the center of the Earth, but it is fiction, so gravity must not exist." Obviously, this is an extreme case, but you get the point. Now the line between what aspects of fiction are grounded in reality and what aren't isn't so clear. So you agree that in this fictional world, saving lives is a heroic act. You agree with that. But in this fictional world, it is also true that women are sexual objects. You might say "Hmm. Women aren't like this in real life. This aspect of the work of fiction is untrue." Or, you might also say, "Wow, this fiction seems so real. The physics is just like in real life, and women are sex objects just like in our society." You clearly don't think about this consciously, but you do think about it. And if enough fiction has, as one of its non-fantastic aspects, a certain portrayal of women, it can and does affect you and how you think about women.

Gorrath:

Izzyisme:

Then I fundamentally disagree with your definition of objectification. Objectification means that the person is rendered as simply an object to be used by someone else. Someone is defined not by what they can do or what they can achieve, but by what they can do for someone else. Objectification is not when an individual character is portrayed as such. After all, it's a work of fiction. Not every character can be driving the plot. The problem is when agency is removed by gender. That's the definition of sexism. Women are far more likely to lack agency than men are. Claiming that the portrayal of men as muscly and strong is unrealistic is perfectly true, but it isn't the same problem. The point is that when making a male character, it is possible that they will have agency and it is possible that they will not. For female characters, it is far rarer for them to have any agency, sexual or otherwise. So thus, objectification is a problem that disproportionately affects one gender, and so it is legitimate to wonder why women are objectified more than men.

Why is it only when agency is removed by gender? Why isn't it when agency is removed by role? Such as disposable hordes of men to be shot down, who have no other purpose, no characterization, no feelings, family ect. They exist solely as objects to be shot down in a gallery, whether the shooter be male or female. But again, this discussion wasn't about who objectification happens to more or less, it was about whether it could happen to male characters at all.

The reason why we have more male protagonists than female protagonists is market pressure. As you yourself pointed out, not everyone can drive the plot, so the character with the highest likelihood of retaining agency is the protagonists, and if the protagonists are most likely to be male, then we have our answer. The lack of agency isn't a sexist issue, it's an issue of protagonists being primarily male because companies believe that's what will sell best.

What might be a sexist issue, is whether the type of objectification female characters suffer is different than what male characters suffer. And it is, but that wasn't what this whole video or accompanying discussion was about.

Because you choose your role. You don't choose your gender.

I will just leave this here for the people that don't get it:

And this one from the Patriarchal Concentration Camp (The Kitchen of GWW):

And to the people quoting Moviebob, there is this one for you:

Politeia:

Izzyisme:
But I would argue, as I have several times before, that there is a difference between objectification of women and idealization of various traits.

Of course there is, Jim Sterling argued that very point. However, it's entirely possible for an idealized trait to be objectified. The distinction Sterling makes between objectified and idealized is arbitrary, male and female characters often fall into both at the same time. A young woman with her breasts hanging-out can be presented as the ideal woman to be as well as an object to have. This is the problem with making these sorts of distinctions, Jim Sterling doesn't get to tell people who they want have or who they want to be.

Izzyisme:
I think I understand what the key difference between us is, and correct me if I am wrong. I believe that agency is a positive trait overall. Human beings, at least in the modern day, put incredible value in the idea of autonomy and free will. It is considered by many to be an absolute good. Sexism is when men are expected to aspire to the traits that society deems the best, but women are expected to help men achieve these goals without achieving them themselves.

Agreed, except you're ignoring half the argument. Society is placing the burden of agency on men and if they choose to opt out society doesn't shrug your shoulders and say "your right as a human being" it comes up with nifty little words to shame them like panty-waist, sissy, faggot, pussy, bitch, coward, weakling, pansy, etc.

But that's not objectification. If you are given agency, you can choose how to act, even if some of your choices will be judged harshly by societal standards. But if you don't have agency, you don't even get to choose.

EDIT: To clarify, there is being told that you can choose but then having your choices limited, and then there is being told that you cannot choose.

