Tropes vs Women Ep.2

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Re: Tropes vs Women Ep.2

Postby phlip » 10 Oct 2013, 20:02

MattAn wrote:Why the hell does it matter what the genders are? This is why I'm saying there's constant contradictions! Several times in this thread, you, and others, have stated "It's not bad enough to have to be eradicated completely forever" but then you (and others) go straight into reasons why it is, in fact, horrendously bad and people doing it, knowingly or not, are doing it wrong.

I really don't know how to explain this simpler than I already have. But you keep conflating a bunch of things together, and then accuse me of contradictions because those things area actually different.

Like... just because I say that it doesn't need to be eradicated, just reduced, does not imply a claim I don't think it's "not bad enough" for that. Just because I say it should be reduced, doesn't imply a claim that people who do it are malicious. I'm not saying those things, because they aren't true, and then when I go on to say they aren't true, that isn't a contradiction, because I'm not saying those things.

A simpler example: the ideal proportion of male protagonists in games is around 50%, give or take a bit for statistical variance, and nonbinary characters, and the like. I don't have the numbers on what the current proportion is, but I would put money on it being in the high 80s-90s. This is, of course, a problem. It's a bad thing, which should be fixed. You can't point to a particular game and say "this game is bad and should have a female protagonist instead", or point to a game dev and say "this game dev is maliciously only putting male characters in their game" because that's not how it works... but the aggregate totals are not consistent with an equitable distribution across genders.

I would claim these two things: (a) The current proportions are bad, and should be changed, by increasing the number of female protagonists in games. (b) The goal here is not to reduce male protagonists to 0% and have only female protagonists ever.
I claim that these two statements are not a contradiction. In any way.

In the current situation, another game coming out with yet another male protagonist is, to some degree, a bad thing, in the context of contemporary gaming as a whole. It's not backbreaking in and of itself, but it's a drop in the bucket towards the problem. If the proportions were different, and gaming were equitable, then that same game coming out with the same male protagonist, would no longer be considered a bad thing. So there would be no more reason to try to "eradicate" male protagonists. Context is everything.

MattAn wrote:when you follow it up with how people are apparently "privilege-blind", etc. It's quite the back-handed insult and generalisation to make.

"Privelege", and (to an admittedly lesser extent) "privelege-blind" are not, in and of themselves, insults, but rather factual descriptors. Certainly, some people use them as insults, and this is a bad thing. But they are, quite frankly, the best terms we have to describe certain concepts. I'll refer back to my example from the last page about hiring people out of university, or Scalzi's excellent "Easy Mode" essay. This is a thing that exists, and it is useful to have a term by which to refer to it.

MattAn wrote:The majority of the time, the character's gender is totally irrelevant to the creation process of the game. Again with FFXIII, mainly this example in particular, where the character of Fang (before naming or anything, early design) was originally male. The dev team decided they preferred to have even genders in the party (3 male (Snow/Sazh/Hope), 3 female (Lightning/Vanille/Fang), Serah was planned to also be playable, but she ended up moving to FFXIII-2), so the character became Fang. Nobody gave a shit. Because it doesn't matter in the context of the story. A character isn't defined by their gender. Ever. They're defined by their character.

I don't see how you think this is a counterexample to my point. If no-one cares about the genders of characters in games, then whence the 90% (or whatever the number is) proportions? Whence the game producers who believe that putting a female character on the front cover of the box art will hurt sales? Whence the game devs who believe that any game can have a male protagonist, but they need to wait for the right game to include a female one?

MattAn wrote:I just find the motive absurd.. As I've said, if people want the ratio to be less of a gap, make a game yourself and be the change you want to see in the world. Instead of complaining about petty crap, FIX IT. Find the market for it yourself. Funny how there's that whole Kickstarter thing for game concepts!

Yeah, we went over this already. Making a game myself: not really my area of expertise. Contributing to an awareness campaign so that other people who are game devs do so: that, I can do, with arguably more effect.

MattAn wrote:I agree that so many AAA game dev studios "play it safe" and have almost identical lead characters.. But sadly, that's what dudebros buy.

Yep. It's a sad situation. That's why people like Sarkeesian are trying to change that situation.

MattAn wrote:Sure, anyone can say "I don't like the design of that character", but it does not, in any way, make it factually wrong and bad or even "problematic". That's an individual perception and not at all fact.

