Jimquisition: Objectification And... Men?

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Izzyisme:
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).

Given that the problem with male/female representation in games is a narrative issue that makes the agency of the player an irrelevant point. I'm ignoring the rest of this, I don't mean to sound rude but it doesn't have a flying fig to do with anything I've said.

It took me a very very long time to learn to accept & live with the way women are portrayed in comic books & games & anime. Now I can play Mortal Kombat 2011, feel a bit of breast envy, & simultaneously resent how none of the men are remotely attractive & pity them for having to wear so much clothing.

So now that I've learned to live with & even love these asskicking strippers, I just want to objectify men equally. I absolutely agree that male characters are made to appeal to straight men, because even though I can't speak for all women, I can tell you that this woman has never seen an attractive male character in a non asian game.

But there are some changes I'd like to see on the women's side. I want the woman to save the men. I want the woman to hit on the men, more bitchy snarky tsunderes, more whip-cracking dominatrixes, more tomboys who aren't interested in romance, more female villains. As for Eastern games/anime/manga...Their women have become annoyingly weak, have annoyingly childish voices, & need to wear pants, even if they're skin-tight....It wasn't that way in the 80s, at least not in Japan.

Politeia:

Izzyisme:
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).

Given that the problem with male/female representation in games is a narrative issue that makes the agency of the player an irrelevant point. I'm ignoring the rest of this, I don't mean to sound rude but it doesn't have a flying fig to do with anything I've said.

No, I think it does have a lot to do with it. Sorry you ignored it. I think it's important for understanding objectification. I think the player experience is actually deeply connected to the narrative. The back story can tell you that Link is a toy of fate, but the experience of cutting down Moblins and collecting Rupees is very different and seems to show real agency. You can disagree if you want. But when you play as Link, do you feel helpless?

TheThirdChild:
For the 'smug' bit you could have just put up a flashing sign saying "satire". Maybe then people would connect the dots, or learn a new word...
Has anyone ever ask female players what they'd like their female (and male) characters to look and act like?

Oooh! Ooooooooh! Can I say what I want my female characters to look and act like? I'm gonna!

I want a female character who wears practical armor. Nothing with slots for boobs or any crap like that. I want them to be a hero, to be able to kick ass, but also be feminine when she feels like it. Like, Veronica from Fallout:New Vegas. A personality like that!

Izzyisme:
No, I think it does have a lot to do with it. Sorry you ignored it. I think it's important for understanding objectification. I think the player experience is actually deeply connected to the narrative. The back story can tell you that Link is a toy of fate, but the experience of cutting down Moblins and collecting Rupees is very different and seems to show real agency. You can disagree if you want. But when you play as Link, do you feel helpless?

Once again, the issue of how the characters are portrayed, how they are presented to you, is an issue of narrative and not mechanics. No, you do not feel as if you're a plaything of fate when you control Link. You would not feel as if you were a damsel in distress if you were controlling Zelda either, especially if you have a halfway competent design team. It is an irrelevant, and silly, point.

Politeia:

Izzyisme:
No, I think it does have a lot to do with it. Sorry you ignored it. I think it's important for understanding objectification. I think the player experience is actually deeply connected to the narrative. The back story can tell you that Link is a toy of fate, but the experience of cutting down Moblins and collecting Rupees is very different and seems to show real agency. You can disagree if you want. But when you play as Link, do you feel helpless?

Once again, the issue of how the characters are portrayed, how they are presented to you, is an issue of narrative and not mechanics. No, you do not feel as if you're a plaything of fate when you control Link. You would not feel as if you were a damsel in distress if you were controlling Zelda either, especially if you have a halfway competent design team. It is an irrelevant, and silly, point.

Right, but do you get to control Zelda? Other than in those Phillips CDi games or in Super Smash Bros.

Izzyisme:
Right, but do you get to control Zelda? Other than in those Phillips CDi games or in Super Smash Bros.

Yes, you do. For that matter, in narrative terms Zelda has demonstrated that she has agency several times. In Ocarina of Time she spent most of the game maneuvering in the shadows, working against Gannondorf. She's the friggin' leader of the Sages and the embodiment of wisdom for god's sake.

Jimothy Sterling:
Your use of forward slashes has totally changed my way of doing things. I'll do a top ten gaming babes next week.

Wooo~! Lookin' forward to it!

In all seriousness, I do have to agree. We are idealized in games, but personally I would like to see some of that for women too. Not that settling down on one generalized thought of what men and women are 'supposed' to be is a good thing, but simply because it would open things to wider audiences and give us broader viewpoints to see and play games from.

