Skepchick Quickies 2.24


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

Related Articles


          1. Proposed AI topic: Which is worse, Marmite or Vegemite?

            (Actually, I’ve had both. A tiny bit spread very thin on a large piece of bread, neither is particularly worse then anchovy paste. Mostly salty flavor with weird vaguely fishy (iodine?) undertaste.)

  1. Man, so many games would be better if you could skip (or at least sneak around) the combat. The Uncharted series immediately comes to mind.

    But I probably just think that because I’m a dude.

    1. A lot of games would be better without the sneaking around.

      But I probably just think that because that’s my playing style. Let’s not confuse individual preference for something related to gender… :)

    2. I didn’t want to be too wordy with my description, but I appreciate that Hepler also stated that story-driven games are more likely to draw in beginner gamers of any gender. That’s certainly what happened to me.

      I grew up without video games, so they were an almost entirely new world to me when I started playing RPGs as an adult. I had (and have) no interest in first person shooter war games. But now I do play dungeon crawler games (omg, Diablo 3 hurry up and be here!) because killing shit is fun and the controls tend to be easy enough for me to handle.

  2. Re:The danger of gamer entitlement

    I consider myself to be a feminist, but increasingly I find myself distanced from what I believe to be mainstream feminists. First off I have to learn a whole new vocabulary such as “patriarchy”, “male privilege”, “entitlement” and some others words that I don’t remember because I cannot keep track of all the hidden meanings. I think that women have gotten a raw deal in the past and continue to face unnecessary hurdles. There is an opportunity to affect this with good communication, but this isn’t going to happen if the writing is in code. If I who am biased for the movement can’t understand, what hope is there of persuading someone who is opposed? With the followup question being: why write a complaint that can only be understood by people who already agree with you?

    “So, when a company like BioWare–whose relationship with its players and community has, for the most part, relied on mutual respect–makes the decision to delay a game due to any number of reasons, gamers who have actively invested in “loving” BioWare and its games feel it’s their every right to lash out. Gamers who feel this sense of entitlement fail to view the player-developer relationship as the multifaceted construct that it is. ”

    This highlights two problems. First the author claims to know what these commenters are feeling. There is no way she can know they feel “a sense of entitlement”. I presume this was done to tie the article together under the code phrase of “entitlement.” Instead of helping hold the article together this resort to “making stuff up” causes it to fall apart. Secondly, I admit I have never been to Reddit or 4Chan, but from what I read here mostly I gather they are cesspools. If a collection of people has demonstrated a consistent lack of manners and thinking ability, why do people continue to get outraged over what they write? One of the reasons I like Skepchick is it is moderated. If someone gets out of hand they are banned. This keeps the tone of discourse fairly high. For this same reason I never read the comments in my local paper or Pharyngula for that matter.

    Lastly, for people who do enjoy games with more story than fighting I highly recommend Skyrim. As nearly as I can tell it is gender balanced with a heavy emphasis on story and other game elements and less emphasis on fighting. I probably spend 3/4 of my in game time gathering herbs, talking to people, learning history, reading books, and talking to the NPCs. Why just this morning my wife and I went out and killed a dragon just for fun.

      1. “Code? Really? Even Skepticism has its own terms.”

        Precisely! And when we talk to other skeptics these terms can save a lot of time. If I was talking to a non-skeptic, however, I’d do my very best to avoid them. On a similar related note if I wanted to write a persuasive piece about climate change, I would not put “Climate Deniers” in the title because my target audience wouldn’t make it to the first sentence.

    1. (At the risk of seeming egotistical by linking this… )

      Not all feminists write about feminism using feminist terminology. For a less “technical” take on sexism in gaming, I’d reccommend that you check out Go Make Me A Sandwich, as it explicitly makes a point of using language accessible to non-feminists. This is a good place to start: https://gomakemeasandwich.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/where-to-start/

      That said, two of the terms that you’re calling out – privilege and patriarchy – are pretty well the basics of the basics of feminism. So if you’re interested in feminism, it might not hurt to familiarize yourself with those terms, especially since their meaning is pretty straight-forward and not “code” for anything. Honest.

