The Hags of Lag

Videogames tend to have fewer female participants in the competitive and indeed the online scene. There are a tonne of reasons which we can get into later but the primary reason is one that everyone can guess. Well if you are part of Men Going their Own Way it’s because men’s brains are superior

What i find amazing is that the cube you are viewing above is as one-dimensional as the text you are reading, yet the eye is tricked into perceiving depth.  We see three dimensional space where there is none.  My point?  Since cubes and sqaures do not exist in nature, somebody, some inquiring mind lost to history discovered that, by linking the corners of a sqaure to other squares at thier vertices one could create this 3 dimensional shape now known as the cube.  Such is the brilliance of human thought — our ability to see the unseen, to solve problems by simply imagining hypothetical scenarios and bringing them to life.

The MRA movement has it’s heart and soul in pseudointellectualism. It’s the idea that it’s members are actually the fittest and finest humanity has to offer and that women actively make terrible decisions when they don’t talk to them because the world is at some sort of intellectual nadir. They are the eloi to our morlocks.

The article then continues with a quote from the Manipulated Man, a book that espouses the idea that women in the 1970s were dominant because they had conditioned men to behave as pavlovian dogs into becoming their slaves in exchange for the right to do the horizontal mambo. It’s clearly a book written by someone who lives in bizzaro land.

Of all the qualities of man, his curiosity is certainly the most impressive. This curiosity differs basically from that of woman. A woman takes interest only in subjects that have an immediate personal usefulness to her. For example, if she reads a political article in the newspaper, it is highly likely that she wants to cast a spell on some political-science student, not that she cares about the fate of the Chinese, Israelis, or South Africans. If she looks up the names of some Greek philosophers in the dictionary, it does not mean she has suddenly taken an interest in Greek philosophy. It means she is trying to solve a crossword puzzle. If she is studying the advertisements for a new car, she is not doing it with a platonic interest in its technical features, but because she wants to own it.
It is a fact that most women – mothers included – generally have no idea how the
human fetus is formed, how it develops in the womb, or what stages it passes
through before birth. Of course it is entirely unnecessary for her to know about these
things, since they cannot influence the development of the embryo anyway. It is only
important to know that a pregnancy lasts nine months and that for the duration one
must take care of oneself and, in case of complications, immediately consults one’s
doctor, who will, of course, restore everything to order.

By the Power of Greyskull! If you actually believe in this woman then you clearly are stupid. Women are just as curious as men are. Reading a newspaper won’t let you “cast a spell” on a political science student. Actually knowing something about politics will help you, but you aren’t going to convert a few minutes of paper reading to political science.

And most men have no idea how a human fetus is born either.

Man’s curiosity is something quite different. His desire for knowledge has no personal
implications, is purely objective and, in the long run, is much more practical than a
woman’s attitude. One has only to watch a man go past a building site where a newly developed machine is being used, for example a new kind of dredger. There is hardly a man – regardless of social status – who will pass by without a glance. Many will stop to have a good look and to discuss the characteristics of the new machine, its advantages
and disadvantages, and its differences from previous models.

I wouldn’t stop to ask about a dredger and it’s advantages and disadvantages from previous models. Most men would probably look at the dredger for a bit because it’s interesting, but I am sure women also would find it interesting. I wouldn’t know bucket from tread on JCB, but I know the guy on the machine wouldn’t know his sacrum from his capitulum. This woman’s work seems to be quite the primer to MRA beliefs. Granted there are some women who think like her in terms of “casting spells on men” but quite frankly most women don’t think that way. Hell, I am sure most men wouldn’t want ANY woman to think that way.

Suffice to say, the male is curious for curiosity’s sake alone.  He needs no explanation as to why knowing the inner workings of some technological device will benefit him directly — the satiation of his inquiry is all the benefit he needs.  He derives pleasure from discovery, obsessing over the euphoric high he receives when his neurons fire off in just the right way, providing to him a rush of clarity and understanding.  He despises having others rectify things for him that he suspects he can rectify himself.

Which is why there are no women in science at all. And men do require the knowledge of how and why a device will help him. Yes, men hunt mammoths for women and all that jazz, but really? The idea that all men are pocket geniuses who derive a euphoric pleasure from curiosity is unfathomably stupid. Everyone has different interests.

So why are men better than women in a world of games?