Izzyisme:

Gorrath:

Izzyisme:

Then I fundamentally disagree with your definition of objectification. Objectification means that the person is rendered as simply an object to be used by someone else. Someone is defined not by what they can do or what they can achieve, but by what they can do for someone else. Objectification is not when an individual character is portrayed as such. After all, it's a work of fiction. Not every character can be driving the plot. The problem is when agency is removed by gender. That's the definition of sexism. Women are far more likely to lack agency than men are. Claiming that the portrayal of men as muscly and strong is unrealistic is perfectly true, but it isn't the same problem. The point is that when making a male character, it is possible that they will have agency and it is possible that they will not. For female characters, it is far rarer for them to have any agency, sexual or otherwise. So thus, objectification is a problem that disproportionately affects one gender, and so it is legitimate to wonder why women are objectified more than men.

Why is it only when agency is removed by gender? Why isn't it when agency is removed by role? Such as disposable hordes of men to be shot down, who have no other purpose, no characterization, no feelings, family ect. They exist solely as objects to be shot down in a gallery, whether the shooter be male or female. But again, this discussion wasn't about who objectification happens to more or less, it was about whether it could happen to male characters at all.

The reason why we have more male protagonists than female protagonists is market pressure. As you yourself pointed out, not everyone can drive the plot, so the character with the highest likelihood of retaining agency is the protagonists, and if the protagonists are most likely to be male, then we have our answer. The lack of agency isn't a sexist issue, it's an issue of protagonists being primarily male because companies believe that's what will sell best.

What might be a sexist issue, is whether the type of objectification female characters suffer is different than what male characters suffer. And it is, but that wasn't what this whole video or accompanying discussion was about.

Because you choose your role. You don't choose your gender.

But the role and gender of those hordes of disposable, objectified men aren't chosen by you, it is chosen by the developer, just like the role and gender of the female characters. Hell, most of the protagonists don't even let you choose their role. I'm honestly baffled by what you mean by this. I don't mean that in a mean way either, I promise. I like discussing this with you, you've been an amiable individual and you input in out discussion is valued, even if we don't agree.

FFP2:
Sales mean more than good characters to them and this whole "sexist" shit is the easiest way to do this. Macho men and women with big boobs are here to stay. They're trying to appeal to the biggest audience - men.

The horror!

Men aren't the biggest audience. Women actually outnumber men on this planet.

Moonlight Butterfly:

Raioken18:

B. I'd generally ignore something with a sexy man because I don't find that appealing. I'm not offended, I just choose to ignore it.

You can afford to do that because 90% of games don't sexualise men.

That's the problem. It's a matter of choice.

I don't think more than 20-30% of games sexualise women. If it were that wide spread then Jim wouldn't have used Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball for almost every single one of his clips.

The games being referenced in this topic don't account for a large part of the market, they are a minority. Now yes they are a larger minority than games that sexualise men, but it's hardly something unavoidable.

...unless you want a beach volleyball game, or a fighting game... Then you might be screwed.

In terms of the larger market, FPS, Racing, Indie, Western-RPG, Adventure and most MMO's don't overly sexualise their content.

Though if you had to speak to any of the dude-bros in FPS online games then I feel sorry for you, but that's not really the developers fault.

Izzyisme:

Sticky:

Moonlight Butterfly:
snip

Aha. Here is the issue. You seem to be implying that the only way that something can affect someone is if it is real. I would only think smoking is cool if I read a non-fiction work about a person who achieved great things while smoking. Often times, the opposite is true. What is more convincing and more moving is fiction. It is not as though you consciously say, "Oh. This work of non-fiction tells me that X is true. X must be true. But Y is fictional. So everything in Y is false." Fiction is grounded in reality. You don't say "In this work of fiction, gravity moves people to the center of the Earth, but it is fiction, so gravity must not exist." Obviously, this is an extreme case, but you get the point. Now the line between what aspects of fiction are grounded in reality and what aren't isn't so clear. So you agree that in this fictional world, saving lives is a heroic act. You agree with that. But in this fictional world, it is also true that women are sexual objects. You might say "Hmm. Women aren't like this in real life. This aspect of the work of fiction is untrue." Or, you might also say, "Wow, this fiction seems so real. The physics is just like in real life, and women are sex objects just like in our society." You clearly don't think about this consciously, but you do think about it. And if enough fiction has, as one of its non-fantastic aspects, a certain portrayal of women, it can and does affect you and how you think about women.

