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The ugly backlash to feminist-geek critiques
June 13, 2012 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Dear The Internet, This Is Why You Can't Have Anything Nice

Anita Sarkeesian, previously on MetaFilter. PC gaming blog Rock Paper Shotgun addresses gamers here.
posted by Tevin (372 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite

 
Holy living fuck.

I'm glad she's going ahead with the project regardless of the crazies, but seriously, wow. It's like the entire oeuvre of Fat, Ugly or Slutty rolled up into one.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:57 AM on June 13, 2012 [12 favorites]


Ugh, my stupid fucking gender, seriously.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:58 AM on June 13, 2012 [43 favorites]


I follow her on Twitter and my heart breaks for her.
posted by k8t at 8:59 AM on June 13, 2012


When I saw this yesterday it disturbed me, but it had the silver lining of making me aware of her (I had previously not been).

Check out her kickstarter. I donated.
posted by kdar at 8:59 AM on June 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


Surely these people have mothers.
posted by gauche at 8:59 AM on June 13, 2012 [23 favorites]


What is up with people that they would behave like this? I mean, in a million years, there isn't a part of my brain which would imagine that this is a way one should react. As in, until I read this article, it was literally inconceivable to me that such a response would exist.

Fuck, people are horrible. Can we just have global warming happen now, like in a week, and wipe us all out? I'd rather see us all die than have this kind of thing continue by a subset of us.
posted by hippybear at 9:00 AM on June 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


On the other hand, her Kickstarter project:

Original goal: $5,000
Currently pledged: $93,655

So, not everyone on the internet is evil.
posted by gwint at 9:01 AM on June 13, 2012 [59 favorites]


This reaction tends to add weight to her argument, I imagine, and probably to her resolve. Good for her: gamer culture looks really bad thanks to "people" like this, and someone needs to turn on the light and send the cockroaches scatttering.

Also, I would like a "Bastard Klaxon" on my bicycle.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:01 AM on June 13, 2012 [15 favorites]


Makes me ashamed to be a gamer.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:03 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Surely these people have mothers.

Many simple creatures reproduce asexually.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:03 AM on June 13, 2012 [73 favorites]


I'd rather see us all die than have this kind of thing continue by a subset of us.

That seems reasonable
posted by Hoopo at 9:04 AM on June 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


hippybear "What is up with people that they would behave like this? I mean, in a million years, there isn't a part of my brain which would imagine that this is a way one should react. As in, until I read this article, it was literally inconceivable to me that such a response would exist."

The hatred, as awful as it is, makes sense. I mean, it's blind and horrible but comprehensible. Horrible people have been around forever and will continue to say horrible things.

What I DON'T understand is the folks who hedge the awfulness with talk like, 'Well, it's terrible people said these but c'mon, this is a male industry! What does she expect?!"

That shit I can't wrap my mind around. It just can't be justified.
posted by Tevin at 9:04 AM on June 13, 2012 [21 favorites]


Ugh. I hadn't heard about this.

WTF gamers. I shouldn't be surprised, but I always am.

Of course, it doesn't help when gaming companies pull shit like this:
Lara Croft attempted rape will make Tomb Raider players want to "protect" her.

FUCK YOU VERY MUCH Crystal Dynamics and Square/Eidos. Fuck. You.
posted by kmz at 9:08 AM on June 13, 2012 [22 favorites]


From the New Statesman post: The second reason this story deserves wider attention is that in Britain, a law is being debated which will encourage service providers to identify internet trolls, without their victims having to resort to costly legal action.

I support the ability to speak anonymously for several reasons, but I also support the idea of this law. Anonymity should protect the speaker against coercion due to her/his views. It shouldn't protect predatory behavior and harassment.
posted by audi alteram partem at 9:10 AM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Related: Anita Sarkeesian, Video Game Rape Culture, and Why Online Harassment Is Not a Joke
posted by zombieflanders at 9:10 AM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Anonymity should protect the speaker against coercion due to her/his views. It shouldn't protect predatory behavior and harassment.

The problem being that when somebody wants to apply coercion to anonymous speech because they don't like the viewpoint, they only need to claim "predatory behavior and harassment" and the speech goes away, even if the claim is utterly baseless.

Legal system status: borked.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:13 AM on June 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


I have a question, for those who are more knowledgeable about Kickstarter than I. This person was trying to raise $6k, now she's got nearly $100k. So... is she just going to get a huge check? Or, more accurately, a normal sized check for a huge amount of money?
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:15 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think it gets deposited into her Amazon Payments account instead of coming in physical check form, but otherwise, yeah.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:16 AM on June 13, 2012


Surely these people have mothers.
Sure.
And they regularly post their pictures in /r/
posted by Thorzdad at 9:17 AM on June 13, 2012


WTF gamers.

At least according to the main article, it's more "WTF 4chan" than anything else.
posted by inigo2 at 9:18 AM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Being targeted by degenerate trolls is awful and all, but I wonder how many more stretch goals she made because of the buzz the misogynist vitriol being slung at her created.

I'm not accusing her of troll baiting for funds at all, just saying that terrible people being terrible on the internet are legion. Cut it out, terrible people.
posted by cirrostratus at 9:18 AM on June 13, 2012


they only need to claim "predatory behavior and harassment" and the speech goes away, even if the claim is utterly baseless.

The definition of harassment, like the definition of most abstract terms, will be contested. That it is difficult to agree on a definition or that a legal procedure can be abused to quash legitimate speech are not sufficient reasons to abandon the attempt to fashion better procedures to deal with online harassment.
posted by audi alteram partem at 9:19 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just sent this to my friend, a (female) community manager for a rather tame MMORPG.

Friend: Oh yeah, been tracking that for days

Madamina: People are so great, aren't they?

Friend: yeah
Friend: And of course 75% of male commenters who are well-meaning end up saying things like "well feminism is dumb and I don't like her points and this is just trolling so she should ignore it"

Madamina: "I know girls and they never have problems so it must be because this girl is a bitch"

Friend: "my wife says I'm not sexist"
Friend: "men get portrayed badly in games too and no one complains"

Madamina: "maybe if she knew what she was talking about and didn't try to do raids when she doesn't know what she's doing"

Friend: "she's just doing it for attention"
Friend: "I don't see how anyone is surprised by this"

Madamina: "I know her and she's a dumb c***"

Friend: "Welcome to the internet"

Madamina: "I bet she's just provoking people to see what happens"

Friend: "All the attention she's gotten for her project is the silver lining"

Madamina: "She's not a real gamer"

The fact that it took us a grand total of three minutes to come up with this crap, while doing other things... blecch.
posted by Madamina at 9:19 AM on June 13, 2012 [42 favorites]


hippybear: "What is up with people that they would behave like this?"