I like the option to play as a female protagonist. I like the option for her to be strong and brave and capable. I like the ability to romance other people from her point of view. These things are not bad or negative, but I suppose that coming from a roleplayer's point of view, they only make sense.

Good video.

likalaruku:
It took me a very very long time to learn to accept & live with the way women are portrayed in comic books & games & anime. Now I can play Mortal Kombat 2011, feel a bit of breast envy, & simultaneously resent how none of the men are remotely attractive & pity them for having to wear so much clothing.

So now that I've learned to live with & even love these asskicking strippers, I just want to objectify men equally. I absolutely agree that male characters are made to appeal to straight men, because even though I can't speak for all women, I can tell you that this woman has never seen an attractive male character in a non asian game.

But I thought bald was beautiful.

I'm curious though what do you consider attractive in a man? Maybe I know a game that has an attractive man.

Also Ivy from Soul Calibur counts as a dominatrix, seriously she has a whip and her throws look like something from S and M, depending on what game you're playing.

Remember when video games were about being fun? Lets get back to that instead of seeing who can protect females most over gender issues. We know what the internet is, we know know people suck but we don't need people throwing themselves in front of us everytime someone makes a gender crack.

5 people don't make rant videos and put them on youtube for jim everytime someone says something bad about his show.

Thinking you need to protect coddle and whatnot everyone when someone makes a gender crack is just as demoralizing if not more so then the crack itself when they are spewed just as much as all the other usuals like race, sexuality, age and anything else idiots on the internet can make up.

And while men might not be objectified in video games, 50 shades of grey is one of the best selling books with adult female readers. There is plenty in there.

Let us deal with the wraith and stupidity of the internet the same way anyone else would.

TAdamson:

Spearmaster:
snip

snip

These are actually interesting points.

1st point: I really don't think the exclusion argument works because
1-Nobody is being excluded from buying or playing anything.
2-Nobody is being actively excluded, game creators/developers are not creating games with a "we don't want women to play this game" mind set.
3-Im pretty sure sales demographics are what drives the pandering of AAA titles.
4-These types of game are not "the only thing provided" but there are very very few other options.

2nd point: I did not use the term entitled to dismiss an opinion, is not the point of all these discussions to say that people are or should be entitled to stronger female characters? If they feel they are not entitled then there is no problem. If someone says someone should provide them with something then that is entitlement. "They need to provide us with better female characters" = "We are entitled to better female characters" There is nothing wrong with that IMO but economics will trump it every time, so until it is financially beneficial for a private company to provide it, its probably not gonna happen. I do feel there is a huge untapped market there for the right company that knows what they are doing.

3rd point: Even if artistic design is being trampled over as you say it is, does that give justification to trample it even further? If a developer/publisher tells an artist to change a character design its probably more contractual than anything, it all depends on who has creative control of an intellectual property. The only way for a consumer to have any say is through free market economics and I fully support that.

Smilomaniac:
I very much feel that when I'm forced to play a male character that I don't sympathize with, such as Booker Dewitt from Bioshock Infinite, I'm shoved into a typical male role.
I very much feel objectified as a soldier who's there to do all the work, do all the thinking and take responsibility for everything. Without getting the chance to decide anything for myself.

That seems rather contradictory. If you have to do "all the thinking" then how is it that you don't get to make any decisions? Thinking is about making decisions.

Anyway, in Bioshock Infinite, it's Elizabeth who does most of the thinking, deciding and taking of responsibility, not Booker. Booker is is essentially on a linear path decided by Rosalind Lutece and Elizabeth, the key protagonists of the game.

Politeia:

Izzyisme:
Right, but do you get to control Zelda? Other than in those Phillips CDi games or in Super Smash Bros.

Yes, you do. For that matter, in narrative terms Zelda has demonstrated that she has agency several times. In Ocarina of Time she spent most of the game maneuvering in the shadows, working against Gannondorf. She's the friggin' leader of the Sages and the embodiment of wisdom for god's sake.

Well yeah, but only by becoming a man (if you interpret Sheik as male, which I know is disputed) or by being trapped in a suit of armor. And I think Spirit Track to some degree is an improvement over her role in other games. But the specifics don't matter. I feel like we got off topic. The key argument here was whether or not the lack of female protagonists and their role in game stories confers a lack of agency and thus objectification in a way that it doesn't for men. We've been arguing particulars of definitions of agency, but I think that doesn't matter so much. What was the key disagreement between us, again?

I'm sorry but this argument is utter bullshit.

