Games Have Grown Since the Early Years, But Perception Has Not

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Games Have Grown Since the Early Years, But Perception Has Not

Reporting on a recent Nolan North interview accentuates the perception problems facing the industry of the way games used to be versus the way they are now.

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One could argue though that by side-stepping one gender specific pitfall, the Tomb Raider reboot fell right into another. Now, I find it highly debateable whether new Lara has any emotional depth or complexity, since the only drama the game seemed to be going for was 'Look at this poor girl getting wrung through the wringer'. There wasn't anything else to get attached to with her character, just the sensation of watching a girl getting put through a ton of physical agony.

Oh, check it out, it's Ian Miles Cheong. Had a few, not gonna lie, but I swear I've seen your name come up on Twitter a few times.

The British tabloid Daily Mirror boldly claims that North thinks video games are sexist, both in the headline and in the first sentence. This claim runs contrary to the opinions he actually expressed, however, as his references were largely in the past tense. He spent much of the interview referring to games as they once were, not how they are today.

The Daily Mail is the laughing stock of the nation. It's good for a few laughs, but that's it. If you'll pardon my crudity, I'd wouldn't use it as a wanky hanky for fear of getting stupiditis on my dingaling. That sentence, by the way, was only a little less competent than the average Daily Mail front page. And a fair bit less racist.

EDIT #2: I have failed at reading; 'tis the Daily Mirror, milud.

Oh, and before I sign off, here's one of my favourite games:

God, what a beautiful language. It's like dipping your head in honey. The expansion was shelved, though there's a short German trailer available on YouTube. Hey, maybe the devs will even release it one day - surely such a prospect is likelier now than it was back when the game was first made. Okay, that's it. I'm going now. Bye-bye.

EDIT: Oh, I forgot to say it's got a woman in it. The video. In the video, there is a woman. That's why I posted it. Bang and skeet.

The incredibly diverse, and very often positive representation of women in video games is something to be celebrated. If your gaming experience doesn't jive with this, you might be pleasantly surprised if you're willing to explore genres outside of your comfort zone

It is exactly this. Gaming is incredibly super diverse. There are so many genres and different titles out there that you can't claim that gaming as a whole is sexist. The representations of people of all races and genders (and even non people) is huge. It's like Ian says, you need to open your eyes and see what's out there.

Personally I find it very offensive that for the most part the press has allowed to go unchallenged this entirely reductionist thinking about video games and sexism. Personally I blame Anita Sarkeesian for screwing up the dialog on this early (and often). She likes to cherry pick tropes and then use that as evidence of sexism in video games. However, that's ridiculous - you shouldn't be asking if a single game is sexist or not, instead you need to look at the entire breadth of all games and ask yourself questions like, "Are women ONLY allowed to be portrayed in a stereotypical or unflattering fashion?" As I said earlier, anything less than that is sophistic reductionist logic.

Anyway, I am glad to see both Ian writing for the Escapist. Also I appreciate the fact that for once someone is making the point about genres and the variety of games that are actually available. It feels like slowly we are starting to come full circle on this nonsense in a way. Maybe Kotaku will put out a piece before I die defending artistic expression, who knows?

Casual Shinji:
One could argue though that by side-stepping one gender specific pitfall, the Tomb Raider reboot fell right into another. Now, I find it highly debateable whether new Lara has any emotional depth or complexity, since the only drama the game seemed to be going for was 'Look at this poor girl getting wrung through the wringer'. There wasn't anything else to get attached to with her character, just the sensation of watching a girl getting put through a ton of physical agony.

From an aesthetic standpoint Lara is leaps and bounds better. She has a very expressive character model in terms of body language and facial expressions etc., but when to comes to writing and dialog, the only emotion I had for her was pity. That's not really a sign of a good character. Still have to agree with North that it is better.

Jake Martinez:

It feels like slowly we are starting to come full circle on this nonsense in a way. Maybe Kotaku will put out a piece before I die defending artistic expression, who knows?

Unless that artistic expression is towing a message regarding identity politics, don't hold your breath.

Welcome to the site Ian! Been reading about you for months and it's nice to see your name pop up here after your lovely blog post and trying to turn Gameranx around again!

Barbas:

The British tabloid Daily Mirror boldly claims that North thinks video games are sexist, both in the headline and in the first sentence. This claim runs contrary to the opinions he actually expressed, however, as his references were largely in the past tense. He spent much of the interview referring to games as they once were, not how they are today.

The Daily Mail is the laughing stock of the nation. It's good for a few laughs, but that's it. If you'll pardon my crudity, I'd wouldn't use it as a wanky hanky for fear of getting stupiditis on my dingaling. That sentence, by the way, was only a little less competent than the average Daily Mail front page. And a fair bit less racist.

Eh, Barbas I think the Daily Mail is silly at best (which is almost never, usually they are infuriating to read but less so than the Express or Mirror) but this is how I'd use it as a source as well. Ian did a good job of couching the reference with "Boldly claims" which is exactly the kind of move one would use to describe this while still remaining neutral initially. Then ripped their argument apart in the next part.

Personally I think that's perfect essay writing format when it comes to discussing news like this. Start out neutralish then tear into it.

Reading the rest of the article this is really well researched and structured so thank you Mr Cheong! I look forwards to seeing your name pop up in the editorials now and again!