That's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying that harmful representations have to present themselves as real for it to be harmful. I firmly believe that people are capable of differentiating fantasy and reality. The problem comes in when media attempts to portray itself as real. Like it is something to emulate.

I can't say video games are guilty of that. Nothing is more absurdist than the entertainment medium we've created for ourselves where you can recover from a gunshot wound by sucking your thumb for a few seconds.

Just to be clear: It was never my argument that things that aren't real can't harm people, I even made that refutation initially when discussing media as a whole, my argument is that video games and several other kinds of media fall outside any realm of believability and therefore aren't capable of causing the drama people are spinning it to be.

Also I'm reasonably sure that no one in their right mind would ever assume video games to be "real". At least not in their current form. The closest I could ever find to anyone who thinks that way are people who play Train Simulator 2013, and I have faith that the objects of their affection falls squarely in the realm of trains.

Izzyisme:

OtherSideofSky:
I see several people in this discussion (possibly Jim included) who appear to view the presumption of agency as an absolute good. In a fictional setting, this may be true. A character expected to be powerful and in control of a situation generally can be, and the message that a person of a certain type has the potential to do great things does not appear harmful.

I would argue that this is not, however, the case in reality. Certainly, the expectation of agency can positively benefit an individual by rendering others likelier to view them as capable of certain tasks or eligible for certain positions, but this only holds true so long as the individual in question actually has some degree of agency in their situation. When the presumption of agency is applied to an individual who does not have agency in their situation, who may, in fact, need help, it has the effect of rendering others less likely to acknowledge their need or to provide them with assistance. The individual's inability to master the situation may be seen only as a failure to be mocked. Society may be unwilling to acknowledge the individual's vulnerability or victimization because that would go against its narrative of presumed agency. That is how the presumption of agency can be a harmful stereotype, and it does not take much effort to find places where this dynamic is at work in the world around us.

I think you might be confusing agency with self-reliance. Agency is simply the ability to affect the world. It isn't problem solving. Video game protagonists have agency by definition. If they didn't, then it would be a movie. Video game protagonists often need help. If men are often portrayed as being loners but having agency, then if women were portrayed as relying on others but also having agency, that would be less of a problem. But women in games often seem to lack agency entirely. They aren't simply reliant on other to achieve their goals, they have no goals to speak of. They often exist only to help the male protagonist achieve his goals. And this isn't always true of male who aren't protagonists in games.

No, I am not. I think you may me confusing the part of my post that was about real life, with the part that was about video games.

Leaving aside the question of whether or not the protagonist of a video game must have agency by definition, which I consider to be far from settled, my intention was to illustrate the way in which the assumption of agency may play out harmfully in real-world situations. I set out to do this because Jim seems skeptical of the idea in his video, and several people in this thread appear to be as well. Think of it as explaining one of the ways in which this particular 'idealization' can cause actual harm.

The way gender roles and gender stereotypes break down in the media, including in video games, generally results in men being attributed greater agency than women. Real men, as in 'men that actually exist,' do not always have agency in their situations. Sometimes, they are helpless victims. Sometimes, they need help. A narrative that attributes greater agency to men has a hard time dealing with that, and almost any man who has ever been victimized and sought help, whether from other individuals or from organized services, should be able to tell you what sort of reaction that dissonance produces. The flip-side of the 'strong man' ideal is the ridicule and denigration of the weak man, the vulnerable man, and all of us are vulnerable.

I am not arguing that this is a problem of objectification in media, because it isn't (although it often results in real-world denial of subjectivity). I am arguing that our society's 'idealized' image of men, or of what men should be, is deeply flawed, and that the ideas it expresses can have actual, destructive consequences for vulnerable individuals. This is not a counter-point to the video; it is an additional reason why gendered presentations as they currently exist are problematic and need to change.

yesbag:
Gender issues? On the Escapist? In Jimquisition specifically?
That could NEVER happen...

OP: Can we talk about ANYTHING other than gender issues. It's getting to be borderline obnoxious. Pick any other dead horse you like.

