Gamer culture is sexist against women? 27 replies

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Ðefiler

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12th April 2004

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#1 5 years ago

Most of us probably know Anita Sarkeesian, who wanted to research anti-female attitudes in games /misogyny. I thought the research was a bit shallow, as one can easily cherry-pick a lot of sexist things from games from an own point of view. Yes, women in games often are modelled to be beautiful, but are most male protagonists ugly then? A fat Superman? And for the cherry-picking, you could probably pick examples like that evil is always portrayed as male and present it as misandric.

Well, it turned out she was harrassed by 4chan and "gamers" so she's a victim now. In December, she was interviewed on TV:

So it turns out that every single woman is constantly getting death and rape threats when gaming. A particular problem they mentioned is Xbox Live. Oh... I thought it was plagued by anonymous 13-year-olds anyway.

I wonder do all these women play with nicks like "GamerGirl" if they're constantly being harrassed and how can someone draw so much attention? But I don't think sex-related slanders are only targeted towards women. There is being called a motherf', fag and hurensohn (I get called that every time I play CS). There's also a strong argument against using the word rape in games for describing a major victory, but I think that's not necessarily a reference to women. If you know what I mean.

It's just that the chat functions for games are just fast trash-talk done anonymously by bored players and kids. It's not like you're not flamed just because you're male. I also don't understand why it has to be taken so seriously, if there's bad behauvior I ignore the whole chat function and mute mics. I honestly don't know any forums where you would constantly get death threats. Are these girl gamers posting to 4chan?

"Dudebros are a bit more vile nowadays now that they are losing ground" I wonder if this forum is a 'dudebro' community? We have a few female members, but not as many as male so perhaps we are such. And this critique of mine can be again interpreted as another "hate campaign against women", instead of a critique towards opinions that I disagree with.

The claim is that the industry has changed for the worse. Well, the gaming industry works with market mechanisms. Developers thrive to make good and popular games, it's up to them. If a feminist disagrees with some game, there's no government agency to force the developer change the game. I'd still like to hear examples how the industry has turned for the worse, today's games are more diverse than ever before.

With all these arguments, it's just quite sad to see such artificial division between "girlgeeks" and "dudebros" fueled by hogwash. I never cared for the gender of people I play with. There is, however, a contradicting theory also that because there are fewer female gamers, girls are then treated well because of a phenomenon called seduction community.

This girl gamer thing and alleged misogynistic gaming culture are very hot topics now. I think the division looks even wider with current popular, somewhat radical feminist ideas and on the other hand young male social outcasting and genuine sexist (4chan-type) 'trolling'.

I've also read Skyrim being criticized for having a racist attitude towards the feline race in the game (Khajiit) who are travellers. The blogger was also worried about sexist and horny comments made by stewards. What next, Rome Total War 2 will be hated because it's portraying only men as soldiers and it shows racist values?

Oh jeez. I'm not even getting into that.




berm

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#2 5 years ago

A little bit of devil's advocate there? =p

#

Gamer culture isn't sexist, in a general sense. I've played a fair few MMOs and shooters and not often seen anyone laying into girls, and rarely heard of anyone doing it. But... I have seen it once or twice here and there, and I can easily see how women would get that impression and how, more generally, they'd be in for an abnormal amount of abuse as compared to men.

To my mind there are two main strands to this. An absence of consequences, arising from problems of trust and economy in the short-term lifespan of many games; and an inability on behalf of the rest of us to separate ourselves from those who actually are sexist and contribute to a more positive image of gaming culture.

Consequences The first point I'd raise – just coming off the video – is that these girl gamers are, I get the impression, looking at things like Xbox live. A major problem with such places is their ratio of mods to players is extremely lop-sided. To an extent it has to be – vast multinational companies rarely appoint some random person they barely know as a moderator. For obvious reasons – how much damage to their business could you do with 2-3 hours and the ability to ban players from the entire service? Forums have a much easier time of it – there are rarely more than a few thousand people who tend to be operating in a much more structured environment, where you can get a better idea of their character. Someone's been around for a couple of years on a forum you have a good idea of whether they're likely to go crazy, and if they do you can be on top of it in a few hours anyway. Someone's been around for a couple of years in a game and the game's finished its major run most of the time.

