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Oct 30 2012

Hags of Lag – Repost

(Felt this was appropriate after talking to a friend… It’s a repost and I couldn’t figure how to do reposts properly.)
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 female 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 (World of Warcraft is reputed to have a good system) but video games and indeed geek culture are forever tarnished by the innate sexism present. There are just more men than women and that creates sexism. There is also the social issue of them being “nerds”. The attitudes may be changing but during my generation, “nerds” got bullied and never got to go on dates. I know I was attracted to the whole MRA thing because I was plain ostracised. I still believe the simplest explanation for MRAs is that it’s what you get when a group of people who don’t participate in what we consider as “the normal social experience” attempt to tick the boxes in an attempt to get the normal social experience. In the same way that the Big Bang Theory is an attempt by people to tick boxes to create nerds.

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. If you want to play a videogame in any social setting outside of the immediate you have to deal with racists, sexists and all around arseholes.

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, the one who lives on fast reactions and perfect button presses.

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.

In 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. Use gender productively in your game. If you want to make a game about a “maternal figure” then you can do it if you do it CORRECTLY. For instance? A zombie survival game where you have to protect and stealth your way through the game with your kid in tow becoming more badass as you go along. Why is your kid in tow? Kid was with you at work after school when the outbreak hit and you had to escape, or just start in media res. You don’t NEED to have a back story, it can just be about two people surviving. You literally have no skills apart from the ones you develop as you go along since none of the skills you had at work or normalcy come into play.

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 treat women. You can make strong characters in game that aren’t sexist or have nothing to do with sexism. You can have a female character who isn’t hypersexualised and is normal. You can create compelling stories if you buck the trends and tropes we so love. There are great games out there. Amazing ones, with so much effort put into them that are ignored by 50% of our population and derided roundly because we don’t make them feel welcome to partake in an art form. The way we treat women who play videogames is like if we called women in art galleries bitches and roundly derided any attempts by them to draw anything that isn’t pink ponies and princesses.

I want my hypothetical daughter to look at games like XCOM and go “that’s a classic” or to explore transhumanism through Deus Ex. I don’t want her to grow up thinking “Only Wankers Play Games” because that’s clearly the message we sending to the world. I want her to play Spec Ops: The Line and go “Wow, that’s good. I got insulted by my game and the mentality of gamers”. I want a game purchased for her to be like Beyond Good or Evil, not like another Call of Duty Clone or heaven forbid Barbie Pony Adventures.

(BTW – Any gamers here who want to create a guild that tries to not be like the denizens of fat, ugly and slutty then let’s make it happen. I declare the Hags of Lag open for recruitment.)

8 comments

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  1. 1
    Timid Atheist

    As a female gamer I’ve encountered my fair share of sexism. I’ve also encountered the occasional pedestal. For example, if I get a random group in World of Warcraft and the group finds out I really am a woman playing a female character they praise me as being amazing for playing a video game. I’m obvious a unicorn to them and much better than all those other girls they know.

    Geek culture for men came about as a way for them to have their own slice of the pie and not feel alienated. But, as you said, they ended up adopting so many of the same ideals but with them on top instead of the (insert popular group name here). In the end, while they’re accepting of geeky pass times, they are still just as sexist/racist/etc. as the group they were angry at for being excluded.

    I’m doing my best to raise my child so that ze doesn’t think in such binary terms. Anyone can like video games and be good at them, sex and gender have nothing to do with it.

    I’m all for Hags of Lag. I’m tempted to make one on my warcraft server. Except I use my real name there and I’m still incognito as far as being an atheist is concerned. I still support it, regardless.

  2. 2
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    I’m still cracking up about “cubes don’t exist in nature”. And as if someone had to sit down, ponder, and do some heavy design to come up with these. Someone is an utter fuckwit.

  3. 3
    octopod

    Yeah. I got stuck on “cubes don’t exist in nature”, too. I suppose that puts us a few mineralogical steps closer to the answer to the question “what planet do these guys live on?”, though.

  4. 4
    Arancaytar

    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.

    Time cube guy, is that you?

  5. 5
    Corvus illustris

    “Since cubes and sq[ua]res do not exist in nature, somebody, some inquiring mind lost to history discovered that, by linking the corners of a sq[ua]re to other squares at th[eir] vertices one could create this 3 dimensional shape now known as the cube.”
    If the diameter of the intertubes were larger I could send him this container of salt with instructions on how to grow nice crystals from it. Alas, it won’t fit. Well, instead he might like to google “Jean Taylor mathematician” and gain still more insight into the deficiencies of women’s geometrical intuition. (Her home page at Rutgers has links to some nice videos; I have seen some of them elsewhere, but can’t get them to play on the browser I’m using.)

  6. 6
    im

    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.

    Innnnnnnnnteresting.

    I am in a minority-majority college (Significantly but not gigantically lower African American enrollment, East Asian and Southeast Asian students are a slim majority) that is fairly popular for foreign students and I have noted that there are a LOT of nonwhite engineering ladies. I don’t know how long that persists through generations of immigrants of course. Or for that matter, how many many generations past immigration or rates of acculturaton or whatever for people. But it is still something I notice.

    In fact, the hard-core, mechanical/electrical design part of my engineering club (as opposed to parts that teach engineering or mentor or are administrative) has exactly two white women, and one of them has an Arab name. (this is counting only people who actually show up frequently). And we are pretty big.

    It at least does seem to be getting gradually better….

    It’s kind of sad to see my race failing at this so badly.

  7. 7
    Avicenna

    It’s not your Race… It’s your cultural expectation of women. And your cultural treatment of people who are good at mathematics.

    If you sat down with your kids and made sure they did their homework then gave them rewards for education (more than sport sadly… reason why we suck at sport) and performance you will see atleast a mid level performance because the rewards are WORTH it.

  8. 8
    Darron Domeier

    If you are looking for the meaning of life, then visit the link in my name.

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