Rethinking Vision Forum »« Secrets and lies

“Feminist Whore”

Okay this is fascinating. From a post on a gaming website:

Dead Island, whose PR and publishing team won an advertising award earlier this year for a pricey and very artistic trailer, finds its way back into the news this week in a much less pleasant way.  A non-final “developer’s build” version of the game, which was accidentally released on Steam a couple of days ago, has been cracked by an enterprising fan.  Turns out that one of the unlockable “Skills” for one of the two female avatars is called “Feminist Whore” in the original code base:  re-titled “Gender Wars” in the “sanitized fit-for-public consumption” version of the game, it allows the character to deal extra damage to anything male.

Now the game’s “International Brand Manager” and publisher have to scramble and apologize for what must appear, to any sane adult, as an unplanned glimpse of the naked, bald-faced, slavering hatred of women which lives and breeds in their developers.

They’ve hurried to say that the person responsible for this misogynistic snippet of code was a “Lone Gunman” tech monkey, who introduced the phrase into the debug code as a “private joke”.  Thus the notion that all feminists were angry whores would “represent the views of only a single person” on that development team—or in this industry in general—and only one guy (at most) should suffer any professional consequences, naturally.

Wow…how very very familiar that sounds. What a lot of it we have been seeing lately, some of us (like me for instance) with amazement shock horror surprise consternation alarm confusion.

…virulent misogyny is not a freak incident in this business.  It is actually the norm in many studios.  It’s extremely common in the culture of gaming as a whole, and it is present in developers, gamers, publishers and the gaming press in copious abundance.  Anyone who doubts that insults like “Feminist Whore” are unwelcome in gaming has only to check the forum thread where the “Feminist Whore” skill was first discovered.  You’ll see a typical string of comments which you might see on virtually any gaming forum.  Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few comments attached to this post later that will be equally cringe-worthy and repugnant.

This seems to confirm a thought I had when reading Skeptic Lawyer’s post on manners, in particular her thoughts about geek subcultures. The thought was that maybe that’s where a lot of (or hell, for all I know all of) the more frothingly and obsessively misogynist commenters on ERV’s elevator posts originated. Maybe they’re all members of the geek subculture community and maybe that community is particularly infected with unabashed misogyny. What Arinn Dembo at Gamasutra says and what her commenters say provide a lot of evidence for that.

I like this one:

Rushing to dismiss feminist questions stinks. Always. A vicious dismissal of the concerns of others because you have some haughty anti-PC bent doesn’t make you George Fucking Carlin. It makes you a vicious pig. You are not an iconoclast and your protection of a broken and diseased culture also stinks.

Yeah.

Comments

  1. Fin says

    This isn’t particularly surprising. You just need to examine how women are presented in video games in general. As a storytelling medium, it’s very immature (which is no inherent fault – film had its own immature era), which means that there’s not a lot of nuance, and it’s primarily commercial, which means that in general you get lowest common denominator content.

    The result is that female characters in video games are generally presented only as love interests if good or what I will call the “Nazi slut” if bad (i.e. evil, but with a lot of sex appeal). Actually “sexiness” is a blunt requirement for most character designs in the video game industry, it is incredibly rare that you will see even an average looking woman in video games. Supermodel looks (and body types) are the norm.

    Personally, even though I enjoy video games, this is something that consistently irritates me (because primarily, I expect some kind of decent narrative). I am not surprised that it leaks over into the community, really, any more than I was reading an interview with Ursula K. Le Guin from the 80s about how the 50s gender stereotypes were still strong and expected in the science fiction genre.

    There are some worthy exceptions, though. The games of Bioware, for example, which allow the player character to be male or female with no significant differences except for romantic engagements (however, you can still pursue homosexual relationships in some of their games).

    I think, like the atheist community, the only way this is going to change is by women, and men, speaking up about how bullshit it is, and clearly and consistently explaining why it’s retarded. It’s depressing, though.

  2. Ophelia Benson says

    I know, I gather it’s not surprising to people who know about gaming, but I don’t, so to me it is, a little – but less so than it would have been three months ago.

  3. Z says

    There’s so many problems with the gaming community.

    People are more honest when they’re gaming (or working on games), because they let down their guard and turn off the filters they normally have to use when they’re, say, in the workplace. I’ve heard fellow gamers say this nearly explicitly: “I’m relaxing here, I want to joke around and not get hassled about a bunch of PC crap.” Games aren’t supposed to be serious.

    Gaming theorists talk about games involving a “magic circle” inside which different rules apply and “real life” does not intrude. So games often involve transgressive behavior, not just play-violence but experimenting with identity including gender (all those guys playing female characters). Unfortunately, some people think the magic circle enables them to turn off the filter on explicit hate speech as well. And so their fellow gamers get a window into what society would be like if the progress of the last century, such as it is, were rolled back.