We need to make a randomized dead horse picker for topics in the escapist

amongst the topics we can have

gender issues
objectification
games should be art
on disc DLC
DRM is bad
is piracy OK?
Racism

and that's just for gaming

I would like to take this opportunity to admit wholeheartedly that I am an asshole. You've been saying it in a lot of your videos and I just didn't get the joke until now. This is me placing my humility on display...

Now that that's over with, on to address the meat and potatoes of what I've seen so far.

It seems to me a lot of people are falling into one of two categories. Either people are simply not getting the point or they refuse to accept the reality of what is in favor of maintaining the status quo.

Izzyisme:

Sticky:

Moonlight Butterfly:

Sometimes they really are harmful and exclusionary though.

Harmful to whom? Who are these mystical people who are harmed by video games?

Anybody who is influenced by them. Which is everybody, by the way. If you think that you are immune to being bombarded by specific portrayals of a particular gender by the media (which includes video games), you are deluding yourself.

People aren't stupid, then know when something is fiction.
Just look at any women you find walking on the street, or at a mall or whatever is all it takes to realize how little they resemble reality.

So anyway you have any evidence it causes negative effects?

JellySlimerMan:
And to the people quoting Moviebob, there is this one for you:

I've heard it said alot that Sarkeesian spammed 4chan with her video. Can anyone tell me if there is any actual evidence that this is what happened or are they simply claiming she did?

Gorrath:

Izzyisme:

Gorrath:

Why is it only when agency is removed by gender? Why isn't it when agency is removed by role? Such as disposable hordes of men to be shot down, who have no other purpose, no characterization, no feelings, family ect. They exist solely as objects to be shot down in a gallery, whether the shooter be male or female. But again, this discussion wasn't about who objectification happens to more or less, it was about whether it could happen to male characters at all.

The reason why we have more male protagonists than female protagonists is market pressure. As you yourself pointed out, not everyone can drive the plot, so the character with the highest likelihood of retaining agency is the protagonists, and if the protagonists are most likely to be male, then we have our answer. The lack of agency isn't a sexist issue, it's an issue of protagonists being primarily male because companies believe that's what will sell best.

What might be a sexist issue, is whether the type of objectification female characters suffer is different than what male characters suffer. And it is, but that wasn't what this whole video or accompanying discussion was about.

Because you choose your role. You don't choose your gender.

But the role and gender of those hordes of disposable, objectified men aren't chosen by you, it is chosen by the developer, just like the role and gender of the female characters. Hell, most of the protagonists don't even let you choose their role. I'm honestly baffled by what you mean by this. I don't mean that in a mean way either, I promise. I like discussing this with you, you've been an amiable individual and you input in out discussion is valued, even if we don't agree.

I mean in real life. You can, to some degree, choose your role in real life but not your gender. To me, these issues are important in their impact on the real world. So objectification of women is bad because women are real and are likely playing the game. So when a game portrays scientists as weak and not manly, this is a negative portrayal of scientists. But being a scientist is a choice. This is still bad, but not as bad as a blanket portrayal of women as a certain way.

One is stereotyping certain roles, but the other is limiting what roles women can have at all.

"All that and he didn't even need a kickstarter!" said a Facebooker. "Charles Froehler".
"Yeah, it can't be that he's already employed and gets paid to do this...." responded an AMAZING Facebooker. Ericorn Ernewein, totally a real name. I wish.

Ah, the curse of not really using Facebook. I guess I should be using Facebook to comment on this. I cannot be bothered to log in.

Well, there isn't much for me to say on the subject of what Jim has said. It is pretty much spot on and I agree. I'm sure I must save my energy for disagreeing with practically everyone in this thread.

There's a very big difference, between objectification, and idealization. Much of male characters in video games are designed explicitly to feel empowering for men. The majority of female characters in video games are not designed to be empowering for women. Certainly exceptions exist, but there is a trend.

I don't like it when, people take issue with the way women are portrayed in games, there is a quick retort by so many people that, if you are taking issue with this, why are you not taking issue with the way men are portrayed? And yet when one does take issue with the macho stereotypes so many men are portrayed as, many of these same people make complaints that you're being an unreasonable feminazi trying to steal away men's masculinity and oppress masculinity in general.

