What do you all think? The Colbert Report has a piece on girls and gaming.
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Posted on November 1, 2014
Tags: deep thoughts
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The Colbert coverage didn’t really do much to further the debate, I don’ think.
It would be great to get more women playing table-top miniature games. We need more people involved, I think. I know it really bugs me when gamers throw around the word “rape” to describe when one unit get’s destroyed by another. I think that’s one little step we could do to extend the audience for our games.
I also cringe every time I hear a kid or someone online use the term “rape” with no regard for what that word means & how it affects people who have experienced something so horrible.
By and large, Anita and the rest of the movement to improve the portrayal of women in video games and games in general are on point. I can’t speak to the subject as eloquently as they can, but I want to show support for feminist goals within gamer culture and our much smaller wargaming community.
I want wargaming to be a more inclusive place for women or any other group that might feel marginalized by the current culture.
The warhammer universe is an interesting subtopic because of its emphasis on being a dystopia. Its premise that every faction is evil gives it a little room to be problematic with its portrayal of anything. Like obviously there are no women commanding the astra miltarum, this is a grim dark horrible place where nothing makes sense. But, there’s a fine line between developing a compelling dark universe and lazy writing. Games Workshop spends its time on both sides of that line. For every Lady Malys or Inquisitor Valeria (both without models btw), there are those Vect slave models or Cruella the Vile. Games like zombicide have done a better job at integrating interesting female characters into their universe and what do you know, women play them.
It’d be great if we could be proactive about being more inclusive, but as a male dominated space, it’s hard to know where to start or if any change you make is even meaningful. It’s going to be a challenge and I’m up for it.
While I would personally like to see more female gamers and the gaming community as a whole open up to be more gender neutral, I think that the topic of females in (specifically video games) is an outdated subject. For every chauvinist (Duke Nukem) there is a strong female lead (Lora Croft), and there are many games that are completely gender neutral (Mario Cart) and sales for the last Duke Nukem game showed that as a group we have, for the most part, already moved on.
As far as 40k goes for female gamers, the setting and fluff can be both problematic and completely encompassing. Yes as Mike above me posted there are those slave models, but that is exactly what they are supposed to be, a symbol of the evil that the dark Eldar are capable of. While GW as a whole is pretty bad about female models, the fluff contains everything from Shadow Sun, Saint Celestine, Jain Zar, to the Cadians having a 50/50 ratio on the battlefield. On top of that 3rd party companies are starting to do an incredible job on female line troops (Toughest Girls In the Galaxy).
The issue that I see with females in table top gaming boils boils down to 1 word STEREOTYPE. The stereotype of table top gamers is socially inept, unhygienic, nerdy, basement living, outcasts. NO this is not a fair assessment of MOST of the people that I enjoy time with at my local shop. However media portrayal and the fact that almost every time I walk into my FLGS there seems to be “that guy” hanging around. As long as we have that stereotype exists the companies that make the minis will continue to market to “that guy” and the media will continue to portray us as such which perpetuates the stereotype continuing the circle.
TL:DR Don’t be “that guy”. It will help open up the community as a whole and maybe even attract the elusive female gamer.
Mario Kart has like, three female characters, and for every game with a female main character I can think of a dozen with male characters. Just sayin’.
The point wasn’t the gender of the characters in Mario Cart, it was that the gender of the characters doesn’t matter. They hold no sway one way or another in the female gamers debate because
1 Females are fairly represented in a non sexualized way.
2 The females are not strong leads to be set as role models, or in any way advance the cause of women.
3 The male characters are in no way repressive, or demeaning. Hence not enforcing negative stereotypes.
4 Many characters are truly androgynous.
I think that the biggest point that was missed is that the argument is outdated (not irrelevant). This is because as a society we have systematically taken down through negative publicity the offensive games and have shown through our purchasing that these games are not what we wanted in our homes.
If you think the argument against sexism is “outdated,” you aren’t really paying attention to what’s going on. There are plenty of games that objectify, demean, or exploit women; there are no games that objectify, demean, or exploit men.
Yes they are being made. However they are on their way out. So now we have 2 options
1 Continue trying to protest/censor games thus giving them free advertising, increasing sales.
2 Let them die their natural death as we become a more encompassing society.
For proof of this look to the Duke Nukem game I brought up earlier. In the 90’s when it first came out it was HUGE. The ’11 re-release only hit about 50% projected sales. Companies are not in business to break even.
Duke Nukem did bad because it was a bad game, not because it was sexist. DOA: Beach Volleyball has been doing just fine.
Your confusing sexualization and objectification. DOA does put their females in beautiful costumes, but they don’t demean them for their appearance. In fact they assume that a female can stand up to an obviously more muscled and equally skilled male in a fist fight.
The Beach Volleyball games both sexualize and objectify women; note that the nominal point of the entire game is essentially the world’s strongest women simpering and prancing for Zack, the series’ joke character.
First I don’t believe you are using nominally correct. So your sentence would be “”in name only” the world’s strongest women simper and prance for Zack”.
Secondly DOA Extreme 2 Flopped financially, which exemplifies my point that those games are on their way out. Which is why they never made DOA Extreme 3.
I say “nominally” there because the REAL point of the game is for the players to ogle the women; that they are competing for Zack’s attention is, indeed, in name only (because the player is unlikely to have even the slightest interest in that supposed plot.)
But #1 (as well as the rest of the DOA series) did fairly well, yes?
Yep number 1 did well. Over a decade ago. As I said outdated argument in its way out.
Yeah, but it is also a largely male demographic they sell to. If you made a game that does not appeal to that demographic, you’re likely to lose money, feminism and ethics aside.
That absolutely is a fallacy on several different levels. The biggest one is that it’s a circular argument- only men buy games so we only make games for men. It presumes that women cannot or will not ever have any interest in playing games. Even as an economic rationale it’s flawed, because an untapped market is EXACTLY what you should be trying to find a way to utilize.
Secondly, appealing to a nominally-core demographic at the expense of all others is more than just bad business, it’s bad ethics. It’s falling for the idea of the Tyranny of the Majority and presuming that it is the natural and only way of things. it is, of course, fine to aim your product towards particular individuals, but doing so at the expense of others- and in a way that is specifically offensive to them- is a very different matter.