I'd say the main problem is that the third or fourth generation that really got hooked on games at an early age is only now reaching the legal employment age. The first wave of home computers brought about marginals and hobbyists, the first game consoles created living room gamers, while it'd be up to the generations that would follow to ensure the medium goes from guys and gals staring at booping and beeping screens to passionate types engaging with fully-crafted narratives. The problem is that those who only saw that small revolution happen from the outside and never took part in it are still very much alive.

As time goes and gaming grows more complex, it gets harder for folks like your grandparents to connect with gaming as a meaningful activity. It's still possible thanks to casual gaming and motion-sensing tech that allows for the replication of mundane gestures, but that's not representative of the entire spectrum of the hobby. Considering, a lot of greybeards end up seeing the younger types with their Call of Duties and their Skyrims and are just completely befuddled.

The more gaming generations follow us, the more the hobby will become as standard as sitting down to watch a game or your favorite TV show, and the more we'll end up with gaming seniors - or even elementary school kids with an already diverse grasp on game mechanics. The more that happens, the more preconceptions and clichés will start to fall by the wayside.

I mean, I can't blame the reactionary sixtysomething types who see me twiddle my thumbsticks four to five hours a day or more after work for being confused - they're used to other forms of entertainment, like cracking a book or flicking channels on the boob tube. Gaming is the first hobby - besides active sports, of course - that doesn't involve complete physical passivity. It's pretty obvious that the idea of staying alert enough to go through a few multiplayer sessions will seem odd to someone who's used to being fed hours of leisure at practically no cost or involvement.

Here, feel like having a laugh? Prep your online friends in advance and then let your closest non-gamer relative have a shot at a team-based FPS. Even if the team takes it slow and goes through a methodical talkdown of the entire process of shooting at stuff, said relative is guaranteed to be overwhelmed.

I never thought id see it, but i truly enjoyed this debut article by Mr Cheong and look forward to more of them. This smells of real journalism whereas most gaming media would have just regurgitated what Daily Mail said.

Strazdas:
I never thought id see it, but i truly enjoyed this debut article by Mr Cheong and look forward to more of them. This smells of real journalism whereas most gaming media would have just regurgitated what Daily Mail said.

Isn't this just regurgitation, though? I mean he added his own personal points, but thats not anything special as it happens with most news room stories that are published here. Furthermore, it wasn't indicated anywhere that the writer reached out to North for comment. Not trying to diss the guy, I'm sure he's got a lot to offer but this article isn't some feat you're making it out to be.

Jake Martinez:
Personally I find it very offensive that for the most part the press has allowed to go unchallenged this entirely reductionist thinking about video games and sexism. Personally I blame Anita Sarkeesian for screwing up the dialog on this early (and often). She likes to cherry pick tropes and then use that as evidence of sexism in video games. However, that's ridiculous - you shouldn't be asking if a single game is sexist or not, instead you need to look at the entire breadth of all games and ask yourself questions like, "Are women ONLY allowed to be portrayed in a stereotypical or unflattering fashion?" As I said earlier, anything less than that is sophistic reductionist logic.

Uh, not to defend her opinions, I generally disagree with her overall points myself, but you seem to haved missed the entire point of her series. You say that she cherry picks tropes to indict individual games when she needs to look at the breadth of games. She doesn't "cherry pick" tropes, which doesn't even mean anything anyways because a trope is merely the presence of an event. She doesn't make thirty minute long videos about any individual game. She makes a video about a specific trope and then she shows the prevalence of said trope across the expanse of gaming, typically focusing on mainstream, AAA gaming. What you just said she should be doing is, in fact, what she does. I don't want to turn this into an Anita debate, but you have to at least understand the point of her videos if you're going to criticize them in any rational, potentially productive manner. Otherwise its just getting mad at something a person for something that they haven't said or done. Anita's opinions are often flimsy enough that you don't need to be beating up strawmen.

Barbas:

The Daily Mail is the laughing stock of the nation. It's good for a few laughs, but that's it. If you'll pardon my crudity, I'd wouldn't use it as a wanky hanky for fear of getting stupiditis on my dingaling. That sentence, by the way, was only a little less competent than the average Daily Mail front page. And a fair bit less racist.

Quibble: The article references the Daily Mirror rather than the Mail. Quite different beasts (though neither are good).

These "Video games need to grow up!" articles always make me roll my eyes. They're just a smokescreen for the author to rant against whatever they don't like in gaming and want gone. The fact they're making their argument in the name of "growing up" or "maturing" or "being taken seriously as an art form" also means they can dismiss anyone who disagrees with them as "immature manchildren" or "uncultured philistines" or things like that.

someguy1231:
These "Video games need to grow up!" articles always make me roll my eyes. They're just a smokescreen for the author to rant against whatever they don't like in gaming and want gone. The fact they're making their argument in the name of "growing up" or "maturing" or "being taken seriously as an art form" also means they can dismiss anyone who disagrees with them as "immature manchildren" or "uncultured philistines" or things like that.

I wouldn't have put it as harshly, but I tend to agree.

I don't exactly hear people citing Adam Sandler's "Pixels" as a sign that "Films need to grow up!", no matter how much they may dislike the movie. But since video games (or interactive media, if we're being especially broad) are a relatively new medium that not everyone has experienced, it keeps getting judged based on some of the worst qualities that only some of them have.

It's good to see that general perceptions are shifting away from this kind of thinking as time goes on, but being reminded that it's still a "problem" is annoying.