I am just fine making as much criticism with the way men are portrayed in video games. Unfortunately, that criticism draws just as much ire.

Aardvaarkman:

FFP2:
Sales mean more than good characters to them and this whole "sexist" shit is the easiest way to do this. Macho men and women with big boobs are here to stay. They're trying to appeal to the biggest audience - men.

The horror!

Men aren't the biggest audience. Women actually outnumber men on this planet.

Women do not traditionally buy these kinds of video games. That's where the argument comes into play in the first place. There is a great divide between people who play video games and the games that we are discussing are far outside the realm that any market research has ever indicated women may be interested in.

It's where a problem comes in of the self-feeding cycle, it makes no business sense to market toward women because they typically don't buy these games to begin with. And indeed they don't, most women on the internet have no interest in brawlers or fighting games or anything else for that matter.

But maybe that is a function of not being marketed to, like Jim says: How would they know, they've never tried! I'm not going to blame developers for not trying because they have it in good faith that marketing toward a demographic that doesn't exist won't work. I'm not going to blame players for enjoying things that are marketed toward them either.

If I'm going to blame anyone, it's going to be the developers who produce cookie-cutter character-less garbage and wonder aloud why women don't like their games.

I said most MMOs because while I had been playing WoW and I think it's fair in it's depiction of women, I had seen an advert for Scarlet Blade... I don't know what audience that game is aimed at... but it is still hardly every MMO.

Aardvaarkman:

FFP2:
Sales mean more than good characters to them and this whole "sexist" shit is the easiest way to do this. Macho men and women with big boobs are here to stay. They're trying to appeal to the biggest audience - men.

The horror!

Men aren't the biggest audience. Women actually outnumber men on this planet.

In terms of media sales? I think not!

Actually that was a misdirect, women but a lot of Dvds, usually romance or sci-fi. Doctor Who does it for the ladies.
The thing is those interests translate quite badly into the videogame industry (There is a Dr Who video game but it blows). But hopefully we might see more coming out now graphics have gotten a lot better.

I think a fantastic idea for a Good Doctor Who video game is to play as

and be lead through the universe by a crazed guide The Doctor. You'd often be left alone and clueless and have to solve unique puzzles to continue the storyline. I think it'd have the potential to be one of the best games of all time. Only have a unique storyline not related to the show, as I think following the televised storyline would stifle the thrill and adventure.

Izzyisme:
But that's not objectification. If you are given agency, you can choose how to act, even if some of your choices will be judged harshly by societal standards. But if you don't have agency, you don't even get to choose.

The definition of agency, as we're using it here, is "the capacity, condition, or state of acting or of exerting power". Having the capacity to exert power doesn't mean that you aren't acting as an agent for someone else. If we narrowly limit the definition of agency to choice then most male protagonists lack agency as well, Link for example.

Sticky:

Izzyisme:

Sticky:

Aha. Here is the issue. You seem to be implying that the only way that something can affect someone is if it is real. I would only think smoking is cool if I read a non-fiction work about a person who achieved great things while smoking. Often times, the opposite is true. What is more convincing and more moving is fiction. It is not as though you consciously say, "Oh. This work of non-fiction tells me that X is true. X must be true. But Y is fictional. So everything in Y is false." Fiction is grounded in reality. You don't say "In this work of fiction, gravity moves people to the center of the Earth, but it is fiction, so gravity must not exist." Obviously, this is an extreme case, but you get the point. Now the line between what aspects of fiction are grounded in reality and what aren't isn't so clear. So you agree that in this fictional world, saving lives is a heroic act. You agree with that. But in this fictional world, it is also true that women are sexual objects. You might say "Hmm. Women aren't like this in real life. This aspect of the work of fiction is untrue." Or, you might also say, "Wow, this fiction seems so real. The physics is just like in real life, and women are sex objects just like in our society." You clearly don't think about this consciously, but you do think about it. And if enough fiction has, as one of its non-fantastic aspects, a certain portrayal of women, it can and does affect you and how you think about women.

That's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying that harmful representations have to present themselves as real for it to be harmful. I firmly believe that people are capable of differentiating fantasy and reality. The problem comes in when media attempts to portray itself as real. Like it is something to emulate.