This goes well beyond The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory to a point where this level of discourse and interpersonal relations are the norm for this generation of "never known the world before the Internet" folk. It doesn't bode well to think that these people will be running the world and taking responsibility for my health and well-being in years to come. Professor Farnsworth has it right...
posted by benzo8 at 9:20 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jesus fucking christ, I wish I did not know that this slice of pathetic angry gamer kids actually existed.
posted by Theta States at 9:22 AM on June 13, 2012


Wow. Well. Yes, gamers can be shits, but more than the general population? My guess is that a lot of these trolls are simply people with disgusting, misogynist views who look for any place to put them. And once it picks up steam it pulls in more and more of them from their lonely, disgusting little corners of the internet.
posted by Glinn at 9:23 AM on June 13, 2012


Everything I've ever heard about online gaming, even from friends of mine who enjoy it, makes me not at all worried about not participating.
posted by Legomancer at 9:23 AM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, and though it probably won't be a problem for such projects ($5,000 strikes me as being a little bit low for something like this, so it should be pretty nice for her), some Kickstarter projects that get a huge influx of money can sometimes blow up in the the project creator's face.

Look at the Pen Type A update posts - a project which I originally funded but then got out of. They received over $200k in funding - 100x+ than their goal - and now some people probably won't be getting their pen(s) for up to a year after the project was successfully funded. [/tangent]

At least some good can come out of this debacle.
posted by quinlan at 9:24 AM on June 13, 2012


Sarkeesian's put up an archive of some of the worst harassment up on her blog. It's truly mindboggling.
posted by Phire at 9:24 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


What is up with people that they would behave like this? I mean, in a million years, there isn't a part of my brain which would imagine that this is a way one should react.

I don't know if it makes it more depressing or less depressing, but in my experience at least this is almost entirely a "adolescent boy culture" thing rather than a "gamer culture" thing. If you play video games primarily with adults these kinds of problems of harassment almost entirely disappear, whereas if you play video games with young kids it's a huge endemic problem.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:24 AM on June 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Delicious irony: assholism ends up boosting the media exposure and funding of the project. Sort of a self-funding cycle. Good job, trolls, whatever you were trying to accomplish.
posted by crapmatic at 9:25 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


This person was trying to raise $6k, now she's got nearly $100k. So... is she just going to get a huge check?

Yes, although if you check out the Kickstarter page, she had already announced various additions to the project as the funding made its way up to $26k, including a classroom curriculum. I imagine she'll come up with more stuff to add to the project, although as a backer I wouldn't care if she just pocketed it or, frankly, spent it on her own security.

Being targeted by degenerate trolls is awful and all, but I wonder how many more stretch goals she made because of the buzz the misogynist vitriol being slung at her created.

None, actually. All of the defined stretch goals (so far) had been reached before she started talking about the harassment campaign.

they only need to claim "predatory behavior and harassment" and the speech goes away, even if the claim is utterly baseless.

In the US at least the speech would have to amount to an incitement to 'imminent lawless action,' which is a fairly well-defined high bar under the First Amendment.
posted by jedicus at 9:25 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Every day I am more and more okay with the thought of the human race being largely annihilated by space aliens.
posted by elizardbits at 9:25 AM on June 13, 2012 [17 favorites]


god damn it. you know, I've spent a lot of time in my life trying to defend video games, as a general medium of expression. And when people like this do things like this it's always easy to say "yeah, those people are fucking shit. but they're not representative of video games as a whole. they're just these 4chan shitbags who ruin everything."

but there's one thing I find increasingly hard to ignore, dismiss or otherwise minimise:

these guys want video games where women are objectified decoration, vapid 2 dimensional standins for a generalized fictional sexuality. and they get them. It's a lot easier to find games these guys like than find games these guys fucking hate. and I want to say "hey, games industry! please stop giving these homunculoid turds what they want!" but it won't work. there are plenty of games with reasonable and grown up depictions of women in them, and thank god for them. but there will always be AAA blockbuster games that pander to these freaks the same way that hollywood movies do.

All I know is that I hope people like Anita Sarkeesian keep doing what they do. It's because of people like her speaking up that people like Jonathan Blow, Tim Frazier and others make games with better characters than that.
posted by shmegegge at 9:26 AM on June 13, 2012 [18 favorites]


if you play video games with young kids it's a huge endemic problem

Big enough than any random hour long session on Xbox/Playstation is likely to encounter it. It's horrific out there, really.
posted by Hobo at 9:26 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm beginning to think Marty was right.
posted by kmz at 9:27 AM on June 13, 2012


elizardbits, we know you're secretly plotting a robot revolution. All this alien talk is just part of the coverup.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:28 AM on June 13, 2012


benzo8: This goes well beyond The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory to a point where this level of discourse and interpersonal relations are the norm for this generation of "never known the world before the Internet" folk. It doesn't bode well to think that these people will be running the world and taking responsibility for my health and well-being in years to come.

Perhaps I'm naive, or optimistic, but I don't think that many internet trolls currently or will ever control much of the world. I doubt that the population of internet trolls is a representative of humanity on the whole, but rather angry dudes, or guys who enjoy making rude noises from the privacy of their computers.

Worse, it seems that the more attention a clusterfuck of trolls gets, the louder and more obnoxious they become. "You thought that was a fucked up thing to write? Just wait until my next YouTube comment!"
posted by filthy light thief at 9:28 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ha! Take that videogames! Comics don't look the worst for once!

/looks at Carwoman #0

Oh never mind.
posted by Artw at 9:28 AM on June 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


"i prefer to hit my balls TWICE with a HAMMER than going out on a DATE with you ."

I bet she would also prefer you do that.
posted by modernserf at 9:29 AM on June 13, 2012 [53 favorites]


elizardbits: Thanks for selling us out to the Engineers, traitor!
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:29 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


the man of twists and turns: "Surely these people have mothers.

Many simple creatures reproduce asexually.
"

FOREVER ALONE
posted by symbioid at 9:29 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Lara Croft attempted rape will make Tomb Raider players want to "protect" her.

For this kind of depends on what your problem is with the idea. I agree that the rape piece is really not needed and over the line but that's because I always want to protect my game characters regardless of their gender. To me, feeling protective of my character, be it Batman, Alistair, Ezio, Mario, Solid Snake, or whoever just means that the developer is doing it right and made me care a little bit about the character. I suppose more accurately, it makes me want to use my control of the character to make the character protect themselves.
posted by VTX at 9:29 AM on June 13, 2012


Artw /looks at Carwoman #0

Ugh, is that a typo or is that whole other sexist comic besides CaTwoman I don't know about?!
posted by Tevin at 9:29 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


What is up with people that they would behave like this?

They hate women. Or they love privilege. Either way.

I'd really like it to be more complicated than that, but I can't honestly say that anything I've seen suggests it is.