MarsAtlas:

Uh, not to defend her opinions, I generally disagree with her overall points myself, but you seem to haved missed the entire point of her series. You say that she cherry picks tropes to indict individual games when she needs to look at the breadth of games. She doesn't "cherry pick" tropes, which doesn't even mean anything anyways because a trope is merely the presence of an event. She doesn't make thirty minute long videos about any individual game. She makes a video about a specific trope and then she shows the prevalence of said trope across the expanse of gaming, typically focusing on mainstream, AAA gaming. What you just said she should be doing is, in fact, what she does. I don't want to turn this into an Anita debate, but you have to at least understand the point of her videos if you're going to criticize them in any rational, potentially productive manner. Otherwise its just getting mad at something a person for something that they haven't said or done. Anita's opinions are often flimsy enough that you don't need to be beating up strawmen.

You are incredibly wrong about this.

She hasn't done a single quantitative analysis about sexist tropes or sexist representation of women in video games. It doesn't exist.

What she does is exactly as I described it. She cherry picks examples of tropes from games, then uses a reductionist argument to ascribe sexism to the industry based on her subjective interpretation of single instances of a trope in a piece of media. Just because I can go out and say, find a half a dozen instances of an unflattering portrayal of a woman or a minority in a video game doesn't mean that it's endemic in the industry. That's the point that actually matters - because this is the universally accepted standard for determining systemic or instituationalized sexism, which is the very point she is trying to (poorly) argue.

There is a difference between a single narrative experience using a trope and an entire industry doing nothing but relentlessly pushing that trope.

Again, you are completely and unequivocally wrong. There is no strawman argument being used here, I've described what she does exactly to a "T". It's poor scholarship and worthless. A proper epidemiological study would span the entire industry, broken down by genres, and probably span multiple years. Then the identification of the overuse of tropes, or prevalence of certain tropes could be used to argue some point about the overall state of gaming. This is research 101.

What Anita does is simply entertainment, or as they like to say "awareness raising". Okay, awareness raised - now let's do the actual work of determining if her ideas are correct. What I'm suggesting is how you would go about forming the basis of a peer reviewed study. I would love to see this done, I think everyone could benefit from it. However, I doubt that any of the hundreds of thousands of dollars she received last year will go into an endeavor like this since there is a high degree of chance that it will run counter to the narrative she is trying to push.

I really wish Anita had the courage to prove her ideas, or even if the gaming press had the courage to press her on them. Right now she's a crackpot spouting theories with no evidence and she deserves to be treated as such until she makes a genuine effort to respond to criticism of her academic approach (or lack thereof).

MarsAtlas:

Uh, not to defend her opinions, I generally disagree with her overall points myself, but you seem to haved missed the entire point of her series. You say that she cherry picks tropes to indict individual games when she needs to look at the breadth of games. She doesn't "cherry pick" tropes, which doesn't even mean anything anyways because a trope is merely the presence of an event. She doesn't make thirty minute long videos about any individual game. She makes a video about a specific trope and then she shows the prevalence of said trope across the expanse of gaming, typically focusing on mainstream, AAA gaming. What you just said she should be doing is, in fact, what she does. I don't want to turn this into an Anita debate, but you have to at least understand the point of her videos if you're going to criticize them in any rational, potentially productive manner. Otherwise its just getting mad at something a person for something that they haven't said or done. Anita's opinions are often flimsy enough that you don't need to be beating up strawmen.

Yeah uhm... but that hardly is all she does in her videos you know? Actually what you just wrote is the least she does in her videos...

So I have to ask.. have you actually watched her videos? Going on why a trope is a bad thing for a games story that writers shouldnt use is the least of her concerns. Shes more concerned with spinning the narrative that video games are sexist/mysoginistic, rape apologetic and further rape culture and making the world overall more hostile towards women despite crime statistics worldwide easaly proving her wrong. And yes, these are all things she actually said in her videos.

To me, her videos are nothing more then crazy conspiracy theories cooked up by her very well off lunatic boyfriend Mcintosh that she gets to regurgiate for profit.

Now if all she did was point out how lazy and used up these tropes are that she critizes, and how writers could do so much better then that, i would agree with her. There are alot of tropes that are simply "used up" and with the technology we have today really arent necesary anymore. And what do you know? Games of today rarely rely on these tropes anymore... what a world we live in aye?

But her actual "point" is that these video games honestly negatively impact peoples real live. Mostly by reinforcing sexist notions/behavior towards women (remember, if you think it doesnt affect you, it affects you the most! Brought to you by the scientifc institute of lala land, sponsored by Mcintosh!)

And about the examples she picks: Most of them are from the 90s or from japan, a culture so alien to us westerners it might be on a different planet. Not only that but the influence of japanese game development on western games has been absolute zero ever since publishers like EA and Activision have taken off the ground in the late 90s. So their relevance in western gaming culture has also been reduced allmost to zero.

And if she cant find evidence for her conclusion in western games she tends to doctor it in herselfe (as could be seen with her infamous hitman footage)

Any "point" she might have made that was relevant gets drowned out by her crazy conspiracy theories about how fictional works turn people evil yo...

Now how does this all fit in with the article?

Simple: Thanks to her being propped up on a pedestal and allowing her to dictate the narrative by never featuring any counter arguments or critizism ("most dangerous women in gaming" amiright?) the game journo industry has created a monster that they only now slowly realize will come back to bite them in the arse.

And since people outside the gaming industry love to have their prejudices confirmed by the media people are eating that shit up, wich prompts news outlets to heavily rely on this narrative, in turn giving those people that actually want to censor gaming even more ammunition with the people that actually make decisions.