I can't say video games are guilty of that. Nothing is more absurdist than the entertainment medium we've created for ourselves where you can recover from a gunshot wound by sucking your thumb for a few seconds.

Just to be clear: It was never my argument that things that aren't real can't harm people, I even made that refutation initially when discussing media as a whole, my argument is that video games and several other kinds of media fall outside any realm of believability and therefore aren't capable of causing the drama people are spinning it to be.

Also I'm reasonably sure that no one in their right mind would ever assume video games to be "real". At least not in their current form. The closest I could ever find to anyone who thinks that way are people who play Train Simulator 2013, and I have faith that the objects of their affection falls squarely in the realm of trains.

Let me just reiterate my previous post. People know fantasy from reality. People know, when they read Harry Potter, that magic isn't real. But fiction is supposed to reflect something true about the real world. If it didn't, then nobody would enjoy it. It is grounded in reality, or else we would have no way to connect to it. The characters feel emotions that we feel, and the societies often function like our society, or are supposed to evoke aspects of our society. So when a movie portrays Bruce Willis gunning down several thieves in an office building, we know it is a fantasy, but we enjoy it. We think it's cool. It is cool because they are the bad guys and Bruce Willis is saving the day.

But what about things that aren't true or false. Fiction, including video games, as prescriptive as well descriptive statements. The hero is someone who never gives up. Is that true or false? Should we connect with that emotionally, or not? Suddenly, it becomes unclear. People can derive very different messages from fiction. Did Fight Club convince you that nihilism is awesome and punching people in the face is masculine, or that it is pointless and you need to grow up.

tl;dr That was a bit pretentious, but my point is that fiction relies on us believing certain things about how world works for us to enjoy it. If those assumptions it demands are harmful, it could have a harmful impact.

Moonlight Butterfly:

Raioken18:

B. I'd generally ignore something with a sexy man because I don't find that appealing. I'm not offended, I just choose to ignore it.

You can afford to do that because 90% of games don't sexualise men.

That's the problem. It's a matter of choice.

And there are tons of games that don't sexualize women.

Ever notice that whenever this discussion pops up it's always centered on dead or alive beach volleyball? That game is over a decade old! Fighting games aside (and even they're not all sexualized) there's really not a ton of modern hardcore games with women that are only sexy eye candy.

Father Time:

yesbag:
Gender issues? On the Escapist? In Jimquisition specifically?
That could NEVER happen...

OP: Can we talk about ANYTHING other than gender issues. It's getting to be borderline obnoxious. Pick any other dead horse you like.

We need to make a randomized dead horse picker for topics in the escapist

amongst the topics we can have

gender issues
objectification
games should be art
on disc DLC
DRM is bad
is piracy OK?
Racism

and that's just for gaming

"Flogging a dead horse (alternatively beating a dead horse, or beating a dead dog in some parts of the Anglophone world) is an idiom that means a particular request or line of conversation is already foreclosed or otherwise resolved, and any attempt to continue it is futile; or that to continue in any endeavour (physical, mental, etc.) is a waste of time as the outcome is already decided."--Wiki Definition

Whew! Good to know those are all resolved and done with. Can ya tell me how they turned out? I haven't seen a satisfactory measure of closure on any for some bizarre reason.
.
.
.
.
(Reality check: let's see what gets the most page hits. There's your Escapist Article picker, right there)

All praise Jim, for he has devoured the FSM and taken his power!

Fiairflair:

Mosley_Harmless:
As far as I'm concerned, videogames exist to provide a virtual fantasy world. Don't get upset because you don't belong in the target audience of the person providing the fantasy. As for sexual objectification, Roger Ebert sums it up pretty well in his "Hugh Hefner has been good for us" article:

"Nobody taught me to regard women as sex objects. I always did. Most men do. And truth to tell, most women regard men as sex objects. We regard many other aspects of another person, but sex is the elephant in the room. Evolution has hard-wired us that way. When we meet a new person, in some small recess of our minds we evaluate that person as a sex partner. We don't act on it, we don't dwell on it, but we do it. You know we do. And this process continues bravely until we are old and feeble."

Now please, stop being so goddamn sensitive.

