Skepchick reader Sean sent in this link to a post on a World of Warcraft fansite that discusses the lack of strong, independent female characters in World of Warcraft’s lore. The author of the article refers to “barnacle characters,” which are characters that depend upon the storyline of other characters for their existence. While I like this idea, I think that women as “barnacle characters” can be much more insidious because it plays on common cultural stereotypes and furthers real inequalities experienced by women on a constant basis.
Many of the points in that article are well known tropes that have been addressed by Anita Sarkeesian in her wonderful “Tropes vs. Women” series. As many of you probably know by now, Anita will be making videos for a new series of Tropes vs. Women focusing on video games. It’s no coincidence that the very notion of bringing these tropes to light sent some men into a complete frenzy (enough to stoop to vile harassment and cybervandalism). This backlash speaks to the larger problems of gaming culture.
The culture of gamers is filled to the brim with racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism. Spend 10 minutes in the Trade channel on any busy WoW server and you’ll see all of it. The barnacle characters—especially the tropes that are used to create these characters—reinforce these bigoted and prejudicial kinds of thinking by normalizing a straight, cisgender male way of seeing the world.
It’s easy for many people to think that it’s “just the internet” and that anonymity enables people to engage in these sorts of things, but those people would be wrong. A couple of years ago, I attended BlizzCon 2010 in Annaheim, California. During a Q&A session with the game developers trying to figure out is solitaire clash legit (all white men, presumably straight based on their reactions, though I could be wrong on that!), a woman stepped up to the microphone:
She asked: “I love that you have a lot of very strong female characters; however, I was wondering if we could have some that don’t look like they’ve stepped out of a Victoria Secret’s catalogue?”
After approximately 2 seconds of a few people cheering, the entire venue filled with the boos of men. It was thunderous. Then the mockery came from the panel. They made fun of her right to her face in front of tens of thousands of people for having the audacity to ask for women to be portrayed in a less objectified way. One of the men began to answer her question in earnest, but quickly ended with another mockery of her question.
These are the people who create and deliver content for the World of Warcraft game. They aren’t responsible for the lore novels, but their decisions about characters influence the novel writers. And they are exactly the problem with gamer culture. The way that they responded to that woman told her to sit down and shut the fuck up. And it is appalling.
The sad thing is, this is coming from a company that has historically made mistakes but responded in not-so-horrible ways in the past. For example, in 2006, Blizzard (the company that makes WoW) attempted to discipline a gamer named Sara Andrews for advertising recruitment for an LGBT-friendly guild. This sparked outrage in the queer gaming community, and a week later Blizzard apologized and agreed to review its policies and conduct sensitivity training with its Game Masters (in-game customer service representatives).
Later in 2006, as Blizzard was preparing to release its first expansion pack, there was a change in the body models for the new Blood Elf race. The reason? The blood elf males “appeared to be too feminine.” In other words, they were afraid that their target audience (teen and early-20s straight, cisgender men) would be turned off by the tall, slender bodies and avoid creating characters of that race. I should point out that one of the things you can make a male Blood Elf character say in the game is, “Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?” Blizzard is known for putting jokes and references to popular culture and news events into their games, and it seems like one of the developers thought it would be cute to put a little dig at this faux pas into the game.
At the 2011 BlizzCon, Blizzard played a horrendously homophobic clip to the entire venue. Blizzard’s president quickly apologized, but many in the queer gaming community (myself included) grow tired of the constant missteps and apologies. This doesn’t indicate a change in the climate, it indicates a “better-to-apologize-than-ask” attitude.
But wait, that’s not all! Blizzard continues to make questionable choices (i.e., they’re not learning from their past mistakes). Just earlier this year, it was pointed out that Blizzard’s mature language filter was censoring “transsexual” and “homosexual.” Blizzard agreed that those words should not have been censored and removed them from the filter list in a later patch. But Blizzard should have caught this during their “policy review” back in 2006. This is really just an example of how Blizzard continues to ignore segments of its customer base until called out publicly.
I should be clear: this problem is not unique to Blizzard, though they have certainly not been a great example of how to handle such situations. Other companies such as EB Games and Bioware have both made missteps, and have responded in different ways (EB Games by doubling down and Bioware by issuing a mea culpa and generally supportive comments).
So what’s the solution? We need more feminists, women, queer people, disabled people, and people of color in positions of power and creative authority in companies like Blizzard. Of course, that’s much easier said than done for myriad reasons, including difficulties for women and other minorities in gaining access to those opportunities and the horrible environments that they find themselves in when they do. It’s also going to take a lot of speaking up on the part of those of us who are gamers. We must be vocal and straightforward in our criticisms of these things. We must support people like Anita Sarkeesian. We have to let the gaming community know that stuff like this is not acceptable, and we have to generate the demand for better content.
Okay, I’m glad someone besides me is pointing this out. Interesting addition: For a while, the word “sophomore” would be edited out because it has “homo” in it. Totally not joking. I didn’t notice that these terms were being censored until recently because I play with my language filter off.
I wasn’t aware that they changed the body model for male Blood Elves; it’s really interesting that they thought it was a necessary alteration. I’ve always thought they look pretty feminine anyway (not that there’s a problem with that).
Trade chat is just as full of homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, etc on my server as any other. Sometimes I just turn off the channel so I don’t have to deal with it. A lot of the time I feel like people are being insincere and just saying things to troll a response. (Girls Don’t Play WoW is a big one, and I never feel like it’s being used sincerely.)
I used to answer when someone would say that girls don’t play WoW. At this point, I don’t like to give in to being trolled (that’s what it is) and I don’t have much problem being identified as male because I’m genderqueer. Maybe it’s bad that I’m just rolling over and letting it happen, but most of the time I don’t have the energy or interest to argue with internet jerks.
The problem is that because this isn’t happening in the meatspace, you can’t be sure of the sincerity part. I can’t remember where I read it today, but someone equated trolling to bullying, and I think that parallel is evident here. It’s probably best to not let the bullies get their way any longer, even if it means putting more effort into responding to things in general/trade chat situations.
I just moved servers on SWTOR, and this new high-population server might have some of the same things going on–I don’t know yet, as I haven’t spent enough time on the fleet to get a feel for it. If I see it happening, you’d better damn well believe I’m gonna police it to death. That game is already struggling, and the last thing we need is for the WoW-effect to carry over there.
I like SWOTR. I wish I had the money to play right now. I want to kill things with my light sabers!!
I wish I didn’t have to cancel :(
Yeah I’m bummed about it too. I honestly quite liked it, and I’m not a huge (video) gamer.
FWIW, I’ve been playing Lord of the Rings On-line a lot, on the Windfola server. The worst I’ve encountered is one guy in my kinship who was a Global Warming denier, would not shut up about it, and I blocked him pretty easily.
It’s free to play (though I’ve started paying), and I’ve had a ton of fun with it. And I haven’t noticed any T&A for T&A’s sake (or at all, actually, beyond pants that are a bit tighter than Middle Earth textile science probably allows). ‘Course, since it’s Tolkien, everyone’s white. And for some reason, Turbine doesn’t like including female dwarves, even though the Tolkien lore indicates you don’t need new images.
Small world! I’m on Windfola too!
I think that if you pick different starting points, you can pick different skin tones. I have a Dwarf who is pretty darn brown-skinned.
And to be honest, I really like the way they handled the female Dwarf issue. (Long story short: Dwarf gender is unselectable. You can be a Man, Woman, female Elf, male Elf, male Hobbit, female Hobbit… or Dwarf.) It’s a little jarring at first but you get used to it.
The other jarring part is how humans aren’t referred to as humans, but as the Race of Men. I think that has more to do with the tone of the books (what Turbine calls “lore”) than any intentional or unintentional sexism. In other words, I think it was a difficult decision for them, and not one they took lightly.
It’s shocking and horrifying the response that this woman received in regards to a completely legitimate question. She asked something that is not only relevant to WoW but to the majority of video games, some of which I love playing, but hate the female characters of.
Just another example of why I don’t chat in any multiplayer video game… to avoid that kind of harassment.
You know, it was pretty silly of that developer to say that “cows” (Tauren) aren’t dressed out of a Victoria’s Secret catalog because really they are…it’s just on their much larger and bulky frame, which is why people make fun of them. People also make fun of the male blood elves for being feminine (which they aren’t remotely) even after their frames were bulked up. “People” are, for the most part, young straight white dudes. They mock the orc females and the dwarf females, and they’re going to mock the pandaren females, because regardless of how hefty you make the male characters, giving females the slightest bit of size (fat or muscle) is apparently a mortal sin.