      1. “That said, two of the terms that you’re calling out – privilege and patriarchy – are pretty well the basics of the basics of feminism. So if you’re interested in feminism, it might not hurt to familiarize yourself with those terms especially since their meaning is pretty straight-forward and not “code” for anything. Honest.”

        It was never my intention to claim that that terms used by feminists are impenetrable to other feminists. I won’t play dictionary games, but if you ask the average person such as myself what patriarchy means and ask a feminist what patriarchy means you get wildly different answers. That’s what I mean by code.

        I still don’t understand what patriarchy means to a feminist because a read different conflicting definitions. Some say my lack of understanding makes me part of the patriarchy. Others claim it doesn’t. Others say the patriarchy is this a more intangible thing that exists that opposes women, but is more than just a collection of individuals with bad attitudes, and it is not even gender-specific as women can easily be part of the patriarchy which really makes my head hurt. (Suck on that sentence, Richard Nixon.)

        Anyway it is not my intention to start a semantic fight. My only point is clear writing demands an understanding of the target audience. The more your writing depends upon understanding specific vocabulary the narrower your audience. The piece cited above was a good example of this problem.

    2. Well, just speaking for myself, I am outraged that there are so many fuckheads out there. It’s not a small minority of Reddit (which is huge) that makes disgusting sexist, racist, pedophilic comments. It’s become the culture of the main boards. That sort of behavior shouldn’t go unconfronted, whether in meatspace or cyber, because it’s reprehensible.

      1. “That sort of behavior shouldn’t go unconfronted, whether in meatspace or cyber, because it’s reprehensible.”

        I agree. I just lack the energy.

    3. ‘First the author claims to know what these commenters are feeling. There is no way she can know they feel “a sense of entitlement”.’ — I kinda have to take exception to this. Laura Parker CAN know, because the commenters COMMENTED their feelings into the public space. The very insults they threw and the excuses they based on their lofty positions as “loyal” consumers are the very definitions of feeling entitled. Many gamers are certainly entitled. Do we have exact figures on it? No, but the attitudes exacerbated by the Internet and social networking provides enough examples that the issue is large enough for game makers, journalists, and community members themselves to spend time and money addressing it. Just google “entitled gamers”, and the concern only seems to be growing as companies interact with their consumers more and more frequently through a variety of mediums.

      Also, it’s not “making stuff up” when the author cites examples:

      ‘”The backlash was immediate: tweets filed in calling BioWare unfaithful to its community, arguing that the company “treated its loyal fans like crap” after they offered “genuine criticism.”‘

      Parker also links back in her article to the Twitter feed regarding Hepler:

      “@twocows360 @BrandesHepler @Gamespot What nonsense. We hold games to the standards of other media industries and that makes us “entitled?””

      “fastblood ? @PepeSilvia0
      @tmaccourt @BrandesHepler Though I disagree with the more extreme comments, it seems to be the only successful way to get noticed by Bioware”

      “@SidekickBooks @BrandesHepler Alright then. I believe we’ve come to an agreement. However, this isn’t the Bioware I knew years ago. #change”

      Mac Elmore ? @tropetweeter @manveerheir there was truth in it, though. The idea of entitlement is how this whole slog with @brandeshepler got started.

      From Parker’s article: “She is an individual whose attackers, angered by her suggestion that games should focus less on combat, acted on the belief that they are the only ones who can, and should, dictate how games are made and played.”

      From a tweeter in response to another tweet: fastblood ? @PepeSilvia0
      @SidekickBooks @Windermarin @AarynFlynn @BrandesHepler Because we want the state of the gaming industry to not be seen as such a joke.

      Yup, nerd rage can excuse all sorts of horrendous insults, and disagreement needs to be taken personally by these self-proclaimed stewards of the gaming industry. Entitled behavior.

      So how is she making up this part of her article? She cites examples, even if you may disagree that it isn’t a representative enough. A lot of people know what entitlement means, even the ones that disagree with that assessment. They demonstrate it with every excuse they pull out in order to abuse someone who just stated a differing opinion from themselves.

