Better Game Heroes Can Actually Save Real Lives

Better Game Heroes Can Actually Save Real Lives

Ashley Burch, star of Hey Ash, Whatcha Playing? and Rosalind Wiseman, author of Mean Girls, posed the question of what if Master Chief asked for help once in a while? Or showed any emotion at all for that matter?

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Greg Tito:
but one raised the question of why Burch and Wiseman wanted to take every male character like Master Chief and "turn him into a girl."

Ugh. This is why we can't have nice things, but Wiseman had a great answer. No one is asking to make male characters female. It's really sad that some people think that showing emotion is feminine and a weakness. By that extension they're saying that to be a female is to be weak - no wonder vitriol is so bad against girls online (aside from the whole cuties thing).

We are men, not robots. Please treat us as such, devs.

TiberiusEsuriens:

Greg Tito:
but one raised the question of why Burch and Wiseman wanted to take every male character like Master Chief and "turn him into a girl."

Ugh. This is why we can't have nice things, but Wiseman had a great answer. No one is asking to make male characters female. It's really sad that some people think that showing emotion is feminine and a weakness. By that extension they're saying that to be a female is to be weak - no wonder vitriol is so bad against girls online (aside from the whole cuties thing).

We are men, not robots. Please treat us as such, devs.

Great answer.

Seriously, when did showing emotion become equated with being feminine? I've known girls that don't express their emotions.

Reminds me of the "Manly vs Macho" column Yahtzee wrote a while back.

But of course they miss the point of Master Chief as a character. MC's whole purpose was to serve as a stand in for the player, a blank slate for the player to project onto.

You are not playing as Master Chief, you ARE Master Chief. Boys like him because he's everything they wish they could be; Strong, powerful, famous, wrapped in asskicking armor, he kills aliens and doesn't afraid of anything.

And under that, the reason for his stoicism is because he's an indoctrinated super-soldier who had all the weakness conditioned out of him. Under all that armor is a man who's been dehumanized to the point he's no longer a person; he's a weapon with legs. He couldn't function in normal society, for what use does a weapon have during peacetime? War and death are his purpose.

Have they even played Halo 4? MC showed more humanity in that game than in the entire series until that point. It's just that it was understated.

Machine Man 1992:

Have they even played Halo 4? MC showed more humanity in that game than in the entire series until that point. It's just that it was understated.

I agree. Especially his relationship with Cortana.

Machine Man 1992:
But of course they miss the point of Master Chief as a character. MC's whole purpose was to serve as a stand in for the player, a blank slate for the player to project onto.

You are not playing as Master Chief, you ARE Master Chief. Boys like him because he's everything they wish they could be; Strong, powerful, famous, wrapped in asskicking armor, he kills aliens and doesn't afraid of anything.

And under that, the reason for his stoicism is because he's an indoctrinated super-soldier who had all the weakness conditioned out of him. Under all that armor is a man who's been dehumanized to the point he's no longer a person; he's a weapon with legs. He couldn't function in normal society, for what use does a weapon have during peacetime? War and death are his purpose.

Have they even played Halo 4? MC showed more humanity in that game than in the entire series until that point. It's just that it was understated.

I don't think Ashley wants to turn Master Chief into an emotional person. MC is already an established character and giving him more personality would simply kill the franchise. No, he has to stay a robot. They probably used him because he's the most famous example.

I think what they really want is for the games industry to make more diverse characters rather than the clean slates that plague the more popular games of the AAA industry. By this I mean most FPSs of this generation. If we don't have our Captain Walkers, our Jason Bodys, our Adam Jensens, our or even our Links, we're losing on half of what videogames can do.I know I didn't give the best examples, but the point is that these characters can make us walk a mile in someone else's shoes. And since these characters are (in some way) raising the future generation, it would do us good if kids learned that having emotions isn't a weakness. In fact not having emotions should be considered a weakness, it makes us less likable when we can't feel anything.

