Reach Out

To the editor: Don’t you guys ever get bored with hammering the same topics over and over and over? Jesus, I can’t count the number of articles I’ve read in The Escapist about sex in gaming. Enough shit already. Stop always trying to do the “controversial” stories and start covering some of the cool stuff that’s actually happening in the industry.


Editor’s reply: I’m going to assume you’re talking about the article by frequent The Escapist contributor, Lara Crigger entitled “Resident Evil’s Second Sex,” although as far as articles about sex go, this one was pretty tame. In fact, the word “sex” as used in the article’s title (and in the article itself) refers to gender, not intercourse, and the article actually does address the over-sexing of games, and why we as a culture seem to be preoccupied with such things. I think you might find a lot to love there, judging from the nature of your letter.

In the defense of The Escapist though, it’s been quite some time since we’ve published an article about sex. We publish roughly 250 articles a year, and so far this year approximately none of them have been about sex. In fact, in looking through our archives to find out what may have possibly triggered this objection, I had to go all the way back to Issue 64 from last year to find an article in our archives discussing sex. That one, a piece by me covering the growing teledildonics industry was pretty racy, I admit, but that was eight months (and about 150 articles) ago.

We did touch on the subject of being a woman gamer in Issue 92, but aside from a brief mention of raising a family and/or having children, that issue had very little “sexy” content (and even that was a stretch). We also covered the love story of a couple who met in an online game in Issue 88, but I assure you the kissyface described in that article was very PG. There was also a great article by Erin Hoffman (AKA EA Spouse) about the difficulty of being a woman in a man’s industry in Issue 70 from November, but again, as far as objectionably sexy content goes, that one was a bit of a let down.

If what you’re really objecting to are articles in our magazine discussing gender differences and presenting the viewpoint of women gamers and game designers, I’m afraid we’ll have to continue to disappoint you.

What interests us here at The Escapist is how games and media intersect with our lives, and sex, in all respects, is a fairly important aspect of life. But aside from that, the simple fact is that most games and game developers are men, and how they interact (or don’t) with the other half of the human population is pretty interesting. In order for more women to find something valuable in games, more women should be making games, and for women to get interested in making games in the first place, they should probably be playing them. It’s kind of a catch-22 situation and this industry isn’t alone in perpetuating that. Sexism is alive and well in this country (and the world) and, to be honest, letters like yours aren’t helping.

– Russ Pitts, Associate Editor

In response to “Resident Evil’s Second Sex” from The Escapist Forum: I think that “feminist ideal” needs rethinking a bit. You discuss earlier in the article the “if-you-can’t-beat-’em-join-’em” trap. But this whole business of having to constantly be strong and competent sounds a bit like more of the same. Not that strength or competence are inherently male, but rather the stereotypically male idea that it’s never OK to show fear or to fail at anything. Is this a case of feminists taking on the worst of male culture and embracing it as their own?

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In the context of video game design I see this quite a lot. Games are often designed in a way that punishes the player (not their character, the actual player) for failures. I think the whole mindset underlying that could do with being called into question.

– Dom Camus

Author’s Reply: I don’t think any school of feminism advocates that women must always be strong and competent, because that’s impossible, whether you’re a man or a woman. Instead, strength, freedom, competence; these are the ideals toward which we should always strive. We should always try to be the best we can be.

But you’re right: By adopting that ideal, women do risk developing those same fears of failure and of showing weakness that men stereotypically struggle with. But rather than seeing that as something wrong with those ideals, I think it’s a problem with how we understand fear and failure. Naturally, nobody idealizes failure, but perhaps the proper response is to instead understand its role in forming all those qualities we DO admire; that without failure, strength, freedom, competence, etc are meaningless.

Some games do in fact punish the player for failure, and I think that’s a mark of poor game design rather than sociological bias. Thankfully, that style of game/player interaction seems to be going out of fashion these days.

– Lara Crigger

To the editor: Shannon Drake hits the spot on “Vision Doesn’t Sell Copies – The Short Life of Clover Studios”. Indie developers rely on fresh ideas to pump out games like Chronic Logic’s “Gish” and make a living.

However, big name developers focus on revenues from the mainstream players. And Capcom is no exception.

I believe that the business model is to blame. To sell a million copies (as some games do today) we have to sacrifice many aspects so that games will be enjoyable by the average Joe. Otherwise, the PS2 would never sell 100 million units. With those sales figures in mind and development costs rising fast, it is no wonder what happened to Clover Studio.

– Paulo V. W. Radtke

In response to “Vision Doesn’t Sell Copies” from The Escapist Forum: I’m getting kind of tired of hearing this kind of “oh well what can you do” hopeless self-defeating nonsense when something like Clover’s demise comes up, especially from the more sophisticated (I assume) developers, press and gamers that read The Escapist. If even the people who dug Okami wrote it off the moment it was released as “too different/interesting to be successful”, how are publishers and non-gamers supposed to change their attitudes?

I’m dead serious about this. Conservatism and fear are self-perpetuating, and the truth is that the mass market(s) are far more interested in “out there”, new or interesting stuff than we give them credit for. The change has to start with us. It’s understandable to become discouraged when something you think is cool fails in the marketplace, but that’s no excuse to go into a permanent cynical sulk of nerdly elitism and doom the next Psychonauts the instant it appears. We need to be the ones fighting for it.

– chmmr

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