      I’m also not sure how you were tying this article into overall “feminism” as a movement. The vocabulary in this article is pretty straightforward, and “entitlement” and “privilege” are words having been used by other minority/oppressed groups for quite some time. Of course, some could say that people in a position of privilege tend to think it’s such a hardship to learn a different vocabulary to identify things they took for granted without a prior vocabulary in place to describe what it was they were taking for granted in the first place. It’s part of the process though.

      For example, it’s like my friend who isn’t hateful, or homophobic. He just wonders why gays gotta be putting up suggestive dating website billboards up in the West Village in NYC. Funny thing, I never heard him ever complain about the Penthouse Club Billboard on 11th Ave. The strip club posters everywhere. The Jenna Jameson billboard that was up in Times Square. Or the myriad of sexually suggestive advertising featuring women on bus stops and in the subways. That’s his blinder of being entitled, privileged, heterosexual white male. This is why the vocabulary needs to spread, not continue to be lamented as mere jargon…if you don’t call it out, the entitled and the privileged continue to act thusly because they never had reason to think in terms of that vocabulary for most of their lives.

      Finally, Gamespot is an enthusiast website with one of the larger audiences made up of “enthusiasts”. You seem to be criticizing feminism for not being a big enough tent, and placing that same criticism on a writer who wasn’t supposed to be doing that job on behalf of feminism in the first place. An author, who wrote a perfectly fine piece for her target audience which is her actual job.

      1. I came across a perfect definition of entitlement early today while listening to the Feb. 7th “Point of Inquiry” podcast. Chris Mooney is interviewing Lawrence Krauss about his recent book and Krauss (at 21:09) says “We are trained to think that the way things are for us is the way things should be.”

        A little ironic in view of history, but it points out both how hard it is and how important it is for people who claim to be skeptics (and everyone else, for that matter) to examine their assumptions. It also shows the fundamental connection between feminism (and other movements to remove bias and unfairness from human society) and skepticism.

  3. … gamer’s entitled? No kidding?

    I’ve never seen a more spoiled, snotty, entitled bunch of people than commenters on gaming websites. The article matches what I’ve seen from reading gaming sites for years and years. Gamers think that every game should be made exactly the way they want it to be, preferably only playable on $3000 PCs because console gamers can “suck it,” and anyone who disagrees with them deserves whatever abuse they can possibly heap on them. They’re probably going to pirate the game anyway, which sort of makes me confused as to why they think they should have a say, but that’s a whole other conversation.

    Sexist, of course, but in the case of that subset of gamers it seems to be just a facet of their larger “crappy human being” issues. A lot of them seem to have pretty serious issues that they act out online, and confuse the “macho” action heroes of the games with the petty obnoxious bullies that they act like in real life.

  4. Isn’t Bioware known for having a really good mix of story and other elements? I like Star Wars: The Old Republic! :D

    I’d game more if I had more time. :/ I’m more of a reader.

    1. I think that was the point. Games like Mass Effect have a huge and interesting story and mythology, but not everyone loves the combat and I guess there’s resource management and upgrading things and a bunch of other stuff that gets in the way of the story. Some games have a story as an excuse for the action, and other games have action as a way to sell their story.

      1. I tend to like a bit of both when it comes to video games.

        When I table-top game, though, I’m alllll about combat. Haha.

        1. Punching the person next to you doesn’t count as “combat”…

          I’m sort of more about the action than the story when the action is great, but I can appreciate a story even if the action isn’t so much. I prefer a balance of the two, but I lean towards the action side of it.

          Also, everyone go play Shadow of the Colossus. Now. I’ll wait for you to get back.

          1. Shadow of the Colossus is probably the most awesome game ever, in my opinion.

            I agree that there needs to be a good balance between action and storyline. It depends a bit on the genre of course (after all, who really needs a story when playing Tekken. Noone cares about those characters anyway), but generally I’m all for more story driven games.

      2. I just started playing Mass Effect. I am completely lacking in hand-eye coordination gamer skills and so far I’m doing okay, but the combat stresses me out a bit.

          1. Disclaimer: Gamer First, Skeptic Second.

            I find the article a bit misleading. From my point of view (I saw the reddit thread in question) this is the case of a community being mislead, and then being a total dick with little to do with gender.