So that's one strand to it. How do you impose consequences on a few million people? If you can't then how do you address the fact that nice people generally don't speak out as much as arseholes, or have as big an effect when they do? You associate with forty people and one of them says they want to fuck you to death that one person's going to have a much bigger impact than the others.

Personally I think that finding a way to make the community moderate itself, having those tools in place, is going to be a very important strand - going forwards. I think they'll have to design some sort of moderation tools and hierarchies of trust so that we can start building up our characters in the same way we do forums and start farming out some of that work. Because the money's just not there to fund the number of mods they need as paid positions.

Defensiveness / separation The second strand, and sort of related to what I was saying about the community having to moderate itself is this: We all get tarred with the same brush as men. Just as all the women get tarred with the same brush as sandwich makers.

It's true that, to an extent, we all get a degree of abuse online. But you'd be amazed how little attention you have to attract in order to be in for a shitload of abuse. Even before I became a mod I had people saying they hoped people close to me died, stuff like that. A desire to discourage that behaviour is part of the reason I'm a mod.

To an extent I put myself forwards for it; it's part of the nature of having strong opinions and the power that brings. But women were never given much choice in the matter, they attract a degree of attention just by virtue of being women – so much in our evolutionary history tells us they're desirable as mates, and there's a measure of power in that. That power's a two-edged sword that they've never really been given the choice to put down.

The way Anita's been treated by some people is absolutely disgraceful. This sort of thing isn't okay, and people shouldn't have to put up with it. This is masculinity? You wouldn't want someone saying that to your mother or your sister. Hell, some of it you wouldn't want directed at yourself.

I think that's what causes a certain degree of flashback though. I've felt it myself – even watching the video – to say,

“I've never treated a girl like that, and no-one I know has to my knowledge either. Sure there are fringe cases but we're not all scum. Leave us alone.”

But, the more I think about it the more that seems to be because we recognise that it's not acceptable, and we don't all want to be tarred with the same brush. Most of us are guys, most of us game – but we're not like those scumsucking arseholes and we don't want the bro-culture to apply to us and make us seem like arseholes.

There's two ways of responding to that. We can either put it all on the women – they have to find a way of talking about this culture that doesn't hit us with the same crap as the arseholes. Or we have to find a way of distancing ourselves from these people.

#

I've a question – or set of questions – for you all, and I think the answer(s) is/(are) fairly revealing: Are you in this issue for the women/men, your side if you will; or for equality in general? If you could just make the women stop talking about this issue – without changing anything else about the culture we live in – would you?

If you believe in equality, what's your constructive take on this issue? What ought we to do about the arseholes; is there anything we can do?




Showd0wN

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#3 5 years ago
Gamer culture isn't sexist

Yes it is. And extremely so.

Not just in the minority's(?) behavior, but in the marketing, the behavior of the gaming industry as a whole, and the fact that any girl that calls themselves "GamerGirl" or similar gets immediately shit on for attention whoring, but "Sn1perB0y12" gets a free pass because who cares, he's guy right.

...




berm

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#4 5 years ago

Showd0wN;5678445Yes it is. And extremely so.

Not just in the minority's(?) behavior, but in the marketing, the behavior of the gaming industry as a whole, and the fact that any girl that calls themselves "GamerGirl" or similar gets immediately shit on for attention whoring, but "Sn1perB0y12" gets a free pass because who cares, he's guy right.

...

We're conflating ideas here. There's how gamers behave and how the media behaves.

Is the advertising the culture? When you get together with your friends is that how you behave? How many of us go to E3 for the booth babes; how severely have you seen the booth babes pushed in the content that you actually bother to watch?

How many people do you know who behave like that? If it was that prevalent I'd expect that we all know people who do.