I think you need to separate player behavior from company choices, and it just isn’t true that the former somehow rules the latter. As you pointed out yourself they’ve become more accommodating of LGBT interests, and a change was made to a character in Mists of Panderia to stop him from greeting male characters by complimenting their strength and female characters by hitting on them– only to receive much outcry from players about how those butthurt feminists are ruining things for everyone. Sure, there are things to criticize, but there are also strides being made.
I don’t think you can separate player behavior from company choices. They’re both part of a larger culture that marginalizes minorities. The fact that they had to be called out on the Pandaren dialogue shows that they’re not listening because they shouldn’t be putting that kind of dialogue in in the first place.
I also don’t think repeatedly making stupid mistakes that could be easily caught by hiring some sort of QA tester to check for this type of thing counts as strides being made. I think it counts as “easier to apologize than make substantive changes.”
They haven’t really become more accommodating to LGBT interests, they’ve simply apologized for pissing off queer people. They’ve changed their policies because it’s stupid to say “we won’t let you gather together as a queer guild to prevent harassment” (which was their initial response). That’s victim blaming par excellence. If they were accommodating to LGBT interests, they’d have multiple openly queer people in the game that are well developed characters.
So are you and I. Or is America not a larger culture that marginalizes minorities? I think it’s a tad unfair to ask Blizzard to single-handedly revolutionize the world of video games to make it more minority-friendly. There’s a lot they can do, but they can’t change the culture.
I read this, and to me it says “I don’t care what changes Blizzard makes in a positive direction because I only want to focus on the more negative things it did previously.” Why do you give EB Games and Bioware a pass and say they’re “different” when you also acknowledge that they made mis-steps and then corrected them?
Not according to your own article. And are you aware that that LGBT guild is now the largest of its kind in the world? As for the horrendous video you mention…not only did Mike Morhaime apologize for that, but one of the people involved in showing it was fired as a result.
Maybe they will. That’s not something most video games do currently, but I see no reason it can’t happen for Blizzard in the future. As you say, we can create the demand.
Let me look….yep, just checked. Can’t find where I said anything remotely near “Blizzard must single-handedly revolutionize the world of video games.” In fact, I did exactly the opposite of that at the end of my post where I said we must speak up as gamers to let companies know this shit won’t fly anymore.
And I don’t agree that they cannot change the culture. As the owners of the largest MMO in the history of the planet, they certainly can change the culture. What they do matters.
Then you need to learn to read better. I did not give them a pass, but I didn’t go into detail because the article was already lengthy enough. I posted links to information on those particular companies. EB Games did not correct their missteps as far as I know (that’s the part where I said they doubled down). Bioware was quick to admit fault, and it remains to be seen if they will fix the issues in future games. This is what I mean by “different.” Not all companies react the same way–some seem more supportive and others dig in their heels.
Yes, nothing says “Blizzard is making great strides” like “Blizzard continues to make questionable choices (i.e., they’re not learning from their past mistakes).” Because those mean the same thing, amirite??
And I am aware of the LGBT guild–I am a member of it and have been for years.
And I said that the president of Blizzard apologized and noted that it is but one in a series of mistakes that queer gamers are growing tired of.
Considering many of us have been demanding this sort of inclusion since WoW Vanilla, you must forgive me if I remain skeptical 4 expansions later.
Fine, remain skeptical. I’m not blaming you! I’m just saying that if you respond to every instance of a company responding to protest by attempting to correct the thing people are complaining about with “Well, they shouldn’t have needed to do that because they should’ve done things right in the first place,” you’re in for a world of disappointment. Every time Blizzard or any other game developer listens to the advocates for minority representation as opposed to the masses of entitled brats opposing them, I count that as a win. And it seems like you do too, because you’re encouraging us to help that process along! When a video game maker is around for decades, they’re going to fuck things up. They’re going to represent things badly and have to apologize for it later, and change their representation. I’m on board with that. And I’m glad you’re a member of that guild.
While I agree with the general idea that the changes made are positive as Rillion claimed, I agree MORE with you that those changes often come too late.
The developers can and should do more and should be setting the example, not acting like they do in those videos only to be surprised later that it turns out that what they said was actually insulting to huge swaths of their playerbase and no better than what an online troll or an actual misogynist would say (hence making them look like mosogynists).
Rathe than “look like misogynists: I should probably say, “no better than misogynists”.
Except, it wasn’t just the players mocking the woman asking questions; the developers mocked her, too.
At the 2011 BlizzCon, Blizzard played a horrendously homophobic clip to the entire venue.
Just earlier this year, it was pointed out that Blizzard’s mature language filter was censoring “transsexual” and “homosexual.”
Did you read the article?
Yes, I read the article. Did I say that only player behavior matters? No. I distinguished the two because there’s a limit on how much you can hold Blizzard responsible for the way some of the people who play its games choose to act.
But you’re completely ignoring all of the shit in the article about what Blizzard has done. You’re pretending that the player culture and the way Blizzard acts have nothing to do with each other. Do you really think the way those developers talked to that woman at BlizzCon 2010 is a completely separate issue from the way WoW players talk in trade chat?
Apparently, when game developers are sexist and mock a woman for asking very important questions regarding the game they have developed, it has nothing to do with the game they are developing nor the culture of the game. ‘Cuz like, they are totally separate! Even when the developers join in on the sexism!!!!!
Nope, I’m not ignoring it– I’ve just read it roughly 3,000 times before. I don’t think the way those developers talked is a completely separate issue from trade chat, but I would very much like to ask that question again, especially in print, and see what their answer is now.
Also, they played that transphobic video LESS THAN A YEAR AGO. Do you think their feelings on the matter have suddenly changed in only a year or something?
While it’s great they took the video down, there is a *reason* why they thought it was appropriate and I just don’t think that reason disappeared in less than a year.
Those examples that were given? That kind of behavior does not help, and in fact, it only promotes the acceptance of sexism.
How can you say that Blizzard isn’t responsible for the way some of the people who play the game choose to act, when Blizzard itself has helped to promote sexism/homophobia/transphobia, as already outlined?
Also, as Wil has pointed out they should not have done these things to begin with. A blatantly transphobic video doesn’t just become totally cool because they apologized. There is a *reason* they felt such a thing was appropriate in the first place, and that needs to be addressed. One apology does in no way mean the problem has gone away.
And finally, do you believe that when game developers mock a woman who speaks out in front of a large group of people who play the game, that it has no effect, or something? That such things just exist in a vacuum, never to be seen again? Don’t you instead thing that gamers are going to take a cue from the developers and not take the problem seriously? Because I personally think that is very likely.
LOL WHUT? Are you high?
And I quote:
You told us that we need to separate player behavior from company choices, and then you THEN SAID, “it just isn’t true that the former somehow rules the latter.
So which is it, huh?
Because these statements are complete opposites.
No, they aren’t. Ease off the anger pedal just a little bit and focus more on what I’m saying, and maybe that will be clearer.
Video game producers and video game players share a culture, in that they are all video game players. The choices a producer makes about what kind of game to make affects how players behave to a certain extent, but not absolutely– nothing Blizzard has done makes people call each other faggots in Trade chat. And the kind of idiots who call each other faggots in Trade chat don’t control what Blizzard does– they do their best to try, but mostly they just succeed in making fools of themselves and getting banned from the game or from the forums or both.
The comments from the 2010 video above sound more like Trade chat than a serious consideration of the question being asked, and almost certainly didn’t help to make women feel more welcome in the game. But a) that was two years ago, b) they were asked a somewhat antagonistic question on the spot, and c) Blizzard is not a hive mind– different people who are directly in positions to shape the game have different opinions. Blizzard as a whole did not authorize that homophobic video to be shown– some people showed it without properly vetting it, and one of those people was fired as a consequence.
Point being, game-makers and game-players are intertwined, but that doesn’t make either group necessarily responsible for the actions of the other, any more than TV watchers are responsible for what happens on True Blood.
Don’t tell me to calm down, okay? I have every right to be frustrated. And I wasn’t even angry — just amused. Can it on the tone argument.
Not to mention, you actually said that we need to keep company behavior separate from player behavior.
You further said that “it just isn’t true that the former somehow rules the latter.” — the term “just isn’t” requires some sort of proof. You made the claim, and so far, you aren’t really backing it up.
If you didn’t actually mean what you said, then perhaps you need to work on being more clear. Don’t make such statements as “just isn’t true” if you don’t actually mean “just isn’t true”.