            The “cancer” thread on reddit didn’t accurately represent what her feelings were: it used a series of out of context quotes to build a picture of someone who hated games, and everything related to gameplay. This was then showen to an audience that love games. They reacted badly, and a torrent of internet hate came forth. (they hit here with every insult they have). If she was male, I’m sure at this point words like ‘faggot’ and ‘dickless’ would have been used.

            Reddit mods gave up on getting a ‘in context’ correction in thread, and killed the whole thing ASAP, but by then it was too late. A ton of people had read the out of context stuff and posted angrily without checking the truth.

            The reason I feel this article is misleading is it sites the outpouring of insults, but mis-attributes the reasons. It was a reaction to ‘I help make the thing you love, but am trying to destroy what you love about it from the inside’.

        1. If you are playing ME1 as a precursor to ME2/3 so that you get the full story/history/get to make a Shepard who made *your* decisions. I’d recommend dropping the difficulty to easy, given you state that the combat isn’t your thing. ME1s combat was a bit of a mess, and felt a bit ‘grindy’ when I played it the first time. The flow-on effects to ME2 are awesome though, while you can get a pre-made Shepard in ME2 the follow up one is well worth it.

  5. For what’s worth, I actually think that both story and combat are ruining gaming as a whole, but specially story. Maybe if these new games would be advertised as interactive books instead of games.

    I would agree that a very basic feature for a game is to let you skip whatever you don’t like about it. The one game I coded lets you jump to any level, and I think it is better that way. If someone actually likes that oxymoron that is called a game’s story, then she should be able to skip combat. But not precisely because of combat being worse than story, but because gamers (aka costumers) should never be forced to get stuck on a part of a game that they do not like.

    Whilst I can’t really agree with the sentiment of that suggestion. And I think that gamers (as paying costumers) are really entitled to an opinion. I can tell some misogyny in the comments and that’s lame. But if it wasn’t for the ad hominems and misogyny I wouldn’t really find anything wrong with a gamer being able to say that (s)he thinks something is a very terrible idea. Because some things, really are terrible ideas. IE: DRM.

    1. I just noticed the whole controversy spawned when someone posted a link to a 2006 interview in reddit. I mean, seriously? Explode in anger and bashing and insults for an interview 6 years old that didn’t actually affect any final version of a project? Really?

  6. Anyone who wants more good Wonder Woman outside of the DC Universe should check out Wonder Woman: Champion of Themyscira from Pendant Productions.

    It’s a “radio drama” in podcast form that has been going for just over six years. It is part of a DC block they call “Earth P” (for pendant, get it?) that started with Superman closely followed by Batman and Wonder Woman; since then each show has gotten a companion series; Supergirl, Catwoman, and a short-lived Martian Manhunter that was recently replaced with Green Arrow respectively.

    It’s well done and does not follow the DC storylines at all (to their credit, in my opinion) and, while it can be a bit melodramatic at times, it started with the mythological origins of Diana and her companions before bringing her more into the “human world” (Trevor isn’t in the first few years). The DC shows have occasional crossovers so it works best if you listen to all of “Earth P” in proper order to be able to follow easily (and since there are close to 350 episodes at this point it’s quite a commitment) but if you jumped into the current feed (and maybe a couple of back issues each) you should be able to figure it all out.

    And not to turn this into a plug (I’m just a fan, I swear) they also have fan shows for Star Trek, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, James Bond, an upcoming Twilight prequel, and a Back to the Future show that was never aired due to a threat from Universal.

    Plus original shows like an “old-timey” female pilot series, a space gangster casino series, and a war of good-and-evil that casts God as a not-so-good guy.

    Anyway, if you like audio drama check it out.

      1. Since someone bit I would like to recommend (besides the DC shows) some personal favorites.

        Umket Industries Presents: The Dixie Stenberg and Brassy Battalion Adventure Theater – (yes that is the full name) which is a well-researched retro sci-fi adventure serial about a ragtag international group of pilots that are headed by Dixie Stenberg to test experimental planes. It is a funny and winking look at the serials found on OTR with an updated attitude (women pilots, hinted lebianism, shots at the then-ubiquitous sponsor commercials, etc.) This would be G to PG rated BTW, and it has ended its run at 50 episodes but they are trying to get it made into a comic book.