Thirdly- and the fact that this is the final point just shows how flawed the entire idea is- men aren’t a majority of gamers. Women surpassed them a year or two back here by most polling counts, and the “young 18-25 hetero male” demographic hasn’t been the core audience for more than a decade here.
“Thirdly- and the fact that this is the final point just shows how flawed the entire idea is- men aren’t a majority of gamers. Women surpassed them a year or two back here by most polling counts, and the “young 18-25 hetero male” demographic hasn’t been the core audience for more than a decade here.”
This is one of those statements that is more accurate than useful. When everything that can be called a game is lumped together and we check the demographic information than “young 18-25 hetero male” isn’t the prime player. That however doesn’t tell us anything about the demographic targeting of any of the game genres. Unless, that is, you are prepared to argue that the demographic information gathered on candycrush is equally applicable to 40k.
@AbusePuppy: the statistic you are citing is based on ALL gaming platforms. You’re including iPhone games like “Angry Birds” when you say there are more female “gamers”. I think most of us would agree that playing “Angry Birds” or “Candy Crush” on the cellular phone does not a gamer make. Nice try, though. Expand the horizons of where you are getting your information.
Even for console and computer games, the percentage of female gamers hovers around 45-50% by most reports. It’s not Candy Crush and other mobile games skewing the numbers- women really do play games at rates very comparable to men.
>Unless, that is, you are prepared to argue that the demographic information gathered on candycrush is equally applicable to 40k.
Since we were talking about games in general and not 40K in particular, why would you even bring this up?
It’s apparently impossible to reply past the next level so I am doing so here.
You stated: “Since we were talking about games in general and not 40K in particular, why would you even bring this up?” The reason is simple, talking about “games” in general is pointless. Hop scotch is a game. Tennis is a game. 40k is a game. Information on any of the three does not translate to any of the others except at the most abstract of levels. Thus, demographic analysis of “games,” especially where the concept of game was determined by the author arbitrarily, is of no use in actual analysis. It can be accurate data, but is also useless data.
My argument was more business oriented in that I don’t think many companies would be willing to take a huge risk financially making a game oriented towards a female consumer in a marketplace with such a small female representation. For example, I doubt many companies would make a female oriented monster truck. Yes, it might work, but it is a massive risk most companies would not take from a pure business perspective.
Sure, but since gaming ISN’T male-dominated the way people typically assume it is, it’s not really a risk.
I do think it’s silly to pick out specific games and criticism them for not having female leads. It’s not sexist to make a game with male main characters. But a lot of gamers act in extremely sexist ways, and a lot of game developers give out excuses like “It’s too hard to write female characters, so we don’t”.
So the question is- why does the demographic not appeal to women? That’s half of the available marker.
For some markets, such as engineering seminars, or pornography, the market is temporarily male dominated. Other markets such as nursing equipment may be female dominated. But the question is why?
There may be something different fundamentally about men’s and women’s sex drives which leads to men consuming more pornography. And in the case of engineering vs. nursing, our society may just be very poor at providing opportunities across traditional gender lines, or the traditional gender lines may have some genetic basis. I have no idea.
But in our hobby… it’s not that hard to see how women might dislike 40K… they aren’t even in the fluff. A male emperor created a bunch of sons without a woman and spread them around the universe, then made cloned huge armies with their gene seeds and conquered the galaxy… all without women at all! Then half of them became corrupted and mutated in every conceivable way except for becoming female. Then they ran into a bunch of other races who apparently have a similar fascination with sausage parties.
It’s hard to get a foot hold in a game when the fluff is basically a fantasy imagining that you are no longer necessary.
my Mario Kart has closer to 10+ female racers which one are you playing?
Which one are you? Daisy and Peach are about the only two in the first few Mario Karts. Lately they’ve added a couple, Rosalina or whatever and then Toadette (but just genderswapping a character and adding -ette to the end doesn’t really count), but unless you’re counting the duplicate adult and baby versions of the same characters, you’re crazy.
Lara Croft in most of her iterations is a terrible example. It’s relatively easy to argue that while Croft is at least a female protagonist she is also modeled as a sex object. I agree that there are strong female leads in a few games so your basic point is valid, you just might want to choose a better example. Try someone more like Samus Aran (at least until the latest Metroid).
The Toughest Girls in the Galexy (of which I am a backer) suffers similar issues to Lara Croft. Many of the models are overly sexualized (mostly an issue with the jail birds, but the other lines have some issues as well).
Also, you said “there are those slave models, but that is exactly what they are supposed to be, a symbol of the evil that the Dark Eldar are capable of.” This would be a great point if they were actually modeled as slaves. If the actual point was emphasizing the Dark Eldar’s evil nature it seems a flayed corpse would have probably served the point better and without leading to allegations of trying to titillate juvenile males.
Personally, what I believe we should be aiming for is diversity of options. Consider music or any other form of entertainment. At one point there was a fairly limited pallet of options and thus a fairly limited participation. As the base broadens the market diverges and cultures go from traditional music to a wide selection of genres that people (both male and female) choose what appeals to them. Smart companies are going to figure out compelling ideas that reach untapped markets. Other companies are just going to retread the same ground until all but the strongest die out (look at the shooter genre, there is definitely megabucks to be had, but you have to be able to take on one of the big games to get more than a small share of the pie).
I think we are starting to see the diversification happen right now. Look at Malifaux, not my cup of tea, but by all reports it is reaching new markets.
You are right that Samus probably would have been a better example.
The “slave” models are modeled as slaves (concubines are still slaves). This from a race that birthed the Chaos God of pleasure. The ARE thematically appropriate.
Slave concubines are certainly slaves (not all concubines were slaves), my problem is that those particular models don’t really appear to be modeled after the role. They certainly did have manacles, but they are posed more like a fashion magazine model than the slave of a sadistic race dragged into a war zone.
Of course, that said, I don’t think appropriately modeling the slave concubine would make great headlines for our hobby…. Surprisingly, the flayed corpse would probably incur less wrath than a battered slave girl.
Don’t think 40k has a problem. Adept Soritas are the ugliest women in the galaxy and wytches were nerfed so far onto the shelf that no one will see them again.