The usual argument as to why there "should be less idealized/sexualized women in video games" is that it makes women feel bad about themselves because they don't live up to those standards and it "teaches men to regard them as sex objects" or something along those lines.

How does the reverse not apply then? Why are men suddenly supposed to feel good about every game displaying idealized versions of their body? Don't you think they could feel just as bad and inferior in the wake of these displays of perfection that women are suddenly taught what men are supposed to be like? e.g. muscular, perfect fit condition, intelligent
Wouldn't it be easier/a better plan if every main character in video games and possibly movies would be fat neckbeards instead, so women lower their standards and start accepting inferior specimen over time?
How are men supposed to live up to those role models that they are taught to be more like?

This is an obvious double standard for everyone not clouded by the stink of feminism and there's no arguing around it.

And don't bullshit about women not being mainly interested in looks and "attractive guys", I've seen plenty of them adorning the arms of your typical muscle mountain at your local gym and there's simple tests everyone could do from the safety of their very own home to verify the validity of that, e.g. observe this:

By the way, this was a cute short movie about a guy being "objectified". xD

Leaving that all aside, someone still has to tell me where all those games with "objectified women" that everyone is talking about actually are that I brought up in the last of these threads:

defskyoen:
I utterly despise this argument, since I don't know where you people seem to be getting your numbers from, this is being stated over and over again as if it was some sort of undisputable fact/truth. (including in the preceeding video) It is also utterly ignoring the Social/Mobile/Casual market when doing such.

But even in the "main market", I just went through the last 100 Steam releases over the past few weeks and even went ahead and marked the games where you might have a point of starting some sort of discussion over it. (Leaving aside that nobody has to agree with said points and even among women there are those with a different taste, who very much enjoy games like these):
image
image

One is a game that has been dragged through the mud for daring to offer a bloodied torso in an optional Collector's Edition of the game for certain regions and has some ladies in bikinis in it: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/04/25/the-silence-deep-silver-hiding-from-torsogate/
Another is a Re-Release of a game from 1996.
And the third is a Re-Release of an MMORPG from 2008 about effing Conan.

Is 3/100 (including two older games) some sort of horrible ratio, where everyone has to go up in flames worrying about the evils in the industry subjugating women? And if there are so many of these games out there, why is it that almost every example seems to involve Dead or Alive: Beach Volleyball or Soul Calibur in some way or other similar games from years ago?

Where are these utterly large amounts of games with boobs in them "only appealing to a certain audience" that are supposedly dominating the market and alienating everyone else you people keep bringing up hiding? I'd like to try and see some of them and possibly throw some of my money at them.
I've already played Age of Conan years ago, have had my fill of Duke Nukem 3D and played Dead Island through with 3 other people in CoOP, although I heard Riptide is even worse.

This is some sort of insidious accusation that seems to pop up over and over again, but doesn't really seem to have any basis in reality aside from every time a game *daring* to have some sort of cleavage or sexuality in it, there being another great media shitstorm (which I'm hoping is only leading to more game sales in return)...

It's also always easy to harp on against huge bodies/amorphous blobs of people like the "game industry" or "movie industry" or "music industry" to try and make some sort of abstract point since there isn't exactly anyone speaking for the whole of these industries that can defend them and you could basically be speaking about everyone or noone by talking about this ominous "game industry".

Now compare that with some of the newest movies in theater that try to sell over sexual appeal: http://www.moviefone.com/new-movie-releases (even from the movie posters alone) or some of the newest TV series with lots of sex scenes in them, and someone fucking explain to me how this is some sort of "huge problem in the gaming industry" that these sensationalist rags make it out to be in order to get their precious hits?

Jim somehow still seems to be relying on a game that came out in 2003, mere 10 years ago to somehow demonstrate this industry-wide epidemic that I can't seem to be able to find any sign of whatsoever. You'd think he'd have some more and various recent examples.

Anyone else feeling a disconnect when Jim is saying that publishers think that males wouldn't want to play as women while, followed by footage of a DoA game where the only playable characters are female?

Anyway I went into this episode thinking I was going to disagree but I came away pretty convinced. Though someone had already posted 10+ pages before that you rarely find anything but "pretty" girls in leading roles in... well... everything. Even if they're "ugly" in a book you can be sure that in a movie adaptation they'll be pretty. So while videogames CAN be the first ones to do it, it's probably not going to happen and they're can't shoulder all the blame.

Anyway it's happened once, at least in my opinion.

grumpymooselion:
Good points Jim, but, perhaps you've forgotten - there are male characters made for a female audience.