It is the advertising. But how often have you really paid attention to advertising - and what grounds do you have to believe that others pay more attention than yourself? People have looked at advertising - using things like eyesight attention, and found that many of the preconceptions that go along with advertising just don't hold. A lot of advertising is wasted money - it's not there because it works, it's there because old men think it works and a culture of study and technology necessary for them to have the metrics to work out that it doesn't work just aren't there.

If I believed that advertising accurately reflected the attitudes of the majority, then I'd agree with you on this point. That's the flipping point here. I think advertising is good enough that it makes sense for companies to do it - in the hope of hitting on the one in however many that their product will interest with some particular approach without offending the rest who aren't interested enough to put them off it.

Edit: I suppose the recent Hitman Absolution trailers are a good example of this. Highly sexist of course. But did you make your decision as to whether to purchase the game on that basis? I didn't (though I start to think that perhaps I should have.) I made it on whether I thought it would be a good game or not. As it happens I still didn't buy - so even if they had offended me they wouldn't have lost something by doing so. But that's more or less how I think advertising works. Those who don't care for a particular approach don't not buy on that criteria - unless it's pushed to the exclusion of all else. I don't think those of us who aren't blatantly sexist are really offended that much on behalf of women.

Perhaps... and this is just a throwaway thought - I don't have any data to back it up... perhaps part of that has to do with an absence of an identity of masculinity as a duality with femininity. Many of us don't seem to have an idea of what it is to be manly; to have a feminine equal. Masculinity seems to be linked with violence a lot but how many men have an idea of what it is to be male?




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#5 5 years ago
Rikupsoni;5678429 I wonder do all these women play with nicks like "GamerGirl" if they're constantly being harrassed and how can someone draw some much attention?

You know, I just talked to my husband about this they other day. One thing I can't stand is seeing fellow gamer chicks showing off the fact that they are female. Either in their names or in Halo or CoD them putting [GIRL] as their clan tag. I'm not saying their name can't be girly in a sense, but overly showing it off is annoying to me. I only use LustyxChan on a few forums. My main user name (Also on PS3 and XBOX) is AdventPaine. I wouldn't say it's that girly at all.

Now, I really haven't been bullied on online gaming. Most reactions I get is "OH MY GOD ARE YOU A GIRL??!?!?!" or "Make me a sandwich woman!" And that doesn't even happen that much. But I also don't use my mic anymore unless I'm gaming with friends. But there has been a few times guys told me my balls haven't dropped yet, mistaking me for a little boy. Haha.

I have had trash talk thrown at me. But it's always about the game, never the fact that I'm female. Have I trashed talked? Sure I have!

I really don't like that video. They make it seem that gamer chicks are always getting picked on. That rarely happens! Even at all. At least not for me or my female friends that are gamers as well.




Ðefiler

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#6 5 years ago
LustyxChan;5678449You know, I just talked to my husband about this they other day. One thing I can't stand is seeing fellow gamer chicks showing off the fact that they are female. Either in their names or in Halo or CoD them putting [GIRL] as their clan tag. I'm not saying their name can't be girly in a sense, but overly showing it off is annoying to me. I only use LustyxChan on a few forums. My main user name (Also on PS3 and XBOX) is AdventPaine. I wouldn't say it's that girly at all.

Exactly. Certainly a girl in an environment that has mostly guys is going to draw some attention, especially if emphasized with such tags. I guess it's done because some girls want positive attention, I don't blame them. A lot of guys are nice to girl gamers just because they are girls too. That of course doesn't make harrassing OK, but it can explain how they can get so much attention.

Now, I really haven't been bullied on online gaming. Most reactions I get is "OH MY GOD ARE YOU A GIRL??!?!?!" or "Make me a sandwich woman!" And that doesn't even happen that much.

These sandwich jokes can give a very sexist impression, as they seem to be rather popular - and thus overused, boring jokes. That's like asking a Russian/Finn/Pole: "Have you been drinking vodka again, ha-ha?" No one should take offence from such dull gags, if a feminist is going to take offence it just means the people telling it will find it funny. That's how trolling works. Don't feed the troll.