    Playing multiplayer games in achievement-oriented groups like World of Warcraft raid guilds and 0.0 corporations in Eve Online, and dealing with racists and sexists and seeing how the “management” of those groups dealt with (and failed to confront) those people is actually what convinced me of the important of legal safeguards and indeed affirmative action in the workplace. Just a handful of sexist racist assholes, and management unwilling to confront them because of their perceived usefulness, can poison the atmosphere for everybody else. The threat of employment and legal consequences is probably one of the few things restraining people from behaving at work the way they do in video games.

    I’m also reminded of recent articles about self-control – where people have only so much to go around, and maybe gaming is where some people lose the self-control they need to reserve for work or ‘polite company’.

    So gaming presents an unfiltered and distilled microcosm of the prejudice in society at large (which hasn’t made so much progress after all, as it implies some people really are hateful assholes at heart).

    Also, maybe gaming (and geekdom) attracts some personalities more than others. While part of me wants to say “every subculture has its wierdos and assholes,” geek cultures seem to have more than their share. Beyond the usual autistic stereotype of nerds, maybe gaming, sci-fi, etc, attracts the rich fantasies (a la Walter Mitty) which are supposedly a feature of schizoid personality disorders. But that’s speculation, I’m no psychiatrist.

    One explanation I don’t think works is “misbehaving boys”. Most gamers are adults who ought to know better.

  4. Z says

    Oh no, sorry for the double-post especially such long-winded ones. I thought the first one got lost when I posted… please delete the repost :(

  5. Carlie says

    I do at least appreciate their apology. It’s direct, it takes full responsibility, and says that the developer/s who did it will actually face consequences, rather than being a “sorry if YOU were offended” not-pology.

  6. H.H. says

    Games are now mainstream, so it makes little sense to talk of a “geek” subculture. Jocks and rednecks play video games too, especially shooters. Yeah, there may be many who fit the stereotypical nerd image: social misfits who harbor a deep resentment towards women. But I would caution against painting with too broad of a brush.

  7. Shane says

    Some of you mentioned Racism and Sexism in the ‘Gaming’ community, but forgot to mention the endemic prevalence of Homophobia which is just as persistent as sexism or racism.

    Besides, I think it is far reaching to say this is ‘geek’ culture, Geek culture was always seen as something outcast where-as – with the prevalance of other means of gaming other than the computer – a new breed of gamer has arrived on the scene, not particularly bright men stuck in adolescence. Its far reaching to say these men are ‘geeks’ as their only concern is video games, they have no interest in what is typically seen as geeky – Science, Mathematics, Science Fiction and so on.

  8. jose says

    First time I’ve seen a company truly apologizing and singling out the programmer who wrote that line, dissociating themselves from it and quickly stating that it does not represent the company’s views, instead of some bullshit “we know some have expressed concern and we’re sorry if someone feels offended by our product” like most companies do. Kudos for that.

  9. TylerD says

    One possibility that is being overlooked that people hate women for legitimate reasons, such as the fact, demonstrated here quite vividly, that women bitch about practically everything and don’t know how to shut the hell up.

  10. Shane says

    @TylerD

    Either that was a joke (and also unfunny) or you are an idiot. Second, not all Feminist are female – I for one am a Male and a Homosexual but I still see the importance of Feminism even if it does not directly benefit myself.

  11. says

    Ophelia, I remember at one point during the ‘elevatorgate’ brouhaha you linked to a post where a woman who had been successful in a couple of male dominated environments (in her case, a corporation and a martial arts dojo) had not encountered (in those environments) either the misogyny or plain social ineptitude she saw in certain atheist/skeptical groups. It was her observation that led me to do some further research, and also to contrast my own experience in male dominated environments (the Bar and, also, martial arts dojo in three different countries, including Japan).

    I have noticed a variance, like she did. The martial artists (Shotokan, in which I hold a shodan) and barristers were fine. There were some awkwardnesses (like the number of counsel who apologised to me for being members of high-class establishment ‘gentlemen’s clubs’), but people in both environments rapidly and courteously found a way to work around traditional sexism.

    I realise the plural of anecdote is not data, but I have long been aware that there are large variations between countries when it comes to things like attrition rates and conviction rates for sexual offences. Some countries (Japan, France) manifestly do better than others (England, the USA) on this, which I’ve also written about at my place.

    This means, I suspect, that not only are not all cultures not created equal, but that not all subcultures are created equal either. It would seem that the social, cultural and legal traditions that lead to lower attrition rates for rape in different countries may have analogues in other forms of intra-country cultural expression, and that some men who do male-dominated activity x are less sexist than some men who engage in (different) male-dominated activity y, all other things being equal.