Male characters made for specifically a female audience, usually a teen female audience, over in Japan. They're those effeminate pretty boys so much of the western male audience seems to hate. So, oddly enough, when male characters are made specially 'for women' the reaction is about what the female reaction is to female characters made to appeal to men.

Personally I always rather liked the prettier eastern male characters, if for no other reason that they were a breath of fresh air, an escape, from the constant barrage of overly muscled, overly masculine and utterly nonsensical male characters of western games.

They're not really "objectified" though. With JRPGs a lot of the more good looking leads will have legions of female fans, but obviously they're not reduced their appearance only. Even in an otome game, the general setup is that the guys are fighting over the player. The female lead is the one getting hit on rather than trying to obtain a guy. That said, in the reverse scenario of a galge, the female characters are pretty fleshed out as well (it's a "game" where all you do is read text while looking at stills after all, so they have to be).

Maybe it's just inherent differences in tastes. Maybe men in general are more easily satisfied by just physical appearances (in general, so one feel the need to respond by saying you're more of a personality man), while women want the total package.

Legion:
You know why homosexuality is starting to become accepted in Western society more and more? It's not because gay, lesbian and bisexual people bitched and moaned, and called people homophobes...

Actually, a large part of the reason is exactly that. Gays and lesbians bitched and moaned something fierce, enough to result in events such as Stonewall. And it got results.

... it's because they led by example and showed people that there is no difference between love between two people of the opposite sex and the same sex beyond the physical.

No, it wasn't. Is revising history a hobby of yours or something?

The suffragettes didn't bitch and moan that the patriarchy was keeping them down, while accusing men of being the problem.

Yes, they did.

Sitting on forums such as these and complaining isn't helping anybody. It's not raising awareness, and it's not making people change their mind.

Yes, it is.

By your logic, the Suffragettes shouldn't have raised a fuss. Those who opposed slavery and racism shouldn't have gotten all uppity and spoken out, they should have just shut up and lived quiet decent lives as a "good example" to the racists who ran society.

The internet is the modern-day public square. Going out into a physical public square in your city is much less likely to effect change than posting online.

Imp Emissary:

Spearmaster:
snip

Anyway, I think the reason no one talks about a solution is because we all kind of "know" what it is.

We just have to ask/demand more diversity in game characters. Whether or not the developers/publishers listen is another thing. After all like we found out with The Last of Us, they seem to not want to even bring women in to test the game, so I guess all we can do with others is keep asking, or be louder.

Then, all we must do is buy the games with characters that we find to be more diverse(in this particular case, women who aren't made to be overly "sexy"), and maybe tell them why we bought the game with a short email. We can still buy games that don't of course. Heck, buy Dragon's Crown and you can do both. It has some over sexualized female characters, as well as some that aren't like the elf archer.

Also, while people are not being hurt physically, or insulted directly by the overuse of some characters in games. It is making some feel bad, or uncomfortable.

I agree with you, I do wish people did not feel so bad or were less uncomfortable with games but sadly I believe it is impossible to make the perfect game that nobody will have a problem with...well maybe tetris. Maybe rather than trying to white wash every game we need to split games into even more diverse genres and try to see that each genre has an equal representation. This is very hard with AAA titles because publishers only make a game AAA to try and drive sales for that title as high as they can go and that seems to involve heavy pandering to the teenage male heterosexual demographic.
Honestly I blame Developers/Publishers not so much for poor female or no female character design but for chasing the AAA game unicorn around and only having 1-2 AAA games every 1-2 years when they could be making several more diverse games where more diverse groups could be represented. When a company's IP catalog consists of 2-4 AAA IPs it severely lessens the chances that any of those games will pander to anything but their core demographic. I figure that a company with 5-10 more diverse non AAA IPs would see bigger profits and a broader more diverse fan base and could even see some gamers intermingling between IPs that they normally wouldn't play.

Aardvaarkman:

Legion:
You know why homosexuality is starting to become accepted in Western society more and more? It's not because gay, lesbian and bisexual people bitched and moaned, and called people homophobes...

Actually, a large part of the reason is exactly that. Gays and lesbians bitched and moaned something fierce, enough to result in events such as Stonewall. And it got results.

... it's because they led by example and showed people that there is no difference between love between two people of the opposite sex and the same sex beyond the physical.

No, it wasn't. Is revising history a hobby of yours or something?

The suffragettes didn't bitch and moan that the patriarchy was keeping them down, while accusing men of being the problem.

Yes, they did.

Sitting on forums such as these and complaining isn't helping anybody. It's not raising awareness, and it's not making people change their mind.

Yes, it is.