Again, this is not about individual characters. It's about the gaming culture as a whole. To focus on an individual example is to ignore context. This is why Sarkeesian's videos go rapidfire through a bunch of examples after each point - to show that this is not a case of "I don't like this particular character" but "I don't like this particular trend".

Have I made the die-rolling analogy in this thread yet? I can't remember. Whatever, I'll make it again. Say I give you a d6, and you want to know whether it's weighted. You roll it 1000 times, and it comes up with a "6" 500 times, with the other numbers appearing 100 times each. You want to claim it's weighted. I point to a particular six, and say "prove to me that this particular 6 should have been a different number". You are, of course, unable to do so. I say "well that one doesn't count then" and move on to the next one... and we end up discounting each individual case.

You can't point to a particular game and say "the character should have been female in this game", that's silly (or, well, if you can, it's due to some special specifics of that game, and not gaming as a whole). But you can tell the die is weighted.
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Re: Tropes vs Women Ep.2

Postby MattAn » 10 Oct 2013, 20:07

Flamefest? Pfft. Hardly. I'm just not going to sit around idly and ignore this shit, nor do I take any particular side, no matter how right they seem to believe they are. There's plenty of inconsistencies, plenty of inaccuracies, plently of contradictions.

It is not a contradiction, in my opinion, to say that something should be done less but is not being done deliberately to offend. It is also not a contradiction to say that something should not necessarily be completely gone but also that it should not be this popular in media.

Saying one thing and yet swiftly lambasting/berating its supposed majority existence, subtly being bitter about anyone who has the nerve to not see anything so "problematic" in the most minor of "examples" especially.. Yeah, that's pretty much a contradiction.

People are going to like/dislike whatever they want. Something being "popular" doesn't mean it's "good". Two very different things. An actor/actress/movie/game winning an award doesn't automatically legitimise its "quality" either. Because again, it is entirely subjective individual opinion.

It's essentially saying two different things. "It is bad and/or a problem" but "oh it's totes okay or whatever".. That's two entirely different things. Is it a problem, or is it okay? In this instance, there's no grey, it's one or the other. I mean, where does the ratio instantly change? Because the way Anita talks (going from the videos anyway), she sounds incredibly bitter and sarcastic/snide about it. So from that, clearly it's never going to be good enough until it stops completely. Because if it's a problem, it should be stopped.. Otherwise it's not arguing for anything in particular and it's merely saying words for no benefit.

From the attitude of how bitter some of you are assuming this "trope" is so very bad.. It's like.. I don't know. Just sounds like people are creating an issue over something that really isn't the case. Making assumptions about something that isn't exactly accurate, or even remotely confirmed by the relevant designer/creator. Yes, some designer/creators are dicks, Suda51 purposefully makes oversexualized/objectifying games. Anyone is well within their rights to disapprove of that (I agree, HIS style is objectively awful), but has anyone bothered to actually ask him his motives? Is it, in fact, over-exaggerating and being satirical or making a statement on society's behaviours? No. Not really. Instead, people have just made blind accusations just from what THEY assume it is.

I also find it hard to believe there's such a "trend". Or am I the only one playing all these Japanese-made games with strong female protagonists (or lead characters)? Western gaming is horrid. Again, what one person believes is "problematic" isn't to another, women included. It's not just men denying certain things are supposedly problematic. To many, the character's genders are irrelevant. It's about love and caring for another person, hence the "rescuing".

And AGAIN with FFXIII (beginning to think FFXIII is a great counter-argument..).. Not only is Lightning on the cover (previous FF covers literally only had the logo, no character on the cover, though even on FFXIII-2's steelbook, etc, in which she's only a secondary character), Vanille's character development throughout the early hours of the game evolves into "No. Fang's done enough saving, this time I'm saving her.", which Sazh commends her for.