Using MC as a standard for boys when citing "racism, homophobia, etc." seems like a pretty large leap in logic when just previously they described him as strong and stoic. I challenge people to find any point during the Halo series where MC actually trash talks, never mind directs it at minorities. Sure, it'd be cliche to use a game like Grand Theft Auto as an example but it'd be way more accurate, but - and this can't be stressed enough - GTA is not for little boys, and the protagonists aren't heroes. If it weren't for the violence (which isn't even that excessive) Halo would be practically Disney in terms of mature themes or offensiveness, it just isn't that mean of a game.

I can totally understand the call for more human or interesting male protagonists from a consumer perspective, but heaping this kind of importance onto games young boys play, "Can Actually Save Real Lives" is sensationalist at worst, and useless at best. If I asked my young brother how the protagonist of the latest call of duty game made him feel about his masculinity or place in society, I'd get a blank look, and not because of the phrasing of the question, but because he doesn't even play the campaign, he plays multiplayer with his friends, and I doubt the result is much different for Halo.

EDIT: And another thing, if MC came in third place, why is he the subject of the talk? We do realize that Link and Mario are almost as bland and emotionless as he is, right?

I have to disagree on a few things here. We never got an answer to the question "[...]why boys in school exhibit such awful behaviors online." Because Master Chief doesn't talk about his feelings can't be the answer, can it?
It can't be because the top ranked Mario and Link firstly don't talk either and we see them ranked top because they, in their respective games, fulfill very basic needs young boys have. The needs to explore and be physically active. Mario jumps about and Link gets to fight and explore a whole new world every other game. That's how boys are, they solve their problems using their nature given strength and are naturally more active.
The reason we don't see the Braid guy and Naija from Aquaria top ranked is because the gameplay mechanics are weaker compared to Mario and Zelda games, not because their games are about deeper emotional problems. Same as the Halo series. These games just play better than other shooters.
Another aspect is that, as people before me said, those characters just act as blank slates for the player, so that he may act out a little bit of power fantasy.
But the main point I wanna talk about is that the guy who asks if they wanna turn Master Chief into a girl, kinda has a point. Boys and girls just behave differently, they can't change it because it's deeply rooted in our instincts and society as well. Young boys today are sentenced to a life long battle against their natural behaviour. As I said before they wanna run around and jump and have pretend fights with each other, they wanna see who's the leader and they find out by fighting. It's the reason stuff like Dragon Ball is so popular with boys. We don't subject them to that, they are just drawn to that stuff, not the other ways round. But todays society wants young boys to sit down, shut up and behave, they force typical feminine behaviour onto boys. That actually causes depression or anger. And if boys don't have any outlet in sports or other physical activity they turn to online game bullying, cause they still wanna find out who the alpha male is.

I don't think boys are "more active" by nature. I wasn't I loved reading. but I do know its something we're encouraged to do and be able to do for things we enjoy.

Ladies are sent a mixed message here where whatever they WANT to be active for they need to be the most desirable for people to grant them and they can't be *seen* being active at going for that either.
Yeah that's not going to lead to a complex.

It wouldn't hurt though if multiplayer games were actually geared to being multiplayer. Team fortress helps by named characters, roles, and distinct figures and equipment so you can come together to a full strategy in a team and even variations and gains off that.

Most just slap you in a world and expect you to scrimmage without any actual drills, warmup, practice or safe ways to interact and aid that aren't prearranged and practiced

Did they present any actual evidence linking stoic, emotionally non-expressive protagonists with negative behaviour in boys or is it just conjecture at this point?

It's tricky... asking for help and showing emotions often can seem like a hero character... can't handle things. Therefore making him (or her) less of a hero, incapable of overcoming a challenge or accomplishing a task, and more of a... I don't know, a coordinator? Which is not necessarily a bad thing, especially in a military fantasy, where rigid structures and hierarchies should be maintained, but tend to go out the window in a more classical hero story/ myth. Oh, heroes in those tales get help, show uncertainty, and occasionally get a chance to be normal people, sure they do, but often they don't have to ask for help - it's offered, or earned in an exchange.

Again, this isn't always the case, but in escapism, when reality isn't necessarily as important as wish fulfillment or fantasy role play, having to engage in such real life conventions as asking for help or reacting in human fashion to awesome/horrific occasions can ground the vibe. It can make the character seem less ideal.