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#7 5 years ago

Maybe because that their aren't enough female gamers other there, and probably also there are alot of female game images that "show a lot" and that they wouldn't wear on real life. Then again why would they wear that in real life.




Mr. Matt VIP Member

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#8 5 years ago

Can an industry which includes established features such as 'boob physics' and characters like Ivy in Soul Calibur really be considered 'sexist' towards women?

Certainly an argument could be made to that effect. With the likes of Lara Croft running around with 34GG triangular knockers (a phenomenon that I'm going to dub 'pyraboob') there's a definite aspect of teenage boy fantasy appeal to some games. In fantasy games, where male characters get solid steel armour, female characters receive protective attire that barely covers anything beyond nipples and lower orifices, while in anything with a more modern or futuristic bent women are often awarded skin-tight catsuits (Half-Life had an entire class of enemy devoted to this).

It doesn't help that writing in video games is often of low quality, and that those doing the writing tend to be males. Nerdy, neck-beardy males who may not necessarily have much experience with the opposite sex. While they may have a chance at writing a believable male character, their chances of writing a believable female character are low at best - and this is usually proven true.

To top it off, scantily-clad women - often of ridiculous proportions - are advertising fodder, designed to reel in dudes with hard-ons. The special edition for the latest instalment of Dead Island is the most recent culprit of this; it comes complete with the dismembered torso of a bikini-clad woman, removed of all her non-sexual vestiges and reduced to boobs and midriff, in a depressingly visceral example of the types of people our hobby attracts.

If you showed some of the things portrayed in the games we play without a care in the world to a non-gaming woman, the chances of you ever getting laid again would be slim to none. She'd think you batshit insane.

And then you have the community of gamers themselves. While official statistics suggest the average age of gamers these days to be somewhere north of the age of 25, in practice we tend to find young boys yelling derogatory comments at everybody with all the wit of a retarded panda. If you're a man, and you can best these churlish imps online, your sexual orientation is immediately called into question (which also brings homophobia into this debate, incidentally).

If you're a woman - and these devilish goblins find out - god help you. Maybe you could pick up one of these. It could be suggested that women who name themselves 'S3xyG4m3rCh1ck69' are asking for it, but I'd say that's about as flawed as suggesting that rape victims should have worn potato sacks. Particularly in a world where microphones are increasingly used in online games. Giving yourselves an attention-grabbing, sexually suggestive nickname may well be hurting the drive towards gender equality in games, and grabbing the wrong kind of attention, but that should be up to you.

When you have actual publishing houses excusing the lewd and derogatory behaviour of their own fans, you know there could well be a problem. And the people featured in that story are our ambassadors; they're the ones appearing in news headlines. Proud, much?

But all of this is only half of the truth. Things are getting better. There are more female leads in games these days who are believably written, who aren't jiggling boobs on legs designed for the titillation of 14 year olds, and who are allowed to be more than screaming victims to be saved by the male lead.

The first Mass Effect is one such example (although Bioware lost their equality trophy after the second and third games to some extent). Granted, female Shephard's excellence as a character is mostly accidental (Bioware simply transferred the lines and even walking animations from the male character onto the female one, meaning that aside from the voice actor, the - remarkably non-sexualised - model, and a different romance choice, the female character is fundamentally exactly the same) but that's one step closer to treating female characters in games a little better. Instead of treating the sexes as different species, treat them both as mere humans.

And Skyrim being accused of sexism is beyond wrong. The Elder Scrolls has traditionally treated women in a non-sexual, highly equal manner. Their armour is exactly the same as male armour. There appears to be little sexual discrimination in Tamriel, with women just as eager - and able - to pick up a battleaxe and go adventuring as men. The second-in-command of the Imperial Legion in Skyrim is a woman, for crying out loud, and she wears functional steel armour that leaves everything to the imagination. And even in those instances where female characters could be considered to be wearing revealing clothes - a couple of barmaids, for example - it's period-appropriate and makes sense in the context of their jobs. And the most revealing item of clothing in Skyrim is hardly slutty.