They might have to change St.Celestines wording though…you probably shouldn’t lay her down anymore hoping she’ll get back on her knees next turn. Probably should be PC and just place a token where she dies from now on.
Meh. When we start taking games too seriously they stop being fun. Then what’s the point?
So I guess thinking about anything isn’t fun? The ability to observe and understand the world around you is somehow diametrically opposed to enjoying it?
That wasn’t his point, I don’t think. I think he was saying let’s just keep this hobby light.
I feel like refusing to confront something when there is very good evidence being pointed out to you is more willful ignorance than “keeping it light.” No one is saying that you have to deconstruct every single codex entry and show the symbology inherent in the existence of the Tau before playing a game, but denying that representation of the game is anything but exclusive to straight, white men is pretty ridiculous.
there are no “girl gamer”/”guy gamer” there are only gamer’s i think making it a us vs them mentality is what ruffles feathers on this issue imo and the gaming industry is like any other don’t like the thing? don’t buy the thing no more things that don’t make money are made ..ps droozy hit the nail on the head …my 2 cents 🙂
It’s easy to say there isn’t a problem when you’re in the majority that is being catered to. White plantation owners in the South didn’t think there was anything racist about the way slavery worked, I’m sure.
In fact, they thought it was better for everyone. The slavery-free north was a chaotic mess of immigrants and cities with high poverty rates, they figured they gave the slaves a home and a purpose and that they were doing everyone a favor giving them something to do other than form street gangs. Kinda messed up.
Let’s not minimize slavery here. Taking away a man’s rights from birth is a horrible action that is not the same as saying “you aren’t welcome in my treehouse.”
And everyone in the south knew slavery was racist, they were treating people differently because of their race. They just didn’t believe there was racial equality to begin with., so racist actions were justifiable.
Why draw this distinction- because most gamers of any sort don’t hold the belief that women are inferior to men, therefore any misogynistic actions (latent or expressed) are inconsistent with how the gamers act in most spheres of their lives. Slavery, sadly, held no such inconsistency. The hope is that once people are faced with how incongruent their views on gender are in the sphere of gaming vs. the rest of their life, they might reconsider their position.
Completely missing the point…
in what way? I’m pretty sure I digested all arguments above and responded to them rationally (although of course I was responding to AbusePuppy and flabluker, not DarkLink.)
But I’d love to hear your insights on the issue and understand which points I missed.
The point was not “misogyny in gaming is just as bad as slavery,” because I never said anything like that. The point was drawing a parallel in _mindset_ that allows people to rationalize unequal treatment as for the benefit of the downtrodden group- that is, the blind spot that allows people to ignore mistreatment of others when it is to their own benefit.
I understand and appreciate that AP. My point is that in the case of slavery, there is no rationalization or inconsistency. It’s a completely self-consistent world view, the slave owners believed they were genetically better than the slaves, and that justified all actions.
In the case of gamers though, I don’t think any gamer would say “Women aren’t equal to men.” But some of the behavior they take part in is inconsistent with that stance.
In my mind, that makes slavery catergorically worse, and it also means that there are methods of persuassion and influence which may work on the mysogynist gamer which would not have worked on the slave holder.
Sure, but again- I’m not saying that slavery isn’t worse than modern-day misogyny. In the sense of harm being done, you absolutely can’t compare the two of them.
However, discrimination comes in lots of flavors, and it isn’t always a matter of “I thin group X is categorically worse than my own”- in fact, that is perhaps the least common version of it. “Women don’t like gaming” can just as much a form of prejudice- albeit a much less harmful one- as “black people are genetically inferior”, and they are often supported by the same mental mechanisms and patterns; that was my point.
It is ridiculous to allow these people to politicize our games, be they table top, console, computer, or otherwise. We don’t care! Do what you want, buy what you want, play what you want, but don’t start pounding the table and telling us we are wrong and bad because you don’t like what we like.
If there were really an untapped market for more “female friendly” games (whatever that subjective line means – there are plenty of female gamers who enjoy all kinds of different games), it would not remain untapped for long. With things like Kickstarter, et al, these games could EASILY be financed and brought to market *if there were actually a market for them*.
This “why are we scaring away female gamers” question seems to raise its head on any number of blogs every couple months, and it’s silly. We’re doing nothing to “scare them away”, they just aren’t interested in what we’re interested in. In my experience, most females gravitate towards group-friendly games like the above mentioned Mario Kart, Guitar Hero/Rock Band, even WOW, in which there is a lot more interaction as a “team”. Of course, everyone is an individual, and that is by no means intended to be proof of anything, however, since we live in a free society I tend to give the ladies the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re doing what they want to do – which is this case means not playing tabletop wargaming.
Ask yourself: if half of every leader in every 40k and WHFB army were female, and half of single model were female, would there suddenly be more female players? Probably not.
Oh, finally: for every Lora Croft or Vect slave girl in the console/computer/tabletop universe, there are ten Conan the Barbarian types. The difference is one side doesn’t have a political axe to grind. My two cents…
“Oh, finally: for every Lora Croft or Vect slave girl in the console/computer/tabletop universe, there are ten Conan the Barbarian types.”
The complaint is that the slave girl type is sexually objectifying. Conan the Barbarian, on the other hand, is a male power fantasy. Women are there to look pretty, while men are there to be badass and slay their enemies and rape their women. If you don’t get the difference, then your two cents isn’t worth anything.
“This “why are we scaring away female gamers” question seems to raise its head on any number of blogs every couple months, and it’s silly. We’re doing nothing to “scare them away”, they just aren’t interested in what we’re interested in.”
This is like someone getting interviewed on TV with a KKK rally in the background saying there’s no such thing as racism.
No one is “politicizing” anything- the politics were already there. If you don’t like that their existence is being pointed out, that’s your problem for wanting to remain ignorant. Moreover, no one- and especially not Anita- is saying that you are “bad and wrong because you don’t like what we like”- that’s absolutely a misrepresentation of her arguments. In fact, she EXPLICITLY points out that it is entirely possible to enjoy media with flawed components even despite those flaws. I love H.P. Lovecraft’s writing; I think he’s a brilliant master of horror and the macabre with a command of the dictionary few others can match. But the man was an out-and-out racist and misogynist, amongst other things. I can recognize that fact while still enjoying his writing; there’s no inherent contradiction there.