A lot of them, I'd be willing to wager, claim they don't hate women, and in fact probably believe deep down that they don't hate women. But then they see someone dare to suggest that maybe sexism exists, or at the very least is worth a deeper look, and then they experience this nasty visceral reaction to that, an internal pushback basically, and then they make up a lot of post hoc arguments to try to maintain the status quo where women don't say things that make them uncomfortable and they don't have to think about why those things make them uncomfortable.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:30 AM on June 13, 2012 [35 favorites]


This goes well beyond The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory to a point where this level of discourse and interpersonal relations are the norm for this generation of "never known the world before the Internet" folk. It doesn't bode well to think that these people will be running the world and taking responsibility for my health and well-being in years to come.

The irony is that there are tons of sites out there -- including nearly every newspaper's desperate attempt to get in on this whole newfangled social media fad -- where the "adults" out there are setting a tone that is even worse. I don't draw a line between what people say and do online and what they say and do in real life, but at least some of us can delude ourselves that smack talking about WoW is harmless because it's about a game. Not so with just about everything "discussed" on news sites, large and small.

I recall the 2000 election season, when I was campaigning for Al Gore and attempted to promote an upcoming rally outside a Big Ten football game. In one of the most liberal cities in the country, no less. It wasn't the kids that were the problem. Their asshole parents and uncles and grandparents came up to me -- silent, holding a sign saying, "Come see Al Gore!" -- and said, "I hope he comes in a convertible, so I can get a clear shot.

So no, it's not just the Internet Generation. Not even remotely.
posted by Madamina at 9:30 AM on June 13, 2012 [18 favorites]


If there was a Carwoman it would probably be awful also. Everything is awful right now.
posted by Artw at 9:31 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I signed in to this puppet to make some wry comment, but it's all just kind of sad altogether.
posted by Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory at 9:33 AM on June 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


Who ever said that gaming culture can't take criticism.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:33 AM on June 13, 2012


A lot of them, I'd be willing to wager, claim they don't hate women, and in fact probably believe deep down that they don't hate women.

I think it's also that they are deeply, viscerally afraid of anything upsetting their status quo. Anything even vaguely bordering on the hated SCARY FEMINISM is shouted down in the most violent, revolting way possible, because in their mind women vaguely alluding to the thought of the barest sense of equality = women getting to treat men how they themselves think women should be treated.

Also a lot of them seem to think that obese hairy lesbians want to rape them with dildos, which, seriously, idek.
posted by elizardbits at 9:35 AM on June 13, 2012 [15 favorites]


AWww man, I wanna read Carwoman #0, that sounds oddly sexy.
posted by Theta States at 9:35 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the US at least the speech would have to amount to an incitement to 'imminent lawless action,' which is a fairly well-defined high bar under the First Amendment.

True, and some states also have measures that penalize plaintiffs who bring baseless speech suits. They're not always consistently applied, but they're good and level the playing field when people try to abuse the courts. Problem is, this is a British law.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:36 AM on June 13, 2012


Why the holy fuck is youtube not spending a moment policing this shit. Oh, we at Google don't do evil, we just provide the perfect platform for it.
posted by angrycat at 9:36 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Theta States, I'm imagining a horrifically sexualized version of Pixar's Cars... can't unthink ...
posted by Tevin at 9:38 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Why the holy fuck is youtube not spending a moment policing this shit. Oh, we at Google don't do evil, we just provide the perfect platform for it."

I'm all for free speech but you're absolutely correct. I think the line is pretty clearly 'physical threats.'
posted by Tevin at 9:38 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


where the "adults" out there are setting a tone that is even worse

Yeah, and then there's the whole situation where many sites with unmoderated commenting decided to only use facebook logins in some tragicomically optimistic attempt at circumventing the most egregious trolling. Instead, we have millions of people who are completely willing to attach their real names, locations, occupations, friends, family, etc to their hate-filled views.
posted by elizardbits at 9:38 AM on June 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


Oh, we at Google don't do evil, we just provide the perfect platform for it.

Dammit Google! You censor Chinese internets, and that makes you worse than Hitler. You don't censor American internets, and that makes you three times as bad as a double-Hitler! GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER
posted by FatherDagon at 9:39 AM on June 13, 2012 [13 favorites]


Lara Croft attempted rape will make Tomb Raider players want to "protect" her.

For this kind of depends on what your problem is with the idea. I agree that the rape piece is really not needed and over the line but that's because I always want to protect my game characters regardless of their gender.


Yeah, but you'll notice they don't have Nathan Drake getting raped so you'll want to protect him.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 9:40 AM on June 13, 2012 [28 favorites]


I support the ability to speak anonymously for several reasons, but I also support the idea of this law. Anonymity should protect the speaker against coercion due to her/his views. It shouldn't protect predatory behavior and harassment.

I think anonymity is to a large extent unfairly cast as a scapegoat for more fundamental problems about interacting with random strangers. People who say shitty things to each other will do it on Facebook or XBox Live or YouTube or whatever method they end up using regardless of how anonymous or pseudo-anonymous they are. The problem is less that you don't know that the one calling everyone fags online is a 16 year old named Ethan Smith from Nebraska, and more that most message boards/game servers/whatever don't spend enough time banning people like that from interacting with you on those services.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:40 AM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]




I think anonymity is to a large extent unfairly cast as a scapegoat for more fundamental problems about interacting with random strangers.


It's also possible that they're just sexist assholes.

Anonymity hasn't turned me into a sexist asshole yet, why would I assume that be a reasonable excuse for anyone else around me? We're not all evil bastards just waiting for a medium to express it through, as the attacks on anonymity seem to assume.

We need to deal with hate and misogyny, not try to hide them under the rug or train people to be more tactful about their stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid opinions. ;)
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:44 AM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think it's also that they are deeply, viscerally afraid of anything upsetting their status quo.

It's the core premise of conservatism, globally, drives a staggering percentage of news-media coverage across all delivery mechanisms, and is probably best thought of as an intrinsic characteristic of a large chunk of humanity on the whole.

On the plus side, it's profoundly easy to manipulate.

That counts as a plus, sort of, if you look at the right way, while squinting. It might help to clench and unclench your jaw and/or fists, while squinting. Hyperventilating may also help.
posted by aramaic at 9:44 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but you'll notice they don't have Nathan Drake getting raped so you'll want to protect him.

Right, that's what I'm saying. The rape thing is the only way they want to make the player feel protective of the character. Some people have a problem with that in addition to the rape.
posted by VTX at 9:45 AM on June 13, 2012


Yuck. The more I see this, the more I want to sign on to elizardbits' robot program.
posted by arcticseal at 9:45 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Instead, we have millions of people who are completely willing to attach their real names, locations, occupations, friends, family, etc to their hate-filled views.

Philly.com has started to do this for some articles and frankly a good 65% of the comments are an inspiration to flee the state. It is an incentive to live a boring life free of newspaper profiles or public photographs, which is a crying shame.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:46 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


This reaction is part of the reason I'm so very frustrated as a gamer right now. I finally got around to play Mass Effect 3 after months of putting it off to finish up school stuff. I've been plowing through the game and enjoying the hell out of myself until this last weekend when I realized that in order to get the "best" ending I have to play both the online multiplayer version and the singleplayer version.*

I've been a gamer for decades and I absolutely detest having to play online with strangers. Partially because it forces me to play my video games in a different way, but mainly because I don't enjoy getting called a cunt by 14 year old boys because I missed a shot. I've noticed that an increasing number of the really awesome games are forcing players to go the multiplayer route in order to have the "complete" experience, and I've also noticed that it just means that I don't finish that game and I walk away from it and never buy anymore in the series.