Roger Ebert's confusion of sexuality, sexualisation and objectification offer no justification for telling people to stop objecting to things that matter.

Why do these things matter?

AFAIK they don't cause any demonstrable harm, and they can be ignored.

Politeia:

Izzyisme:
But that's not objectification. If you are given agency, you can choose how to act, even if some of your choices will be judged harshly by societal standards. But if you don't have agency, you don't even get to choose.

The definition of agency, as we're using it here, is "the capacity, condition, or state of acting or of exerting power". Having the capacity to exert power doesn't mean that you aren't acting as an agent for someone else. If we narrowly limit the definition of agency to choice then most male protagonists lack agency as well, Link for example.

I'm sorry I didn't make this clear, but I didn't mean just narratively. I mean what the player experiences as well. The player controls Link, and the player defeats the monsters and saves the Kingdom (and the Princess). On a narrative level, obviously it is more complex. But Link has agency experientially. But how does the player experience men and women differently in games? That is the key question, and it involves both player experience and portrayal in the narrative. More often than not, men are the protagonists and they seem to have agency because we control them and we feel, if the game is good, that our actions are causing whatever is happening on the screen to happen. Female characters are far less likely to be protagonists. How about characters who we do not control? Then on a narrative level, the question is how much power they exert. If women in games are limited to only expressing sexual power, which is not really power at all in most games because of the lack of sexual agency, then that is objectification. Women exist to express sexuality alone, and it is not a sexuality they have control over. But men can express agency in sorts of ways.

Look, if agency means free will, then maybe nobody has agency because it's possible that nobody has free will. But how does that character feel in the narrative? Sometimes the two contradict each other, like in Metal Gear Solid. It is a brilliant commentary on this distinction, because the player feels like Snake is cool and in control. You experience a character with agency, but the narrative reveals that he has no power. It still feels pretty cool to play as Snake, and the same isn't as often true with female characters.

Politeia:

JellySlimerMan:
And to the people quoting Moviebob, there is this one for you:

I've heard it said alot that Sarkeesian spammed 4chan with her video. Can anyone tell me if there is any actual evidence that this is what happened or are they simply claiming she did?

There's screenshots of someone claiming to be from Sark's side spamming 4chan with links to the video (it's the same message copy pasted with different times stamps and everything).

Thing is though the way 4chan works it's really not difficult to pretend to be her when you're not.

Someone claimed the posts had a picture you couldn't get anywhere else but those claims are kinda lofty.

Izzyisme:

Sticky:

Izzyisme:

snip

That's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying that harmful representations have to present themselves as real for it to be harmful. I firmly believe that people are capable of differentiating fantasy and reality. The problem comes in when media attempts to portray itself as real. Like it is something to emulate.

I can't say video games are guilty of that. Nothing is more absurdist than the entertainment medium we've created for ourselves where you can recover from a gunshot wound by sucking your thumb for a few seconds.

Just to be clear: It was never my argument that things that aren't real can't harm people, I even made that refutation initially when discussing media as a whole, my argument is that video games and several other kinds of media fall outside any realm of believability and therefore aren't capable of causing the drama people are spinning it to be.

Also I'm reasonably sure that no one in their right mind would ever assume video games to be "real". At least not in their current form. The closest I could ever find to anyone who thinks that way are people who play Train Simulator 2013, and I have faith that the objects of their affection falls squarely in the realm of trains.

Let me just reiterate my previous post. People know fantasy from reality. People know, when they read Harry Potter, that magic isn't real. But fiction is supposed to reflect something true about the real world. If it didn't, then nobody would enjoy it. It is grounded in reality, or else we would have no way to connect to it. The characters feel emotions that we feel, and the societies often function like our society, or are supposed to evoke aspects of our society. So when a movie portrays Bruce Willis gunning down several thieves in an office building, we know it is a fantasy, but we enjoy it. We think it's cool. It is cool because they are the bad guys and Bruce Willis is saving the day.