By your logic, the Suffragettes shouldn't have raised a fuss. Those who opposed slavery and racism shouldn't have gotten all uppity and spoken out, they should have just shut up and lived quiet decent lives as a "good example" to the racists who ran society.

The internet is the modern-day public square. Going out into a physical public square in your city is much less likely to effect change than posting online.

I somehow thing you are overexaggerating the problem if you just compared skimpy armor in a digital medium to slavery.

As for homosexuality being more accepted in society, it is, but like video games you need to be selective as to where you go. Like you aren't going to go to a Biker Bar and hit on the first guy you see in leather, it's likely to see you killed. You can choose to play games without sexualized characters, or you can play DoA (anything) then complain about hot it offended you. No one is holding a gun to your head, and there are special Biker Bars where you can go if you are homosexual but you should definitely stay away from the others.

Aardvaarkman:

Smilomaniac:
I very much feel that when I'm forced to play a male character that I don't sympathize with, such as Booker Dewitt from Bioshock Infinite, I'm shoved into a typical male role.
I very much feel objectified as a soldier who's there to do all the work, do all the thinking and take responsibility for everything. Without getting the chance to decide anything for myself.

That seems rather contradictory. If you have to do "all the thinking" then how is it that you don't get to make any decisions? Thinking is about making decisions.

Anyway, in Bioshock Infinite, it's Elizabeth who does most of the thinking, deciding and taking of responsibility, not Booker. Booker is is essentially on a linear path decided by Rosalind Lutece and Elizabeth, the key protagonists of the game.

Booker does the thinking, *I* don't get choices, in regards to the narrative. That's what I meant.

I'm really confused as to why there is such a big fuss over this episode. Jim's making a logical argument to a common counterargument people make against recognizing and addressing female objectification in games. Who cares if other people have said the same thing? I'm glad he is adding his voice and maybe reaching some people in his audience who haven't come across this idea yet. Even with the counter examples of objectified male characters or idealized female characters, the general trend is still obvious.

As to the Jimquisition persona, I find it annoying but it's becoming less so every time I watch. In fact, I refused to watch at first because I thought he was just another internet blowhard. However, I've been pleasantly surprised by his choice of subject matter. He's still a blowhard, but I think I kind of get why he frames his show like that.

Okay, I started out this debate with general sarcasm, but I'll throw my honest opinion into the void for what it's worth. The way women are written is wrong the way they are portrayed as wrong.... Wait, hear me out, I'm not as one sided as this sounds. The reason they are this way is because of bad writing and more to the point because of bad writing by predominately males. Again hear me out.

It is a well know fact for anybody that studies literature that men write women more poorly then women write men. This is obviously a generalization anyone who is a fan of Joss Whedon could easily point this out (controversy, controversy, whatever your opinion he writes women well), but when story is so lowly prioritized the general and the poorly skilled are brought in, and what we get are basically what unskilled hacks are able to cobble together about women as they picture them in their minds as the ideal. There isn't something malicious about this - at least for the most part- they are literally writing the most engaging female they can picture the problem is it's a fairly limited and more evolutionary driven picture then what meets reality.

This is the problem. You want to know how to fix it? Simple, hire better writers for games and get more women involved (no don't hire unskilled women because they are women just don't hire men because they are men and encourage women into the profession. With character comes everything. It becomes harder to justify sexy poses and models for characters who do not match. Give a character a strong enough image and they can only be portrayed one way. More importantly people enjoy these more well rounded characters the the bits of titillation that's given now - at least most of the time, sex will always be a focus of both sexes. Still female actions can be meaningful if given enough reason to care.

I think Brienne from game of thrones is the starkest (excuse the unintentional pun) example of this. The problem is female characters that guys who are poor writers try to make "true to females" come off as insufferably whiny and fixated on solely female attributes instead of have their gender colour who they are in a broader sense. This is the problem though and why guys get off easier because bad male writers are at least able to somewhat understand what guys want and make them more then just eye candy. When it comes to females they just fall flat and that will never change without an increase in skill or a change of perspective.

Raioken18:
I somehow thing you are overexaggerating the problem if you just compared skimpy armor in a digital medium to slavery.

When did I do that?

I was simply commenting on your interpretation of how various civil rights movements played out. Which was mostly inaccurate. You were the one who brought up such movements in relation to the videogame discussion, not me. I never mentioned skimpy armour at all. You directly stated that gay rights did not progress by people bitching and complaining. I simply disagreed with that specific comment.

Do you not consider gay rights and feminism on par with other civil rights?