As much as I love gaming, gamers as a large group suck. And the sexual harassment you have to deal with online is one of the many reasons why I never play online versions of my games.

*I did find an iPad app that will let me accumulate the necessary points without dealing with snotty assholes in the online game, so I'm back to saving the world.
posted by teleri025 at 9:46 AM on June 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


arcticseal: "Yuck. The more I see this, the more I want to sign on to elizardbits' robot program."

We need to fire up a kickstarter for it!
posted by symbioid at 9:48 AM on June 13, 2012


For this kind of depends on what your problem is with the idea. I agree that the rape piece is really not needed and over the line but that's because I always want to protect my game characters regardless of their gender. To me, feeling protective of my character, be it Batman, Alistair, Ezio, Mario, Solid Snake, or whoever just means that the developer is doing it right and made me care a little bit about the character. I suppose more accurately, it makes me want to use my control of the character to make the character protect themselves.

See, that's the difference. With Batman or Ezio or Snake or any of the male protagonists dominating the landscape, game designers understand that it's enough to put you in their shoes, give you one or two reasons to give a shit about this character, and then let you do the rest: you want them to succeed in their goals, or more to the point, you're playing as them and you want to succeed in your goals.

But that desire to protect them, it's never patriarchal the way it's being presented with Lara. As you're taking on a role, you want to protect, say, Ezio because you are Ezio and you want to protect yourself. You never look at him and think, gosh that poor dude, I better take care of him.* Even in the early parts of the game when he's younger and weaker and less able to defend himself, you never think of Ezio the way you'd think of a little brother you want to protect from harm (or at least, most people don't seem to think this way). So it's just a little weird that the developers felt like they needed to point out that they did this so you'd want to protect Lara, since that's not something they ever need to specify for male characters. No one ever says, "We made it so Batman can die so that you'll want to try to make sure Batman succeeds and doesn't die." If it's a given for a male protagonist, why isn't it a given for a woman?

And the other thing, of course, is: Why isn't it enough to want Lara to not get killed? Or to want to see her escape bad situations and solve the puzzles and beat the bad guys and, you know, succeed like any other character? Why does she need to deal with the threat of rape, too? Or, why don't male characters, even FPS characters in warzones where shit like that happens?

*The one exception I can think of is the original Mega Man. It was some combination of the brutal difficulty, frequent deaths, and the blank, Buster Keaton-esque poker face that Mega Man has - it made me start feeling really sorry for the guy and trying to succeed so that I could do my part to try to prevent his day from getting any shittier. Even then, that all was enough to make me feel that way, without needing Elec Man to threaten to rape you with his robot dick.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:49 AM on June 13, 2012 [29 favorites]


god damn it. you know, I've spent a lot of time in my life trying to defend video games, as a general medium of expression. And when people like this do things like this it's always easy to say "yeah, those people are fucking shit. but they're not representative of video games as a whole. they're just these 4chan shitbags who ruin everything."

What is the problem exactly ?

I can like Led Zeppelin without thinking that destroying hotel rooms and banging groupies is cool.

I can like hip-hop without thinking ThugLife is any way to live.

I can like offroading my truck without having to buy into BRAAAAAAP! culture.

You can like the things you like. You need special dispensation because others who like what you like are dipshits.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:49 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


> A lot of them, I'd be willing to wager, claim they don't hate women, and in fact probably believe deep down that they don't hate women.

A lot of men believe in equality for women in theory. In practice, not so much.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:49 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


symbioid A Kickstart to World's End sounds like this summer's quirky, breakout-indie hit.
posted by Tevin at 9:50 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


People being assholes on the Internet is one thing. I defend their right to say stupid shit. "Sammich" jokes say more about them than about her. But tangible threats to her or her children? Is that being investigated as a crime? It ought to be.
posted by tyllwin at 9:51 AM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]



As much as I love gaming, gamers as a large group suck. And the sexual harassment you have to deal with online is one of the many reasons why I never play online versions of my games.


It seems to be a lot less prevalent in games designed for a broader audience. I spent a year with my head buried in World of Warcraft and it wasn't anything compared to say, Halo. I'm not saying it's perfect, but it seemed to be a much more stable cross section of humanity.

There is a really weird streak of conservative entitlement in gaming culture though, and every once in a while it pours it in this shit, as with Hepler. It's horrifying, and I think that gamers as a group need to look really hard and long at their communities and the things around them.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:51 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have never ever heard a developer say they want players to feel "protective" of a male protagonist character. When you're Nathan Drake, when you're Batman, when you're Ezio, you are the badass. All of a sudden Lara Croft is now somebody that you have to protect as some kind of benevolent god or something. The quotes from that interview are all just nauseatingly condescending and paternal. Why can't people project themselves into Lara Croft? Or is it code for male gamers (the only demographic we care about) can't project themselves into Lara Croft's character? Which is something I would still dispute.
posted by kmz at 9:51 AM on June 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


I've been a gamer for decades and I absolutely detest having to play online with strangers.

It actually seems kind of astounding to me that no one has developed a voice box modulator thingy that can be easily used with any online gaming platform. (one might exist, i admit i have not bothered to use the googler.)
posted by elizardbits at 9:54 AM on June 13, 2012


This may not be the most revolutionary hypothesis (and it is vaguely stereotypical), but I'd be willing to bet that a fair number of frequent gamers (ie, people who play at least a few hours a day) would much rather be out on dates but are poorly socialized. In other words, when it comes to taking a polling sample of the male gender, we're kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel here.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 9:54 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't have a problem with stupid 2D fanservice per se, more with the fact that Dead or Alive-type character design is considered Standard Operating Procedure.
posted by LogicalDash at 9:54 AM on June 13, 2012


Society:

.
posted by Fizz at 9:56 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


You never look at him and think, gosh that poor dude, I better take care of him.

Really? I do, I guess I always thought that most other people did too.
posted by VTX at 9:57 AM on June 13, 2012



A lot of men believe in equality for women in theory. In practice, not so much.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:49 AM on June 13 [+] [!]


Yeah, well that's why women need to lead the women's rights movements, and why patrimonial men are not helping, despite their best wishes. It's all about empowering women.