Its no wonder the press is reporting so one sidedly and biased against gaming when we have nutjobs like Sarkesian getting so much attention they get to speak infront of the UN. And what does she propose to the UN? Internet wide censorship.. isnt that just fantastic?

Im still baffled how she can get any support at all when she suggests that "states use their licensing power to only allow search engines and internet providers who monitor content access to the public" or whatever her wording was. Mind you.. all in the name of protecting WOMEN on the internet from "harassment". Wich nowadays can mean asmuch as simply disagreeing with a woman on the net mind you.

Jake Martinez:
snip

What is Feminist Frequency's Tropes vs Women in Video Games actually about? What's the main focus? What's the Core?

Goliath100:

Jake Martinez:
snip

What is Feminist Frequency's Tropes vs Women in Video Games actually about? What's the main focus? What's the Core?

In her own words, the very first thing she says:

Welcome to our multi-part video series exploring the roles and representations of women in video games. This project will examine the tropes, plot devices and patterns most commonly associated with women in gaming from a systemic, big picture perspective.

She says the tropes she discusses are commonly associated with women in video games (needs citation obviously) and that she's going to examine them from the systemic, big picture perspective (Essentially, the analysis that I'm saying she doesn't do).

I mean, really - there are two huge assertions right there in that second sentence and neither one of them are born out by the work she presents. She offers no evidence of how common or prolific any of the tropes or plot devices she discusses are in video game media and she offers no analysis at all to show how they are presented as a whole inside the "big picture" of the video games industry.

That's why I say she presents entertainment. Nothing she says has any scholarly or academic merit. You can enjoy it if you want to as pure subjective criticism, but nothing she says, even when capable of proving it, is proven true. It's all entirely her opinion despite the fact that she presents it more like a proper analysis.

Goliath100:

Jake Martinez:
snip

What is Feminist Frequency's Tropes vs Women in Video Games actually about? What's the main focus? What's the Core?

Telling the world that games are sexist and reinforce sexist/mysoginistic behavior and that Game developers carefully concoct these sexist scenarios to improve their sales numbers. Also bowties and lipstick are gender identifiers that seperate female characters from the "norm" male characters.. and that is somehow bad... also saving your girlfriend that was kidnapped by some lunatic gangleader/fire breathing spiky turtle is sexist because it objectivies women.

But without the snark:

Her series is about reinforcing the argument that fiction has a real and lasting effect on peoples behavior in real live situations, that fiction can reinforce negative ideas in people about others and that people will eventually act out on these ideas.

It is not so much stating that these tropes are bade because.. well.. they are tropes and not very creative ones either, but that these tropes make you a worse person then you otherwise would be.

Something that has been disproven to be the case ever since the first outrage about the beatles making songs about lesbians and prostitutes hit the newspapers. The same argument that turns people that play DnD satanic and turns people that listen to rap music into street gang thugs or that violent videogames turn kids into school massshooters...

Silvanus:

Barbas:

The Daily Mail is the laughing stock of the nation. It's good for a few laughs, but that's it. If you'll pardon my crudity, I'd wouldn't use it as a wanky hanky for fear of getting stupiditis on my dingaling. That sentence, by the way, was only a little less competent than the average Daily Mail front page. And a fair bit less racist.

Quibble: The article references the Daily Mirror rather than the Mail. Quite different beasts (though neither are good).

Curse it. Why must alcohol taste so good...I shall amend this forthwith.

IamLEAM1983:
I'd say the main problem is that the third or fourth generation that really got hooked on games at an early age is only now reaching the legal employment age. The first wave of home computers brought about marginals and hobbyists, the first game consoles created living room gamers, while it'd be up to the generations that would follow to ensure the medium goes from guys and gals staring at booping and beeping screens to passionate types engaging with fully-crafted narratives. The problem is that those who only saw that small revolution happen from the outside and never took part in it are still very much alive.

As time goes and gaming grows more complex, it gets harder for folks like your grandparents to connect with gaming as a meaningful activity. It's still possible thanks to casual gaming and motion-sensing tech that allows for the replication of mundane gestures, but that's not representative of the entire spectrum of the hobby. Considering, a lot of greybeards end up seeing the younger types with their Call of Duties and their Skyrims and are just completely befuddled.

The more gaming generations follow us, the more the hobby will become as standard as sitting down to watch a game or your favorite TV show, and the more we'll end up with gaming seniors - or even elementary school kids with an already diverse grasp on game mechanics. The more that happens, the more preconceptions and clichés will start to fall by the wayside.

I mean, I can't blame the reactionary sixtysomething types who see me twiddle my thumbsticks four to five hours a day or more after work for being confused - they're used to other forms of entertainment, like cracking a book or flicking channels on the boob tube. Gaming is the first hobby - besides active sports, of course - that doesn't involve complete physical passivity. It's pretty obvious that the idea of staying alert enough to go through a few multiplayer sessions will seem odd to someone who's used to being fed hours of leisure at practically no cost or involvement.

Here, feel like having a laugh? Prep your online friends in advance and then let your closest non-gamer relative have a shot at a team-based FPS. Even if the team takes it slow and goes through a methodical talkdown of the entire process of shooting at stuff, said relative is guaranteed to be overwhelmed.

Do you have a good background in such a thing? There is probably an excellent research article in that right there.
I've noticed that for many mundane folk that dabble occasionally, there comes a point where their brains can no longer adapt, maybe 4 or 5 years after they start. If they aren't constantly changing genres during that time, they seem to be 'locked' into their preferred genre and cease exploring the medium.