I’m not sure how you can argue that a female game market would somehow automatically be tapped into no matter what. That only happens when companies make the effort to do so in a way that actually engenders a positive reaction from the nominal target market. Most of the attempts to do so have been stupid or offensive or both- Barbie’s Cutesy Dress Up Spectacular or Shopping With Brittney are not good attempts to tap the female market. On the other hand, more gender-neutral games (because they do exist) HAVE been extremely successful in many cases- games like Katamari Damacy and Lemmings and others have done very well with both male and female audiences without pushing the sort of disenfranchisement you seem to think is inevitable.
>We’re doing nothing to “scare them away”, they just aren’t interested in what we’re interested in.
But that’s patently not true. Millions upon millions of women play games, and moreover many of them will EXPLICITLY tell you that they have had experiences that drove them away from it. You may not see what the gaming community is doing to scare them away, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
>Ask yourself: if half of every leader in every 40k and WHFB army were female, and half of single model were female, would there suddenly be more female players?
Honestly? I think you’re wrong here. If you changed the models, and illustrations, and fiction so that there was better female representations in the game and in the hobby, I think you _would_ see more female players. Plenty of studies support the idea that, consciously or unconsciously, we are influenced by the people we see around us and how they are portrayed. A lack of female representation in the game says, at a fundamental level, “this is not for you; you are not wanted here.” And reactions like many of those in the thread here say it on a more explicit level.
>The difference is one side doesn’t have a political axe to grind.
Asking for fair treatment isn’t “a political axe to grind.” It’s basic human decency.
@AbusePuppy: I see you are a “since you don’t agree with me that there is a problem you are comparable to a slave owner” type, eh? Suddenly all of your extraordinarily whiny articles make sense now.
@DarkLink: because I do not agree with you I am comparable to the KKK? That is a truly disgusting thing to say.
Anyway, yes, you are politicizing it. Video game developers and game developers are sitting around dreaming up games, they create them, put them to market, and the ones that enough people like do well. If you don’t like the products being produced #1: don’t buy them, #2: make something you do like or assist others in doing so. You are calling for action because you are unhappy with the voluntary transactions between consenting adults – that is politicizing it and it is a very tyrannical impulse to try and control the decisions of others in that manner. But suum cuique…
I did not say that a female market would be tapped into no matter what: I said if there is such a huge, underserved market then catering to it would do well. You made the same argument when you told me I was wrong that creating more strong female leads in 40k/WHFB would do well. What I’m saying is, that since GW is probably not going to do that any time soon, people such as yourself and other like-minded individuals should get together and exploit that market. More power to you, however, unlike you I don’t think it will do particularly well outside of a small niche.
I am very aware of this whole “GamerGate” situation which is what all this media attention is about. Believe it or not, there are many female gamers and developers who disagree with you. I suggest you listen to them in addition to whoever you are currently listening to (Reason Magazine has a couple articles with lots of links to both sides of the argument for starters).
Finally, it is rather despicable to compare me to the KKK and slave owners because I do not share your concern that the gaming industry is causing irreparable harm to women. If you approached this argument differently rather than comparing all who disagree with you to racists and bigots, you might find you will have more fruitful conversations. On that note: bye – the adults have some prepping to do for their business trip this week.
So I guess voicing an opinion about a game is politicizing it? Gosh, I always assumed that being able to discuss media was sort of part of the point. Isn’t an attempt to suppress opinions you don’t like rather more political than the discussions of representation within a media? No one is saying “we ought top ban all sexist video games”, after all- that option isn’t even on the table.
>I said if there is such a huge, underserved market then catering to it would do well
If, and only if, someone made a genuine attempt to tap into it, yes. And I pointed out several games that have done so (and done well) and also explained that games that pander to an imaginary version of said market have not done well.
I didn’t see Abusepuppy calling you equivalent to a slave owner – can you point out where he did so?
I didn’t see Darklink calling you equivalent to the KKK – can you point out where he did so?
It’s seems to me that you find it easy to feel picked on when you make up comments by other people.
All Darklink said is that a certain stance (which by your reaction must be one you identify with) is like someone near a KKK rally claiming there was no such thing as racism. NOT that such a stance is comparable to the KKK – at least read a comment before being offended by it.
@AbusePuppy: voicing an opinion isn’t politicizing it, but coming into a community and telling everyone “there is a problem with the community and if you don’t agree that there is a problem then you are part of the problem” is politicizing it. WRT market already existing and doing well: so what are you sitting around complaining about? Do all games have to comport with your desires? I am afraid I don’t understand you and we are at an impasse. Adios.
AbusePuppy said: “It’s easy to say there isn’t a problem when you’re in the majority that is being catered to. White plantation owners in the South didn’t think there was anything racist about the way slavery worked, I’m sure.”
DarkLink said: “This is like someone getting interviewed on TV with a KKK rally in the background saying there’s no such thing as racism.”
Those two comparisons are morally charged, which should be self-evident. They could have compared us to anything, but they chose to pull out the “it’s like when racists do…” meme. Those of us who disagree with them are like slave holders or racists or people who willingly turn a blind eye to violent racists: they are insinuating that we are somehow comparable and are certainly morally compromised (i.e. bad people). You are correct that DarkLink did not directly compare me to the KKK, however, his comparison implicates that he thinks I would willingly turn a blind eye to evil. That’s a pretty awful assumption to make about someone you don’t know. These folks always immediately rush to comparing people who disagree with them to racists, and it is disgusting. If you don’t see any issues with their statements then I guess our conversation is over.
>“there is a problem with the community and if you don’t agree that there is a problem then you are part of the problem” is politicizing it.
How, exactly, is that politicizing it? That seems to me like that’s simply voicing an opinion- that a problem exists and that it’s important to recognize that problem. Like any opinion, you are free to agree or disagree with it or to ignore it entirely. Would you likewise say that someone who came into a community and said “I think that the sky is purple and anyone who disagrees with me is going to Hell” is politicizing an issue? I would hardly think so.
>but they chose to pull out the “it’s like when racists do…” meme.