We need more women working in video game industries, and not just working in it, but with enough freedom to actually affect the games. There need to be voices inside these companies that say, "hey, maybe a rape scene is a really bad way to garner sympathy." Right now most mainstream games are being pumped out by companies like EA that are extremely large, extremely heirarchical, and have their decisions motivated entirely by profit, under that model even if half of your developers and writers are women, there's no guarantee that there won't be a strong top down push for whatever sells copy.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:57 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


FAMOUS MONSTER:
"But that desire to protect them, it's never patriarchal the way it's being presented with Lara. As you're taking on a role, you want to protect, say, Ezio because you are Ezio and you want to protect yourself."
Yeah, that seemed weird to me, too. If you're playing Tomb Raider, you ARE Laura Croft. It isn't a problem that women gamers need to be Batman, so why not the other way around?
posted by charred husk at 9:58 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Internet Jimmies Status:
[x] Rustled
[ ] Unrustled
Ugh. This sort of massive negative reaction is exactly what they're looking for. "Feminist women" and their allies getting hysterical? This is comedy fucking gold to them. And reacting to them just renews the fight on their side. Your opponent in this philosophical battle is someone that has near unlimited time and technical skill, a warped view on females and no sense of shame. You aren't going to beat them using any sort of reason or logic. Haters gonna hate and all that shit.

Quietly have Youtube clean up the shit, disable comments for a little while if you have to and work with other providers to sanitize your own soapboxes. Keep articles about the topic positive and on topic instead of adversarial and teaching the controversy. They'll eventually get bored if they don't get a rise out of you. Let them scream about how much she's an fat ugly skank on /v/ all they want and just rofl at them getting madder and madder about it instead.

Better people have fought this arms race and lost. They'll drag you down to their level of sleaze and idiocy and then proceed to beat you with experience.
posted by Talez at 9:58 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not clear that "This is such bullshit, there is no sexism in video games, go get raped and die" is a hugely convincing argument. And yet there it is, over and over.

I also donated to her kickstarter just because this whole story pissed me off.
posted by jeather at 9:59 AM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


VTX,Really? I do, I guess I always thought that most other people did too

A good example of this is Bastion. I feel genuinely protective of the Kid, and dammit, I want to help the little guy out. And this is a character who starts the game with a giant hammer. He didn't need to be raped by a Windbag for me to feel that way.
posted by Tevin at 9:59 AM on June 13, 2012


I admit, I had a knee-jerk initial reaction to Sarkeesian's plan, and I'm not proud of it. I thought, "Well, gee, if she doesn't like the state of video games, why doesn't she raise money to produce better games instead of making a documentary complaining about them?"

And then I read the whole story.

And then I donated to her Kickstarter.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:00 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ugh. This sort of massive negative reaction is exactly what they're looking for. "Feminist women" and their allies getting hysterical?

Who you callin' hysterical?
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:01 AM on June 13, 2012 [13 favorites]


This may not be the most revolutionary hypothesis (and it is vaguely stereotypical), but I'd be willing to bet that a fair number of frequent gamers (ie, people who play at least a few hours a day) would much rather be out on dates but are poorly socialized. In other words, when it comes to taking a polling sample of the male gender, we're kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel here.

Well trolled, sir.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:01 AM on June 13, 2012


Talez, you're assuming that this is just human nature at work, and that there's not a systemic problem that needs to be corrected here. That's where we disagree, and where our approaches will differ.

Live and let live is also a relatively privileged perspective, I'd imagine that it's much less appealing if you're a woman trying to participate in gaming culture, or the target of the threats and hate.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:01 AM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Strangely good to see my misanthropy echoed here today (links to comments by hippybear, elizardbits, arcticseal). Just want to add, before 4chan this level of hate was prevalent on Usenet. I've actually seen serious and scary years-long harassment situation there that ended in a court case with a large damages award in the decision.

As to Sarkeesian, good for her on the dollars, but this abuse must be really hard to take.
posted by Listener at 10:02 AM on June 13, 2012


LogicalDash:
"I don't have a problem with stupid 2D fanservice per se, more with the fact that Dead or Alive-type character design is considered Standard Operating Procedure."
As I told my wife while playing Soul Calibur, if they'd have spent the time on multi-player modes that they spent on boob physics, I'd be a happy camper.
posted by charred husk at 10:02 AM on June 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


Talez "You aren't going to beat them using any sort of reason or logic. Haters gonna hate and all that shit."

You're absolutely right. Personally, I care not one fuck about the little turds who are making the primary threats. MY BEEF is with the 'second tier' of gamers, the ones who say, 'This is horrible BUT..."

There. Is. No. But. It's inexcusable. Sexism in gaming is a thing. Grow a spine, and stop supporting it.
posted by Tevin at 10:03 AM on June 13, 2012 [29 favorites]


It actually seems kind of astounding to me that no one has developed a voice box modulator thingy that can be easily used with any online gaming platform.

I'm sure they have, but I shouldn't have to hide the fact that I'm a girl. In the early years of online gaming, you could just go with a gender neutral gamer tag and not talk online and it would be cool. Now, most of the shittier gamers assume that anyone who doesn't talk is a girl. My husband got called a stupid bitch because they assumed he was a female gamer because our mic was still packed up.

I used to fight back about and call people out for being pricks, but honestly it's just so much work and I spend all my time dealing with it rather than playing the damn game.

And WOW was different on some servers, but you still got a lot of sly comments about how the "ladies" needed help and to not grief females because the girls wouldn't play.
posted by teleri025 at 10:03 AM on June 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


Better people have fought this arms race and lost. They'll drag you down to their level of sleaze and idiocy and then proceed to beat you with experience.

The goal is not to beat them, but to rise above them. And she has done that.
posted by Theta States at 10:03 AM on June 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is why I don't read anonymous comments on the web any more. If you don't want to be responsible for what you say by signing it with your real name, I don't see why I should listen.

Well, except for on Metafilter of course :-)
posted by Triplanetary at 10:04 AM on June 13, 2012


Talez, you're assuming that this is just human nature at work, and that there's not a systemic problem that needs to be corrected here. That's where we disagree, and where our approaches will differ.

I'm not saying to not correct the wider problem. I'm saying to stop wasting time and energy on people who's opinions both won't change and don't matter. Engaging them in the controversy is basically playing to that.

Just like Loving v Virginia solved the ultimate problem of wide base of support for anti-miscegenation, getting developers to make strong female roles that don't have to be sexual objects SOP will help mold the opinions of the next generation of gamers. Focusing on this and not being distracted by haters will have the biggest return on effort.

Fighting petty battles with Internet losers on the other hand will have no productive effect whatsoever.
posted by Talez at 10:09 AM on June 13, 2012


AWww man, I wanna read Carwoman #0, that sounds oddly sexy.

Tamara Vasquez is struck by lightning one night while working in her family's auto repair shop. When she wakes, she finds that she has developed the power of autokinesis which allows her to control any mechanical device powered by internal combustion. Her power also creates a feedback loop - while in the presence of a working engine, she can feel her own physical abilities increase, filling up a sort of psychic "gas tank" that she can use to increase her strength (Punch like a Mac truck!), stamina (Last like a Chevy!), speed (Fast like a Ferrari!), and can even make her eyes glow like headlights.