    The issue is not the male dominance, but something else — which is probably cultural.

  12. Fin says

    Not to seem like I’m trying to pick a fight, but I do object to the equating of rude and callous behaviour with autism. Many people who are diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorders work quite hard to not offend others, and make a conscious effort to avoid bruising others’ emotions. Many rude and callous people are not autistic in the slightest.

    Yes, autistic people have difficulty understanding others feelings, and yes, sometimes that means that they can come off as selfish and offensive, but the majority of the time this is just a misunderstanding on the autistic person’s part. Generally speaking, calmly explaining to an autistic person what the problem is (rather than just expecting them to “get it” via facial expressions or body language) will resolve the issue.

    To be fair, I find it equally offensive, as someone who is autistic, when someone who shows no other autistic behaviour patterns excuses their rude behaviour by hiding behind the claim that they are autistic (apparently, 95% of the internet population is autistic, if these claims are true).

  13. Ophelia Benson says

    Ah well, Susan Greenfield says the internet causes autism, so maybe the 95% figure is accurate.

    :- b

  14. Z says

    Fin, if you’re referring to my post, I may not have been clear because it was a secondary point, but I was trying to suggest an alternative explanation that is not autistic spectrum. I’m rather suspicious of the autistic nerd stereotype myself.

  15. Classical Cipher, Murmur Muris, OM says

    Yes, autistic people have difficulty understanding others feelings, and yes, sometimes that means that they can come off as selfish and offensive, but the majority of the time this is just a misunderstanding on the autistic person’s part.

    Or a misunderstanding on the neurotypical person’s part. In fact, I’ve heard and anecdotally found that neurotypical people often have a good deal of trouble understanding the feelings of autistic people, recognizing how they’re expressed, and empathizing with them, whereas autistic people “get” each other with much greater ease. So really the NT person and the autistic person might both find it difficult to relate to each other. It might sound like I’m nitpicking or disagreeing with you – I hope not. Just trying to get across that what is often framed as a deficiency in autistic people might be more a matter of difference, if that makes sense?

  16. Ophelia Benson says

    Some of the ads here are actually cool – this is the second time I’ve gotten one for women for women.org. I guess the F word triggered it. It’s all globally.

  17. julian says

    Honestly not trying to drag up a fight but what Z was talking about reminds me of the ERV defense ‘Don’t let what happens in MySpace affect MeatSpace’ (or something like that) which made me immediately think why not?

    How can someone expect there to be a magic place where you can be as rude, offensive and cruel to people as you like and they’re being irrational/hysterical when they get offended or demand you stop? You’d think they’d realize how absurd that sounds.

    Perfect example, shooters. Not only does the online community sport some of the biggest racists and sexists you’re likely to come across but everyone seems to feel it isn’t an issue because you can mute the other players. ‘Well you don’t have to listen to them so what’s the big deal?’

    Way to miss the point.

  18. Freki says

    Online multiplayer I tend to play wargames or strategy, where the players are mostly adults and European, and the admins are ruthless with the ban hammer for offensive shit. For all of the reasons expressed, I avoid MMORPGS and online shooters.

    The stand alones are not much better in that female characters are over-boobed and under-dressed, which was probably one of the reasons I liked Blade of Darkness. The female character was model-ish, but fully clothed and all business. The half nekkid character was the buff male Barbarian. Needless to say, the game originated on the other side of the Atlantic (Spain)

    I’m tired of the assholes contingent whining that they are Asperger’s, and so we should put up with that shit. I know folks with Asperger’s, and they might be awkward, but they aren’t assholes. You aren’t an asshole because you are a geek, or a nerd, or Asperger’s. You’re an asshole because you choose to be an asshole. Hi Tyler!

  19. julian says

    @Alethea H. Claw

    Oo! Agrias on page 2!

    Despite how idealized anime style pictures usually are the only games I can reliably expect to see women in armor look reasonably covered up has been in jrpgs. Final Fantasy sported some of the least ‘porn’ armor from any series I remember playing. Pretty varied body types too but then again, the series seemed to always be going towards a fanciful fantasy look as opposed to sexualized fantasy.

  20. says

    One possibility that is being overlooked that people hate women for legitimate reasons, such as the fact, demonstrated here quite vividly, that women bitch about practically everything and don’t know how to shut the hell up.

    Oh look, a troglodyte from ERV’s misogynist madhouse !

    I don’t know if I want to buy into this “gaming brings out the dark side in people” theory, but I don’t know enough about this particular scene, being a complete non-gamer myself. Maybe it is true that gaming and geekdom in general attract more folks who are somewhat socially awkward and have a fragile grip on how to appropriately interact with the opposite sex, than other areas of society.