No one has said or even implied that. Our point is that if there is a culture of sexism with the game developers, especially an obvious one, it WILL have an effect on the in-game culture. Do you disagree with that?
The fact is the game developers mocked a woman at a conference after she asked a very appropriate question.
That is hugely concerning to me.
That kind of behavior indicates that the developers probably don’t respect the opinion of women gamers very much.
And that kind of thinking just doesn’t disappear over night. This was only 2 years ago. I don’t see ANY indication that anyone apologized or acknowledged that this was inappropriate. (If this is wrong, please let me know.)
As a woman, this video does not make me feel at all welcome, or terribly excited about asking Blizzard questions during such a panel. Will they do this again? What’s to say they won’t?
Then, two years later, they put out a transphobic video.
It’s a lot of fucking up and apologizing and not learning from their mistakes.
Now, I’m not saying they are doomed and things haven’t or won’t improve. And neither is Wil. But we are both rightfully very skeptical.
It’s 2012 for fuck’s sake.
DO WE REALLY need to tell someone it isn’t appropriate to put out such a transphobic video?! I mean come ON. Yes they should have known better.
And maybe I will be disappointed a lot if every time someone acts like an asshole, I think, “They shouldn’t have acted like that/done that.”
But you know what? I don’t care. I expect people to respect others. I expect people not to be sexist jerks. I expect people not to be transophobic jerks. I have little patience for this kind of stuff.
I do not think there is a problem with expecting people to respect others.
Let’s give you an analogy:
Say your son bullies another kid. Says some homophobic or transphobic slurs. Would you be disappointed? Would you expect him to maybe not act like a transphobic asshole to his peers? You would, wouldn’t you?
Why shouldn’t I expect the same of grown men?
“any more than TV watchers are responsible for what happens on True Blood.”
This analogy also doesn’t really stick.
Gaming is quite different than a lot of other media. The players have a LOT of control over the ACTUAL environment, more than any other media. They also have a lot more input on what happens. The developer + gamer relationship is far more cozier than my relationship with any TV writer.
Cut the tone policing shit out, k?
No one ever said that they did. This is a complete strawperson argument. You are reading into my piece something that I don’t believe and have not said, which is that there is one-way direction in influence (either Blizz influences players or players influence Blizz).
My point is that it’s both because they’re part of a larger gaming culture. I’m not talking about control or force or whatever other words you’re trying to put in my mouth. All I’m saying is that there are problems in the gaming culture, and here are some examples. Don’t know why you feel the need to go all fanboi on this post. I never said Blizzard is completely responsible for the gaming culture, so stop being so defensive of them.
What it seems like to me is that you’re trying to diminish the very real effects of issues like I bring up in this post. You seem to think this is a non-issue now because (a) Blizzard APOLOGIZED!!!! EACH AND EVERY TIME!!!! and (b) Blizzard is made up of individuals so the company shouldn’t be criticized for things that its LEAD DESIGNERS ON ITS MOST IMPORTANT PRODUCT do. The company *is* responsible for its employees and the products and messages that they put out. And I’ll keep criticizing them–especially when they’re the people directly contributing to these issues.
I quibble with one point in this article: “gamer” does not mean “video gamer”. I haven’t seen this level of absurd misogyny among, for instance, Magic the Gathering players, or pencil-and-paper RPG players. Note: I ran a game store for a while, so I had time to gather some data. Now maybe the fact that I was the authority figure and I’m not misogynistic had some effect ….
You didn’t encounter it in your groups, which is totally possible. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, however. Additionally, you may not have noticed everything because you aren’t a woman, which is key. Just because you, a man, does not see that it exists, does not mean it doesn’t exist.
I will say, though, that it IS probably less as likely, because if you’re a woman and playing those types of games, you’re probably among friends, rather than with a bunch of anonymous strangers.
As a pedant myself, I take your point. =P
Though I also agree with marilove that just because you haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I’ve been in gaming stores and overheard sexist language on a couple of occasions.
So I agree that “gamer” and “video gamer” are not necessarily synonymous, they are both part of the larger geek culture which has the same basic problems outlined in the original post.
Yeah, sexism exists everywhere… It’s pretty naive to assume that it doesn’t exist even in other gamer worlds, or in the very store(s) he worked at — I imagine he just didn’t take notice of a lot of the subtler sexism, which is pretty common with men.
For instance, if a woman walks into a gaming store and the men act all weird toward her, like she’s some sort of other or alien, that’s sexism, even if it’s not malicious or intentional.
If you’ve never encountered any sexism in tabletop gaming culture, you’ve been exposed to an EXCEEDINGLY well-filtered subcommunity. Personally, I’ve never encountered more sexism in meatspace than in the game rooms and RPG clubs. I still love the hobby, but I’m deeply ashamed of the utter troglodytes I share so much of it with.
Yeah, as a woman, I’m not sure I’d seek out that kind of environment. I just play with friends I already know and like…
Oh, and I actually played D&D on Friday night. It was me (female) and four guys, plus some of their other male friends. I knew the DM and one other guy in the game, but that’s it.
It wasn’t weird at all, even though I’m still really new at the game. They were helpful and patient but didn’t babysit me. We bonded over beer, I became fast friends with the dog of the house, and we had a really good time.
They were all pretty drunk by the end of the game, but no one grabbed my boobs or made any weird sexist remarks.
Men like that do exist. I always get frustrated when certain people try to claim “guys are just like that!” because it’s just not true! And it’s not as if the guys I was playing with are perfect angels who never tell a dirty joke or talk about sex, because that’s far from the truth.
I think I’m REALLY lucky and privileged to have the friends I do, especially seeing as I live in Arizona (we aren’t always known to be progressive). Which is why I mention this.
Yeah, not at all trying to say that tabletop gamers are worse than video gamers, but I’ve definitely been subjected to plenty of sexism when I’ve hung out in tabletop gaming groups. And I wouldn’t call D&D illustrations of female characters in the various manuals and board games exactly progressive. Hell, a few months ago I was setting up to play Wrath of Ashardalan (sp?) with some friends, and one of them picked up the character card for the fighter and said, “Why is the fighter a girl? It looks silly.” Then he wondered what my problem was when I called him on it.
As someone who has been playing tabletop RPGs for about 9 years now, with multiple groups, I have to say the misogyny does definitely still exist (and homophobia) in tabletop environments. It’s one of the contributing reasons for why I have a different game group now than a few years ago. I also think a lot of the books and rules do have inherent sexism, and it’s something I discuss pretty regularly with my husband. Even my game group, which is 50% female, has issues with it sometimes. It’s built into the culture, and even without the overlap over video game gamers and tabletop gamers, there is plenty of misogyny for everyone.
In that case, you probably shouldn’t read this RPG.net thread about rape culture and misogyny in tabletop RPG’s. (or the one it was spun off from or the one before that)
I can remember a game that was published back in 1987,
it was called Barbarian. The game and the advertising campaign that accompanied it, were very sexist and mysogonistic.
As far is I can remember it was the first game that was widely criticised for being demeaning towards women.
It’s sad that 25 years on large parts of the gaming industry are still using barely dressed women to sell their products.
Did you know there’s even a website called gamerboobs?
A prime example of QED.
In all fairness through they do let you play as a strong female character, and your character and be dressed in a variety of styles, so you might be able to make one that wasn’t dressed too scantily if you didn’t want that. I can’t remember though how much customization it had exactly. Its been a long time since I played world of Warcraft. It cost me too much money per month, so I had to uninstall it and close my account, long before the first expansion pack to the game was released.
I’m not sure I see how this is being “fair”?
Sure, you can cover your toon up with armor. Sure, your own character can be roleplayed as a strong, independent woman. That’s not really the point, though. The point is that the plots and characters that Blizzard focuses on for deeper development are male characters, and they follow typical tropes in their games in how they use/abuse female characters.
Do you seriously want to argue that the male and female characters are equally objectified in the same ways in World of Warcraft?
As a side note, I’ve been playing Diablo 3 (another Blizzard game) a bit recently when I’ve had a little bit of downtime, and the player characters have sufficient depth of lore I think. There are still a lot of “barnacle” women in the plot of the story, though. But I don’t want to go into detail because I don’t want to spoil the plot for people who haven’t played yet. Needless to say, if you’re curious you can just do a google search for the Diablo 3 storyline.
I don’t know if they’re equally objectified. However just to play devil’s advocate, I’m not sure if its entirely avoidable for either gender.
“Barnacle women”? What are you talking about? Women are pretty much the main characters, (2 out of the 3) and are vital to the entire plot.
Are you talking about the female hireling you can get? (Who I think is awesome, and much more interesting than the other two hirelings).
