Monday, June 18, 2012

Women and Games - The Continuing Discussion!

Yeah. I’m drumming up this topic again.

Gamers. What the hell pisses you all off so much about women that you have to talk the shit that you do?

I’m not going to bother bleeping things in this post. It’s an honest question that I’d like to hear a real answer. More than “they belong in the kitchen.” That was funny the first time. It’s not funny anymore.

I ask partly because of this: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/566429325/tropes-vs-women-in-video-games/posts

And this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/17/sometimes-hard-woman-made-pixels

And then this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/13/tomb-raider-lara-croft-rape-attempt

In the span of a week! What I’m pissed about are two things: Why do people need to tip-toe around the issue of the r-word? (Ok I’m censoring myself there. Sorry.) Why does humanity think it’s perfectly acceptable to oppress people that are different then themselves?

All right. There’s a third thing too. Who gave the authority that video games were a man’s world that women were not allowed to enter?

Issue the First! One of the things that I applauded about the new Tomb Raider game was that we were finally getting a female protagonist that was real, gritty, and compelling. Sure Lara Croft is still “sexy”. What fantasy product doesn’t have hot men and women? She’s less idealized as a sexual object and more as a heroine in the new game. And part of making it “real” is throwing her into situations that might make us uncomfortable. Sure it’s still a tomb raiding fantasy game, but the developers want a potentially plausible plot line.

Here’s the sad fact of life. Sexual Assault. It happens. A lot more then we like to admit. And most of the time it goes unreported because of social, political, and/or religious implications. Not just here in the U.S. Globally it’s an issue. The stats on the wiki page are not correct, but they’re the most accurate that we have. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_statistics It’s disturbing. But it’s not a problem that will just magically go away. It’s something that we HAVE to talk about. And not just “how women should protect themselves” and victim blaming (fucking hate when people do that). We need to teach boys and men that it’s not ok. It’s a crime. It’ll put their lives in danger. Part of the issue is we’re not teaching boys not to do it. Instead we’re teaching girls how to not let it happen. Backwards thinking there. You have to tackle the issue on both sides, not just on one front.

For that, I was surprised that the devs retracted their statement to Kotaku regarding the instance in the game. Does that mean it’s going to be completely removed? Is the attacker going to have new dialogue? I would much rather they have kept it in the game and show to both men and women that reality is something that happens every minute of every day (to both sexes). Here’s a case and Laura rose up against it. That’s pretty bad ass and proof that no hero is infallible, even in a fictional story. This shit happens. One way to approach us talking about it openly is through video games, a media that has been opened up to all ages and a growing audience.

I vote we leave that scene in. Let reality really take over in that fantasy and allow the gamers to take a whole new meaning from the game.

What I’m trying to figure out is who cried foul at first? Was it men or women? I could understand why a number of women would be against it (because beating up hookers in GTA only goes so far), but I have to wonder how many men objected to it as well? Is it because their once big bosomed object of desire has now become a venerable girl hiding from her captor? Or do they just not like to be reminded of all of the shit that really happens outside of video games (because games are meant to be an escape not a reminder)?

Now I’m sure there are people reading this going “she doesn’t need an origin story where she starts out weak and becomes strong” and “male characters always start out strong in video games, and this objectifies women even more.” Good points. But is this really stripping Lara Croft’s heroine status? I’d much rather play a game where the hero is one who starts out from nothing and builds up his status. The super powered figure can only be entertaining for so long, then it becomes a bore. I want to be enveloped into the story. And that isn’t to say all video games have big strong men with sexual women.

For all of their arguments about the studio holding back and not being progressive, by altering that scene it would be doing the reverse. It’d progressive to actually TALK about this stuff. So keep it in. Let’s talk about it. Let’s discuss why it’s happening in the world and teach both men and women how to stop it. (I realize it happens to men too, but 99/100 times the woman is the victim.) Let’s get a video game talking about real world issues supplemented into their reality settings. That’s progress.

So that’s question one. Question two will be another post. With an equal amount of swearing!

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