None of the progress that has been made in these areas came about by people just shutting up and letting the majority put them in their place. They were hard-fought battles.

Smilomaniac:
Booker does the thinking, *I* don't get choices, in regards to the narrative. That's what I meant.

Booker doesn't do any thinking in the Bioshock Infinite story. He's basically a simpleton who is subject to fate.

I think the main issue here is that gaming is going through some growing pains as a medium. It'll get there in time, but ultimately you have to not ascribe some kind of malicious intent to every incidence of a character being overly sexualized. Sexuality exists and the vast majority of human beings are programmed to be interested in it too a pretty high degree. Biological imperatives and all that. So expect art to reflect that, in curvacious scantily clad women, and shirtless hunks with feathered hair and a great smile. The problem really is that games seem to be stuck on a good chunk of portrayal of female characters being sexualized, and that is tedious for a lot of female gamers. As a lesbian, I can get into sexy characters doing their thing, but I also can get miffed at the lack of consistent well rounded portrayals of female characters in video games.

So I suppose what I'm saying is sexualized characters are not bad. Just have more regular female characters.

In regards to male sexualized characters. Ehhh... not as much. Male characters have their own problems of usually being one dimensional bricks, with all the emotional capacity of a teaspoon. However I do think there is likely more game development leeway for male characters to have alternative visual aesthetics, which I'll admit is a problem.

So in the end I suppose Jim is mostly right. I just don't think that "objectification" of male characters is a proper framing of the question. I think a better question is do male characters have more room for diversity than female characters in video games at large.

Just my two cents.

Spearmaster:
snip

These are actually interesting points.

1st point: I really don't think the exclusion argument works because
1-Nobody is being excluded from buying or playing anything.
2-Nobody is being actively excluded, game creators/developers are not creating games with a "we don't want women to play this game" mind set.
3-Im pretty sure sales demographics are what drives the pandering of AAA titles.
4-These types of game are not "the only thing provided" but there are very very few other options.

It's not active exclusion though. Women aren't actively excluded from stip clubs either but they don't generally (Not always but most of the time) find them places they want to be.

Now that's an extreme example. But its similar to the passive exclusion that is created by many videogames that results from creating an environment that many women find distasteful.

I had a girlfriend who enjoyed the Soul Calibur series. This is admittedly a pretty sexualised series but at least the were a varied set of female body types. She stopped playing around SC4 because the boobage/upskirting became so blatant that it made her uncomfortable.

Yes the men in that game are similarly ridiculously apportioned but they (except for Voldo) aren't constantly displaying it in a sexualized manner. Imagine if all the male characters were sexualized in way that appealed to homosexual men. The hetero-normative outcry would be absurd.

2nd point: I did not use the term entitled to dismiss an opinion, is not the point of all these discussions to say that people are or should be entitled to stronger female characters? If they feel they are not entitled then there is no problem. If someone says someone should provide them with something then that is entitlement. "They need to provide us with better female characters" = "We are entitled to better female characters" There is nothing wrong with that IMO but economics will trump it every time, so until it is financially beneficial for a private company to provide it, its probably not gonna happen. I do feel there is a huge untapped market there for the right company that knows what they are doing.

I still think that 'entitlement' is a weasely and inappropriate word. 'Want' and 'desire' are better descriptors. Properly 'entitlement' is suggestive of being either deserving or rights or ownership. You have a right to your property or a fair trial. You do not have a right to a free lunch.

Nobody serious is suggesting that we all have the right to dictate the content of commercial or artistic works. Rather that we would like to see more varied examples, especially in regards to female characters. One way of making that more likely is by talking about it.

Unfortunately there is the problem that some in the bro-gaming community (Not you per se but some) see this a threat to the boys club and will try to hose down any discussion of it by calling 'entitlement', dredging up the false comparison of how men and women are depicted, or paleoconservative arguments along the lines of: "it's always been like this so it shouldn't change"

This is frustrating to people who would like to see the medium mature and gain depth. Perhaps move away from the 80s like excess of dumb plots, muscle men and big tits that pervades most of gaming. Not to say that all that should disappear completely but

3rd point: Even if artistic design is being trampled over as you say it is, does that give justification to trample it even further? If a developer/publisher tells an artist to change a character design its probably more contractual than anything, it all depends on who has creative control of an intellectual property. The only way for a consumer to have any say is through free market economics and I fully support that.