  21. julian says

    Maybe it is true that gaming and geekdom in general attract more folks who are somewhat socially awkward and have a fragile grip on how to appropriately interact with the opposite sex, than other areas of society.

    I doubt it’s that. Games are incredibly mainstream now. They’re closer to big budget movie spectacles than the play in your mom’s basement stereotype that existed in the 90s. And the biggest violators are the shooters which are almost exclusively marketed to the Steven Segal/cheesy summer movie demographic.

  22. Spooky says

    Just laying in with a small point – to those who are saying that it was refreshing that the developers laid the blame correctly at the feet of the programmer responsible.

    That is utter tosh.

    No one individual can change a line of code like that on a major software build without it coming to the attention of countless others.

    I’m afraid that this is an example of a development environment that has a toxic – or at least laissez-faire (which IMO is just as bad!) – attitude to women. :(

    Sometimes I weep for my fellow gamers.

  23. Aquaria says

    that feel when Bensonians don’t know that they’re already the biggest LOLcows on the interwebs</i

    You ERVites are the biggest slime-sucking scumbags on the internet.

    Fuck off, misogynist trash.

  24. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    Freethoughtblogs is still shit. There’s no indication of my comments being registered.

    There’s evidence to support a different contention.

  25. Karmakin says

    “Gamers” are not a monolithic block. While things such as sexism and homophobia are just awful, they’re not universal in the community. As people have said, the strategy community, be it strategy such as Civilization or Real Time Strategy such as Starcraft 2 or League of Legends, is pretty much fine on those aspects (LoL is pretty amazing that it avoids a lot of sexism/homophobia considering how high stakes and volatile the community is as a whole). I’ve also not really noticed much sexism/homophobia in the fighting game community as well.

    On the bad side, you have games such as Call of Duty, Halo and Madden where sexism and homophobia run DEEP. It’s just awful. As explained above, a lot of it has to do with the fact that these games are actually fairly mainstream, and as such attracts immature young adult males. MMOs are actually pretty hit or miss. It’s all guild/sub-community dependent. There are many guilds out there that are not sexist/homophobic and there are many that are. Because one can customize one’s social experience so much, it leads to greatly varied outcomes.

  26. Stilts says

    “Gamers” are not a monolithic block.

    There’s this thing which happens on the internet every now and then.

    Women will talk about rape, and how rape is a social problem, and how we need to do more to prevent it, and how it has affected their lives, and how men should be doing more to help prevent it.

    Almost inevitably, a man will show up and poop on the discussion. (“Not all men are rapists, you know! Besides, sometimes men are rape victims, too! You need to stop being all misandrist and start being more open-minded!”)

    People of colour will talk about race, and how prejudice and racism affects their lives: the incidents they’ve personally experienced, the overall feelings and impressions it creates for them, and how white people often appear oblivious to or uncaring about these problems.

    Almost inevitably, a white person will show up and poop on the discussion. (“Not all white people are racist, you know! Why, I even have a black friend! When you hate on white people, it’s you who’s being racist, you racists!”)

    LGB people will talk about sexuality, and how their sexualities and sexual identities affect their lives: how they feel they’ve been marginalized and excluded for having non-heterosexual preferences, how huge pockets of society are openly hostile to them, and how even supposed “allies” to their communities often do more harm than good.

    Almost inevitably, a straight person (usually, but not always, a man) will show up and poop on the discussion. (“Not all straight people are homophobic, you know!”)

    Atheists will talk about religion and how their atheism has affected their lives: how they’ve encountered direct prejudice and hatred, how their societies are being undermined and ruined by the creep of religion into public life, and how difficult it can be to navigate a world where religion is seen as a prerequesite for goodness/healthiness/wholesomeness/etc.

    Almost inevitably, a religious person will show up and poop on the discussion. (“Not all Christians are fundamentalists, you know! Besides, Buddhism is awesome! In fact, let me tell you a long anecdote about blind men and an elephant, which I’m sure you will have never heard before…”)

    I do believe a pattern is emerging here: a minority group is having a fruitful, productive discussion, which is interrupted by a member of a majority group who insists that, actually, the minority is all wrong, so instead of letting the minority talk about what the minority wants to talk about, we’re going to talk all about them instead.

    Sit down and shut up, minorities, because the patriarchy is here to iform you of the way things really are!

    It often takes the form of a non-excuse or non-apology. (“Yeah, a lot of gamers are sexist, homophobic jerks, but some pockets of it aren’t, so it’s not so bad.”) Sometimes it takes the form of information. (“Did you know that men are sometimes rape victims, too? I bet you didn’t! Did I just blow your misandrist, feminist mind?!”)

    In all cases, it’s unhelpful. In all cases, it’s an attempt to derail a discussion and refocus it on something else. And in all cases it’s an example of the exact behaviours which the minority group was critiquing to begin with.