Alternatively, greybeards who still 'game' in other ways during that time period (pool, gambling, esp cards, tabletop, checkers, etc) remain adaptable enough to handle genre changes. I brought my grandfather into Arma a year and a half ago, and after a few sessions of horribly obvious deaths, he started pulverising us. He went from Darksydephil to The End in about 4 games.

someguy1231:
These "Video games need to grow up!" articles always make me roll my eyes. They're just a smokescreen for the author to rant against whatever they don't like in gaming and want gone. The fact they're making their argument in the name of "growing up" or "maturing" or "being taken seriously as an art form" also means they can dismiss anyone who disagrees with them as "immature manchildren" or "uncultured philistines" or things like that.

Eh, I'd argue this one wasn't particularly meant that way. It's got sooome 'weasel words' as Wiki would put it, but ultimately it's just one random person's perception, not being presented as the site (or even Ian's own) views.
Two major particular things I'd say involved in the perception of games as 'immature' compared to movies and literature, would probably be the repugnant moralists attacking it, whether from their own convictions or (as is increasingly likely these recent years, and sometimes just blatantly obvious) because someone from a competing industry, or some other entity that would profit from its fall, is paying them off to slam their own. The other angle would be the AAA and their advertisers themselves, and what they believe are 'the only games that would sell,' specifically because they do analyse them through a traditional movie&television lens. (You can trace a lot of those shenanigans back to the formation of G4, though obviously the medium was being nudged down that path by the console wars prior)

Karadalis:
snip

Actually, it's about archetypal female characters types, or; female tropes. The whole "video game" thing is accidental. It could just as well be about movies or TV.

Jake Martinez:
She offers no evidence of how common or prolific any of the tropes or plot devices she discusses are in video game media...

And what would you want her to do actually?

scholarly[/]academic merit

What is the requirement for both?

...proper analysis.

What would that be?

Not a bad piece there Ian. I quite enjoyed it.
Wonder what the comments are going to be saying about this?

*Looks through thread and sees AS turn up*

image

Interesting little article, quite happy to see rubbish as The Daily Mirror get corrected like that and see North's position nuanced. Gaming, indeed, is far more diverse than the small portion of AAA releases that get large, public coverage and seem to be the sole focus of discussions regarding representation and whatnot.

And indeed, any claims regarding things like representation should indeed either take into account the wide variety of games out there when making large, sweeping claims and have the research methodology and proof to back it up or must be content with greatly nuanced, more focused claims.

Speaking of proof, I must admit however that I'd like a bit more source quoting in this article. A bit more proof when statements like "Most mainstream titles tend to present less overtly sexualized imagery of women." are concerned. Back that stuff up yo.

Casual Shinji:
One could argue though that by side-stepping one gender specific pitfall, the Tomb Raider reboot fell right into another. Now, I find it highly debateable whether new Lara has any emotional depth or complexity, since the only drama the game seemed to be going for was 'Look at this poor girl getting wrung through the wringer'. There wasn't anything else to get attached to with her character, just the sensation of watching a girl getting put through a ton of physical agony.

Really? From what I got from the game, Lara started out as a brazen, enthusiastic kid who was mostly used to playing around before. Then she suddenly had to deal with serious adversity, nearly dying and whatnot, and she gets, indeed, put through the wringer. But she manages to come out on top and manages to keep her passion for archaeology.

I found that pretty cool. Maybe not superbly deep, but it was nice seeing her conquer adversity and become 'the tomb raider' we know. All in all not a terrible origin story. Outside of the whole ludo-narrative dissonance spiel of course.

Goliath100:

And what would you want her to do actually?

To supplement; first she shouldn't make the mistake of "these few games are problematic, therefor gaming as a whole is problematic." That's bad logic and bad methodology and not how you back up large claims like she makes. She takes a leap of faith without supporting it by setting up an analysis regarding the entire field of gaming. And you don't do that by simply showing a few examples which may or may not be statistically relevant for the entire field of videogames. She would need to employ more in-depth sociological methodology/research to back up her claims regarding broad trends.

Of course, some of her opponents then start making the same mistake by simply giving examples of well-done female/minority characters and then jumping to the conclusion that there's no problem. That's not how you show that either.

Karadalis:

Her series is about reinforcing the argument that fiction has a real and lasting effect on peoples behavior in real live situations, that fiction can reinforce negative ideas in people about others and that people will eventually act out on these ideas.

To be honest, there's quite a big difference between the claims of "Fiction has a cultural impact." and "There's a direct relationship between the contents of fiction and individual behavior."

What exactly is the point of this article? That Nolan North said "something" about video games and also games are diverse despite not being diverse at times? I mean I hate to be a bit dismissive here, but this article seemed to be using one guy's statement as an excuse to restate a rather accepted point of view. I mean it just doesn't feel like much is being contributed in this but rather poking the bear a little...

Wasn't Lara dealt with the death of her parents under mysterious circumstance not being in a snuff film? I know you can't play gender wars with that narrative but I thought that was it. Oh well MOAR DRAMA MOAR ANGST!!But hey she's fixing the character eh Rhianna Pratchett! More political punchbags for character.

So Lara, because she is a woman, has to go through physical torture whereas Indiana Jones didn't. Yep nothing sexist there. Guarantee if a man wrote that game there would be an almighty shitstorm.

Jake Martinez:
You are incredibly wrong about this.

