Objectification vs idealization in video games


Escapist’s Jimquisition explains the difference.

I love that he caps it off with an exhortation to thank God for him. If I didn’t like the guy, I’d be tempted to say something like “you’ve just handed us undeniable proof of a lack of gods.”

And don’t forget that any suggestion that we have strong female protagonists in the gaming world will be met with a torrent of entitled bullshit.

Comments

  1. Aliasalpha says

    Ahh the dilemma… I can’t stand his videos but I can’t not watch them since he’s right so damned often…

    Better information than entertainment though.

  2. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Katherine Lorraine #1:
    Ooh, a reminder to see that the sequel “Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey” wasn’t abandoned.
    Due in Nov 2014. *Sigh*

  3. M can help you with that. says

    He ends every video with “Thank God for me.” It’s part of his schtick.

    (Likewise with offering blowjobs to repressed self-hating homophobes.)

  4. leftwingfox says

    Excellent points. Now I have to buy the Drill Queen EP though.

    (By the way, having a little problem with the imposter check. I think I’m registered through WordPress on some blogs, FTB on others.)

  5. MatthewLaboratory says

    Persona 3 FES “The Answer” has a female protagonist. Of course no one here would care.

  6. says

    MatthewLaboratory: the presence of a scant few female protagonists is laudable but does not make up for the imbalance. You are aware there is a skew right? You’d have to be willfully ignorant not to be.

  7. Robert B. says

    Ah, now that I have a thread where it’s vaguely on topic – Jason, have you seen this video about how sex is portrayed in video games? It was reblogged on Escher Girls a little while ago, though (full disclosure) I knew about it because the creator’s a friend of mine. I thought it made some really good points, especially the central idea that the rampant sexualization of video games isn’t even a good portrayal of sex.

    (Trigger warning for the link, for a portrayal of attempted sexual assault. It’s also NSFW.)

    @6: Ah, would you like to talk about Persona? Because we can talk about Persona. First of all, it’s a clear outlier, since the whole series is built around dealing with serious issues that other games don’t touch – the creators of Persona, through the games, are trying to make basically the same points as Jason and the video he links about their peers in the game industry. Second, the gender balance in its casts is undercut by the way the women are actually portrayed. Aigis, the protagonist you mention, is a robot with a gun for an arm with the appearance and (sort of) personality of a teenage girl, so that’s not exactly the world’s most positive portrayal. And the female cast of Persona 3 in general undercuts its sensible and realistic character designs/costumes with character concepts/personalities that are straight out of TVTropes’ “Tropes Teenage Boys Like To Fap To” category. (not a real category, afiak) There’s the girl next door, the quiet shy girl, the ice queen, the gothic lolita… At least in Persona 4 they brought up the idealized-sex-object-girl trope for the specific purpose of deconstructing it, which was nice, and a welcome break for their probably-well-intentioned but shockingly inept portrayal of the gay and trans characters.

    Don’t get me wrong, I really like Persona, and the reason I can be mad at the series for doing all these things badly is that, unlike pretty much every other video game, they actually try to do them at all instead of just stuffing in as many boobs and explosions as they can render for the twenty-something-straight-guys-who-don’t-think-about-things-too-much demographic. But Persona does not in any way count as a refutation of the overall trend of how women, sexuality, and queerness are portrayed in the medium.

  8. Sassafras says

    their probably-well-intentioned but shockingly inept portrayal of the gay and trans characters.

    THANK YOU. I’ve seen so many Persona fans tie their brains in knots trying to rationalize the gay and trans storylines as being somehow good and queer-positive, it’s refreshing to see someone that likes the series call it out on its problems.

  9. Robert B. says

    Straight Persona fans, maybe? It’s hard to imagine any queer player not noticing the horrifying awfulness of some of those scenes. (The camping trip, the fashion show…) Like I said, the writers obviously had good intentions, but that’s about all they had on the subject that was good. They should maybe have talked to an actual queer person at some point.

    I’m told it wasn’t quite that bad in the original Japanese – I think they at least allowed Kanji to be called “gay” for example – but the worst stuff couldn’t possibly have been invented for the localization, because it’s in the visuals, not just the dialogue.