        The Kingery – The Godfather with a heart-of-gold story set in a Casino in the the future in space, it makes sense in context. This would be a hard R as sex and violence is de regueur, it is currently ongoing and just released its 50th episode.

        The Line – The war for everbody’s souls is coming and the chosen ones are not who you would expect, they are mostly retrobates, drug abusers, and sex addicts. Again a hard R for Sex, Sex, Violence, Sex, Drug Use, Sex, Violence, did I mention the sex? Ongoing at 21 episodes but there is a known end, according to the creator.

        There are others that are short (and easy to commit to) like Indy, Bond, and Red Sands and some that are uneven (to be nice) like Seminar (an anthology show so uneven would be expected) and others that ended abruptly (Once Upon A Time in Vegas, so sad it was so good).

        I would recommend a trailer or two for anything you find interesting.

        I now realize that I like this place a little too much maybe. :)

  7. If you want a game heavy on story with very little combat, I can’t recommend “Heavy Rain” enough. It really is an interactive story. You play 4 different characters and see the story from different perspectives. There are a few fights, bust most of the game is investigation and mundane actions. The tutorial involves playing in the backyard with one character’s kids.

    I found myself more caught up in the few action scenes more than any game I’ve ever played, because they are so rare and because characters can die, and the game goes on without them. There are real in-game stakes to your actions.

  8. Santorum: [Climate change is] an absolute travesty of scientific research that was motivated by those who, in my opinion, saw this as an opportunity to create a panic and a crisis for government to be able to step in and even more greatly control your life. …

    I agree, except that ‘climate change’ should read ‘my views on contraceptives’.

    1. So, Frothy doesn’t understand basic biology, or the science of climate change. Shocked, I tell ya! SHOCKED!

      1. It’s bad/awesome enough that I can’t hear Santorum without thinking of poo, now I’m going to hear “frothy” in my head every time. I’m not sure if I should thank you or not. :)

        1. Hahaha, pretty sure that nickname was part of the original google bomb, lol! But yeah, he’s Frothy FOR LYFE.

  9. Why does Wonder Woman suck so badly as a character?

    Trick question. There’s (almost) no such thing as a bad character, but there’s a metric shit-ton of bad writers out there. I liked the animated thing they did with her, which seems to be a pattern with DC/WB: their animated department seems to draw all of the quality, and everything else is struggling. Plus, Wonder Woman seems to be sort of a pointless character as I remember her. She can hit things really hard, and the sides of her undies run up higher than her navel? I think that they want her to be like a female Superman, but she’s more like Aquaman…

    1. Eeeee! I’m not even a dog person and I still want all of those puppehs. The corgi/lab just begs for snuggles and the corgi/english bulldog is so handsome.

    2. My brother’s family had a Corgi/Golden/??? mix (#15) that was a wonderful little dog, but we can’t talk about him any more since he got hit by a car about a year ago. :-(

      Skippy had kind of weird patchy fur on his back. Some areas were long and soft like a retriever, and other areas were shorter and stiffer like a corgi. The color pattern was like a golden, and didn’t have anything to do with the texture. I’m sure this tells us lots of interesting things about DNA and gene expression, but I don’t know what.

  10. See, I logged in to talk about the gamer stuff, and I wind up talking about Wonder Woman.

    Even on my days off, I can’t get away from comics. I may even put off going to get my pull box today, just for the freedom.* I tell you, YA librarian is a horrible, soul-sucking business. ;-)

    So, yeah, Wonder Woman. I’ve made a few stabs at the character (so to speak), trying to understand her a bit.