I’m not sure what you mean by it.
I don’t recall WoW armor ever working that way. Sure, sometimes pieces or sets are less, um, revealing for female PCs now and then, but if you roll a female character in WoW, and you expect to play, you will, at some point, be required to wear a midriff baring/cleavage displaying piece of armor, and oftentimes, that same piece of armor will be rather different on a male PC of the same class.
This was addressed at WoW Insider not long ago:
“My question, though, is why is this a thing? Why is it that developers are fine providing women with an unequal and often worse game experience? Why are developers OK with allowing female PCs to be harassed by male NPCs or requiring them to wear totally impractical armor pieces? It seems easy enough to make a game that isn’t gender insensitive — all you have to do is treat female and male characters equally. If you want people to have chainmail bra and panties, make the same piece as objectifying on a male character as it is on a women. If you’re going to have a creepy dude running the pandaren race for the Horde, make his interactions equally creepy if you’re a male PC — or better, don’t make them creepy at all, and have him remark on how strong your female pandaren look.”
That video is really fun. Now that you mention it. I don’t remember you being able to customize your clothing that much in World of Warcraft. Maybe I was getting it confused with other games. I haven’t played it in a long time.
Actually I meant to say “that videos is really funny” sorry about that.
They added it in maybe a year ago?
It’s actually the best solution to the problem, I think. Basically the way it works is you can go to a vendor, pay some gold and make your equipment look like other equipment. So you can find your favorite outfit and dress in that. It’s very popular among most of the WoW community, although there are some PvP people who have the view that not getting an accurate view of what someone is wearing is a hindrance for knowing who to attack.
I guess that works … but it seems sort of half-assed. Like it was a second thought. Which is was.
And the concerns are very valid.
Meh. Not great.
Hey…I keep telling WoW Insider, they gotta start with someone like me. <3
Couldn’t bring myself to watch the video after the 44 second mark.
I was pretty much disgusted with the opening mannerism of the response by the guy.
In a way, it makes me glad I never got into WoW.
Of course, I’m not really into gaming in general.
I can see the reason for concern, though, given the popularity of the gaming culture.
Funny this post came up, just now on Sunday after playing a bit of WoW, me and my guildies were rather outraged by another player that joined our instance group. He had a guild tag that was a clear rape-reference. So one of us did a little digging into how common rape-jokes were in various forms of player-made content.
There’s a lot. And Blizzard does absolutely nothing about it.
My blig post about this: http://www.purplenoize.com/2012/06/rape-jokes-common-in-world-of-warcraft.html
My “blig” post is actually a “blog” post >.>
It’s kind of sad. One would hope that (supposedly) adult people behaved like, I don’t know, adults?
On an unrelated note, instead of -removing- eye candy for straight males, a better solution would be to add delicious confectionery for everybody. There’s nothing wrong with skimpy outfits, it’s just when half the population looks like walking armored fortresses and the other half has barely any clothes on.
To be honest, this is becoming less and less of a problem, sign that speaking out for these issues does indeed work. Instead, the average male character has yet to evolve past the perpetually scowling brutish hunk (also white). But eh, one step at the time, I guess.
>Anita Sarkeesian in her wonderful “Tropes vs. Women” series
Sarkeesian’s serie on videogame is anything but wonderful. It’s fallacious, partial, narrow-minded, and generally an example of BAD journalism. Really, really bad. I don’t know why she’s gotten as much attention as she has, her work doesn’t deserve it.
If you want a GOOD piece about sexism in videogames, I’m sad that nobody pointed out Extra Credits (formerly on the escapist, now at penny arcade).
You must be from the future because Anita Sarkeesian hasn’t made her tropes vs. women series on video games yet. The series that she made was looking at pop culture in general, particularly movies, tv shows, and comic books. She’s also not a journalist, she’s a feminist critic.
I’d be interested to hear exactly what is “fallacious” about it. But something tells me you just don’t like the content.
Yes, taotao, please enlighten us what is “fallacious” about them. It’s not like she pointed out things that no one else have noticed. In one episode especially I predicted many of her examples before she used them because they are blatantly obvious to anyone paying attention.
Are you SURE you know who Anita Sarkeesian is? ‘Cuz … it doesn’t appear that you do.
>to everyone replying.
Looks like I was wrong then, I browsed her YT profile but the video I was referring to is nowhere to be found. I don’t know where I got the memory of seeing a video of hers where she complained about sexism in videogame’s female representation.
Guess I’ll wait with everyone else and see.
Still, Extra Credits has done more than one clip about this, it’s seriously worth watching.
The only thing I’ve seen that she’s been specific about video games is the video on her kickstarter page where she talks about what she will talk about in her future series. So if that’s what you’re thinking about, it’s neither analysis nor journalism.
Do you have a link to the Extra Credits series for us?
No, I “remember” a full video. I have no idea either.
Extra Credits @ Penny Arcade:
Each episode tackles a different argument (because sexism it’s not the only thing plaguing videogames, and still, there’s ton of interesting stuff to talk about), often taking cues by then-recent releases; was previously hosted on The Escapist, they got away due to a problem with a fundraising campaign IIRC.
You might want to watch 1-12, 1-19, 1-20, 2-7, and I assume 2-14 (Other M), but it’s one of the episodes haven’t watched yet.
Thanks for the link.
And I know that you realized your mistake, but before you start shit-talking and discrediting someone and their work, it may be a good idea to make sure you are fully aware of what you’re discrediting. Because that’s not cool. At all.
It makes me wish that there was a quick quip she could have replied with. Some kind of instant verbal smackdown. But I can’t think of an easily recognizable, brand name catalog in which women are portrayed as having skills other Gravity-Defying Boobs.
Home Hardware? Lee Valley? Home Depot?
C’mon people – we have to be ready for this one next time.
The way to change this is, as Will says, to have more women involved in the production and marketing of games and having a say about these things. The way that happens is by more women coming up through the ranks of the industry. It’s a difficult and complex business.
This is the same issue of women in engineering because a game is really just a very large software engineering project. The better games, even if they are male centered, are truly impressive feats of engineering. The reason women are under represented in engineering is the same reason women are not in positions of influence in games.
On the other hand, the demographic games serve is adolescent boys so a lot of this is shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
That may be the demographic they think they’re serving, but a 2008 survey showed that 40% of gamers in the U.S. are women.
Ok, they are still mostly men and mostly action games. I didn’t see a break down as to what games men or women prefer to play. I don’t know any women in the 18-49 age bracket that play violent first person shooters or military oriented games. I also didn’t see a break down of which game genre is most profitable.
How many women play Crysis? Not many I’d guess. But those kinds of games have the most prestige and are the ones that typically make technological breakthroughs.
Prestige and importance are given to certain games and those tend to be the ones favored by young men. Angry Birds makes lots of money but it doesn’t represent the kind of advance the Crysis game engine does.
And if you put a bunch of unsupervised young men in a bloody violent environment it isn’t a surprise that the testosterone levels get pretty high.
It’s 2012. This is not true anymore. More woman then ever are playing games. If you only just googled every now and again…
“On the other hand, the demographic games serve is adolescent boys so a lot of this is shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.”
Aside from being completely wrong, as Will pointed out, this is not only a problem among boys. World of Warcraft, especially, is a game played by everything from kids, teens, young adults to dads, moms and grandparents.
I’ve played this game on and off since it came out. The misogyny comes from male players of all ages, and is to a large degree tolerated by the female players because this is the sort of environment we’re in. It shouldn’t have to be this way though.
Not being surprised does not equal approval. My refusal to run around with my hair on fire doesn’t mean I don’t want change. I just don’t see myself as an alien living in a hostile culture. I feel pretty damn lucky to live in the US in the 21st century. I refuse to live in fear or to be stampeded by either the right or the left.
I occupy the middle ground on many many issues and I’m very comfortable there.
Way to ignore the comments about the gaming demographic. You do that a lot, you know. People make points and you just … ignore them. And then talk about something completely unrelated. LIke this comment.
No one said ANYTHING about being or not being surprised.
People who generally occupy middle ground on “many many issues” are usually too lazy or afraid to make solid opinions.
“I occupy the middle ground on many many issues and I’m very comfortable there.”
Yes, I know. It is called privilege.
Luckily there a re people around who care about others than themselves.
Good point. I was trying to figure out why that comment bothered me so much.
I think it mostly means, “If it doesn’t effect me, I don’t care about it.
Also, middle ground? Really? Is that why she’s been spending the last week lecturing at us at every fucking turn? That’s not very middle of the ground. Clearly she has strong opinions about us, and the owner of this blog (Rebecca).