Since misogyny and racism are both forms of discrimination, I don’t think it’s inappropriate to use one as an example for the other. Note that I explicitly did not call you a “just like a racist” or anything like that, nor did I make any less-favorable comparisons (e.g. Godwinning things). If you prefer, there are other kinds of prejudice that could serve as similar examples, but given the nature of things I thought slavery would be the most accessible example.
DarkLink’s example, while not ideal, is not wholly wrong, either. You’re denying that the problem exists while very nearly standing right in front of it- in bringing up GamerGate, you can hardly pretend that misogyny in the gaming community isn’t absolutely rampant.
No, in my comparison you’re the random person who is simply oblivious to what is going on.
The women aren’t coming, and it has nothing to do with how they are portrayed. 40k is not the be all end all of tabletop wargaming.
Women are not, for the most part, playing Flames of War. Women are not playing Dropzone Commander. Women are not playing X-Wing. Gender portrayals are insignificant in those games.
Haley2, Morvahna2, both Deneghra’s, Vayl2, and Skarre are all considered top notch warcasters in WM/H, if not top 10, and there are plenty more who are very strong, like Ashlynn, Sorscha Grissel and Harbinger. There a tons of female models in the game, and the women are portrayed as every bit the equal of the men in the fluff. A female leads the most brutal empire in the game. Yet women don’t play WM/H in significant numbers either. It is not because the character art depicts most of them as being worthy of the cover of Cosmo.
Women, by and large, do not give a rip about buying a bunch of models, painting them up, poring over volumes of books and blogs about armies and tactics to figure out how to beat other players, and then go spend three hours rolling dice and pushing models around the table. The overwhelming majority of them like other stuff better. Hell, the overwhelming majority of men like other stuff better.
You have to be wired a certain way to find wargames interesting, and most women aren’t. No amount of progressive wishful thinking, speech policing or grousing at nerds to stop being who they are is going to make the prom queen show up at the FLGS next year looking to drop a thousand bucks on some Nids.
F those Bs.
You are a shitty excuse for a human being.
Keep it classy, guys, no personal insults.
I love that I get to find out new ways that I am supposedly victimizing or suppressing some other sex or race on a daily basis because I’m a white American male who has a job and wants to spend what’s left of my hard earned money on the things that i enjoy. F’ the feminist special interest groups and the tools in dc that represent them. I’m sick of it.
I hear that!
Yeah, she specifically called you out. You and you alone are the problem. The rest of us guys are all cool, but you? You must be the one sending out all the death and rape threats. You’re a busy guy.
I’m sorry that you dislike hearing about the ways that you are privileged over other people, but that doesn’t make them not exist.
Also, you seem to fundamentally misunderstand the message of feminist works and critics if you think that they are telling you that you are “victimizing or suppressing” people.
I really didn’t want this to hit wargaming.
I’ve played war-games in three large urban areas in Eastern and Central portions of the US. In absolutely zero instances, have I ever seen, heard, or been privy to second hand information that indicates any one I game with has made a woman playing a war game uncomfortable. I’ve known plenty of women who play wargames, and not just wives/girlfriends of existing players, and have asked them if they’ve ever encountered a problem with wargamers. Other than “feeling like everyone is staring at me the first time I go to a new LGS”, no one had ever been harassed.
While that’s empirical (and admittedly, comes from the Warmahordes/Malifaux community, not the 40K community), I think it’s fair to say that wargames aren’t bastions of misogyny. Not a lot of women play wargames (especially relative to card games/board games), but I see that slowly changing. Games like Malifaux and Warmachine/Hordes are written with powerful female characters and I can’t imagine that 40K/Fantasy won’t follow suit. Change is slow, but steady.
You can easily criticize 40K for having cliche’ed and lazy writing (particularly post 2nd ed). The same is true for most “geek media”, particularly anything that’s over 10 years old and targeted at young men.
That said, I don’t think that there’s any evidence indicating that anyone who played 40K has been transformed into a misogynst by the bad writing. What I would criticize Anita Sarkeesian for is claiming that games can have a “negative influence on young men”. I’m sorry, there’s no evidence of that and it doesn’t mesh at all with my personal experience or the broader experience of my friends. Bad writing is one thing, but calling something harmful is explicitly asking for censorship. That’s where I draw a line.
I think women in wargames could and should and are starting to be written better. I think wargames, broadly, have been targeted at young men for a long time. I don’t think it’s fair to say “THAT’S PRIVELEGE!” and compare someone to a slave owner for enjoying a wargame. You’re off your rocker, mate.
> In absolutely zero instances, have I ever seen, heard, or been privy to second hand information that indicates any one I game with has made a woman playing a war game uncomfortable.
Okay, but here’s the flip side: in talking to my female gamer friends, both online and in person, as well as posting to other threads like this before, I have heard TONS of stories of guys being absolute mega-creeps to women in the hobby, to the point where many of them simply stopped playing because it was clear they weren’t wanted. Your experience may not be everyone’s experience.
>and I can’t imagine that 40K/Fantasy won’t follow suit.
Keep in mind that, as of 7th edition, Games Workshop has HALVED the number of female unique characters in the game and has produced zero new female sculpts in 40K in the past… two years? Something like that. (I can’t speak for Fantasy, since I’m not really familiar with it.) They certainly are not following any larger trends of equality in the world at large.
> I’m sorry, there’s no evidence of that and it
Have you actually read any of the literature on the psychology and sociology of media consumption and gender bias? The evidence of it is so extensive to be overwhelmingly accepted.
(To be clear: this doesn’t mean that playing 40K will turn you into a misogynist, nor will playing games with poor portrayals of women; that isn’t what Anita claims at all. But it does INFLUENCE people, and especially when these portrayals are common across many different forms of media that they consume it absolutely can change the way people think.)
Well, I’m sorry to hear that your female friends have had to go through that. Maybe it’s an AU vs. US difference? Maybe it’s a 40K thing?
As for GW, Fantasy has been doing a lot better in the End Times series (they’re latest release) with regard to gender equality. I can’t speak to 40K, but it doesn’t sound good from what you said. All I can say is that the End Times is selling out left and right; I can’t imagine that 40K won’t have an analogue to that soon (including grown-up level writing).