It very well may be that men have a higher aptitude than their female counterparts for understanding highly technical concepts and schemata. The Purdue Spatial Visualization Test functions as a preliminary litmus test to gauge how students aspiring to become engineers will fare in a math intensive engineering curriculum. Men perform significantly better than women on this portion of the test. It seems men have a natural and superior ability to visualize and rotate objects in their mind — and yet a study conducted on gender differences in regards to performance in a game such as tetris, shows us that with regular practice, women not only shed their mental rotation deficiencies, but maintain them on par with men months after the original test. That an innate proclivity in male human nature allows them to traverse complex ideas and intricacy better than women do is certainly possible, but the degree to wich this gender discrepancy exist’s is not enough i think, to account for the massive discrepancy in male/female creativity and innovation. I wholeheartedly believe that what causes such a huge disparity between men and women in term’s scientific and creative invention/innovation is this sustained curiosity. The conviction to question any amount of convention, supplanting his own groundbreaking and revolutionary concept, while rigorously testing it against objectiv
e scrutiny until he proves his speculation true.

So women suck at videogames because they are allegedly terrible at spatial awareness. And black people can dunk and white people are prone to being bit by snakes.

The reason for scientific discrepency between women and men is that women for a long period of time were not allowed to indulge in scientific pursuit or in creativity. There were no Dutch Mistresses because their paintings wouldn’t have sold and would have been derided because of their gender. Even individuals such as Madam Curie only survived because she was a complete badass, but the average woman of the time would never have had the chance to do the things she did and even she only did those things because she had the opportunity through her husband. That was the society of the time.

The finest example of the loss of gender discrimination is medicine. The field has an equal number of male and female participants due to the loss of gender roles in it. There are still a few (Surgery is a boy’s club. Gynaecology and Obstetrics is a girl’s) gender roles left that need to be broken down but overall the field is split evenly across gender. By contrast Engineering in the west is heavily male dominated. So people think women cannot do mathematics or are terrible at it.

There is no anti-female bias in Indian culture with regards to mathematics and engineering. So 50% of engineers are women, a ratio that is completely unheard of in the USA and UK. Indian women aren’t magic, they are the same as the women back home in the UK biologically. The difference is societal expectation in India for these young middle class women doesn’t involve the words “Maths is Hard”.

The advent of video games is an extension of this deep, insatiable male curiosity.  For the fist time, the force that is male curiosity has  made the intangible tangible — creating a completely fictional virtual world for men and boys.  Currently there is arguably no better place for one to observe male curiosity than in the world of gaming.  Take any newly released  modern competitive video game as an example, what you will see without exception, is a male sub-culture emerge around the game itself.  If the game allows for sufficiently intense competition, the gamers, having reached a general stalemate in skill (immediate curiosity), will then turn their attention to the physics engine of the game — looking to discover and eventually exploit whatever glitches they can find as an edge against their competitors (sustained curiosity).

When I play a videogame (I am currently rocking League of Legends despite the lag. AvicennaLast on the EU East Server) I generally am not in it because I am curious, but because it offers me a little escapism and some stress release. Yes I find a thrill in beating people at it through skill and strategy. And yes I know women who find such a thrill too. It’s not uncommon.

Yes there are more men who play videogames. And while MRA’s think it’s because men are fantastic unicorns of curiosity and competition, I think it’s because women are not encouraged to play games either by the games themselves or by society as a whole.

There are a handful of good, strong female protagonists in games. There are a handful of games that don’t portray women as sex objects to be acquired as achievements or to be oggled. When it comes to immersion in game you want to play as something that compels you to push through it. Now games can have a variety of compelling mechanisms ranging from plot, graphics, challenge and freedom. These are important to the game’s progression but what makes you want to play it?

For men it’s a virtual playground of Gordon Freemans. For women it’s a world where all women have impossible waists, even more impossible breasts and the kind of personality found on either doormats or jaded strippers. The women in games are there solely to provide an idealistic representation of what a teenager thinks an ideal woman should be. Why on earth would you want to play as that? The ideal videogame character is one who you would want to play as irrespective of gender. The only one I can think of from the top of my head is the female Shepard from Mass Effect. Women don’t want to play videogames in the same way that women don’t want to go watch strippers for the same reason. Some women will like it but frankly most find it uncomfortable and demeaning because of the subject material.