And because it bares repeating. I do not believe Anita Sarkeesian is, in any way, the right person to be doing this. She's riding on the controversy alone, and her delivery IS subtly abusive and "holier-than-thou". I do not say this because she is a woman. I say this because of her attitude and delivery. She provokes attention/"haters". I honestly believe someone else could do the same (or similar) series, but much, MUCH better. Anita is way too over-the-top, it looks to me like she provokes the hatred just from her presentation.
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Re: Tropes vs Women Ep.2

Postby Duckay » 10 Oct 2013, 20:15

I cannot speak for anyone else - not Anita Sarkeesian, and not anyone else in this thread - but I want to make my own feelings here very clear. I do not feel "bitter" about the existence of these tropes. And to reiterate: my statement that you say is a contradiction was that I feel how it would be better if a trope were less commonly used, but that does not mean it has to vanish altogether. I don't know how I can make it any more clear, and I still don't see how it is a contradiction.

And my apologies; the word 'popular' was the wrong word. I do not mean that it is bad that people like it. I should have said "common", instead, as my intended meaning was that it becomes problematic when it makes up such a large proportion of media.

You keep bringing up the intentions of game designers; your most recent post is not the first time you have asked why no one is questioning their motives. The reason is that we are not talking about their motives. We are talking about a trope that has certain societal implications in aggregate. You can argue whether those societal implications are present, or whether they are bad, but the motives of individual game designers are not the point.
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Re: Tropes vs Women Ep.2

Postby korvys » 10 Oct 2013, 20:23

I'm of the believe that every argument between intelligent people comes down to a single, small subjective difference of opinions, with each party making small logical steps away, until they are on opposite sides. Did we just find ours?
Is it a problem, or is it okay? In this instance, there's no grey, it's one or the other.

This, I completely disagree with. It is grey.

There is a problem, but there could be less of a problem. To the point, even, of not being considered a problem at all. And like the paradox of the heap there isn't a single defined point where you can say, on one side, we have a problem, on the other we do not.

EDIT: Incidentally phlip, that dice parable was great. I thought of a more directly analogise one: There is a factory that makes dice. If we roll 1000 dice made by this factory, and 500 come up a 6, we know something is wrong. If we examine each dice, we might be able to figure out that it is weighed, or not, but the solution is not to throw out the weighted ones, it's for the factory to reconsider the way it makes dice. (Or for us to make a video series to try to influence the factory to reconsider the way it makes dice... and I might be straining the metaphor.)
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Re: Tropes vs Women Ep.2

Postby Duckay » 10 Oct 2013, 20:31

I'm sorry, korvys brought up something that I guess I didn't register the first time I read your post, MattAn.

I firmly agree with korvys that it is a grey area. The problem is in aggregate, so reducing the percentage absolutely reduces the problem. May I ask why you feel so firmly that it is one or the other?
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Re: Tropes vs Women Ep.2

Postby MattAn » 10 Oct 2013, 20:46

Duckay wrote:You keep bringing up the intentions of game designers; your most recent post is not the first time you have asked why no one is questioning their motives. The reason is that we are not talking about their motives. We are talking about a trope that has certain societal implications in aggregate. You can argue whether those societal implications are present, or whether they are bad, but the motives of individual game designers are not the point.

False. I think it's absolutely relevant that the designer in question has the opportunity to state their creation process. They made the game, they created the characters. That's their place.

And.. Nope, still not seeing the "societal implications". That's an assumption that is being made by people complaining about it. A fabrication, if you will. Forcibly connecting dots to THIS rather than many other actual causes, like the brains of people who think that what's happening on the screen is obvious truth.

It's the violence in games "debate" all over. Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row make you beat up pedestrians, steal cars and shoot weapons. Is that an invitation to go nuts in the street in real life? No. No it isn't. Because it's a video game. People should know better.

Should there be more female protagonists in games? Yes. 100 times yes. I absolutely believe yes. All of the god damn fucking yes. Have I made that clear enough? I do not think that the content of Anita's series is valid or accurately represented. Y'know what Anita's actually doing? Making people (those who were either indifferent or didn't care to begin with) think LESS of it. Almost purely because of the passive-aggressive attitude.

Duckay wrote:I firmly agree with korvys that it is a grey area. The problem is in aggregate, so reducing the percentage absolutely reduces the problem. May I ask why you feel so firmly that it is one or the other?

Valid question, I'll try and clarify.
As I've stated previously, so much is subjective opinion, not solid fact. One person thinking it's an "aggregate problem" is merely an opinion. Does not in any way make it factual. It's an assumption. A theory. Maybe I prefer to have absolutes, rather than jumping between two different knife edges. "It's bad, but not that bad.. But it's still bad! But it's not bad that it should go away.. BUT IT'S BAD." It's an endless, and quite frankly absurd, cycle.