    A fair amount of her problem, I think is that she doesn’t HAVE a clear direction. Batman is a crimefighter; since the ’86 reboot, he’s moved more into the “insane person who fights other insane people” range. Superman is the Messiah… someone who is inhumanly good along with his inhuman power. Wonder Woman… Diana, since I tend to be informal… She started as an author’s way to get bondage stuff into comics, with a veneer of “woman against a man’s world” (for quite some time, she would lose all her powers if she allowed herself to be tied by a man). Now? The closest Marvel analogue I can make is Thor… someone who is fairly alien of outlook and power, but is still operating within a modern framework.
    In Diana’s case, it is because of her upbringing on Themyscira that her outlook is so alien; not just a society that is completely female, but one that is actively polytheist, monarchist, and any number of other things. Her costume is actually a good example; not it’s shape, which is a separate discussion, but it’s symbolism. In the Gail Simone** run, Diana talked about the symbolism of the costume to her… not an homage to America, but as having distinct meaning within her own culture, that has been assumed to reference American culture.
    In many ways, this makes Diana fucking TERRIBLE as a feminist icon, because she is Woman-as-the-other.*** It makes her less relatable than, say, Dinah (Black Canary) or Oracle (Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl), who grew up in our culture and still became the awesome women they are. Go looking for Simone’s run on “Birds of Prey”; you won’t be sorry (her other stuff is awesome, too).

    (related comment: I was browsing through our comics earlier this week when I picked up Ultimate Spider-man. I actually grabbed it because it had a picture of Storm on the cover, and my first thought was “Clothing does not work like that.” However, it contained one of the greatest pages of comics, wherein Spiderman meets Jean Grey:

    *No, I won’t. It’s been sitting there for three days and is lonely without me, I know.
    **If you are interested in comics, or how comics interact with gender and queer issues, follow Gail Simone on Twitter and tumblr. Seriously.
    ***Arguably, the male versions of this would be either J’onn J’onzz or Aquaman; if you take a look at the JLA Year One trade paperback, you can see both of these in action. J’onn has a somewhat understandable paranoia about humans due to long association with them, while Arthur simply doesn’t understand them, and keeps reacting based on his odd socialization.

  11. So, back to the gaming thing I originally logged in to comment on… I completely agree with Jennifer Helper. Heck, one of the games she worked on I found tolerable ONLY because of the dialog; I wound up dropping Dragon Age: Origin because the combat system annoyed me so much. I could’ve gotten a lot more out of the games if I didn’t have to fight the controls to see the story… and I’m someone who generally LIKES the fighting parts.

    Games these days have been doing so much with storytelling that is worthwhile and interesting. I’m getting all nerdragey on the people who are abusing makers of the games we love because they have dare to have their own opinions.

    1. I liked Dragon Age: Origins…once you got going after Ostragar it kinda took off. Also, I was a mage, and they were pretty overpowered from the get go, so it was LIKE playing on ‘easy’.

      Games should be varied, and lots of different audiences should like lots of different games. Just not wrestling games, of course…that stuffs just bullshit, man! ;)

  12. On games: I like to hit things and to shoot things. I don’t give a toss about plot or story – I have other media for that. Shooting and hitting is the main attraction for me in computer games*. I don’t like sneaking or disabling bombs. I’m all for having a click-through button for dialogue although I never actually use it. I use the dialogue to get the feeling back into my fingers. But, in spite of being a neanderthal as far as computer games go, having a click-through option for fighting still strikes me as valid. It makes it possible for me to enjoy the same games as somebody further up on the evolutionary ladder. It makes it possible for the games to appeal to people in a greater number of ways.
    However, and more importantly, let’s just play pretend for a bit and pretend that I disagreed with the idea of being able to just click through action sequences. Why, in this imaginary scenario, it’s the daftest idea ever! Why even play the games in the first place, when you can just click all the way through without having to engage in any of it? Preposterous! <- All of that would have been acceptable to say – that's stating how I (hypothetically) feel about the proposed idea. Shouting abuse, let alone sexist and racist abuse, at the person daring to make the suggestion just shows you're a spoiled idiot with a supersized sense of entitlement and not deserving of anybody's attention.

    And now I'm thinking it would be interesting to see a game where you can't really fight at all but where, any time a fight is about to occur, you simply get to choose the outcome (victory, defeat, escape) and the story then develops from that. Hmm.

    *Excepting building games like Civilization, Tropico and SimCity.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button