    Knock it off.

  27. julian says

    @Stilts

    I don’t think anyone is trying to derail the conversation with ‘what about the gamers.’ Most were just trying to give a little more background on gaming, where you can expect to find these attitudes and why. That’s probably more helpful than it is damaging to any discussion.

  28. Bruce Gorton says

    The game was developed by Deep Silver, which is Koch Media’s gaming division. They also produced “Singles, Flirt up your life” along with its sequel “Triple Trouble”. I am pro-porn, but porn games have bad names for good reasons.

    It also has the Lets Play series – which really Something Awful should sue them for – which includes the game “Lets play mums” for the DS (Yay traditional gender roles being sold to six year olds) and the stripperific and somewhat crap “Sacred” series.

    Yeah, I don’t think the problem is restricted to one rogue techie. There is a sexist culture in that developer.

    Now I will be the first to say that gaming doesn’t have a mono-culture, there are multiple geek cultures within gaming, each game has its own community, yadda, yadda, yadda.

    But really if we gamers don’t want to be identified with this loserly trash we need to make it clear that this is not what we are about. Where it is some fourteen year old in multiplayer trolling, we accept that trolls exist. Where it is the game developer? We expect better.

    Consequently I personally won’t be buying any Deep Silver titles for a long while.

  29. Bruce Gorton says

    stiltz

    Gaming is about as big as movies as an industry. It includes games of multiple genres aimed at multiple markets. It is not a mono-culture, it really, really isn’t.

    To class it all as one piece is like classing all people who read novels as mysogenist fundementalist religious whackjobs because some people like the “Left behind” series.

  30. Ophelia Benson says

    I feel more confidence than I otherwise would in thinking this is a gaming culture thing because it was my friend Mary Ellen Foley who pointed it out to me via her husband Ernest Adams who is a columnist for Gamasutra. Check out Ernest’s comments on the linked thread. Ernest is a professional in the field, so if he says it’s a problem in gaming culture…he’s not just making it up as he goes along.

  31. Ophelia Benson says

    (And saying it’s a gaming culture thing of course doesn’t mean it’s universal to gaming culture or anything like that.)

  32. Ophelia Benson says

    This Tyler D fella…I figured he was a quondam Facebook “friend” of mine named Tyler DiPietrantonio whom I defriended recently after he posted some misogynist raving on my page. Sure enough – he has a “thing” – this “>that feel when” thing. He has it at Google+:

    Tyler DiPietrantonio – Aug 22, 2011 – Public

    >that feel when everyone on Google+ is a nigger faggot and all the people who run Google+ are nigger faggots too and you’ll probably get b& for pointing it out in a public post but you decide to anyway

  33. Stilts says

    @Julian,

    Not buying it, sorry.

    Even if it were the case that sexism were entirely concentrated in small pockets of the gaming community (which seems dubious on a good day), this would still be a big honking problem, so discussions of this problem would remain worthwhile.

    What exactly do you want here, anyway? For every use of the word “gaming” to be replaced with “certain-elements-of-the-extremely-diverse-subculture-known-as-gaming-but-including-only-those-parts-which-have-failed-to-develop-a-sensible-attitude-towards-women-and-gender-roles-in-general”? I think it’s pretty clear what OB and the other commentators are referring to when they use the word “gaming”, and correcting them or “informing” them of the diversity of this community is unhelpful and derailing.

  34. Stilts says

    @Bruce Gorton

    How fortuous, then, that nobody has treated gaming as a monoculture to begin with. The word “gaming” has a clear and specific definition within discussions of this nature, in much the same way that other words describing classes of people or activities have specific definitions within other discussions.

    When a politician talks about “urban voters”, she does not suggest that urban voters are a monocultural blob of people who are identical in every imaginable way, as if we can go to a museum and find an exhibit devoted to The Urban Voter against which all urban voters can be compared.

    Instead, she is talking about a group who tends to have certain characteristics when compared to other groups: we would expect urban voters, for example, to be less likely to own cars, more likely to have post-secondary educations, and more likely to be people of colour, than we would rural voters.

    This does not preclude from existing a high-school dropout white person who lives and votes in an urban area, nor would it be helpful to interrupt this politician to inform her that ACTUALLY SOME URBAN PEOPLE OWN CARS SO LET’S TALK ABOUT THAT NOW INSTEAD.

    A similar thing happens here with “gamers”, “gaming”, etc. That’s how language works, and if it didn’t work that way, then many of these classes would lose all meaning. (If we’re only allowed to discuss groups in this manner when they are, in fact, monocultural and uniform, then we wouldn’t be allowed to discuss very many groups at all–including, as it happens, “gamers”.)