As for the psychological and sociological studies on media consumption and gender bias: Yes, I have read all of Anita’s references. In every instance she claims a quantitative relationship between media consumption and influencing people’s opinions, I’ve found the cited study either a) not related to consuming video games/movies or b) use some very, very unusual statistical techniques, which raise some serious red flags. If you’d like to talk specifics, I’d be happy to.
As for what Anita says, when I see quotes like: “Given the reality of that larger cultural context, it should go without saying that it’s dangerously irresponsible to be creating games in which players are encouraged and even required to perform violence against women in order to “save them”.”
I see that as saying: “If you create games in which players perform violence against women, you will turn them into misogynists”.
To your point: saying it “INFLUENCE(s) people”, that leads me to believe that you think it would be for the best if creators self-censored what you perceive as a negative portrayal of women out of all media. Which is problematic because who decides what’s “negative”? More to the point: show me the QUALITATIVE studies that prove your assertion of “INFLUENCE” of media.
It may well be regional, but I’ve heard from both US and British gamers, so I don’t think it’s exclusive to my area, nor is it exclusive to a single type of gaming.
Out of curiosity, what about the End Times stuff gives it better gender equality in your mind? To my knowledge no new female sculpts have been released for Fantasy for the End Times stuff.
>I see that as saying: “If you create games in which players perform violence against women, you will turn them into misogynists”.
I don’t think that’s what she is saying at all. Her contention is that such games and scenarios _incline_ players to think in that way. That’s a very different statement from “turning them into misogynists.”
>that leads me to believe that you think it would be for the best if creators self-censored what you perceive as a negative portrayal of women out of all media
In the same way that I think that creators should self-censor racist, homophobic, or otherwise offensive content from their games, yes. Neither I not Anita are saying that such works are inherently wrong, completely without place, or that they should be made illegal in any way; freedom of speech is, after all, sort of a thing over here. But because you are allowed to say something doesn’t necessarily mean you should, and freedom of speech does not mean freedom from all consequences when you speak- creators can and should be help responsible for the messages within media that they produce.
As for links to studies that support my claims, I admit I’ll have to default to Google here; I’m not an academic and I don’t exactly keep a pool of research papers on every subject which I hold an opinion on handy at all times. http://www.academia.edu/1865189/The_Effects_of_the_Sexualization_of_Female_Video_Game_Characters_on_Gender_Stereotyping_and_Female_Self-Concept seems like a fairly legit paper that supports pretty much everything I’ve said, though. What “red flags” are you seeing in Anita’s references that make you so skeptical of her work?
Sorry, would reply below, but replies appear disabled. This comment is in reference to your comment below:
Thank you for replying civilly.
Re: End Times – It’s in the book, not in the model releases. I suppose you could say “No models = less agency”, but the women, particularly the Elven women, with powerful agency in Book I of End Times (without spoiling anything) probably have models/rules coming in later End Times books when their “faction” gets released.
Re: I disagree on self-censorship. I think we should all be open to criticism and dialogue. I fundamentally disagree that artists should stay away from anything that someone might take offense at, because we’re all the poorer for it. I think what you’re saying is “Don’t say anything/produce art that actively harms people”. I can agree with that: we don’t need another “Birth of a Nation” (to use an overly American reference).
But who gets to draw that line? I have a friend in academia who’s convinced the Iron Man franchise is profoundly abelist. Should Marvel Studios stop filming The Avengers 2 to placate her?
I have no issue with criticism. I’m sure we agree that a lot of GW writing in the past twenty years has been, at minimum, dumb/lazy and, at worst, sexist. I totally agree that “freedom of speech =/= freedom from consequences”.
However, the knee-jerk calls of misogyny in gaming as of late make me worry that we’re taking *any* accusation of sexism as the unbridled truth. Some of the claims Anita uses in her videos are outright insane when taken in context. Do you really think the stripper scene in Hitman 2 encourages players to derive “perverse pleasure” from killing strippers (despite penalizing you for doing so and being in no way encouraged)? Did you really think the guards in the Dragon Age:Origin that were encouraging you to “go get a whore” were being portrayed as “good guys” in the context of the game?
I genuinely don’t know that there’s a right answer is here or if there is one.
Re: Study – So, when I read the author’s stated limitations of the study:
“Additionally, the particular game playing experience in the present study may have presented a limitation. Individuals who play games often/regularly (i.e. gamers) have longer term exposure to the images studied in this experiment, and the game play experience likely differs from the game play that is experienced in a laboratory. In other words, the design of this study is limited by its experimental nature in that the participants and game setting may not be representative of the gaming experience in the real world.Future studies should consider triangulation, utilizing multiple methods to compare results between a laboratory experiment, survey design, and anatural setting experiment.”
I’m not entirely sold.
Yes, they found some promising initial results from a subset of the population (college students from the Southwestern US) in an unnatural environment. Their sample size is troubling: n=56 for the total, but n=34 for some of the more controversial claims.
I have no qualms with their statistics methods (thank you for providing me with this link by the way: this is the first time I’ve seen a study like this that sticks to f- and t- tests and does not resort to non-standard methods).
That said, they’ve used some odd variants of what my understanding of normal methods are. For instance, a cursory Google search found that the “General Self” test normally ranks from 1-4.
Why did they change that to 1-7? When the (admittedly significant according to an F-test) result they claim for Hypothesis 1b compares populations who mean well within an SD of each other, sans stratification, (M1=5.40, SD1=0.66, M2=5.67,SD2=0.52), I find that a little fishy. To say the least: if there’s a difference here – it’s small.
I would love to see the follow-on they describe above. I would love to see some of the questionaire questions about gender attitudes given to “gamers” and non-gamers at a statistically significant level (i.e. – N = hundreds with appropriate stratification). I expect, much like the violence-correlates-to-video-game studies, that you’ll find some encouraging data at this level but much less at the larger scale (though that’s conjecture).
Regarding the End Times stuff, I think that the lack of models at least indicates somewhat less agency. The fact that they are present in the fiction is good, especially if they have comparable roles and portrayal to the male characters, but if that’s _all_ they ever get I still feel like there’s a distinct bias. (Of course, given that only a small number of models have been released for End Times so far that isn’t a clear indicator, but given the way GW typically operates I wouldn’t expect to see new female models anytime soon.) It’s perhaps a step in the right direction, but not enough on its own.