As I've said, would it be awesome to have more games with female leads? Hell yes it would. FFXIII, Remember Me, Beyond: Two Souls, Tales of Xillia (Milla's the primary lead, over Jude), FFX (Yuna is clearly the lead, Tidus is merely the empty shell of the player).. They're out there, but sadly reviewers then jump on the gameplay hate bandwagon.. So it somehow discredits the game's existence.

To me, it seems clear that even with the female-lead games.. No matter what, the opposite will always be "awful". This is why I'm so very anti-this whole thing. Because the alternative.. Won't stop the complaining. As much as phlip did claim that it will cease.. It won't. Because as we've established, it exists.

Therefore, we continue the cycle of derp.

And because it seems lost on a few of you, Anita Sarkeesian is not helping the issue. She's. Riding. On. Controversy. She's almost purely relying on the controversy and attention, which is rather hilarious and disappointing. A video series would help, but her supposed examples are incredibly far-fetched and misguided. You're not going to get anyone to "change their ways" with the attitude she represents. Ever.
Her delivery has made even the most indifferent want to distance themselves entirely from her and what she says, even if portions of it are valid (though anything that's valid is actually just obvious, the rest is blind accusations/assumptions). And to be clear, this includes women. Female friends are telling me "Please don't ever mention that woman's name anywhere near me" whenever I happen to raise this whole tropes thing. People don't want her as their speaker.
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Re: Tropes vs Women Ep.2

Postby Duckay » 10 Oct 2013, 20:57

I actually do agree with you that this bears some similarity with the violence in video games debate.

I have never seen any evidence that playing Grand Theft Auto will cause you to drive dangerously and murder prostitutes, nor that playing Call of Duty will make you go on a shooting frenzy. However, there is ample evidence that violent video games (as well as violence in any other form of media) increases aggression. This is not the same thing as violence by any means, and is not exclusive to video games, but I feel that it is fair to note.

In this way, I do not believe that depictions of women in video games are causing anyone to commit open acts of sexism like violence or anything like that. However, it is very reasonable to assume that it could have a more minor effect on people, like perpetuating stereotypes.

And I have been trying to avoid your points about Anita Sarkeesian and controversy, but you keep bringing it up. I find it difficult to engage with that because I find that the logical extreme of saying Anita Sarkeesian is responsible for the controversy is saying that she is responsible for or "deserves" the rape threats that she has received. I understand that there is considerably more middle ground than that and I in no way wish to imply that you believe that to be true, but because of that, that discussion is just not in my comfort zone. I am casting no aspersions on you as a person as I am certain that you do not believe that, however I just can't engage with that subject. I'll happily debate you on anything else, and anyone else in this thread is free to debate that point, however I am going to keep skirting that one.

Moving on to your final point, though...

MattAn wrote: Female friends are telling me "Please don't ever mention that woman's name anywhere near me" whenever I happen to raise this whole tropes thing. People don't want her as their speaker.

I am finding it difficult to phrase this in a way that doesn't sound snarky, but yes, I believe you. Not everyone wants Anita Sarkeesian as their "voice". That is because women, or even feminists, or female gamers, are not a homogenous group.
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Re: Tropes vs Women Ep.2

Postby korvys » 10 Oct 2013, 21:01

MattAn wrote:
Duckay wrote:I firmly agree with korvys that it is a grey area. The problem is in aggregate, so reducing the percentage absolutely reduces the problem. May I ask why you feel so firmly that it is one or the other?

Valid question, I'll try and clarify.
As I've stated previously, so much is subjective opinion, not solid fact. One person thinking it's an "aggregate problem" is merely an opinion. Does not in any way make it factual. It's an assumption. A theory. Maybe I prefer to have absolutes, rather than jumping between two different knife edges. "It's bad, but not that bad.. But it's still bad! But it's not bad that it should go away.. BUT IT'S BAD." It's an endless, and quite frankly absurd, cycle.

I don't think anyone is jumping back and forward. Pretty much everyone is saying "It's kinda bad".