  35. Julia F says

    My daughter is an Anthropology major and did some research on gender in gaming culture last semester so I gained a second-hand awareness of this subject this summer. She observed that the Bioware games mentioned above (flexible gender roles, possibility of homo-erotic activity) elicited a wave of angry responses on gaming blogs from (presumably) straight men. Evidently they were disturbed at being the object of the male gaze.

    The reaction to a game called “Hey Baby,” (in which a woman walks down the street and is harassed by random men whom she then gets to shoot) was also highly incensed. Even though it could be argued that it was just fantasy, not the meat world etc., these guys weren’t having any of it. It was not unlike some of the reactions to Elevator Guy.

    I am not advocating sauce for the goose as a way to fight sexism, by the way. The only game I play is Solitaire.

    My anecdotal experience with Martial Arts is the same as SkepticLawyer’s. The men in the dojo where I studied karate were unfailingly courteous and respectful.

    As for the Bensonians — sign me up.

  36. Karmakin says

    @Stilts: Nope. Not trying to derail at all. Note where I said that it is awful? That probably wasn’t as clear as it should have been, but I meant that it really is a really big problem. I’m not downplaying it.

    I disagree however, that self-identification as a “gamer” is a majoritarian claim for privilege on my part. I see it as a minority group as well.

    Besides, how can you hope to change things unless you know how they’re going to be changed for the better?

    As I said, and other people have said, the places in the gaming communities that tend to be the worst in terms of sexism/homophobia are where they’re the “closest” to the mainstream. This should be an indicator that the problem isn’t with the subgroup per se but with the wider culture in general. (Personally, I blame theism, and the movement over the last few decades towards spreading “fear of the other”, and increased belief in glory-seeking deities).

    That’s not to say that nothing should be done! Homophobic/sexist actions should be pointed out and it should be made clear DON’T DO THAT. As it is by and large in this case, and in the Bioware cast listed earlier in the thread. Are things perfect? Hell no. Blizzard in particular is guilty in their treatment of publicly LGBT guilds, as a very good example of an on-going issue.

    But, as someone who is invested in both these issues, it’s interesting to me to see the difference between games/communities which feature rampant “othering” and games/communities that don’t. Content of the game seems to matter somewhat…”realistic games” seem to have worse communities than more stylized games, but I think that’s basically self-selection. My point was that it’s probably a good idea to look into these differences for ways to potentially lower the amount of othering in our society.

  37. julian says

    Evidently they were disturbed at being the object of the male gaze

    There’s an understatement. Zevran, if I’m guessing which bi character your daughter was talking about, made a lot of male gamers ‘uncomfortable.’

    D00d: He keeps fucking hitting on me and won’t take no for an answer.

    SensiblePerson: Yeah he does. Dude’s, like, crazy chill about not getting to sleep with you. No negative approval points or anything.

    D00d: I should be the one trying to prompt these romances not some gay code in the game.

    SemiAwareLifeForm:lulwut? Doesn’t Morrigan practically tell you to whip out your dick like an hour into the game?

    D00d: Yeah but he’s the only one that does it with constant innuendo, it’s creepy. Fucker should stop.

    AlistairGrrl: “Lick a Lamppost in Winter.”
    MorrixCous: “Whatever shall we do in there!”
    xoxoLelixoxox: “No…my fruit is not forbidden…”

    Dood: You’re all just blinded by American PC culture and don’t want to admit the obvious.

    GoogleScholar: That BioWare is Canadian?

  38. Spooky says

    @julian – Zevran was my first thought too. And then there was the complaining about the male homosexual romance options in the sequel game too. Which prompted lead writer David Gaider to respond: http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/304/index/6661775&lf=8

    So, there are some developers who do things right. :)

    It always annoys me that the so-called “straight, white men” who complain about homosexuality in these games are always only talking about the gay male options – they don’t mind the girl-girl interactions one iota. *sigh*

  39. julian says

    It always annoys me that the so-called “straight, white men” who complain about homosexuality in these games are always only talking about the gay male options – they don’t mind the girl-girl interactions one iota.

    To quote Leliana “[They] are so transparent.”

    Zevran is a PUA and an all around tool. He has a very callous attitude towards people especially when he’s making them uncomfortable. What’s worse he laughs about seducing the women he’s been hired to kill. But that isn’t what bugs these guys. A million things they could find wrong with the character and the only thing they find damnable is his willingness to hit on men.

    Hell if Zevran were straight most of them would probably be rooting for him like they do in most games with similar characters only purely heterosexual. But he’s bi so he must be part of a gay conspiracy to make us all want gay sekhs. Bad gay of course, not hot lesbian 3 way with random pirate lady. That’s the good kind.