> I think what you’re saying is “Don’t say anything/produce art that actively harms people”
Somewhat, yes. I don’t think that artists should produce harmful media, but I also think that they have the right to do so (except in extreme cases) if they so choose to. If someone decides to produce another Birth of a Nation, as you put it, that is their right to do so- but they can’t expect to be immune to criticism in doing so.
Likewise, with regards to your friend’s contention about Iron Man, I might argue that the producers have a moral imperative not to produce sexist, racist, homophobic, or ablist media, but that does not translate into any kind of legal imperative. (I won’t try to weigh in on the subject of whether the movie is _actually_ ablist or not, because that is a far, far more complicated subject and one distinct from what we’re talking about here.) They are free to produce whatever they want, but as with any media they should expect that once it is within the public realm comments and criticism on it may be shared just as freely.
That’s basically my point: a lot of people are contending that Anita, and other feminists critics, shouldn’t be saying (or shouldn’t be allowed to say) the things that they are; that to criticize someone else’s work on the basis of its representation of women is somehow unfair, biased, or otherwise unacceptable (even when criticism on other basis is fine.) You don’t have to think that everything she says is correct to accept her analysis as being legitimate; hell, _I_ don’t think everything she says is correct. But the general tirade against her, and against other women making such criticisms, is not a measured response to a literary deconstruction and analysis but personal attacks and calls for them to be silenced.
>Do you really think the stripper scene in Hitman 2 encourages players to derive “perverse pleasure” from killing strippers (despite penalizing you for doing so and being in no way encouraged)
Well here’s the thing about that- content in video games doesn’t just magically appear. In the real world, consequences of actions are typically fallout from the actions themselves, but in video games that isn’t the case- the people making the games must make conscious decisions for specific actions to be rewarded or penalized in some way. In putting in a special “this is what happens when you kill strippers” event within the game, they had to willingly choose to make the particular action of killing strippers (as opposed to killing other NPCs within the game) have a specific effect. That means that they felt that killing strippers needed to be made unique or special in some way and differentiated from killing other people. That, right there, is absolutely a gendered message- there are different interpretations you can put on that message, but the fact that the message exists is inarguable.
As for the “penalizing” part, keep in mind that in-game rewards and penalties can be more than just gaining or losing HP/money/items/etc; many of the rewards within a game come in the form of game content. It’s actually quite common in games to have “rewards” in the form of special death scenes for dying in particular (and unusual) ways, even though the actual act of dying in the game itself is also a penalty. I would say that many of the examples Anita mentions fall under this category- while the player may suffer a penalty or cost of some kind in the context of the game, they are also provided with a reward in the form of additional content. (Admittedly, content can also be used as a punishment in cases where its consumption is mandatory and/or unpleasant to the player, but I don’t think that is applicable here.)
>I genuinely don’t know that there’s a right answer is here or if there is one.
I would say that there is no true and absolute right answer in the cases you mention, or really to any dilemma of this sort. You can’t get out a caliper and measure the morality of an action- you can only look at what effects it has and how it is perceived, and even then only imperfectly. But we DO have tools that allow us to take a better look at those factors- tools of critical and statistical analysis, like the ones Anita uses. The call from many quarters, however, is to _abandon_ those tools and stop drawing inferences about the media we consume and the effects it may have because people don’t like the conclusions she is drawing. This, to me, smacks of willful ignorance- a realization that there is a problem with the situation, an inherent unfairness, but a refusal to confront it because the problem is to someone’s advantage.
As I said before, I can’t really comment on the statistical methods used by either Anita or the paper I linked; that’s not really my area of specialty at all and I’m not equipped to make any real comment on what’s going on there. However, if someone wants to dispute any of those claims on that basis, absolutely go for it, because that is a perfectly acceptable form of discourse that can produce meaningful results. But that isn’t the objection most people seem ot have with it- rather, it’s more a case of “I don’t like what she’s saying so she needs to be silenced.”
Thanks again for the civil reply.
Re: End Times/WFB – GW has been better about producing non-stripper females for WFB for a bit – look at the HE release and the WE release. I’m encouraged by it. I think GW’s games will probably skew towards young males for business reasons, but they seem open to getting more female friendly miniatures in.
I think we’re probably at a point of agreement on the role of criticism in media. It’s been disheartening to see a lot of people react so reactionarily to the recent kerfuffle in gaming: for every person you’ve seen give the standard (dumb) tirade against Anita’s critiques, I’ve seen at least one comment decrying fair critique of her critique as “Lol, you’re a misogynist shitlord”. I suppose stupid comes in many flavors…
As for Anita, I agree with about 60% of what she says but disagree with nearly all of her claims of quantative relationships. As stated before, I actually welcome debate on this and wish other people would talk about this. I understand having a background in statistics is uncommon, but it’s been galling to see no one say anything about this (and as stated above: I actually agree with most of her message, but you can’t just BS stat claims).
Is anyone really upset with how you spend your money? Certainly I don’t think anyone cares if I spend all my free money on games, pornography, or 40K.
Just there may be room for games, porn, or tabletop games which also appeal to women.
In the end, capitalism will settle all of this. If the market is there, people will serve it and make money on it. So if the gaming market is really driven by men who want to objectify women, those games will exist. If they can make more money by offering product which you don’t have to be embarrassed to show your wife, mother, and daughter, more of those products will be made.
In the meantime, we yell and type and insult, but we are all voting with our wallets.
Just like capitalism has solved most problems of deeply-established inequality? Like for slavery, homophobia, etc?
Capitalism works against deeply established FINANCIAL inequality, hence it doesn’t help in the case of slavery, or even the US black population from after the civil war until today.
I have to be honest, I don’t know enough about LGBT movement and what drives it. There has been an overwhelming turnaround in public opinion in the last decade, but I don’t know the factors at all.
But regarding gaming, both sides of the issues have equal financial means, I’d wager. So vote with your waller is a very real strategy
That presumes that capitalism is a perfect equalizer and that markets always reflect the ideal, as opposed to being driven just as much by biases, personal choices, etc. (With regards to homophobia, for example, it makes no sense to discriminate against a non-trivial portion of your consumer base, but that hasn’t stopped thousands of businesses from doing it for many decades prior to this. Ditto with hiring women into non-traditional jobs in the marketplace.)