I guess if you say "So you're saying it's super bad? And it should go away entirely?" and the response is "It's not as bad as that", and then you say "So it's not bad? And everything is perfect?" and the response is "It's more bad than that", it would look like someone is jumping even though they are trying to say the same thing.
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Re: Tropes vs Women Ep.2

Postby phlip » 10 Oct 2013, 21:03

MattAn wrote:Should there be more female protagonists in games? Yes. 100 times yes. I absolutely believe yes. All of the god damn fucking yes. Have I made that clear enough?

So, given your professed preference for absolutes, do you think male protagonists should be eliminated from games, and every game should have a female protagonist?

Or is the problem "not that bad"?
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Re: Tropes vs Women Ep.2

Postby mariomario42 » 10 Oct 2013, 22:03

Well damn, a lot can happen with an evening with your friends.

I'll try to catch up or just jump back in with someone else's comment.
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Re: Tropes vs Women Ep.2

Postby AdmiralMemo » 11 Oct 2013, 05:50

phlip wrote:A simpler example: the ideal proportion of male protagonists in games is around 50%, give or take a bit for statistical variance, and nonbinary characters, and the like. I don't have the numbers on what the current proportion is, but I would put money on it being in the high 80s-90s. This is, of course, a problem. It's a bad thing, which should be fixed. You can't point to a particular game and say "this game is bad and should have a female protagonist instead", or point to a game dev and say "this game dev is maliciously only putting male characters in their game" because that's not how it works... but the aggregate totals are not consistent with an equitable distribution across genders.
To put it simply...

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No pebble is ever accused of the avalanche.
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Re: Tropes vs Women Ep.2

Postby Duckay » 23 Nov 2013, 15:58

Also, I didn't realize this until someone pointed it out to me, so I thought I'd post this here in case someone else missed it as well. The next Tropes vs Women in Video Games is up. (It went up during Desert Bus and I for one didn't notice at first.)
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Re: Tropes vs Women Ep.2

Postby AdmiralMemo » 23 Nov 2013, 17:27

So yeah... Basically what I said before still applies.

She's not bringing anything new to the table.
There are several points I disagree with, while largely agreeing with the main thrust of the argument.

On the plus side, I don't know if I've just gotten used to it or if something changed, but I don't find her voice so annoying anymore.

On the down side, I'm just staring at her like "Really?" when she's complaining about girls always wearing makeup, pastels, etc. while she herself is doing so as she's speaking.
Now, I get her point that these shouldn't be the ONLY things that signify femininity in a character, and there should be a variety of female archetypes. However, I guess she just wants to complain about things not changing, while at the same time, not wanting to change herself. No "practice what you preach" with her, it seems.

Also, it seems like she doesn't understand Sturgeon's Law very well: 90% of everything is crap. She's like "Oh, we have a few gems here and there, but most of these games have this problem." Well, yeah, that's to be expected. Most games are going to have elements that are trash, and it's the very few that get it right. That's just what happens, mainly for the reasons of money and time. It's much quicker and cheaper to just copy the male character and feminize him than it is to fully flesh her out. People are lazy. People are cheap. At the end of the day, they'll want to take whatever shortcuts they can. It doesn't make it right to see so many doing so, but it is quite understandable, at least.
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Re: Tropes vs Women Ep.2

Postby Duckay » 23 Nov 2013, 18:03

It has been brought to my attention that I've been coming across very aggressive and rude in some of these posts, so I want to pre-empt this by saying that while I speak with a certain amount of passion, this is not to say that I am angry, especially not with anyone specific. I do not wish to offend, and I will strive not to do so, but please tell me if I do cross that line.

I don't entirely agree or disagree with your comments, AdmiralMemo. There did seem to be much less snark in her tone than previous videos, and while that didn't bother me personally, I can see how it would improve the experience for some people. I also agree that she isn't bringing much new to the table, but I also note that I am fairly forgiving of that because I worry that some of the points that she's making that I think are obvious are much more niche than I thought.

In general, I disagree with your comments on her appearance, though. I felt that what she was criticizing was the cheap way that "the girl" is indicated graphically using those things, with no other sign of their personality, while in fact going out of her way to support the right of individual characters and real world women to look or dress that way.
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Re: Tropes vs Women Ep.2

Postby JackSlack » 24 Nov 2013, 11:46

I think her discussion of design was more of a "this is what to look for" with a hint of "Goddamn bows."

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