Finally, women have a terrible time playing online. Playing online is a paradise if you are straight, white and male. If you are black, jewish, asian, GLBT or indeed a woman then you are going to be subjected to every slur known on the planet ranging from the rather benign “Noob” to the “Nigger, Kike, Paki, Bitch, Slut..”.

And that’s without the actual harassment after finding out that a player is a woman. This rules women out of playing in competitive situations unless they wish to be actively harassed. This stops women from working on communications in game such as the VOIP chat necessary for modern games or from things like XFire, Ventrillo or Skype. Women have a handicap that is only avoidable if they are playing with people who won’t harass them such as actual friends. Now, some communities are more positive with regards to creating a safe area for competition but video games and indeed geek culture are forever tarnished by the innate sexism present. There is little drive to actively stomp it out. Women have to grin and bear it and many women simply don’t want to. I don’t want to deal with racists and I expect that women have the same attitude.

Finally, here is a gripe by someone who plays a lot of games. Exploiting the Physics Engine, is basically claiming that utilising bugs in a game is acceptable to gain an advantage. This isn’t sustained curiosity. It’s cheating. It’s what you get when you play a perfectly balanced game where there are only a handful of strategies needed to win and the winner is the one who can execute them the fastest. It is not the hallmark of a great game. It’s the hallmark of a game that is poorly designed, where everyone plays a game in exactly the same way. This isn’t a game so much as a race to match a checklist. To laud this as the epitome of gaming is to completely misunderstand what makes a game good vs. what makes a game great. To complain that an active glitch in Smash Bros Melee (A cartridge and therefore unpatchable) was removed in it’s successor is to fail to understand basic game design. There are fighting games who have a competitive scene. Street Fighter is famous for it. They are designed with this kind of player in mind.

Super Smash Bros. was never intended to be a seriously competitive game. It was intended to be a fun game where you can pound the stuffing out of Mario as Link. It had a complex fighting system but it was complex through simplicity. Each player had a simple move set that interacted in a complex way. The new game wasn’t dumbed down so much as made tighter. In the same way that the new Starcraft II punished rushing and favoured longer strategies. Because it makes the competition more fun.

response to this a group of about 50 professional largely male video game programmers, took it upon themselves to te tediously re-program brawl, with its new characters, stages and features, into a game that included all of the aforementioned glitches, calling it project Melee, or “project M” for short.  Over 40,000 gamers have downloaded the project M patch since its release.  It is only men that would go to such lengths to safeguard a game that allows for such a unique expression o the competitive male spirit.  It is only men that will not accept, (even from the creator of a game itself) Any amount of competitiveness inhibition.  Their curiosity, their sustained curiosity would never allow it.  We have all of the  science and innovation our species can muster as a result.

Here is the “AHA! MEN RULE! LADIES DROOL!” moment.

Project Melee’s goal is to produce the old competitive scene of Smash Bros. Melee in Brawl. These aren’t “Glitches” that are being added so much as improvements to the control system that favours mobility and offence.

If the bulk of videogame players and developers are men then it’s only going to be men who are going to be interested in “fixing” the game rather than women. It’s out of lack of interest for the afore mentioned reasons. One can equally argue that the players of this mod merely want to recreate the older game because they prefer the older play style which is impossible with the same character in the newer game and rather than play the game they want to simply go back to the way things were with nicer graphics. Not due to the undying spirit of masculine competitiveness.

There is no sustained curiosity here, only people wanting to play a game in a specific way, modding a game so that they can do so without issue. The gender of the individual has nothing to do with it, merely the desire to play in a specific way. If you as a man are going to call it the “unique expression of the competitive male spirit”, I am going to have to call you a pretentious wanker and take away your Gurren Lagaan quotes before you hurt yourself kicking reason to the kerb.

Particularly if you are going to claim that all the science and innovation is due to men having curiosity while women don’t.

If you want to see women playing a game? Create a moderated world where racial and gender slurs are not bandied around. Create a game with positive female characters or real female characters. Not ones written by men who think women behave and dress like that. Remove the stigma of women playing games. Punish sexists. If someone says that sexist smack talk is part and parcel of the gaming world then make it change.

I would want any future hypothetical daughter of mine to share in my love of videogames. I would not want her to play online though, not until we change the way players and indeed the games themselves treate women.