  10. Laurence says

    Thanks for alerting me to this video. I’ve tried to explain the same thing he was to people before. From now on, I’ll just send them to this video because he does a much better job than I have.

  11. MatthewLaboratory says

    Hah, what predictable responses. You fell for my trap exactly… I know all of the reasons certain people would complain about the Persona games, and I specifically brought them up simply to prove that it doesn’t matter if a game has a female or minority or minority-type protagonist, you people will still find some reason to complain about it. Because there’s absolutely no way you would ever be satisfied…

    Thanks for proving my point for me.

  12. Sassafras says

    Robert B. @ 10 –

    Straight Persona fans, maybe? It’s hard to imagine any queer player not noticing the horrifying awfulness of some of those scenes.

    Maybe. I was particularly thinking of people that try to hand wave away the transphobic tropes surrounding Naoto – claiming that he’s actually genderqueer rather than binary and that somehow makes the plots ok (despite that obviously a writing team that’s made TWO stereotyped predatory trans women characters is not going to suddenly 180 and do a subtly nuanced genderqueer character) or claiming that he’s not really trans so it’s OK that they invalidate his gender (despite that transphobic people don’t believe ‘being trans’ is real so obviously they write trans genders as invalid). That could sadly be coming from queer fans as well as straight ones.

    MatthewLaboratory @ 11-

    You fell for my trap exactly… I know all of the reasons certain people would complain about the Persona games, and I specifically brought them up simply to prove that it doesn’t matter if a game has a female or minority or minority-type protagonist, you people will still find some reason to complain about it.

    So… You already knew that people have problems with the portrayal of women and gender/sexuality minorities in Persona and you still thought bringing them up constituted a viable “trap”? Wow. Good job.

  13. Robert B. says

    @ 12: Well, I’m a transhumanist, so my official position is that I won’t be satisfied until I am a superintelligent immortal in a post-scarcity, post-coercion, post-violence utopia. In space.

    But in the meanwhile, it would be nice if my favorite games weren’t saying that being gay means even my closest friends shouldn’t trust me not to rape them in their sleep.

  14. Robert B. says

    (Er, in this context I feel I should clarify that, while I am a transhumanist, I am not a trans* humanist. My queerness is of the sexual-orientation variety.)

  15. says

    #11: Well, when the whole field is awful, then the whole field is awful. Holding up one slightly less awful example and expecting critics to fall all over themselves gushing about how great it is, as if that would either a) redeem the rest of the field, or b) somehow validate the critics, is…. unrealistic at best.

  16. says

    18: And fucking tedious and tiresome at worst. My general irritation of this tactic increases exponentially over time. I have a particularly tedious person in my moderation list who linked to this as proof that games have female protagonists and therefore we’re just whining for nothing: http://www.giantbomb.com/female-protagonists/3015-2287/games/

    And then you hear things like this: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/188775/You_cant_have_a_female_character_in_games.php

    I’m looking for statistics. I *know* there are fewer games overall. And because of the rule that 90% of everything is crap, if there’s only a small amount of female protagonists compared to male protagonists, very few games with women protagonists will be GOOD games. Thus marketing. And despite gender skews at nearly 50/50 between gamers, female-led games are still grossly undermarketed comparitively.

  17. Sassafras says

    Ha ha, oh, yes, that list of games with female protagonists includes Dragon’s Crown … because we should be completely satisfied with totes empowered and unproblematic female protagonists in that game.

    And then you hear things like this: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/188775/You_cant_have_a_female_character_in_games.php

    I actually just picked up Remember Me a couple of days ago; my friends have told me that the gameplay has issues but that the story is rock’em-sock’em. The advertising is all about the butt shots but the game itself so far seems much more interested in world-building, character, and thematic art design than ogling butts.

  18. says

    Oh good, I was already planning on getting it after seeing the first-few-minutes gameplay trailer but I was concerned I already knew the whole story at that point. Thanks!

  19. says

    Though it’s not video games – it’s related to non-traditional characters.

    In the story I’m writing (and will hopefully publish in December) I have two lesbian characters, two polyamorous bisexual (though preferring one gender of the over) characters, an asexual character, and a trans character. All of these characters are just… normal.

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