  40. says

    Wow, Stilts, that is a truly impressive set of bad faith assumptions you’ve got there.

    Karmakin’s post which you flew off the handle on was clearly an attempt to digest the differences in and between games, gaming communities and gamers, something that should be obviously useful when talking about addressing the serious problems of sexism, racism, and hatred of gays that exist in gaming.

    There is a plain and enormous difference between saying “leave gamers alone! You’re just as sexist, racist, and homophobic as we are!” (what you were apparently accusing Karmakin of), and “In my experience, I have noted that this problem is more prevalent in certain segments of gaming culture, particularly ones that are more reflective of the population at large,” and thereby pointing out two worthwhile things: 1. that targeting those segments of gaming culture might be more manageable, and have a significant effect and 2. that working to improve the issues of sexism, racism and gay hatred in the larger culture may in fact be the most effective way to attack the problem within gaming.

    We are all friends here (except of course for TylerD). We all recognize that this is a problem, and are trying to contribute to the discussion of its roots, its manifestations, and possible solutions. Would it hurt to give people a modicum of good faith, or an even slightly charitable reading?

  41. Chris says

    I had a long rant, but it’s late and I’m tired so I pared it down to a couple comments.

    I am a gamer.
    I admit to the occasional bout of misanthropy.
    I am male.
    I find strong female characters attractive (take that as you will).
    I am straight, and I encourage the inclusion of gay characters in video games where I can, and as romance options in games that have such features (and by ‘gay’ I don’t mean ‘just lesbians’, to be clear).*
    I think bigotry in video games (along with other fictional media) is acceptable IF it contributes to character/plot/story/etc development in a meaningful way.
    Zevran is an awesome character.
    I do enjoy the occasional ‘chainmail bikini’, but I certainly appreciate sensible armor.

    There was a greater point somewhere along the way, but all I’ve got left is: Does that make me a misogynistic bigot? Honestly, at this point I’m not even going to presume to state that I’m not a misogynist, and let you tell me.

    *I tried to link to proof, but it’s currently in a forum covered by an NDA. Speaking of Zevran, it is coincidentally a Bioware product whose forum to which I am referring.

  42. latsot says

    Spooly said:

    No one individual can change a line of code like that on a major software build without it coming to the attention of countless others.

    I disagree. It’s entirely possible that one developer could be responsible. For example, a single developer might have been responsible for coding that skill and used the stupid name. This could have been fixed by that developer or another when it came to integration, but they missed some of the debug code, which is what made it to the build that was released on Steam.

    This doesn’t in itself imply that the development team was infested by sexist attitudes and certainly doesn’t imply that the publishing company is. The publisher wouldn’t have day-to-day oversight of the code.

    Without seeing the details of the build history, I don’t know whether this was a dev group in-joke or a single individual. I find both possibilities equally plausible.

  43. Svlad Cjelli says

    Well, damn, son. The mystery posting of mystery finally decided to reveal its decision. My complaint about mysterious mysteries was let through, but not my relevant post.

    Could this thing start saying, “Sorry, you fail, asshole” or something when it wants me to try again?

  44. Svlad Cjelli says

    Yay, no delay!
    Then maybe this will work?

    http:// fatuglyorslutty. com/about/

    Here you go.

    Hmm, still no. Ah, I shall edit the link, and it shall surely pass! This cannot deterr Poirot!

  45. Svlad Cjelli says

    Yay, no delay!
    Then maybe this will work?

    fatuglyorslutty. com / about /

    Here you go.

    Hmm, still no. Ah, I shall edit the link, and it shall surely pass! This cannot deterr Poirot!

  46. says

    @Karmakin:

    Clearly you’ve never moderated a Starcraft 2 channel when Idra or Destiny’s fanbase is part of the chat. Misogyny, homophobia, making fun of people for tiny slights (guy I channel mod for has extremely mild and barely detectable rhotacism (side note: whoever named that was just mean (same as the person who named lisp))), transphobia, whatnot.

    Same with League of Legends. Watch Cadburry’s stream for a while. If it’s not “bitch” or “pussy” coming out of his mouth, it’s “faggot.” I mute his channel and watch for the methodology. Don’t gotta listen to learn how to play better.

    On the same vein of LoL – there’s certainly transphobia going along. Someone wanted me to join his LoL clan and while we were playing they wanted me on Skype (easier to call out MIAs) and simply because I don’t have the kawaii girly voice the guy refused to acknowledge my gender identity.

    @Svlad:

    Stop posting, it’s going through – eesh.

  47. julian says

    @Katherine Lorraine

    Much of the homophobic, sexist, transphobic and all around bigoted behavior we see in gaming would likely be greatly diminished if developers and mods put their foot down. By letting it slide and laughing off the concerns of the offended parties they’re normalizing the obviously offensive behavior. Normalizing it to the point to where some of the most outrageous abusers end up in positions of authority over the people they’ve created a hostile enviornment towards.