By day, she continues to work in the garage that's been in her family for generations. By night, she rides out in her custom built roadster ("Belle Ruffin") to fight crime. Aided by her little brothers (Frik and Frak) who provide her information via radio, she's working to make Detroit safe again.

But she was not the only superbeing born during that lightning storm and deep within an abandoned factory on the outskirts of the city a new evil organization, calling itself Industrial Decay, seeks to do harm to Carwoman and the city that she loves.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:10 AM on June 13, 2012 [98 favorites]


Quietly have Youtube clean up the shit, disable comments for a little while if you have to and work with other providers to sanitize your own soapboxes.

Yeah, hells to the no. One of the most common arguments given in sexism argument is "well I'VE never seen that kind of behavior so it must not exist". That is why examples of this kind of behavior should be left to stand and condemn themselves, not swept under the rug.
posted by elizardbits at 10:12 AM on June 13, 2012 [37 favorites]


VTX: "You never look at him and think, gosh that poor dude, I better take care of him.

Really? I do, I guess I always thought that most other people did too.
"

Sure if I'm playing Pikmin, I guess. But that's not the sort of tough go-get 'em character that Lara Croft is supposed to be.
posted by symbioid at 10:13 AM on June 13, 2012


The fascinating thing about the internet isn't that it breeds this kind of hate, it's that it unfetters it. Suddenly all the racism and sexism and homophobia that people hold internally and only voice behind closed doors comes to the forefront. You can see it out in the open. It's not something they only say to people who they know are fellow anti-Semites or something they only voice in coded dogwhistle phrasing, they feel comfortable now in blatantly discussing the evils of race mixing or whores who leech off child support payments with anyone able to listen to them. The barrier has dropped and everywhere has become 'behind closed doors'.
posted by a debt owed at 10:13 AM on June 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


So... people suck. Just getting that out there in the open. Ok, same page so far? To my real question:

Why aren't comments disabled on the youtube video that's basically a hell hole of idiocy? Do people really see gainful input to be had from comment threads like that? If so do they sort through them with a fine-toothed, and hopefully soon-to-be sterilized, comb to sift the good from the useless/downright awful?

I guess I just see YouTube comments as pretty much the worst the internet has to offer and, in this case especially, don't understand why people don't just turn them off. I am not saying this is her fault or that she did anything wrong. I just don't get it, I honestly may be missing something.

To be crystal clear, it wouldn't have helped with the other more vicious forms of abuse like the flagging and vandalism either but maybe, just maybe, it would have helped people not get as communally wound up via the comment thread and the whole "Oh look what people are saying, it must follow that it's appropriate for me to also say bad, evil, vicious things because... peer support ya'know?"

Oh, and people suck... still with ya on that one, people suck.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:15 AM on June 13, 2012


Anonymity is one of those things, like libertarianism, that I kinda support in principle but have yet to see implemented well in the real world. Sadly, there's no reason to believe that I ever will.
posted by tommasz at 10:15 AM on June 13, 2012


He didn't need to be raped by a Windbag for me to feel that way.

Leave the rape out it. Everyone thinks the rape is a bad idea. They could leave the rape out of the game they'd still be trying to make the player feel protective over the character. She doesn't need to get raped for the player to feel protective of her.

There are two issues:

1. Is the rape scene appropriate? No one here is going to argue that it is.

2. Is the goal of getting the player to feel protective of Lara Croft by making her get in over head (since this in this game it's like, the first tomb she's raided or something) where she'll get beat up and dirty okay.

I think so. Batman gets the hell beat out of him and by the end of Arkham Asylum, he looks pretty rough (I haven't gotten Arkham City yet). I feel sorry for the guy and I feel protective of him. I want to keep him safe and do my best to keep him from having to take a punch. I thought most other people did too, I guess I'm weird.
posted by VTX at 10:15 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


What is the problem exactly ?

it's the part I wrote after that quote, that it's frustrating that these guys get to behave like this and still get the shitty objectification they want in their games. that's life, and I deal with it, but it's frustrating.
posted by shmegegge at 10:16 AM on June 13, 2012


Why the holy fuck is youtube not spending a moment policing this shit. Oh, we at Google don't do evil, we just provide the perfect platform for it.

The sheer volume of videos uploaded to the site makes the idea of having a community moderator untenable. 60 hours of video are uploaded every minute, or one hour of video is uploaded to YouTube every second. Over 800 million unique users visit YouTube each month.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 10:16 AM on June 13, 2012


I would post a link to some well reasoned and insightful videos on this subject, but the site they are on was related to some controversy about a year ago.
posted by poe at 10:16 AM on June 13, 2012


in the presence of a working engine, she can feel her own physical abilities increase, filling up a sort of psychic "gas tank"

That's rad, but I was initially thinking of something like this.
posted by Theta States at 10:17 AM on June 13, 2012


But she was not the only superbeing born during that lightning storm and deep within an abandoned factory on the outskirts of the city a new evil organization, calling itself Industrial Decay, seeks to do harm to Carwoman and the city that she loves.

Her nemesis, and ID's CEO and President: Portia de Lorean.
posted by cortex at 10:17 AM on June 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


VTX Just so we're clear, I agree with you, 100%.
posted by Tevin at 10:20 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh.. wait, the comments in the previous FPP's video don't seem all that bad, was I reading the article wrong and they've had a purge of some sort or... what.... hrm... Ah, yes, must have been a purge of newer (read:shitty) comments because she has the record of the older stuff in a screencap.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:20 AM on June 13, 2012


I think so. Batman gets the hell beat out of him and by the end of Arkham Asylum, he looks pretty rough (I haven't gotten Arkham City yet). I feel sorry for the guy and I feel protective of him. I want to keep him safe and do my best to keep him from having to take a punch. I thought most other people did too, I guess I'm weird.

The whole point of Batman is that he's incredibly tough and resilient, that even though he lacks superpowers he's able to overcome the most devious criminals through skill, cunning and strength. With Tomb Raider they're trying to drive a narrative of weakness - this weak woman needs to be protected by the skilled male gamer if she's going to have any hope to survive. Batman is the badass who always wins out regardless of the odds, Lara Croft is the woman who needs your help to pull her out of the fire.
posted by a debt owed at 10:20 AM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, hells to the no. One of the most common arguments given in sexism argument is "well I'VE never seen that kind of behavior so it must not exist". That is why examples of this kind of behavior should be left to stand and condemn themselves, not swept under the rug.

There are plenty of examples of misogyny in gaming out there. Her soapbox needn't be full of them.

Look I'm just trying to give practical advice to dealing with the massive amount of stupid out there.
posted by Talez at 10:21 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fighting petty battles with Internet losers on the other hand will have no productive effect whatsoever.