I don’t have much to say about video games today, but I’ve recently
seen all of Anita Sarkeesians videos on LEGO, and I love them!
Gender issues in LEGO have bothered me ever since they introduced
gendered minifig faces. (As if all women wear makeup. I only knew one
who did at the time.) On the other hand, I tended to interpret the old
smiley-faces as men unless they wore woman hair. So I guess they can’t
Lego town was always my favorite theme growing up. It seemed like a
real nice place to live, at least until sometime around 1990 when the
town suddenly split into a pink ghetto for women and a action-filled
ghetto for manly men. Don’t ask me how it happened; I was away at the
time, but when I came back I didn’t feel at home in either. So I moved
out and built a new town out of my old bricks that reflected the world
I want to live in.
(Sorry to veer off topic on a rant here, but I take LEGO very personally, so
this just riles me up. :)
Gahh, formatting fail again. And I thought I did everything right this time. :/
(Same as above, hopefully with correct formatting.)
I don’t have much to say about video games today, but I’ve recently seen all of Anita Sarkeesians videos on LEGO, and I love them!
Gender issues in LEGO have bothered me ever since they introduced gendered minifig faces. (As if all women wear makeup. I only knew one who did at the time.) On the other hand, I tended to interpret the old smiley-faces as men unless they wore woman hair. So I guess they can’t win.
Lego town was always my favorite theme growing up. It seemed like a real nice place to live, at least until sometime around 1990 when the town suddenly split into a pink ghetto for women and a action-filled ghetto for manly men. Don’t ask me how it happened; I was away at the time, but when I came back I didn’t feel at home in either. So I moved out and built a new town out of my old bricks that reflected the world I want to live in.
(Sorry to veer off on a rant here, but I take LEGO very personally, so this just riles me up. :)
“action-filled ghetto for manly men” … that just sounds depressing. Having enough experience in ACTUAL action-filled ‘ghettos’ in my life, I think the pink ghetto sounds preferable.
Sorry if I brought back some bad memories. :(
I didn’t realize the implications of what I was saying. I hope you’re OK.
I’m going to go look at some brochures and see if I’ve been overstating it. I mean, it’s LEGO, after all! The world’s friendliest toy. How bad can it be? The last time I was in a store I was like, “meh, I don’t like action toys. Why can’t they bring back the old town series? That was more fun.”.
I’ll be back later with my findings.
(Ah, it’s “lego catalog”, in english, for anyone now googling. Translation error on my part.)
(There is an archive of these somewhere, if I can only find it.)
Actually, the pink ghetto was probably a gated community guarded by those very manly men. But… oh, agh, that’s just more depressing. I need to look at some old catalogs to feel better.
Aah, 1985, my favorite year in lego Town:
Will et al –
You might like Lord of the Rings Online (by Turbine) more to your liking. I’ve never seen a less sexist MMORPG. Been playing for 4 years now and haven’t once come across a navel or a chainmail bikini.
Here’s a good blog entry about it:
I’m considering it as the $15 per month model is just becoming less and less appetizing anyway.
Long time lurker logging in for the first time because of the Extra Credits request! Here is the Link: http://www.penny-arcade.com/patv/show/extra-credits/
Season 1 Ep 12 “Diversity”
Season 2 Ep 7 “True Female Characters”, Ep 23 “Race in Games”
Season 4 Ep 11 “Harassment”
I play WoW quite frequently and thankfully belong to a guild of awesome people. While our guild is a safe place; we don’t tolerate bigotry/misogyny/sexism/hate speech etc, it gets in. From new recruits that have to be talked to and/or kicked or from random people joining us to fill out spots in our runs. As an officer and a decent human being I do confront people when they say things like “let’s rape this boss”, or they call people faggot’s, and then they act like I am the violator of their speech space. So, while I usually spend the energy to approach them and ask them not to say things like that I feel that I’m not dealing with the core of the issue, and that in the game, the maker (Blizzard), has created a safe place for asshats because there isn’t proper policing of their customer’s behavior. Little do people know that you don’t have ANY freedom of speech in the game world and if Blizzard wanted to they could ban anyone for saying eggplant (sorry eggplant lovers, it’s just an example).
My rambling point was, I think that the game environment is a reflection of how much sexism/bigotry/misogyny exists within companies like Blizzard. When they don’t have an active presence in policing this behavior in game it is a reflection of the corporate environment. So, I really liked your post. I’m going to make a point to continue to have a zero tolerance of hate speech in my playing environment, perhaps I can make a little difference. Cheers!
p.s. not sure I was clear or even relevant, but I had to say something in support, as a male gamer who cringes when trade chat lights up with anal (insert rape joke here), and no GM comes out to stop it and it happens again and again, I get a little peeved at Blizzard, it would take one common sense GM to handle that attitude. Perhaps we could request a humanist be a GM on each server, I’d volunteer for my server!
The public chat channels in WoW are horrible. I was paying attention to it yesterday when someone was talking down on a guild by saying it was full of “bitches and noobs”.
There are some serious wannabe alpha male players around that … oh, I have no idea how they work. I just know there are too many and they’re too loud.
Anyway, I like your safe-space guild and your no bullshit tolerance. They are very much needed. I’m in a female only guild, a very nice and friendly space. It doesn’t necessarily have to be female only, yours sounds great too, but for us it works.
Shared this on Facebook. One of my male gamer friends reposted with the following:
I’d encourage him not to. That’s not the point of this post. Things are getting better, even with Blizzard (they still have a loooot of work to do). Also, having gamers (male and female) who aren’t sexist dicks in the game is very helpful.
Indeed, while Blizzard has a lot of work to do, apparently Diablo 3 is a lot better. Wil said this above:
So tell your friend not to give up hope. :)
A gender neutral game like “Feed me Candy” (a clever iPad game that involves strategically dropping a tasty treat into a frog or whatchamacallit’s mouth) can out-compete games like WoW. Is not possible for software engineers to design more socially progressive and entertaining games that would dominate the marketplace and thus force established gaming companies like Blizzard to change their tune? I would envision that with greater representation of women in gaming software engineering at the leadership level, then this would happen.
Wow, that clip was ugly.
The worst part wasn’t even the panel. The worst part was the poor woman trying to take that shit in stride, to somehow smile through that experience. You can see that this was something that really bothered her, and she already made a huge concession by asking the question in a semi-humorous way. And she was nodding, and I’m not sure how much of what they said she actually accepted and internalized… did she actually go away thinking even a little bit that she was wrong, and that that’s just the way things are?
I’m not really sure what I would have done in her place.
I truly felt sorry for that individual. The panel and the entire crowd humiliated her for a legitimate claim against the industry. Cruel and disgusting behavior!!
“So what’s the solution? We need more feminists, women, queer people, disabled people, and people of color in positions of power and creative authority in companies like Blizzard.”
That’s your solution? Take over somebody else’s company to make them do things your way? The normal solution to this kind of problem has always been to start a competing company. But I never hear any feminists suggest that, instead they always rely on straight white males to give them the power and authority they want.
“Difficulties for women and other minorities in gaining access to those opportunities.”
Notch didn’t need anyone’s permission to make Minecraft. Also, women are not a minority, they are about half of the human race.
Reading comprehension is clearly not your friend. You’ve constructed a straw argument. I never said anything about “taking over” companies. I said “companies like Blizzard” which includes creating a competing company.
Your comment is a perfect example of a man freaking the fuck out at the thought of having to give up some power. It’s indicative of the problem.
The creator of Minecraft is not a woman and appears to be a white male (though I don’t know if he’s straight). I really don’t see how that is relevant to what you quoted.
Also, women are a social minority because the word “minority” can refer to the amount of social power that a group of people have. It’s not necessarily a quantitative measurement. I’ve addressed this elsewhere.
The other thing you don’t seem to get is that minorities often cannot just decide to start a competitive company because of lack of access to resources. It’s also a matter of girls and women being taught that these fields are not something that women should be doing, so they don’t develop these interests and they end up going into other fields. This is a systemic, institutionalized problem that isn’t just solved by starting a new company. It’s solved by feminists, women, queer people, disabled people, and people of color getting into positions of power and creative authority (really not just at gaming companies, but throughout society) and influencing change at a structural level.
The fact that you think it’s simply a bootstrapper mentality and minorities can just magically start companies and outcompete massive multinational conglomerates demonstrates your complete and utter ignorance (and, dare I say, multiple levels of privilege).