However, in light of the statistics, if boys are more influenced by games than other media, then maybe getting across some real world conventions and problem-solving skills might not be a bad idea.

Just my thoughts!

Man, I really want their to be a Telltale game or something focusing on Master Chief towards the end of his life contemplating all the he has accomplished and all he has missed out on in life. No guns, no power armor, just reflection because I actually think he is an interesting character on the inside (being a government sponsored child super soldier whose been through what he has been through would do that to you) its just he was never in the right game to actually voice his thoughts.

Females can show tremendous strength when being active. I've seen them hit the wall while exercising, say a few words of personal encouragement and go again (i.e. willpower). I've also seen them get worried about sweat, looking too muscular (which is pretty hard too do without drugs) and wondering if people are looking at them (99% the answer is no. Men are too busy trying to look at there own muscles). My personal belief is society tell women this stuff (for millions of years) has biologically affected their hormones and thus their strength

Females are always seen as good listeners, thus being able to emote more. Males just like taking turns and sharing the conversation. Let them have their turn. Also if they're not willing to talk, it may be because they disagree with you but don't feel like they have to verbally express that or that you've not shown interest in listening to him on that subject. So society has affected us her too

Skarvig:

But the main point I wanna talk about is that the guy who asks if they wanna turn Master Chief into a girl, kinda has a point. Boys and girls just behave differently, they can't change it because it's deeply rooted in our instincts and society as well. Young boys today are sentenced to a life long battle against their natural behaviour. As I said before they wanna run around and jump and have pretend fights with each other, they wanna see who's the leader and they find out by fighting. It's the reason stuff like Dragon Ball is so popular with boys. We don't subject them to that, they are just drawn to that stuff, not the other ways round. But todays society wants young boys to sit down, shut up and behave, they force typical feminine behaviour onto boys. That actually causes depression or anger. And if boys don't have any outlet in sports or other physical activity they turn to online game bullying, cause they still wanna find out who the alpha male is.

So what are these examples of "todays society wants young boys to sit down, shut up and behave, they force typical feminine behaviour onto boys."?

Pogilrup:

Skarvig:

But the main point I wanna talk about is that the guy who asks if they wanna turn Master Chief into a girl, kinda has a point. Boys and girls just behave differently, they can't change it because it's deeply rooted in our instincts and society as well. Young boys today are sentenced to a life long battle against their natural behaviour. As I said before they wanna run around and jump and have pretend fights with each other, they wanna see who's the leader and they find out by fighting. It's the reason stuff like Dragon Ball is so popular with boys. We don't subject them to that, they are just drawn to that stuff, not the other ways round. But todays society wants young boys to sit down, shut up and behave, they force typical feminine behaviour onto boys. That actually causes depression or anger. And if boys don't have any outlet in sports or other physical activity they turn to online game bullying, cause they still wanna find out who the alpha male is.

So what are these examples of "todays society wants young boys to sit down, shut up and behave, they force typical feminine behaviour onto boys."?

I think he/she is referring to the public school system; boys are overwhelmingly the ones diagnosed with ADHD, the majority of the ones to receive suspensions, and the schools are cutting down on recess and PE classes to teach the shit that's going to be on a test. Contact sports and games like football and tag are increasingly being neutered and the boyish desire for play fights and games like cops and robbers occasionally end with someone being arrested for real.

I think Master Chief has a lot of people hung up because it's just a bad example. I mean, it's easy to say 'but you get her meaning'. It's likewise easy to say that she might not fully get her meaning if she uses bad examples.

The SPARTAN II program was made to create literal one man armies. If you had three Spartans in your ranks of a thousand plus, it would be over kill. They were designed, grown, taught, and built to each be individual game changers. He or any of the Spartans, male or female, would never ask for help because they were the help that everyone else needed.

They were also bred not to think about themselves, but the mission. That was their reason to continue to breathe. They weren't like the rest of the UNSC, put in a few years and then retire and raise a family... These Spartans were basically not human any more. They were property with personality, living weapons to be pointed at what the UNSC found distasteful so they could eliminate it. They went through their whole lives squashing anything but loyalty to the cause. Where would emotion take center stage through all of that? If it did, I'm sure that Spartan Candidate would have been considered a wash out and wouldn't even made it to the second stage of training, the bio-medical augmentation procress.