This isn't petty. It's a pretty big deal to receive horrible death threats and this level of abuse. I for one am glad that she's speaking out about this and giving people a chance to support her. Most often this kind of stuff happens quietly and gets cleaned up and no decent people are any wiser. Here she's getting a wonderful outpouring of support and has raised more than $100,000 for her projects. I'd call that a productive effect!
posted by peacheater at 10:22 AM on June 13, 2012 [12 favorites]


-->The fascinating thing about the internet isn't that it breeds this kind of hate, it's that it unfetters it. Suddenly all the racism and sexism and homophobia that people hold internally and only voice behind closed doors comes to the forefront. You can see it out in the open.

Right. And the point is not that these comments are so horrible. It's that these people, people who would never speak this way in public, are some of the people setting your salary, selling you a car, teaching your children, and everything else in life. It's just that normally, it's all hidden. So, when people say that racism is over or sexism isn't really a thing, having this evidence is important. Not because it verifies that people say terrible things on the internet, but because it verifies that just because people DON'T say terrible things irl, doesn't mean some of them don't a) feel them, and b) act on them in subtle but still harmful ways.
posted by Ausamor at 10:23 AM on June 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


I think what everyone is trying to say, regarding Miss Croft is, 'there's no need to resort to gratuitous drama in order to invoke feelings of protection for video game characters who I control.'

Right? Tat's my point, anyway, but that's what I'm reading between the lines with everyone else. Yes, no, maybe? I just want to clarify 'cause it seems like we're talking across one another on this, but I think we all agree on that point?
posted by Tevin at 10:24 AM on June 13, 2012


Further, I see her comment in the screen cap:

PLEASE NOTE: I've left the comments open on this video as a way of showing why this topic is so important. I apologize in advance for the hate speech and ignorance that will inevitably be left below. So don't feed the trolls - except maybe to thank them for proving to everyone that sexism in gaming is indeed a huge problem.

Ok... so... I just don't know how I feel about this. I still kinda stand by my above comment regarding why I don't think the comments should just be turned off. I mean I don't think she's feeding the trolls per se, but it seems like she's not putting away the food trough when she could either. Her points are strong enough to stand on their own, doubly so with actual malicious threats via email and content vandalism going on, does she really need to say "Look how awful the youtube comments are, I predict they will be ignorant and sexist and mean."

To me that's kinda like saying "The sun will rise tomorrow...". Youtube comments gonna be Youtube comments.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:27 AM on June 13, 2012


This isn't petty. It's a pretty big deal to receive horrible death threats and this level of abuse. I for one am glad that she's speaking out about this and giving people a chance to support her. Most often this kind of stuff happens quietly and gets cleaned up and no decent people are any wiser. Here she's getting a wonderful outpouring of support and has raised more than $100,000 for her projects. I'd call that a productive effect!

Death threats send to authorities. There's nothing that arguing on the Internet can do to protect her from that.
posted by Talez at 10:30 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Perhaps we should wait until the game is actually released and we know exactly what happens before deciding how awesome/awful the Tomb Raider reboot is?
posted by Justinian at 10:31 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Look I'm just trying to give practical advice to dealing with the massive amount of stupid out there.

Well, I mean, not to be a jerk or anything, but her choice of approach to this has resulted in almost $100K for her feminist video game project, so it kind of feels like maybe she's doing all right without this advice?
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:31 AM on June 13, 2012 [13 favorites]


The whole point of Batman is that he's incredibly tough and resilient, that even though he lacks superpowers he's able to overcome the most devious criminals through skill, cunning and strength.

And I'm saying that it doesn't matter to me. I think part of it is that video game Batman can't do shit without me to tell what to do. I'm in control so when he gets hit on the head with a pipe, it's because I fucked up.

If we replaced Lara Craft with Nathan Drake and made him the same sort of weak, not yet the tough and competent badass that he later becomes, that the Lara Croft of this game is supposed to be, I would enjoy it in exactly the same way for exactly the same reasons.
posted by VTX at 10:32 AM on June 13, 2012


Yeah, hells to the no. One of the most common arguments given in sexism argument is "well I'VE never seen that kind of behavior so it must not exist". That is why examples of this kind of behavior should be left to stand and condemn themselves, not swept under the rug.

In this particular case I think it makes sense to leave the comments up to point out the problem, but as a general policy, leaving up shitty derailing comments does far more harm than good. Ask jessamyn or cortex* about how their jobs would be more or less difficult if they could never delete comments on MetaFilter, and MetaFilter is one of the better places in terms of people not saying shitty things to each other constantly. It's like saying that if someone spray paints a racial slur on the side of a building it should be left up to remind people how shitty people can be sometimes rather than removed or painted over.

* (or vacapinta, or restless_nomad, or taz)
posted by burnmp3s at 10:33 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, I mean, not to be a jerk or anything, but her choice of approach to this has resulted in almost $100K for her feminist video game project, so it kind of feels like maybe she's doing all right without this advice?

She was at $69K before I first saw the first /v/ rage thread and this whole shitstorm started. She was doing really well before that.
posted by Talez at 10:35 AM on June 13, 2012


I don't always agree with her feminist crit (I find it a bit broad-strokes for me, and actually think the Nostalgia Chick does the same thing with more nuance), but I really admire the fact that she's so tireless and fearless about it. Case in point.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:35 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's like saying that if someone spray paints a racial slur on the side of a building it should be left up to remind people how shitty people can be sometimes rather than removed or painted over.

Well said. And turning off the comments is like making a graffiti proof wall, although it may also not allow lost child ads or cool band stickers or whatever, doesn't necessarily solve anything but it does weed out the general internet chaff/grar/crappy and leave you with the real problems to focus on because I guess I'm just cynical enough to never expect to see the day where an unmoderated internet comment thread on any topic that's even semi-sensitive doesn't turn real shitty, really fast.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:38 AM on June 13, 2012


RolandOfEld: To me that's kinda like saying "The sun will rise tomorrow...". Youtube comments gonna be Youtube comments."

I don't think that's valid. It is not a physical constant that a woman who wants to say something online will automatically get attacked. The reason it's so important to leave these things up, especially in a project that specifically addresses this kind of misogyny, is because female bloggers are often told that they're overreacting, and that things aren't that bad, and it's just YouTube anyway.

But it's not just YouTube. If you're a semi-prominent female blogger, you've received rape threats in comments/emails. The Guardian had a report on this just last year. Many aren't even aware that this is going on, and so assume the worst of the blogger's emotional state.

That's not okay, nor should it be excused. Things are that bad, and they're not overreacting, and every hateful comment has a real misogynistic hateful asshole behind it.
posted by Phire at 10:39 AM on June 13, 2012 [29 favorites]


Sorry for the mangled HTML. This is the proper version:

You've received rape threats in comments/emails. The Guardian had a report on this just last year.
posted by Phire at 10:41 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks Phire. You said what I was going to say. Metafilter moderating aside, sometimes it's good to let the world know how bad things can really get. Things can change and this is part of getting that to happen. I don't see why she should shut up and take it.
posted by peacheater at 10:41 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have to wonder if the main reason no-one uses Google+ is that we have all seen what the comments are like on YouTube (their other social website).
posted by Lanark at 10:41 AM on June 13, 2012


I have to wonder if the main reason no-one uses Google+ is that we have all seen what the comments are like on YouTube (their other social website).