Your counter-arguments are well put. Indeed the prevailing cultural climate does not foster interests in software engineering among women. Although sexism plays a significant role there is also a broader problem that affects both boys and girls. STEM is overall devalued among the American masses in comparison to arts and athletics. As a result, only a minority of individuals in the USA (most of whom are men) end up as leaders of gaming industries and to boost profits will outsource their labor to India where men and women software engineers (bounded by contract) end up writing the code to these games. But there are women who can overcome such cultural barriers.
People forget gaming software pioneers such as Roberta Williams who was the co-founder of Sierra that brought us games like King’s Quest. Here’s an excellent bio of her on Wikipedia:
Everyone should also bear in mind that just because a woman is a CEO that does not mean that the products of that company will necessarily be feminist friendly. Roberta Williams founded the game Leisure Suit Larry wherein the gamer gets points with sleeping with as many women as possible. Will, just because someone is a woman, African American, Latino, queer, transgender, bisexual, etc.., they can be leaders of companies that create products that are 180 degrees opposite of the progressive values you uphold. You wouldn’t want an Ann Coulter type of persona to lead a company like Blizzard.
That’s a good point, and I certainly don’t disagree that just being a marginalized person doesn’t mean a person is interested in social justice (I think the patriarchal bargain is a good example of this). That being said, marginalized people being able to get into these fields–especially into powerful positions–gives better chances of changing the straight, white, male hegemony than marginalized people continuing to be marginalized. ;)
“Reading comprehension is clearly not your friend. You’ve constructed a straw argument.”
The only reasonable way of interpreting your statement is that these companies need to be taken over. If you had meant creating a competing company, you would have just said so.
“Your comment is a perfect example of a man freaking the fuck out at the thought of having to give up some power. It’s indicative of the problem.”
Why should a game development company or any other company have to cede power to hostile outsiders? It’s their company, not yours. They made it, not you. You really think Blizzard has spent 20 years becoming one of the most successful developers just so you guys can waltz in and appropriate their money, resources and staff? Think again.
“The creator of Minecraft is not a woman and appears to be a white male (though I don’t know if he’s straight). I really don’t see how that is relevant to what you quoted.”
He didn’t need to “gain access” to anything, he just sat down and started making a game. He didn’t need anybody’s permission, he didn’t need anybody to put him in a position of power.
“Also, women are a social minority because the word “minority” can refer to the amount of social power that a group of people have. It’s not necessarily a quantitative measurement.”
I refuse to butcher language for the sake of some goofball social justice program. Also, if women didn’t have a shit ton of social power, feminism would not be one of the most dominant ideologies of the modern West. It would have never been allowed to get anywhere.
“The other thing you don’t seem to get is that minorities often cannot just decide to start a competitive company because of lack of access to resources.”
Well at least they have access to an endless amount of excuses, supplied by people like you who want to keep them down. In case you haven’t noticed, computers and Internet access are absolutely ubiquitous nowadays, having access to them is not a problem.
“It’s also a matter of girls and women being taught that these fields are not something that women should be doing, so they don’t develop these interests and they end up going into other fields.”
Do you think computer nerds have a squad of cheerleaders following them around or something? They’re often bullied in school, and their hobby doesn’t impress their peers or win the admiration of girls. Being a computer nerd is a social disadvantage, but boys do it anyway. If girls don’t get into computers merely because they aren’t told to, or because somebody once said they shouldn’t, then they have no real interest in the subject and should indeed go into other fields. Nobody becomes the next John Carmack without passion and dedication.
“The fact that you think it’s simply a bootstrapper mentality and minorities can just magically start companies and outcompete massive multinational conglomerates demonstrates your complete and utter ignorance (and, dare I say, multiple levels of privilege).”
How do you think these corporations came into being? Do you think the game industry just dropped out of the sky one day, fully formed? Once upon a time, there was no game industry, or a computer industry for that matter. They were built from nothing. Companies like Blizzard were built from nothing.
And yeah, look at all the privilege I got by being chronically unemployed, and living in a place where being white is at best meaningless and at worst a disadvantage. I can’t imagine why I’m not already a billionaire CEO just by being white and male.
*sigh* You are quite dense.
No. It’s just that that’s the only way you want to interpret it because that fits your views.
I was speaking generally about men giving up power in society. I said YOUR COMMENT was an example of men freaking out at the notion of having to give up some power in society. Again, reading comprehension fail.
Yeah? So how did he get the equipment to make the game? How did he learn how to code? How did he get the time to sit down and make the game?
That’s because he was already in a position of power in order to be able to create the game. And he was in that position because of a whole host of factors, including his privilege.
It’s not “some goofball social justice program.” This is how the word is used in the social sciences, you ignorant ass.
And here are your true colors. You’re a fucking MRA troll.
I’m not responding to the rest of your comment because it is now clear to me that you are not interested in a good faith discussion but are an MRA troll. Please kindly exit this thread and do not come back. You are not welcome here.
Wow, so Sylvanis isn’t a strong independent woman in this game? Please.
Look, I support the gay community full force, but this is ridiculous. Just because a company doesn’t go out of their way to create a day or an event for the gay community, they are homophobic? This is disgusting. Oh, and it’s crazy how I know a ton of gay men and women that play WoW. None of them have a problem with anything in the game.
It’s a fucking game. We play this game to get away from the real world problems for a stint, and now we all have to deal with hearing people say shit.
Oh, and I don’t know if you noticed, but there are a lot of “trolls” or what some call “cyber bullies” on WoW. Blizzard does what they can to control it but they can’t control everyone. It’s the players, not the company that call other players “faggots” and whatever the hell else they say. It’s not fair to try to go against the company when it’s just the ignorant little fucks like them who say stuff. Also, you have the option to turn off the Mature language filter, so if there’s such an issue, UNCHECK THE BOX.
Wow, all the angry menz are out today to express their disgust for the idea of equality. And none of them have reading comprehension skills!
Went and looked and………..yeah, never said anything about Sylvanas. Strong? Sure. Independent? Maybe (she is dependent upon the war chief, no?). Barnacle character? Maybe (she sure was obsessed with Arthas!).
The thing that you don’t seem to grasp is that lack of strong female characters does not equal complete absence of strong female characters.
Do I sense a “but” coming?
Yep. There it is! Now all we’re lacking is the “I have gay friends” line.
Never said anything about creating a day or an event. What in the everliving fuck are you talking about? I don’t think Blizzard as a company is homophobic—I think they are heterosexist. But I won’t expect you to grasp the not-so-subtle difference between the two.
What do you know, there it is: the “I have gay friends” bit! I can play this game, too! Watch: It’s crazy, I know a ton of gay men, lesbians, trans* folks, people with disabilities, people of color, cis men and women, straight men and women, and people from all sorts of countries and backgrounds who play WoW and all of them have a problem with lots of parts of the game. Ta-dah! I trumped you. I win.
My point, which seems completely and utterly lost on your stupid ass, is that this “fucking game” perpetuates a lot of the real world problems that people who aren’t as privileged as yourself deal with constantly.
Nope, never noticed. As a gay man who plays WoW and often does random dungeon runs, I have never ever encountered trolls or cyberbullies. Thank you so much for alerting me to this problem. I will be sure to be on the look-out.
Oh, and they’re not just in the “fucking game” if you had bothered to read/look at any of the numerous links and videos I posted in the original post. But that wouldn’t fit your narrative, now would it?
Never said the company called layers “faggots.” In fact, I never used the word “faggot” in my article. What I did say was that the company and people at the company have engaged in some questionable (at best) behavior that has directly contributed to social oppression. I said they haven’t been horrible in handling these problems, but the fact that they have continued for years to make these mistakes means they aren’t learning anything and they don’t care to make efforts to be more supportive to players who come from marginalized segments of the population.
You are the “ignorant little fuck” here, sir. I have provided ample evidence that the company itself has engaged in sexist and heterosexist/transphobic behavior. YOU are the one who is ignoring the evidence.
**WHOOSH** Thank you for flying Delta! The discussion of the language filter went right over your tiny little head. It’s not that people were being offended by language, it’s the fact that they had words like “homosexual” and “transsexual” listed as offensive words to begin with and how that is an indication of heterosexist thinking.
Are you sure? Have you asked?
Don’t just assume that because they play a game and don’t complain about it, they’re just fine with everything in it. If minorities of all types just refused to play games that represent them badly or not at all, they wouldn’t have a lot of choices for games to play. To be a minority and play video games is usually to be willing to accept that the fun of the game is worth accepting that cost– it doesn’t mean you don’t mind or actually like the cost.
^ This exactly.
