Liveware.Quickies – RE: Full Spectrum: Women in Games [NSFW]

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Oh noes.

So after a few days and an update to this article I think I have to make my position clear on a few things that bother me a lot recently.

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The author added this picture in the update to his article where he apologized, (not sure for what exactly but apology accepted, no hard feelings) and he wrote:

Indeed Kayla and I went on to talk about games like Lollipop Chainsaw and Kayla was in agreement with me that in such a case like that it works! It makes sense that an over-the-top game about a cheerleader fighting zombies have an aesthetic and clothing for the protagonist to match.

The character in the screenshot is a Castanic, a race from Tera, an MMO (rated M for Mature)

Castanics are a demon race, or at least from what I gather half demon (convoluted metaphysical heritage). In fact, they are specifically designed to mimic succubi or satyrs and their hedonistic nature is quite frequently brought up in the game as a talking point. (Other races question their morality) For me, that is how a hedonistic character of demonic heritage should look, but maybe that’s just me, I find it “fits” with the “tits” (oh, I do crack myself up sometimes).

But this article isn’t about me defending Tera, a game I have never played, nor the Castanics, or their character designers.

It’s about what always inevitably happens in “Women in Games” articles/interviews, especially if there is a female actually involved in either. I wrote this as a comment in the relevant article but felt it was too long and deserved its own place on my blog because the sentiment expressed is universal and not specific to the article, it starts with a quote:

Almost everybody reads every piece of text as serious sounding, as if she’s calling to arms warriors to battle against the sexist gamers and shit.

Actually no, that was not my impression.

I am not offended, well not more than usual anyways, at the words spoken. I am more offended with the almost inevitable direction these discussion/interviews/articles always take.

When someone brings up “Women in Games” the looks are scrutinized almost immediately and surprisingly most viciously by women themselves.

Are the shorts too short? Could you see up her skirt? Are the boobs too large? Can we make her more/less butch? Is it too sexy? Not sexy enough? Does she dress like a slut? Could she possibly make my boyfriend masturbate instead of having exclusive candle-light sex with me?

It implies that the average audience is inherently interested in this as a primary concern.

In a way it devalues me as the audience because it paints me as a vapid bimbo that is primarily interested in the choice of clothing and how large someones tits are.

The direction the discussion takes is always one of sexuality, sex or eroticism and has little to do with anything else. It is systemic, I see it everywhere, RPS just ran an article about Sejuani’s virtual tits like yesterday (personally I would prefer this redesign).

Now, the worst part about this is not that I am offended, it’s that this is actual benevolent sexism (not the imagined one by having Damsel in Distress tropes). In the act of discussing womens portrayal in video games only in the context of their chain-mail bikinis and latex shorts, highlighting their sexuality as the prime factor for discourse, we are doing both women and female characters a disservice and engage what is essentially “virtual slut shaming”.

It’s oh so effective because the fictional characters can’t defend themselves. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

And If we feel especially vicious that day, we even drag the designers into the discussion, so we can have some live target practice for our entirely arbitrary and personal judgments about a fantasy characters midriff or bottom.

Veiled appeals at “authenticity” and “realism” are made and we can all feel better that we could berate a bunch of pixels for their lack of decency to cover up those boobies properly.

“Look at her, what does that G-string even protect?!” says the outraged justice warrior ignoring she is an immortal vampire that can regrow limbs on a whim.

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