Well the question here is the touchy one on whether Triple-AAA games are "Art" or whether they are a commercial product. Like movies there are some games that are 'art' and there are games that contain art but if they were truly art then the amount of focus testing that goes into making big budget titles would not occur and the developer of Remember Me wouldn't be being told to change the gender of the protagonist.

bloodmage2:

I almost never see, you know, ACTUAL WOMEN complaining about this, and when they do, they always come across as vapid as the objectified characters they complain about.
Every female i spoken with on the issue who isn't a mindless soccer mom has absolutely no problem with it, because they understand it's a fantasy.

Yeah, no real-world objectification of women happening in this post at all.

Because "Soccer Moms" aren't ACTUAL WOMEN for some reason or another. It's a man's job to judge who the real women are.

DVS BSTrD:
I recall having a similar discussion about the portrayal of men vs the portrayal women in popular culture overall. For from objectifying men, this other person seemed to think that men were unfairly stereotyped as fat idiots who were completely dependent on women to save them from themselves. Now I want you to look at these pictures and ask yourself
imageimage
Which standard is harder to live up to?

I imagine based off the pictures and not the show right? Cause I'd rather live in her life then his.

The problem with these discussion is that most or people cannot acknowledge that statements like, "There's nothing wrong with a character being there to be attractive," and, "The role of women as a whole in gaming has been shameful," can both be correct.

We can admit to the medium needing to change on the whole without saying that there's something wrong with enjoying a character that only exists for sexual stimulation. All characters are tools to make us feel some emotion or to stimulate us in some way. Jim brought up the habit of the industry to satisfy the male empowerment fantasy using muscular, badass protagonists. But you know what? There's no shame in that. We all go to games for different things. Fantasy is one of the base needs games satisfy. Exploration and discovery! An overwhelming sense of adventure. Falling in love with a story or characters. And sometimes, it's something as simple as a particular emotion.

The erotic is just another tool to make us feel something, to satisfy a basic need. It shouldn't be at the core of your game, but there's nothing wrong with it playing a part. Every tool has its place, and I wouldn't begrudge it that.

But like any tool, we have to know when not to use it. I remember watching an Extra Credits episode about stepping out behind fun. To paraphrase, "Games need to be able to be more than fun. It's not that fun is bad, but that games have more to offer than fun. And the fun games will be even more fun for that."

These basic tropes and designs are fine, sure. This isn't an attack on people who enjoy the way things are now by any means. I enjoy these games. You enjoy these games. I like that you enjoy these games. And there's nothing wrong with that. No one should tell you that, either. Advocates for women make a crucial misstep here. Shaming others for their natural sexual desires is counterproductive and breeds resentment. But with all that said...isn't gaming better when we step out of the bland and repetitive and venture forward into new territory?

Haven't we seen enough masculine heroes trudging forth for blood, beer, and booty? Haven't we seen enough squads of soldiers reenacting WWII using a budget that's probably bigger than WWII was fought with? I am. I'm ready for some fresh ideas and perspectives. I'm not saying that I'm leaving those games in the past; I'm sure I'll play one or two every now and again. I'm saying that I'm done for now. I've had enough of that to last me a little while. I want something new and fresh to bite into.

I understand that many of you aren't ready for that. Many people are just getting into these types of games, or they're used to them, like many of the tropes associated with them, or they just like boobies. Hey, I'm with you. But there's a compromise here, and it's not rooted in watering games down for either side.

We can have both.

Yeah.

We can have games that are focused toward an audience that is much as it is now, where women with big bouncing breasts and hourglass figures, where you play as manly men and have a power trip! I don't judge; it's all cool. I'd like the misogyny to go away (Not the over-reactionary radical feminist kind, but the kind Jim talks about. He's more or less right on that front), but other than that, yeah! I'm all for that.

We can also have games that showcase other things and have a different target audience. There are a plethora of different types of ideas for stories and characters, even if you just look at the variety of roles we haven't seen women protagonists do in games.

Acting like everyone must conform to what you want--on either side--is selfish. I don't want advocates to shame people for wanting a more sexual experience, one that's more tailored to their taste, just as I wouldn't want the male gamers in favor of the status quo to try and yell at women who want games that are more tailored to THEIR tastes just because they're not comfortable with how games are mostly only developed to a core audience of male, sexually repressed 18-20 somethings.

Variety is the spice of life. Diversity leads to games that have different core ideas, characters, and concepts behind them. Having both is okay. After all, aren't games better for it when we're able to look beyond the ordinary and come out with something unique and fresh? This is one big step towards that. We can take it in small increments, celebrating each step while looking toward the future, partners in arms working toward a better industry. We both have something we can give each other in gaming, and that means gifts for everyone.