There are more positive portrayals of women in games these days than there have ever been before, and it seems to be improving.

More importantly, I'd say our community as a whole is changing. There are more women than ever before playing video games. Fewer male gamers than ever before are young virgins who have been repeatedly rejected by women. And our average age is increasing. Our own community here at FileFront generally doesn't bat an eyelid when a woman posts here - LustyxChan, someone who we know to have internal plumbing, just posted above me and nobody told her to get back in the kitchen. In the old days, Kerian would have been after naked pictures of her. Nowadays, we just don't really care.

And I've encountered women online while gaming. I've heard their voices, they're clearly women, and I rarely hear any abuse levelled against them. I'm sure they get some, at some point, but I've not heard it.

Mainstream, AAA games are still aimed primarily at men, but they are slowly getting more mature and less obnoxious. And as more women join our hobby, as in the real world, less sexism will occur.

There'll always be some, though. Young men, as a species, are twats. But rest assured, it's not just women they're demeaning - they're equal-opportunity haters. And it's not just gamers either.




Freyr VIP Member

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#9 5 years ago

Knowing a couple of girl gamers (IRL), then I would say that (FPS) gamer culture is sexist against women.

One told me once that she walked into an IRL lan gaming centre, and all discussion promptly stopped and everybody stated at her and the (female) friend that she came with, a chap then came over to ask if she was lost and everybody was extremely shocked to make the astounding discovery that she was actually in a lan gaming centre to play games.

I'm going to blame that on the fact that it was an FPS crowd though. I don't agree with the premise that there is one singular gamer culture. If you compare the community of the average FPS game to the average RTS game, there is little comparison.




Ðefiler

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#10 5 years ago

What I meant with 'sexist' in thread title is discrimination. Not just every difference between guys and women that happens to exist in the game world. Sexism seems to be very subjective view, as far as I believe there's pretty much no reason treat women and men as grey mass either. Most gamers are guys, and it's going to affect things. Just like the coffee table discussions are different with nurses and engineers. Girls have free will, and even if Xbox Live douches didn't exist, it's unlikely as many would be interested in video games as guys.

Mr. Matt;5678478Can an industry which includes established features such as 'boob physics' and characters like Ivy in Soul Calibur really be considered 'sexist' towards women?

Certainly an argument could be made to that effect. With the likes of Lara Croft running around with 34GG triangular knockers (a phenomenon that I'm going to dub 'pyraboob') there's a definite aspect of teenage boy fantasy appeal to some games.[/QUOTE]

It's true that Lara Croft is breast fetishization. But what about other things? There are no other sexualizing themes in the games. She's an independent action hero, an intelligent archaeologist. She just has big boobs, which is too bad I guess.

It's hard to regard that genre as a monolith. A big part of the large breast thing is from Japan as with Soul Calibur you mentioned, and the industry and general culture is a lot different there. I believe such characteristics are also important in many anime series. But those kind of games are not really that popular. People rather play Tekken than the boob physics game Dead or Alive. I think those games always have been somewhat ridiculed by most game magazines. But if some people want boob games and pay for them, I don't see anything wrong in some developer doing such a game.

We could list countless of games in which women do not have large breats or are not especially sexy. Anyway, last time I checked there are women with big knockers in real life too, so perhaps it is not exactly travesty if some characters have such too.

[QUOTE=Freyr;5678479]Knowing a couple of girl gamers (IRL), then I would say that (FPS) gamer culture is sexist against women.

One told me once that she walked into an IRL lan gaming centre, and all discussion promptly stopped and everybody stated at her and the (female) friend that she came with, a chap then came over to ask if she was lost and everybody was extremely shocked to make the astounding discovery that she was actually in a lan gaming centre to play games.

Yeah, some LANs are filled with douchebags and others are not.Many large LANs that have been going on for long have had bunch of women for years and there's nothing special in that. FPS games have had the worst communities since always (especially CS and COD), while more 'boring' games have a different atmosphere. It was interesting to play the IL2 Sturmovik simulator, where a certain community probably had an average age of +35.