But what about things that aren't true or false. Fiction, including video games, as prescriptive as well descriptive statements. The hero is someone who never gives up. Is that true or false? Should we connect with that emotionally, or not? Suddenly, it becomes unclear. People can derive very different messages from fiction. Did Fight Club convince you that nihilism is awesome and punching people in the face is masculine, or that it is pointless and you need to grow up.

tl;dr That was a bit pretentious, but my point is that fiction relies on us believing certain things about how world works for us to enjoy it. If those assumptions it demands are harmful, it could have a harmful impact.

And I can't agree with that sentiment when it comes to video games. I can't say that video games in particular could have any harmful impact to the person playing them. They are merely a function of imagination.

If we're going to argue 'coulds' and 'shoulds' then we should be instead arguing if video games can affect the person playing them. Most studies disagree with you when it is shed in that light.

I also highly contest the 'could' in that previous statement, for that to be proven, it would seem to me that there must be a conclusive link between video games and behavior of any kind.

It goes back to the argument that used to plague the internet in the late 90's: Are video games really harmful to people? Now, just as then, I say no. Science is still conflicted on the matter, but promising research has agreed with my stance. So I have stuck by it.

I also can't say that I disagree with Jack Thompson or fundie Christians and make that claim that video games have any kind of adverse effect on people. And I can't see how you can make that claim either.

Sticky:

Izzyisme:

Sticky:

That's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying that harmful representations have to present themselves as real for it to be harmful. I firmly believe that people are capable of differentiating fantasy and reality. The problem comes in when media attempts to portray itself as real. Like it is something to emulate.

I can't say video games are guilty of that. Nothing is more absurdist than the entertainment medium we've created for ourselves where you can recover from a gunshot wound by sucking your thumb for a few seconds.

Just to be clear: It was never my argument that things that aren't real can't harm people, I even made that refutation initially when discussing media as a whole, my argument is that video games and several other kinds of media fall outside any realm of believability and therefore aren't capable of causing the drama people are spinning it to be.

Also I'm reasonably sure that no one in their right mind would ever assume video games to be "real". At least not in their current form. The closest I could ever find to anyone who thinks that way are people who play Train Simulator 2013, and I have faith that the objects of their affection falls squarely in the realm of trains.

Let me just reiterate my previous post. People know fantasy from reality. People know, when they read Harry Potter, that magic isn't real. But fiction is supposed to reflect something true about the real world. If it didn't, then nobody would enjoy it. It is grounded in reality, or else we would have no way to connect to it. The characters feel emotions that we feel, and the societies often function like our society, or are supposed to evoke aspects of our society. So when a movie portrays Bruce Willis gunning down several thieves in an office building, we know it is a fantasy, but we enjoy it. We think it's cool. It is cool because they are the bad guys and Bruce Willis is saving the day.

But what about things that aren't true or false. Fiction, including video games, as prescriptive as well descriptive statements. The hero is someone who never gives up. Is that true or false? Should we connect with that emotionally, or not? Suddenly, it becomes unclear. People can derive very different messages from fiction. Did Fight Club convince you that nihilism is awesome and punching people in the face is masculine, or that it is pointless and you need to grow up.

tl;dr That was a bit pretentious, but my point is that fiction relies on us believing certain things about how world works for us to enjoy it. If those assumptions it demands are harmful, it could have a harmful impact.

And I can't agree with that sentiment when it comes to video games. I can't say that video games in particular could have any harmful impact to the person playing them. They are merely a function of imagination.

If we're going to argue 'coulds' and 'shoulds' then we should be instead arguing if video games can affect the person playing them. Most studies disagree with you when it is shed in that light.

I also highly contest the 'could' in that previous statement, for that to be proven, it would seem to me that there must be a conclusive link between video games and behavior of any kind.

It goes back to the argument that used to plague the internet in the late 90's: Are video games really harmful to people? Now, just as then, I say no. Science is still conflicted on the matter, but promising research has agreed with my stance. So I have stuck by it.

I also can't say that I disagree with Jack Thompson or fundie Christians and make that claim that video games have any kind of adverse effect on people. And I can't see how you can make that claim either.

Edit: Changed it because a claim I made was unsubstantiated.
I'm not talking about video games causing people to take a certain action. I'm talking about video games and other fiction helping to mold attitudes. I don't think video games can cause people to do something terrible. But like any kind of fiction, I definitely think they can affect your attitudes towards things.

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