I fully support what they are asking for, I just think a better example would make it clearer to most.

T'Generalissimo:
Did they present any actual evidence linking stoic, emotionally non-expressive protagonists with negative behaviour in boys or is it just conjecture at this point?

Imma say yes to the second.

Those presenting personal opinion as fact is pretty much par for the course in things like these.

Machine Man 1992:

Pogilrup:

So what are these examples of "todays society wants young boys to sit down, shut up and behave, they force typical feminine behaviour onto boys."?

I think he/she is referring to the public school system; boys are overwhelmingly the ones diagnosed with ADHD, the majority of the ones to receive suspensions, and the schools are cutting down on recess and PE classes to teach the shit that's going to be on a test. Contact sports and games like football and tag are increasingly being neutered and the boyish desire for play fights and games like cops and robbers occasionally end with someone being arrested for real.

Yep, that sums it up perfectly, thanks!

Did they even play Halo 4? Chief is starting to become more human having to deal with his only friend's terminal illness. Up to that point the human was the machine and the machine was the human. I thought that was the whole point...

Anyway, my question is why did they disregard the first two response to pick on the low hanging fruit that was the third?

the December King:
It's tricky... asking for help and showing emotions often can seem like a hero character... can't handle things. Therefore making him (or her) less of a hero, incapable of overcoming a challenge or accomplishing a task, and more of a... I don't know, a coordinator? Which is not necessarily a bad thing, especially in a military fantasy, where rigid structures and hierarchies should be maintained, but tend to go out the window in a more classical hero story/ myth. Oh, heroes in those tales get help, show uncertainty, and occasionally get a chance to be normal people, sure they do, but often they don't have to ask for help - it's offered, or earned in an exchange.

*cough*OtherM*coughcough* a game that took a character from "stoic" super being who fought without aid to just one person whose relationships were more determining than her "attitude" which was insufficient to deal with the piling emotional stresses, especially from a situation that confused her (she didn't win the last fight someone saved her, who she was supposed to kill... out of blind love and changed her too...how why what) Moreover she's forced to follow orders that aren't instructions on how to be the winniest winner but just to obey for some older boring dude who doesn't like her being awesome and is excluding her from the ingroup.
Gamers didn't react well.

Again, this isn't always the case, but in escapism, when reality isn't necessarily as important as wish fulfillment or fantasy role play, having to engage in such real life conventions as asking for help or reacting in human fashion to awesome/horrific occasions can ground the vibe. It can make the character seem less ideal.

true but often this leads to negative extremes. The only emotional buttons to push being genocide or rape or similar hyperbolic extremes, fetishizing the crimes and why they happen as to displaying them as outgrowths of human behavior but only associated with monsters who its okay to bullet sponge. and this gets worse when this is theo nly presence those portrayed suffering or inflicting such have. At the very least asking or coordinating for help should be as awesome and rewarding. Persona actually made after school jobs and practice and just conversing with people incentivized to a bit.

However, in light of the statistics, if boys are more influenced by games than other media, then maybe getting across some real world conventions and problem-solving skills might not be a bad idea.

Just my thoughts!

This THIS THIS and agreed and the bit I think needed to be gotten across by any SJWs with an agenda to video games. IF all problem solving is violence with no context to good or expression or the rounding of humans in our heroes we have a problem OR if that is intentionally foregone (Kratos et al) let it be understood its a fantastical INDULGENCE not Didactic.
THOUGH at the same time feel free to ask for more female, gay, black, muslim, protagonists who are kinda cool or nonembarassing.

Machine Man 1992:

I think he/she is referring to the public school system; boys are overwhelmingly the ones diagnosed with ADHD, the majority of the ones to receive suspensions, and the schools are cutting down on recess and PE classes to teach the shit that's going to be on a test. Contact sports and games like football and tag are increasingly being neutered and the boyish desire for play fights and games like cops and robbers occasionally end with someone being arrested for real.