She hasn't done a single quantitative analysis about sexist tropes or sexist representation of women in video games. It doesn't exist.

Thats what her videos are.

[What she does is exactly as I described it. She cherry picks examples of tropes from games, then uses a reductionist argument to ascribe sexism to the industry based on her subjective interpretation of single instances of a trope in a piece of media.

a) There's no such thing as a subjective interpretation of a trope. A trope is merely a thing that happened. It happened or it didn't, there really is nothing vague or ambiguous about it.

b) There's no such thing as "cherry-picking tropes" because they are just things that have happened.

c) Stop using reductionist incorrectly. She doesn't say "every videogame ever is sexist!!1!" She says that there is a pervasive trend of misogyny and traits that are otherwise hostile towards women in a way that games don't commonly have a similar air of hostility towards men. She, in her videos, highlight this trend that she supposes is happening by highlighting the prevalence of tropes that she deems negative. Do I think use of the tropes and their abundance are bad things myself? No, I don't. She does, though, and if you're going to engage with her points (not that she is interested in engaging with anybody) you have to understand where she is coming from and what she means. Thats basically true for any time you're discussing philosophy. If anybody here is making reductionist claims, its yourself by saying that she's projecting her assertions to every game ever.

Just because I can go out and say, find a half a dozen instances of an unflattering portrayal of a woman or a minority in a video game doesn't mean that it's endemic in the industry. That's the point that actually matters - because this is the universally accepted standard for determining systemic or instituationalized sexism, which is the very point she is trying to (poorly) argue.

Riiiiight, six examples in half-hour long videos. That point aside, humans aren't calculators. We don't function via cold, hard logic and mathematics its actual prevalance is less important than perceived prevalence. Since none of us can play every game ever, I think its fair to say that trying to judge every single game is dumb. You yourself didn't need to play every single game ever to say to suppose that she is wrong, after all.

There is a difference between a single narrative experience using a trope and an entire industry doing nothing but relentlessly pushing that trope.

And now you're strawmanning. Does she say that every game ever relentless pushes a particular trope? No. She's points out that they're common, or at least, that they appear to be common, and that its endemic of a larger issue, which, by the way, doesn't need to mean that 100% of games suffer from it. If only 10% of games suffered from what she supposes that still enough that it wouldn't be unfair for somebody to say its a problem.

Again, you are completely and unequivocally wrong. There is no strawman argument being used here, I've described what she does exactly to a "T".

You're saying that she projects her assertion of endemic sexism to every game ever. I could probably pick a soundbyte out of any one of dozen or so videos that shows that wrongs.

A proper epidemiological study

Is unnecessary because humans are not calculators. Particularly given that not every game is equal so already the litmus you're proposing is wrong. Any The Legend of Zelda game will reach a greater audience and have a greater cultural impact than any indie game because of its popularity. Thats one of a few reasons why she focuses on mainstream games in particular.

What Anita does is simply entertainment, or as they like to say "awareness raising". Okay, awareness raised - now let's do the actual work of determining if her ideas are correct.

Again, I'll continue to emphasize, we're not calculators. Furthermore, even if we did this was done, which is practically speaking an impossible feat, people would just fall into the same camp they're in already regardless of the data because if it came out to, say, 10%, some will say "thats so small its irrelevant" while somebody else will say "thats a huge amount and it needs to be addressed".

However, I doubt that any of the hundreds of thousands of dollars she received last year will go into an endeavor like this since there is a high degree of chance that it will run counter to the narrative she is trying to push.

What you suggest is basically impossible for painfully obvious reasons - classification could be argued to death, it would be impossible to play every single game while experiencing every single mechanical and narrative function to proper gather an understanding of it, etc. This is why we don't try to gather every single pair of twins in existence when scientists want to do a study about twins. Furthermore, the unnecessary and irrelevant swipes at her income are unnecessary and irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

Karadalis:
So I have to ask.. have you actually watched her videos?

Every one of them up until a few months ago when people finally got bored and stopped even bothering to pretend to have watched her videos and just started attacking her to attack her. Basically, once her videos became irrelevant I stopped watching because I don't really care for her opinions. I do care for intellectual honesty in discussion, however, which is why it seems like I'm defending her all the time even though I think she's wrong regarding a few of her major points and that I think she has been acting shady.

Anywho I just responded to somebody with her points and I imagine that I'd just be saying a lot of the same with you. I just skimmed and saw a lot of ad hominem so if proper responses to your points are not in my other post, oh well, because I don't really care to engage wih somebody who isn't willing to approach a subject reasonably.

MarsAtlas:

A proper epidemiological study

Is unnecessary because humans are not calculators. Particularly given that not every game is equal so already the litmus you're proposing is wrong. Any The Legend of Zelda game will reach a greater audience and have a greater cultural impact than any indie game because of its popularity. Thats one of a few reasons why she focuses on mainstream games in particular.

This is absolutely untrue. The problem is simply this; she's making claims regarding broad, sociological trends without employing proper scientific methods. Humans not being calculators has absolutely nothing to do with that so I wonder why you insist on mentioning that, if anything that's exactly why we developed methodologies for scientific work. Methodologies she's not using, yet her claims require her to do so. Hence why her videos have no actual sociological merit, the only conclusion one can rightfully draw from them is that there are examples of certain tropes that put women in an unfair negative light in videogames. That's all her particular work points to.

If you want to draw broader conclusions from her work you get confronted with certain important methodological questions. Questions like whether her sample size is large enough, whether her samples are statistically relevant, whether her samples are representative of the entire population, whether biases are taken into account, etc. All very basic questions regarding scientific methodology.