I think a viable solution is to vote with our wallets; one of the very, very few things able to influence the decisions of corporations. If games with strong, female leads who don't look like pin-up models like Chell (Portal, granted its from a first person perspective), Jade (Beyond Good and Evil) or even extremely strong supporting female cast members like Alyx Vance (Half Life 2) sell like hotcakes then maybe we'd see less objectification. Well granted its not a *realistic* solution since such a scenario is unlikely to happen and sexual objectification does sell games so its not going anywhere fast.

The flip side is for female gamers to throw their support behind games pleasing to them. Messir Sterling did point out that only the superhuman adonis like him are generally repesented among gaming protagonists (unless you go way back, Mario, Guybrush, et al are remnants of a different era). However this is not true of all media. Hollywood and, to a much greater extent, Japan's anime and manga have works where male protagonists are objectified and the female heroine is the audience surrogate. These works pull in significant amounts of money. If it works for them, perhaps it can work for us? It may not solve the problem but perhaps more men will be less ignorant of the problem when the shoe is on the other foot. Honestly objectification of women is found in just about every form of media, admitting its a problem is a positive step but this is a problem on the magnitude of a cancer, not an addiction. Just admitting its a problem will not make it go away but then again maudlin harping on it without giving solid solutions can be counterproductive. Perhaps Jim's cerebral genius will present some in the days to come.

Sticky:
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.

I agree with you about the self-feeding cycle, that's exactly why things are the way they are.

But it doesn't actually make good business sense. It's the equivalent of a computer company in 1999 saying "Who cares about laptops, smartphones or tablets? We sell heaps of desktop computers!"

Now, we all know what happened to the desktop computer market. It crashed spectacularly, because of the lack of forward-thinking by the companies selling desktop computers. I think the same thing is happening to gaming. Females aren't genetically allergic to games - the only reason for a historical bias toward males in gaming is just that - purely historic. If companies don't wise up and realize that females are just as significant a market, then they will crash and burn just like the desktop computer market did.

Ignoring 50+% of the market just doesn't make any sense. Just like the food industry pretending that only women cook or shop for groceries was a big mistake. Although the food industry seemed to wake up to this fact much more quickly than the videogame industry.

Aardvaarkman:

Booker doesn't do any thinking in the Bioshock Infinite story. He's basically a simpleton who is subject to fate.

My point still stands, it's about protagonists in general who are stereotypical men who take charge and choose for us.
You're just nitpicking :)

But I can give you an example. In order to get out of the city, Booker decides that they should use The First Lady to escape and doggedly goes for that and even after he loses the ship, he still decides to help an uprising for no other reason than to regain control of it. Contradictively, he states towards the end that they should use the smaller aircraft they're on and just fly away. Point being that they could've apparently taken any airship at any point and gotten the hell out of Dodge, but he still insists on using The First Lady up until the end.
Obviously there's a reason that they don't, at the end, but he's still making his own choice when he says "Let's grab the flashiest biggest tour boat."

As for fate.. I think the game pretty insistently proves that everything us just a matter of statistics and we're playing one out of endless possibilities. There's nothing to say that any of them are predetermined.

Women idealized in their appearance is not exclusive to games. Women have been judged by their appearance by far more extreme standards than men since the dawn of civilization. But that doesn't need to be a bad thing.
Consider this, if you have high expectations of someone, that means you think highly of them.

jokulhaups:
Cue the masses claiming, "this isn't a problem, stop talking about it".

There are bigger problems, this doesn't need as much attention as it's getting.

Spearmaster:
2nd point: I did not use the term entitled to dismiss an opinion, is not the point of all these discussions to say that people are or should be entitled to stronger female characters? If they feel they are not entitled then there is no problem. If someone says someone should provide them with something then that is entitlement.

No, that is not the case.

I don't recall anybody saying that they are entitled to stronger female characters. People have said that they would like this, but that is not the same as feeling entitled. For example: I might desire a supermodel girlfriend, but by no means does that mean I feel that a supermodel is obligated to be my girlfriend.

Aardvaarkman:

Spearmaster:
2nd point: I did not use the term entitled to dismiss an opinion, is not the point of all these discussions to say that people are or should be entitled to stronger female characters? If they feel they are not entitled then there is no problem. If someone says someone should provide them with something then that is entitlement.

No, that is not the case.

I don't recall anybody saying that they are entitled to stronger female characters. People have said that they would like this, but that is not the same as feeling entitled. For example: I might desire a supermodel girlfriend, but by no means does that mean I feel that a supermodel is obligated to be my girlfriend.

If they're not, they should be. We should demand better from our female characters and how they're treated, because they deserve better, and so do we.

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