The greater problem is that schools are treating students like prisoners, not children. This in turn is caused by school districts or the higher powers (city/government) cutting budgets to the bone and not providing adequate support for ... well anything. So when a student is suffering physically or emotionally, they're just sent home to let the parents deal with it... even when the parents are the cause of their suffering. Ever scan over 4chan and read the threats about people planning to kill themselves... or people enabling/offering advice on how to do it instead of trying to help them emotionally?

Webcomics/fanfiction, Games (particuarly MMO or multiplayer), and internet forums/chat are forms of escapism. When the attitude of the people you interact with online is also terrible (see 4chan, reddit, something awful, ED, etc) kids are given the idea that -everyone is terrible- and that that is how life is. Like one persons world view is framed by their experiences. Bullying, software piracy, drug culture and rape culture are all things that come about of having a very one-sided view that what you are doing harms nobody. If nobody challenges your world view, then you will continue to do bad things to the detriment of others and yourself.

Which goes back to the cycle in school. Teachers haven't had the ability for decades to actually punish children beyond "send them home." What do bad parents do? Nothing. They don't see a problem, or don't care that their children are showing rotten behavior. So how do you get the parents to notice? Send the kids to jail... or hold the parents responsible for all criminal behavior their child engages in. So if your kid bullies another kid into hanging themselves, who goes to jail?

See there's this disconnect between "kids will be kids (and will make mistakes)" versus "kids are acting out because there is no emotional support in their lives."

Anyway I can't really speak beyond my own experiences, suffice it to say that parents that don't take an interest in their childrens activities daily, don't know jack about what their children are into. I'm not asking that all parents be helicopter parents, but I do wish that parents would be involved with their children, be it playing games, watching movies, playing sports, theatre, drawing or whatever.

Darmani:

the December King:
It's tricky... asking for help and showing emotions often can seem like a hero character... can't handle things. Therefore making him (or her) less of a hero, incapable of overcoming a challenge or accomplishing a task, and more of a... I don't know, a coordinator? Which is not necessarily a bad thing, especially in a military fantasy, where rigid structures and hierarchies should be maintained, but tend to go out the window in a more classical hero story/ myth. Oh, heroes in those tales get help, show uncertainty, and occasionally get a chance to be normal people, sure they do, but often they don't have to ask for help - it's offered, or earned in an exchange.

*cough*OtherM*coughcough* a game that took a character from "stoic" super being who fought without aid to just one person whose relationships were more determining than her "attitude" which was insufficient to deal with the piling emotional stresses, especially from a situation that confused her (she didn't win the last fight someone saved her, who she was supposed to kill... out of blind love and changed her too...how why what) Moreover she's forced to follow orders that aren't instructions on how to be the winniest winner but just to obey for some older boring dude who doesn't like her being awesome and is excluding her from the ingroup.
Gamers didn't react well.

It's not so much that they showed more emotions from her, as it is that she somehow became incompetent. It's not that people hated having to not use powers because Adam said so, but because the orders made no sense, hence the infamy of that part where you had to go through an extremely hot room without using heat-resistive armor. If he just put restrictions on the Plasma Beam and Power Bombs, it would be understandable (one poses the risk of accidental friendly fire by phasing through walls, and the other is basically a tiny nuke), but there was no justifiable reason for disabling protective systems[]. It wasn't anger that Samus got upset at Ridley's return, but that her suddenly freezing up hadn't been given any story justification or foreshadowing prior to it, and she had never shown signs of reacting like that before in the several other run-ins with it (nor indeed, in the game set after this one), so it came out of nowhere.

The outrage wasn't because they showed the more emotional side of her character, it was because they completely changed it, with no explanation or character development leading up to those changes.

If they decided to explore the consequences of Master Chief having all his fears, concerns, and emotional "weaknesses" forcefully stripped out of him as a child (which they apparently did somewhat in 4 with his interactions with Cortana), I don't think people would mind. If they suddenly had him freak out and go comatose at the sight of a Brute, and refuse to use his armor's energy shields on a $20 bet with the Arbiter, people would lose their shit.

[] Imagine David Sarif calling up Adam in the middle of Hengsha and saying "hey, no using invisibility in this section, kthnxbye."

 

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