The point being that if she wants to move in the field of sociology and make sociological claims she has to play by the rules of the game. But in her videos at least she doesn't. That makes grand conclusions from her video series academically worthless.

All that of course doesn't prove that there isn't an issue. There might very well be. But the way she goes about proving that is not the way. To respond to what you've said in the beginning of your post; no, her videos are not at all a quantitative statistical analysis of sexist tropes in videogames as they don't adhere even remotely to scientific methodology. And that's a shame because we really could use such an analysis.

On a less relevant matter; your discussion partner is employing 'reductionist' correctly. Reductionism can refer to larger systems being explained through individual examples. And that's exactly what she's doing.

Not that I like defending The Mirror, but the original article was titled "Video games WERE sexist, claims Uncharted 4 star Nolan 'Nathan Drake' North" and subtitled "Actor described as games industry's leading man says women have too often been portrayed with 'big boobs and bikinis'". The article goes out of its way to use the past tense and illustrate the transition Nolan North described in the interview.

This escapist article is more or less agreeing with the same basic point of the original tabloid article whilst trying to disagree with it. The main difference is that Cheong tries to downplay the criticisms of sexism in modern games further, describing sexism as "exceptions" as opposed to the rule. Whilst few will disagree that games are better at gender representation than they used to be, lets not kid ourselves that most female characters in contemporary games gets some kind of flak for the way they are portrayed.

To take Tomb Raider, there was the whole "player must pity the vulnerable woman" quote from the devs, that notorious QTE, and the general observations about how Lara Croft has been reinvented as a wuss who had to gradually learn to be a bad-ass, sobbing and being consoled by father figures the whole way. It's the sort of transition that we wouldn't normally see a male character go through, which is in itself an interesting manifestation of sexism; it is really hard to get an audience to come around to the idea that male characters can be anything other than stoic or badass, and even harder to get them to accept a good male crying scene.

Cowabungaa:

MarsAtlas:

A proper epidemiological study

snip

snip

I think you're wrong. Are we going to argue that you can't discuss trends in video games without a full quantitative study and rigorous scientific standards? Of course not. That would be a ludicrous requirement, which can't possibly be applied to answer a question as subjective as "is this thing sexist?". And yet this is always one of the big criticisms directed at Sarkeesian, as though referring to a project as "academic" means it also must be written in the style of a scientific study. A huge number of academic writings are persuasive essays, in which arguments are often made through a qualitative, rather than quantitative approach. Expecting Sarkeesian to t-test and study groups of games before making a point about them is like demanding someone count all the grains of sand in a bucket before being allowed to describe the colour of the beach.

Silvanus:

Barbas:

The Daily Mail is the laughing stock of the nation. It's good for a few laughs, but that's it. If you'll pardon my crudity, I'd wouldn't use it as a wanky hanky for fear of getting stupiditis on my dingaling. That sentence, by the way, was only a little less competent than the average Daily Mail front page. And a fair bit less racist.

Quibble: The article references the Daily Mirror rather than the Mail. Quite different beasts (though neither are good).

It's kinda like the difference in being eaten by an ogre and been eaten by a swamp troll.

I also have to admit I read that in your avatars voice, then subconsciously subtracted five points from barbas.
Sorry.

On topic.
Interesting article and enjoyed reading it.
Not the one by the ogres and swamp trolls, the one on the escapist I mean.

maninahat:

Cowabungaa:

MarsAtlas:

snip

snip

I think you're wrong. Are we going to argue that you can't discuss trends in video games without a full quantitative study and rigorous scientific standards? Of course not.

Disagree. And obviously, you can discuss whatever the hell you want, but without at least some degree of scientific method to actually back up what you're saying, your claims really can't be held as having much base.

For example, as you said above: "trends in video games". Ok, define a 'trend' in video gaming. If 10,000 games were released last year and 4000 had a certain feature, is it a trend? How about 2000? What if 7000 games had it, but not a single RPG? Is it still considered a 'gaming trend', if an entire genre didn't have it?

maninahat:
Expecting Sarkeesian to t-test and study groups of games before making a point about them is like demanding someone count all the grains of sand in a bucket before being allowed to describe the colour of the beach.

Not quite. What Sarkeesian does is goes to a beach that is 90% brown sand and 10% black sand, shows you the black sand, and then tells you this means the beach is probably black. But she can, theoretically, tell you this (and be correct), because there is no set standard for how much of the sand needs to be black in order to say the beach is, in fact, black. Even talking about "tropes in video games" is a statement that can't be proven, because there is no set standard for how much something must be done before it is considered a 'trope' (using the word's 2nd definition of being a common or overused theme or device)
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/trope

maninahat:

I think you're wrong. Are we going to argue that you can't discuss trends in video games without a full quantitative study and rigorous scientific standards?

Except that I wasn't talking about that, so I can't be wrong about that either.

No, I was only responding to very specific claims made about a very specific subject, namely Sarkeesian's series of videos. That was the extent of my post and I was not talking about discussing trends in video games as a whole.

Expecting Sarkeesian to t-test and study groups of games before making a point about them is like demanding someone count all the grains of sand in a bucket before being allowed to describe the colour of the beach.

No, it isn't at all. If one aspires to make a certain king of quantitative analysis, like Sarkeesian sets out to do, and draw sweeping, sociological conclusions from them one should adhere to certain standards of research.