  1. says

    As a woman who works in a knowledge profession, is a mensa member, and scores in the top 2% of visualization ability (something men are supposedly superior in), the reason I don't play video games is that I don't want to waste my time. Sheesh. How many gyrations does someone have to go through to justify sitting on their ass for hours on end pretending to be someone else? I appreciate your honesty about why you play. If the author of this tripe really has something to offer the world and a great curiosity, he'll be too busy in a lab or library to bother gaming.

  2. says

    I think the problem here is that you think it's a waste of time. A videogame is a lot of things. It can be a test of skill. There is no doubt that it is a skill. It can make you think such as Mass Effect and Deus Ex. It can offer you a properly immersive experience.

    Videogames are art. That's the thing, you just denigrated an art form that is as valid as Cinema or Literature to those who partake in it. The amount of skill that goes into making one is amazing.

    At it's core as a single player game, a videogame is an interactive movie or a visual book. It's like completely declaring an artform as invalid solely because you have no idea about it.

  3. says

    It's a diversion for someone who likes a challenge, I'll grant that, but how has the world changed when you're finished? Have you cleaned up a river that's littered with debris? Have you planted a community garden to help poor people improve their diet? Have you tutored a child who doesn't get long division? You could make the same claims for crossword puzles of sudoku but if you want to be an active participant in the real world it's a waste of your time.

  4. says

    Well, many videogames make you think and indeed help people grow together as individuals. They increase your hand eye coordination. They help stimulate your mind as well as explore concepts that you wouldn't normally think about. A good example is Mass Effect 2's treatment of artificial intelligences. Is rewriting their program a crime akin to brainwashing or is it a normal method of communication? Above all games can tell a story in a way that a movie or a book cannot. Videogames bring people together in ways that you cannot imagine because you don't get to see it.

    The modern idea of a game is a social experience. Yes there are horrible people online but you know what? There are horrible people everywhere. Name one thing in your average novel that isn't there in a videogame? Hell name one thing on your TV or in a Movie? If those are legitimate artforms and methods of relaxation then a videogame is also a legit artform and method of relaxation.

    You can be an active participant in the real world while playing games. I mean that's like saying that you cannot be an active participant in the world if you like reading books or indeed, do sudoku. That's like saying that you will never be an active participant in the real world if you study or that you will never be an active participant in education if you enjoy clubbing.

    No, what you mean is "People will treat you like a stereotype of a geek and ostracise you. Preventing you from participating in commonly accepted social interaction leaving you to indulge in D&D.".

    If we only did things that improved the conditions other people lived in (And bear in mind I am providing medical care in a place where people would normally have none) then we wouldn't do anything nice. All our buildings would be rectangular blocks, we would not grow flowers.

    Bah! As Zach Weiner said! I only listen to noises that save babies!

  5. says

    It seemed to me that the original issue is why women don't play video games as much as men. Personally, I'd rather be doing other things. I find watching sports to be a waste of time too. I just don't find competitive activities of interest at all. I'd much rather create something on my own or work at making the world a better place. If men want more women to participate in games, there should be sociological studies of what women want to do with their time.

  6. says

    Yes but there are plenty of women who do play games who complain about the way they are treated online. There are women who try and enjoy the hobby but are driven away by the people who partake in it. Women aren't encouraged to play good games, games aren't aimed well and any woman playing a game seriously ends up in a world of rape jokes and sexual harassment.

    If I was called a Paki everytime I played a game, I wouldn't want to play them. It's the same problem.

  7. says

    There have been some excellent female characters (often later ruined) though.

    Samus Aran, Alyx Vance and indeed Shepard.

    Really, Mass Effect was created with the notion that 50% of gamers SHOULD be women. They actually made the female character more likeable than the male character to the point where there are a sizeable amount of people who would prefer the female version of Shepard to be a woman simply because here is a good strong female character who can be played as a classical western hero in the mould of a knight or a 90s style anti-hero in the mould of Mal or any other hero whose actions are heroic but methods questionable.

    It can be done, there are tonnes of women who like Mass Effect despite the subject matter being a typically male (Science Fiction, Save the Universe) dominated scenario. And this won't change to become the norm unless we treat girls and boys growing up to have the same aspirations and ideas and not discriminate on the desire to play games.

    Do not buy your daughters barbie videogames. Not because it's for girls, but because it is terrible.

  8. bradleybetts says

    Please explain how watching a movie or viewing a painting helps clean rivers, plant community gardens or tutor children?

    I would actually contend that from a learning point of view video games are actually the best art form, since they are the only one which is interactive and therefore requires you to think.

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