    And then everyone wonders why there are so few women in skepticism gaming or why they create their own little safe zones away from the larger community.

  48. Karmakin says

    @Katherine You know I was just coming here to post that. Someone sent me a link to a livestream that Destiny was part of last night. Wow. Made all the Call of Duty assholes look tame by comparison. I suspect we’re looking at asshole magnets here.

    I’m not too familiar with the LoL livestream community…I don’t think the game is very observer friendly at all…but I know in-game at least for the random matched games it isn’t too bad. You’re many times more likely to be called a “baddie” or a “feeder” than something more..relevant. It was worse 6 months ago however.

    A big part of this is that they did set up a system to allow the community to moderate relatively strict community standards and it’s working fairly well. It’s probably a model more games should adapt.

  49. says

    @Karmakin:

    Exactly. The only reason the channels I moderate are (relatively) homophobia and misogyny free is that I don’t stand for it and neither do the channel admins. If I was asked to moderate a channel where the streamer didn’t care or regularly spouted such statements, I would refuse merely by the thought of having to associate with someone like that.

    In game I’ve had few problems (suffice to say I have had some) but yea, baddie and feeder is the worst I see. The in-game community moderation (so long as the admins pay attention (see World of Warcraft not ever truly policing Roleplaying servers for an example of admins ignoring the problem)) is extremely helpful cause you never know who you’re going to run into and whether they’ll be accepting of your misogyny or if they’ll release you to the lions.

    And yes, Destiny and Idra are huge asshole magnets.

  50. says

    Sexism (and other assorted prejudice) are definitely a problem within gaming communities to various degrees, but I’ve always felt it’s largely a reflection of a greater societal problem with those same issues. It becomes more particularly nasty when gamers (and obviously anyone else) have the benefit of anonymity for the same reason that poorly moderated comments more or less anywhere online devolve into a cesspit.

    But because there is this sense of camaraderie among gamers and geeks (which I am), it is hard for us to have productive conversations about these problems without leadership. Because we’re already inclined to think well of someone who shares our interests, it makes it harder to condemn the problems within the greater community. As a result, you have lots of people coming to say “Well, my community is fine” or “not all gamers are misogynists.”

    And that’s not helpful. It’s understandable, but not helpful.

    In 2005, spouse and I went to PAX up in Seattle. For the purpose of this story it’s important to know that this was shortly after the launch of the DS, so everyone was either playing with their new Nintendogs or using Pictochat. Overall we had a great time and there is very much a feeling of community or as someone put it, “Welcome home.” Which made it all the more creepy and sexist when someone I was vaguely acquainted with online (a then-regular of the Social Entropy branch of the Penny Arcade forum) in Pictochat demanded I or spouse show him my tits.

    This was not someone I didn’t know, but someone who knew I was female because of prior knowledge and felt entitled to make such a comment. Was it completely bullshit and offensive? Yes. Was it because this man was a gamer that he did it? No, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about making progress in our own communities.

  51. Svlad Cjelli says

    @Svlad:

    Stop posting, it’s going through – eesh.

    Oh yes, I noticed. Hence post #54 at 5:45. But my first post in this thread did not, and still has not, gone through, hence the guessing game. (:

  52. says

    Great post, sorry I wasn’t able to be here to follow the discussion when it was hot off the press —

    Just to clarify — game developers and gamers are two different (though overlapping) populations. “Gamers” are hobby-ists who play the games, “game developers” make the games, though that obviously involves playing them (though in context of their work, playing the games with a very different purpose).

    “Gamers” usually seems to be used in the press to talk about the hard-core players of the more violent games, and obviously that’s not all there is to the story, either. But the kinds of “gamers” these storie are written about would rarely be found playing, say, Barbie’s Ocean Discovery, which is marketed for little girls (Barbie is a marine biologist–who knew?) but developed by the same kinds of people (mostly guys) who do the major sports games or gory first-person shooters. It’s a job.

    And game developers, in my experience, kind of don’t like to be lumped in with gamers.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Isn’t this priceless. Dev code leaked via Steam for the game Dead Island contained a game skill entitled “Feminist Whore”, describing a perk you could unlock for one of the female characters that allowed you to do double damage to male enemies. As Ophelia blockquoted from the gaming site: They’ve hurried to say that the person responsible for this misogynistic snippet of code was a “Lone Gunman” tech monkey, who introduced the phrase into the debug code as a “private joke”. Thus the notion that all feminists were angry whores would “represent the views of only a single person” on that development team—or in this industry in general—and only one guy (at most) should suffer any professional consequences, naturally. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>