Besides, something tells me that he doesn’t actually have “a ton” of gay and lesbian friends on WoW but was just desperate to counter my argument.
Arguing that a game based primarily on Western European lore traditions is sexist is somewhat dumb. Well duh it is sexist, the concept it is based on is sexist. Blizzard isn’t out to undo years of social progress, nor are they out to start a cultural revolution. They are out to make money, and their main demographic for making money isn’t 20 something lesbians.
I happen to be a twenty something lesbian and I play WoW. I respect it for what it is, a mmorpg based on generic western fantasy.
Capitalism friends. Capitalism.
You know what? You’re SO RIGHT! We should just totally not talk about sexism AT ALL when it stems out of history and capitalism. Hell, why stop there? Why not just not address sexism at all–you know, because it’s a construction based on human culture and doesn’t occur naturally. We should all just shut the fuck up and sit at the back of the bus, amirite?
So, by your logic, all media gets a FREE PASS, but only when it’s based on making money! WATCH OUT PBS, I’M COMING FOR YOU!
(By the way, you really should read through the comments before posting. I already addressed the idea of demographics. I never said their demographics were 20-something lesbians; however, 40% of gamers are women, and there’s a hefty LGBT population, so it actually is in Blizzard’s capitalistic interests to provide content that appeals to these people. You know, because by limiting their target to 15-year-old boys, they’re certainly not going to make as much money as targeting it towards, oh, I don’t know, all members of the society in which they are releasing the game.)
I don’t refute your point. All I am saying is that the genre is flawed and WoW is as generic as a “knights in shining armor”game gets. Yes push for better games, but basing your rage on Blizzard is just a waste of time. World of Warcraft has bigger content problems than being sexist. It is not original in the slightest and the game mechanic is old and worn out. Or in layman’s terms, WoW sucks. I play it, a lot and yes, It really sucks.
Blizzard will fizzle out on it’s own, so worry about bigger fish. Capitalism gives everyone a free pass, except PBS, for they count on viewers like YOU. Shame, why would you even think about abandoning PBS. They counted on you!
Shit, I occupy city buildings with my 99% friends because Capitalism gives corporations a free pass. I don’t like it, but don’t tell me that’s not true.
Respect WoW for what it is, a beaten dead horse. Not to mention that Blizzard is pretty good at pissing off everyone. I give WoW this last expansion before Blizzard alienates everyone and has no customer base.
Now if the next game they make, that Titan mmorpg they’re making, is just as sexist, then you are allowed. For now though I’m sticking to the argument that WoW is shit enough, analyzing this is like complaining that Chick-Fil-a is evil. No shit. Chick-fil-a is the source of evil.
I really am on your side. I just think better battles could be picked. I would like to see COD with strong female characters that lay tribute to the millions of women who have fought in every war. I would like to see a horrible GTA game with a female gangster who kicks ass, isn’t a “slut” stereotype and puts male gangsters in their place. I know badass female criminals and gangsters exist. Why can’t I have a violent game? Talking about WoW changing Blood Elf models to be manly isn’t helping me here.
I also want women in the NHL, but I know it will be a long time until that happens.
But right now all I can do is shut the fuck up and sit at the back of the bus, because as I see it the patriarchy isn’t falling overnight and I am sure as hell not rallying for a better WoW.
TL;DR If WoW was sensitive to women it would suck, because WoW sucks. Which is really the truth of the matter here.
There are much better games that could be improved and I don’t want WoW to be the one to lead the charge.
See, here’s the thing: It’s not a zero-sum game. I don’t have to pick between arguing for improvements to WoW OR future Blizzard games OR non-Blizzard games. I can advocate for all of them, which is what I’m doing. I’m using Blizzard as a framing device to discuss on-going problems within the entire gaming community.
And if talking about WoW is such a big waste of time, what does that make commenting on a blog post about WoW? Why don’t you just go away if this is all such a waste of time?
Oldest internet ass argument ender ever. Well, well, YOU DON’T HAVE TO COMMENT. Touché. I actually liked what you had to say dipshit and was disappointed that it was so obvious. I just happen to disagree that WoW and Blizzard is a good “framing device” for this argument. They specialize in misogyny and capitalize on it, they don’t care. I would rather have a focus on a company who profits off of a wide variety of games and yet still makes horrible sexist tropes for us to bitch about. Like Blizz’s parent company. Now that is interesting and scary, a company truly making games for everyone that also supports a company like Blizz. That is bigger picture.
I liked the article, it had good points, but you sound like you’re a freshman in a world history/women studies class. Mostly because you descend like a raccoon with rabies on anyone who disagrees with you. Welcome to academia. My argument is flawed, admittedly, and is mostly a red herring with bits of opinion. I do admit that. I was expecting for you to discuss the bigger picture. However getting non-defensive conversation from you is like getting blood from a rock.
You’re also contradicting yourself. You say you like the article, yet in your first comment you described it as “dumb.” So, which is it?
Not everyone knows about Blizzard, not everyone plays WoW. This article was not written JUST FOR YOU, YOU PRECIOUS, SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE.
Also, plenty of people have disagreed with me all over this site and Queereka and I haven’t “descended on them like a raccoon with rabies.” How am I supposed to respond when you come in telling me my post is dumb and I should shut up and focus on other things?
Okay, so you’re just trolling then. Noted. Now fuck right off.
While I certainly agree with your position, I think you’re failing to realize that this is a component to a larger problem. I played warcraft for about five years and in that time I watched the community degrade to the point where it largely fosters a hateful, prejudiced attitude toward anyone who’s not one of the pitiful dweebs who strive to be tops at a video game.
I’m guessing you’re aware of the many studies which suggest that it’s less likely that a person who feels or is bullied by society will properly process and deal with those feelings and emotions, but will more likely repress and act on them improperly. The internet provides a unique way of improperly dealing with it; namely to bully others with impunity. It’s not just warcraft, many other multiplayer games as well as many bulletin boards frequented by the types you’re calling out in this article are filled with this behavior, and it doesn’t simply end with bagging on the homosexual minority. Someone’s a racial or ethnic minority, make fun of their race or ethnicity. There’s a woman, make lewd sexual comments and / or sexist comments. There’s someone who’s simply not very good at the game or new to the community, haze them and make them feel like they have to earn their place. In short, I realized these games are predominantly populated and run by people who were or are picked on elsewhere in life, and want a place to pick on others to vent their frustrations rather than deal with those frustrations rationally.
So what to do to solve the problem? Well I know it sounds like something one of them would say, but don’t play the game. I actually stopped playing because it occurred to me that the community had degraded to this point, and I would hope that others would do the same. On top of the possibility that the game may no longer be profitable if enough people stop playing and they’d lose their coping mechanism and maybe be forced to deal with their problems in a more constructive manner, if everyone they pick on leaves all they’ll have to pick on is each other, and maybe they’ll learn from that as well.
If you’re going to stick it out, however, I’d suggest fighting fire with fire. Bag on them right back. I know first hand how effective bringing up stereotypes of typical video game geeks burns them. Call them virgins, losers, make fun of them for having no social skills, point it out when they’re just parroting other people’s insults and call them slow and witless. If you really wanna touch a nerve bring up the fact that they likely aren’t any good at the game without a army of addons to correct their mistakes and point out that there’s no real skill involved in pointing and clicking a mouse and pressing buttons on a keyboard. I’d really suggest not playing but in lieu of that, think about it; if these dweebs were making fun of you to your face you wouldn’t tolerate it long enough for them to finish a thought, you’d bust them right in the jaw. Since you can’t do this over the internet, fight fire with fire.
Actually, I explicitly said that this was a problem with the entire gaming community.
I’m not sure the community has degraded so much as gotten larger, which invariably draws in more assclowns. The community in EverQuest (which I played from 2000-2005) was full of the same kinds of behaviors. There just weren’t as many players. I’ve been playing WoW since the closed beta before the original release, and it’s been the same kind of community from the get-go.
I don’t disagree that many people who play WoW might be bullied themselves and also bully on WoW. I don’t think that that is the case for all of the assholes, though. I’m not even sure it’s the case for most of them. I think it is a case of people being douchey because they’re anonymous and relatively certain they can get away with it because Blizzard is really bad at enforcing their rules.
I do disagree with you that using the same sort of bullying back on them is the solution. I do not think that helps at all and I think it just reproduces the problem.