Sarkeesian's problem is a simple one; she can't make and support the kind of conclusions she draws through the methods of research she applies. So she either has to make her conclusions a lot more modest or apply methodology that'd support that type of conclusion. That's the extend of it, nothing more and nothing less.

Because sure, there's a lot of qualitative studies in science, but Sarkeesian makes a basic logical and methodological mistake, namely "These examples are X, therefor the entire field is X." That's not a logical necessity and to support such a claim one needs to apply certain quantitative methodologies. She does not apply these methods. Therefor her specific conclusion holds no real merit.

Ihateregistering1:

maninahat:

Cowabungaa:

snip

I think you're wrong. Are we going to argue that you can't discuss trends in video games without a full quantitative study and rigorous scientific standards? Of course not.

Disagree. And obviously, you can discuss whatever the hell you want, but without at least some degree of scientific method to actually back up what you're saying, your claims really can't be held as having much base.

For example, as you said above: "trends in video games". Ok, define a 'trend' in video gaming. If 10,000 games were released last year and 4000 had a certain feature, is it a trend? How about 2000? What if 7000 games had it, but not a single RPG? Is it still considered a 'gaming trend', if an entire genre didn't have it?

A trend isn't a specific amount, and doesn't really have to be for the point to be made. If I were to say that the escapist has seen a trend towards gamergate related threads, I don't necessarily have to tell you how many threads there are, or what ratio are GG related for you to get the gist of what I am saying. If someone where to ask for those figures, I would dismiss them as pedant. If all I am trying to do is make a convincing argument, I can often just use a few examples and the reader's personal knowledge of the forums.

maninahat:
Expecting Sarkeesian to t-test and study groups of games before making a point about them is like demanding someone count all the grains of sand in a bucket before being allowed to describe the colour of the beach.

Not quite. What Sarkeesian does is goes to a beach that is 90% brown sand and 10% black sand, shows you the black sand, and then tells you this means the beach is probably black. But she can, theoretically, tell you this (and be correct), because there is no set standard for how much of the sand needs to be black in order to say the beach is, in fact, black. Even talking about "tropes in video games" is a statement that can't be proven, because there is no set standard for how much something must be done before it is considered a 'trope' (using the word's 2nd definition of being a common or overused theme or device)
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/trope

Sarkeesian isn't saying the whole beach is black though, she is saying that one can expect to see black sand on the beach. That is to say, Sarkeesian isn't saying all games are sexist, just that one can often expect to see sexism in gaming. People are trying to argue she cherry picks to prove her point, but as she is only describing a trend and not every last game in the medium, there would be no need for her to cherry pick. As long as she can gesture to the black patches on the beach, an onlooker can see that, yes, in fact that beach does indeed appear to have its black spots.

I find myself with a consistent unpopular opinion on this subject.

On the one hand, writing in regards to female characters in video games has been and to some degree still is kind of lacking. There's a ton of stuff that celebrates the typical male struggle- which is fine, we're half the population, we can have interesting stories- but not very much that tells female stories.

On the other hand, as progressive as I am, I cannot, will not even passively condone this very repugnant idea that's taken hold on 'my side' of the fence: that a sex-positive environment is an immature one unless it's handled in a Cable Television fashion.

No! I'm sorry! I didn't come to the progressive side of thinking just to rotate all the way around to puritanical self-censorship. I refuse to be ashamed of even cartoonish sexual impulses. Shaming ourselves to be 'more mature,' whatever the hell that means, does nothing to further men or women, and only sets up this false dichotomy that I am sick to death of seeing published as gospel. I formally challenge this notion.

MarsAtlas:

snip

Again, nearly everything you say is wrong. You are even accusing me of using terms like "reductionist" incorrectly, when it's blindingly obvious to anyone with a dictionary that I'm not.

I'm not even sure what you're arguing at this point since the evidence, the video series in itself, as well as the claims that she makes within the first 10 seconds of her Tropes vs. Women series run counter to nearly every single point you're trying to make.

It is exactly as this Cowabungaa said:

Cowabungaa:

Sarkeesian's problem is a simple one; she can't make and support the kind of conclusions she draws through the methods of research she applies. So she either has to make her conclusions a lot more modest or apply methodology that'd support that type of conclusion. That's the extend of it, nothing more and nothing less.

Because sure, there's a lot of qualitative studies in science, but Sarkeesian makes a basic logical and methodological mistake, namely "These examples are X, therefor the entire field is X." That's not a logical necessity and to support such a claim one needs to apply certain quantitative methodologies. She does not apply these methods. Therefor her specific conclusion holds no real merit.

I happen to know that Cowabungaa and I are fairly far apart on certain ideas generally relating to the topics that Anita wants to talk (broadly) about, but it's pretty clear to anyone who's ever been interested in sociology that you can't make a claim of the size that Anita is making and then use no acceptable methodology to back it up. Hell, I'm not even looking for definitive proof of anything at this point (as if that could even exist) but she can't even suggest a trend or a jumping off point for further examination because she's presented literally no research.

It's exactly like I said before - Her work is entertainment. You can enjoy it if you want to, but it has no actual merit other than as entertainment and personal opinion. Heck, I'm not even telling people to not like it or to not like her, I'm merely stating that using her video series as evidence of anything such as the tar and feathering of video games as "sexist" is just preposterous.

In fact, the only reason why I care at all about what she says is because of the specific claims that she is making. If she made more modest claims that were in-line with the actual work that she did do then I would hardly care less.

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