I’m not saying “vote with your wallet” is irrelevant, but it’s certainly not a panacea to discrimination, which can often persist in the fringe or in the mainstream even when it is economically disadvantageous because people aren’t really rational actors.
I will say, very interesting points that are well put!
Tabletop porn games that appeal to women. You sir are a genius!
As it pertains to 40K, I have seen a small number of women playing and they seem to be well respected and treated well in the tournaments I have seen. So I don’t know that the community is that awful (but just my impression.)
But the game itself… if 40K were ever to appeal to women, the whole game would need a massive re-write. Most sides simply are all men, most heroes are all male, or they are androgynous monsters. There are a couple of female daemons as temptresses, but mostly the entire hobby is simply missing female representation. Even the Tyranid faction, which based on the Alien mythos and insect mythos should be led by females, only mention women via looking up a bunch of obscure, impolite, names for women and assigning them to the Monstrous creatures!
@Jural: thank you for your contributions to this thread. All of your comments have been reasonable and thoughtful.
I think, on a surface level, that’s certainly true- I don’t think that most 40K players are screaming bigots nor do they particularly mistreat women that they interact with in a casual fashion during the game or in most of their lives. However, that itself isn’t the same thing as saying there’s no bias in wargaming- many forms of bias can be very subtle and not consciously acknowledged, and I think that’s the case here. One of the first questions many female wargamers get is “So, do you play Sisters of Battle?” and/or “Did your boyfriend get you into this game?”- neither of which is offensive at the most basic level, but which rely on some biased assumptions about the player in question.
And yes, the fact that the female “avatars” one might pick in the game are basically limited to a couple different varieties of “sexy evil hypersluts who will murder-kiss you to death while taking off their panties” and “ultrachaste nuns who exist to be rescued and bossed around by the men in the setting” is… it’s a long way from progressive.
I think thereis definitely a bias, but an innocent one. I would guess that women at tournaments are treated strangely because of how unusual it is to see a woman there. My first few times playing basketball with women on the court as an adult were awkward as well, and I’m sure I treated them differently until I got used to it.
I don’t really feel ashamed of that either. You know, you get into a situation and you do your best… and it seems like that’s what has happened at the tournaments I’ve seen.
We can really only solve this problem if more women join the hobby… and then we see those in game barriers…
40K =/= wargaming.
There’s plenty of positive female role models in other games. Even the ones that you’ve confused as 40K rip-offs (Skorne =?= Khorne == LOL).
You keep talking about subconscious bias, which to me sound like you’re trying to accuse wargamers, broadly, of being sexist without actually coming out and accusing people of being sexist. Which is profoundly offensive. I would much prefer you accused me of willful bias than ignorant sexism.
Or, perhaps, you accused people who’s actions are demonstrably sexist of being sexist rather than calling wargamers broadly of being sexist for the actions of a few.
Do you think that bias below the conscious level isn’t a real thing? The field of psychology would like to disagree.
Also, saying that bias exists in the community is not the same thing as saying everyone in the community is biased.
1st point: I think bias below the conscious is a real thing, broadly. I don’t think consuming “problematic” media contributes to it. If you disagree, show data to back it up.
2nd point: Semantics and you know it, mate.
I linked a study in one of the comments above that gives some pretty good evidence, if you want to read it.
It’s not “semantics” when you’re misstating my position. “Bias exists” means that some portion of the people are bias; “everyone is biased” is a completely different statement.
Stop giving this scam artist attention. Such the expert in gaming that she couldn’t name 3 games.
Yeah, I know, right? I think she means well, maybe wants some attention, but this is reaching for me. I agree with feminism in principal, but this is a bit silly. Men and women both are idealized/distorted in gaming. It is a fantasy by it’s very nature. I honestly don’t want to play a game with frumpy, slightly overweight, middle-aged characters in them, lol, even if that does represent reality. It’s like romance novels, you never see the guy on the cover as a dude who hasn’t been in the gym in 5 years, it’s a Fabio type character that represents female fantasy fulfillment.
Game’s like GTA definitely go too far, though. I think they’re funny because I don’t take it seriously, but they really do present a fucked up view of things.
But they aren’t idealized or distorted in the same way, which is her point. Men are portrayed as ideals of male power fantasies- huge, beefy dues with giant weapons or dark, mysterious antiheroes who spout one-liners while murdering hundreds. Women, on the other hand, are typically portrayed as male sex objects _even when they are also other things_. Both of these distortions are intended to appeal to men more than women; that’s not equality.
I wondered if anyone else caught that. I wasn’t sure why she couldn’t answer that question… And after watching some of here reviews… they weren’t what I would call “dead on.”
But in the end, once death threats start being made this becomes a real issue, a real news story, and (fair or not) the smoking gun that allowed the mainstream and social media to run with it.
And I guess I’m OK with that. Because probably she’s started off being exploitative, but maybe she really exposed a mysogynistic side of the hobby (video gaming, not tabletop) that was more a part of the culture than I realized.
And if so, it should be addressed.
I saw a really interesting panel at PAX AUS this year on female avatars in games. And the interesting point that was made, was that the conventional wisdom that men prefer to play male characters, doesn’t hold true in any of the games that actually measure it.
But I agree, it “feels” more risky. I think partly, it’s also the challenge of making models at a 28mm scale that look “female” from a distance. Just like male characters tend to look like Arnie in his heyday, female characters tend to look like they’ve had a lot of work done.
Another interesting point, was that they were talking about games being “biased”, simply because of the people who created them. There isn’t an agenda, some dark council of misogynists attempting to pervert the creation of games of all kinds. It’s more that creative people draw on their own experiences first. So the fact that there’s a gender divide in game creation, has an impact on the diversity of the product.
The same goes for table top games. By and large, such game designers are men, and that’s the market they are most in tune with.
However, there is something we can all do, to make gaming (on a computer, or tabletop) better for women. Call people on their bullshit. If someone is being a creep to a female gamer, either IRL or online, then call them on it. The number of times I’ve had issues with other players, while playing DOTA with female friends, is frustrating 🙁
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