No, you missed the larger problem; it’s not a matter of how widespread homophobia is in the community but rather one aspect of a general attitude of prejudice against anyone who isn’t a gaming geek. Take for example your mention of the lack of GM’s dealing properly with homophobic attitudes. That may have improved in this specific instance, but it’s still perfectly acceptable to GM’s for someone to make fun on a person for being new or not very good at the game as they would allow people to get away with behaving in a homophobic manner towards gay people in game. That is, unless they’ve added the words noob or fail or any other derogatory comments regarding someone’s experience with the game. The point I was making is that the problem with the community is not that it’s breeding an air of homophobia or sexism, but rather that the community is generally hateful towards anyone that doesn’t “belong”.
When I started playing warcraft in 2006, the community wasn’t as bad as it is today, or at least not as bad as it was when I quit and, from the comments on the forums, still seems to be. There was a lot of the same attitude from the top players, but that’s to be expected. But there were as many or more casual players, as the term goes, who treated the game as a fun waste of time and not anything more meaningful. However, when I say I saw the community degrade, I mean that I watched those casual players either leave the game in droves as the attitude from the top players spread, or worse, be peer pressured into behaving that way themselves. It was the latter happening to my online friends, who were the only inspiration for me to play beyond the first year, that finally led me to feel that there was nothing worth wasting my time with the game anymore, so I quit.
I am glad that you don’t want engage in childish name calling. Like I said before my first suggestion is to just quit playing the game like I did. However, I’ve always felt if you’re not going to walk away from the fight, you’d damned sure better win it. With that said, I simply don’t see you winning this fight with reason. I really got into the mindset of these people, and they’re overwhelmingly hormonally amped, sex starved, frustrated man children who grew up thinking they were smarter or better than everyone else, and that’s why they got bullied. But when the actually got out in the world, they found out they weren’t that special at all, just the same as the rest of us, and haven’t dealt with that let-down, so the take it out on anyone they can. I don’t believe they can be reasoned with, at least I’ve never none any of them to respond to reason. So, in my opinion at least, the only solutions are to beat them at their own game, so to speak, or not play it. But that’s just my suggestion.
I just don’t think that’s the case. As someone who is a gaming geek and gets subjected to a large amount of homophobia in games, I don’t think it’s simply a “geek vs. non-geek” mentality. Also, look at how people like Felicia Day and Aisha Taylor, who are quite clearly a gaming geeks are subjected to the same kinds of things you’re claiming that only non-geeks are subjected to. Not because they’re not geeky enough, but because they’re women (and one is a woman of color).
I don’t doubt that from your perspective that there has been some sort of degradation in the WoW community. What I’m saying is that, from my perspective, I’ve seen this kind of behavior and attitude in the WoW community since its inception, and I’ve seen it in older games like EverQuest. It’s not new simply because you began to recognize more of it.
Sorry, but what is this based on? It sounds like a stereotype and like you’re essentializing all bad behavior in WoW to these kinds of people. There are lots of gay men in my queer guild who are rampant misogynists. It’s not specific to the kind of people you’re describing.
At the risk of being called the tone police again, I’ll wonder why that exchange couldn’t have happened without both Sawhoof and Will completely losing their shit at each other. That is not, for the record, how it is done in academia.
Sawhoof wants to know why Will is bothering to write about WoW when WoW is, as Sawhoof sees it, not a very good game and one that is on its way out. She also says WoW is as “generic as a knights in shining armor game gets.” Sawhoof, as a lesbian who plays video games and WoW specifically, presumably agrees with Will on most of what he’s said here, yet with inexplicable hostility she asks why what he’s saying is relevant.
Here’s why it’s relevant:
1. WoW is a living game, a game with an expansion coming out later this year, and one which 10.2 million people all over the world continue to play and enjoy. It is the MMORPG that people who don’t even know what an MMORPG is, or what it means, still know about. It is also in my opinion an amazing game and one I continue to enjoy playing, but even if that wasn’t the case it would still be obviously important. If you’re going to talk about how minorities are portrayed in a video game that matters, and you’re just going to talk about one game, there is no better choice.
2. If WoW is really as generic as it gets, that makes it even more important to talk about it because that means that what it presents is at least in some way normative. “Generic” meaning, after all, “representative of a genus.” If a game sets the standard for games of its type, you want the standards it sets to be good!
3. A video game is a fictional place, yes—it can be anything the writers want it to be. That’s why what the writers want it to be matters. Everything they create is on purpose! Nothing has to be other than the way they want it to be, in terms of content. So while there may be elements of the story that make it necessary to present minorities badly or not at all, we can identify the gratuitous instances of such and ask “Why does it have to be this way? And if it doesn’t, why not change it?”
4. Sawhoof’s answer to that question is “Capitalism.” That is, that Blizzard has no incentive to portray minorities better because it’s not good for their bottom line. This argument always mystifies me because it assumes that people who play its games are a bunch of bigots and won’t be as happy with a game that doesn’t encourage prejudice! What’s the evidence for this? Sure, lots of video game players are sexist/racist/homophobic etc., but that doesn’t mean that the games they play should cater to these positions, and don’t depress the living hell out of me by suggesting that it’s financially necessary for them to do so.
5. An MMORPG isn’t just a story; it’s a world. It’s right there in the name—World of Warcraft. It’s hard to change the world we live in, but a whole lot easier to change one that was deliberately created, and whose creation is ongoing. So the choices made about what players are allowed and encouraged to do and how their characters are allowed/encouraged to look, as well as how NPCs behave and look, are very important. Some people want to play a radically different character in a game than they are in reality, but a lot of people want at least the option of playing something closer to who they really are. They also want to see characters who don’t exist in reality, but if those fictional characters are going to resemble reality in every way except that they’re homogenous in a way that reality isn’t, that’s a turn-off. Sure, make people who are humanoid pandas! I’ll play one, because I’m one of those people who never chooses to play a human if other, fictional races are available (my first main was a troll). But if you’re going to have humans, please make them as diverse as actual humans actually are, or have a good reason why you can’t. Otherwise it looks like you don’t like the diverse forms that humans actually come in, and people whose forms aren’t represented tend to be offended by that thought.
Because sawhoof was a troll. There were a few of them who posted in here (not all of the comments passed moderation) after the article was linked on an MRA site.
Other than that, I really don’t disagree with any of the points you made. ;)
The word “troll” starts to lose its meaning when it applies to any commenter who is as…unpleasant in disagreeing with the author of a piece as that author is to anyone who disagrees.
I don’t disagree. But, again, you haven’t seen anything that was moderated. When a person comes into a comment thread and posts meaningless drivel, contradicts themselves, and admits that they have no valid point, it’s an attempt at derailing at best and trolling at worst. Neither of those things are tolerated here, at least not on my posts.
Re:WoW, my wife and I were discussing this..two nights ago? I think it was that. WoW is actually very old game design, and much of it is pretty “locked in”..but the end result of the game design is that it’s a breeding pit for nasty behavior.
First, you have the core conflict of Alliance vs. Horde which is always there. Entire forms of gameplay revolve around griefing others. But that’s just where it starts. You also have that when leveling in an area, people are constantly competing. When a monster spawns the first person to hit it gets credit for it and gets all the loot/xp. This creates an environment where you’re constantly in competition with other players.
Also, when grouped with other players, the roles are too differentiated, so the “Holy Trinity” of Tank/DPS/Healer, as it’s called, leads to players blaming the other roles for everything that’s going on.
In short, the game is a breeding ground for negative attitudes.
The modern design we’d point to, is Guild Wars 2, which is much more strongly designed about cooperative play. You don’t steal/tag monsters from others, everybody who helps gets rewards from it. Dynamic Events bring players together to work together to do things for mutual benefit, and it’s a big deal and players are even REWARDED for resurrecting other players who have fallen/died.
My guess is that because of this the general atmosphere in GW2 will be much better than that in WoW. Even if the outfits tend to be extremely stylized in some circumstances.
i enjoy playing glitch. i honestly can’t even explain why. it has some recognizable elements of mmorpg like an auction but you don’t kill anything. you just learn how to make sandwiches, drinks, potions, furniture, and collect dolls and toys which you can trade or sell to other players. so mostly you collect materials to make stuff. the characters are cutesy sort boy or girl avatars but they can be made to look gender neutral or changed to look male or female at anytime.
i played WoW for 8 months a year or two ago but the large number of jerk players eventually made me become tired of it. i mean sheesh sorry accidentally rolled need on the mail armor for my priest cause i saw that it had high spirit and stamina bonuses. i will happily give it to a player that can use it. no need to berate me for making a mistake. so yeah i think many of the players in wow are lame. i never thought about many of the issues brought up in the article. i don’t think i would be able to notice stuff like that but when it is brought up you are kinda like oh yeah i never knew that thought of it that way.
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