I've actually started using G+ more as I've found it excellent for escaping the noise of facebook. Maybe it's just my feed, but I've found much more professional and thoughtful discussion happen there, but perhaps it's the lower volume that enables that.
posted by Theta States at 10:45 AM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


The majority of what you're reading in those comments is pure, distilled adolescent male hormonal rage that's super-charged by an imperitive to be "cool" and "part of something". While I've no doubt that there are a few truly disturbed individuals in there, that's statistically true of any sufficiently large sample. You see the exact same crap in practically any YouTube comment thread relating to gaming or popular culture, just on a smaller scale. The difference in this case is that it's been amplified by a few alpha trolls on 4chan, all in the name of lulz.
posted by NeonSurge at 10:45 AM on June 13, 2012


I don't see why she should shut up and take it.

I want to make it absolutely clear that I don't currently, nor have I ever, supported that as an option.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:45 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are a few hundred (perhaps) idiots represented, anonymous and otherwise.

There are 4,235 people (and that's just the ones with money to spare) who disagree in the strongest terms.

Honestly, folks - we outnumber the assholes. When we realize that and act on it, it'll get a lot harder for them to operate.
posted by Mooski at 10:46 AM on June 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


And why is this bad? Instead of the article being "Internet blogger attracts astounding support for better female role models in gaming" and having a really positive, forward-looking attitude about the situation we now have "Internet misogynists engaged in massive shitfight" controversy as the talking point. Not only have you manufactured new controversy but you've also given their shitty viewpoint legitimacy by engaging them on it.

Since it's now about controversy the conservative people who make the decisions now look at it a tad more cynically.

It's like saying that if someone spray paints a racial slur on the side of a building it should be left up to remind people how shitty people can be sometimes rather than removed or painted over.

Exactly.
posted by Talez at 10:46 AM on June 13, 2012


Ask jessamyn or cortex* about how their jobs would be more or less difficult if they could never delete comments on MetaFilter, and MetaFilter is one of the better places in terms of people not saying shitty things to each other constantly.

Well. There isn't really a large vocal community of aggressively confrontational mefites who insist that shitty commenters don't exist and that everyone saying they do exist is really just a hysterical pathetic loser in need of a good fucking.

But yeah, with general public nastiness I agree that it is unhelpful.
posted by elizardbits at 10:48 AM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


To be clear, I'm all for deleting these types of comments on a personal blog, and blocking people who say stuff like that on Twitter. But my personal blog isn't addressing the fact that misogyny is rampant within a particular subculture, with the gatekeepers of that subculture condoning the objectification of women and participants of the subculture loudly insisting that the misogyny is only in the minds of "hysterical feminists". That's the difference between leaving the YouTube comments open and not cleaning up a racial slur sprayed on the side of a building.

If the building is dedicated to raising awareness of racism that everyone else in the community denies exists, well, that's a different matter.
posted by Phire at 10:52 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Her skin is still bare on the arms and there are going to be rips and tears on her clothes, but it won't be about being revealing. It's a way of saying that through these tough situations, there is a beauty and vulnerability coming through. I think that is sexy in its own way."

Jesus christ what is wrong with these people.
posted by empath at 10:54 AM on June 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


Thanks for posting this! I've been considering it, but am lazy and ambitious at the same time, so I was putting off trying to gather together links to the numerous posts about it around the 'net.
Look I'm just trying to give practical advice to dealing with the massive amount of stupid out there.
There are reasonable arguments to be made that your practical advice is actually counterproductive.

Further, no one manufactured a new controversy. The hateful dickbags didn't gain any legitimacy. And if someone's going to be "cynical" with the evidence that's plain as day, right in front of their cynical face, then whatever I guess?

Do you understand what people have said repeatedly about the frequent dismissal of harassment as a non-issue? People don't actually understand that this happens. There is a reason this is getting talked about all across the web before she even starts work on her video project, and it's because people are surprised at the volume and malignancy of the misogyny writhing just under the surface.
It's like saying that if
Analogies don't work very well to convince people of your position. They're best used when trying to illuminate a perspective that isn't making sense to someone ("think of it like this..."). When you try to use them to prove a position, your interlocutor correctly says: "no it's not like that," because of course it isn't, there are always important differences. Then you end up arguing about the analogy rather than the actual question at hand.

BTW, stuff like this is why I get very annoyed at everyone dismissively babbling about how everyone's getting the vapors whenever a potentially problematic thing is remarked upon at all. It's like they somehow don't realize that the small problems exist within a cultural context where stuff like the reaction to Sarkeesian's project is the norm.

I also sort of laughed when people quoted/referred to the PA comic dismissing this sort of thing as if it's some kind of natural, inevitable result of the internet. More recently, they sneeringly dismissed criticism of the Hitman trailer, because I guess cultural criticism is the exact same thing as censorship? And Quantum Conundrum exists and that means you're not allowed to talk about shitty things in other games?

Let's just say that the PA perspective on feminist issues is not really one I care about.

Neonsurge, you have no idea what the demographics of the commenters are, beyond "they're probably not women."
posted by kavasa at 10:54 AM on June 13, 2012 [19 favorites]


these guys want video games where women are objectified decoration, vapid 2 dimensional standins for a generalized fictional sexuality. and they get them. It's a lot easier to find games these guys like than find games these guys fucking hate. and I want to say "hey, games industry! please stop giving these homunculoid turds what they want!" but it won't work. there are plenty of games with reasonable and grown up depictions of women in them, and thank god for them. but there will always be AAA blockbuster games that pander to these freaks the same way that hollywood movies do.

For whatever reason, I hadn't ever thought about these points before reading your post today. Now that I have, I feel crushed.

My daughter, my female cousins, and my nieces will have a hell of a time finding games that feature what they want to see in female characters: strong, intelligent, capable and funny black women of various shapes, sizes and hues.

But asses like the boys and young men responding so fucked-uppedly to Anita Sarkeesian's project can't swing their arms in an aisle of video games without hitting a dozen games that feature what they want to see in female characters: young, slender, white or Asian women with ridiculous body proportions who pose and act in a sexually suggestive manner for no good reason at all.

The same is true of comic books and movies.

Simply because all Big Entertainment cares about is money. It makes me feel so sad and powerless.
posted by lord_wolf at 10:56 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe this will help me understand things a bit,

Could it be said that this discussion on tactics kinda boil down to some people saying that groups like Westboro Church members picketing visibly are a net-positive impact to the cause of tolerance and human decency in the world because they draw attention to the crazy, nasty side of things while some other people think seeing (free-speech rights aside for a moment please) tolerance related events/rallies/military funerals/etc happening without the nutjobs-who-are-going-to-be-nutjobs 100 feet or so away would be equally as good, or even better for the cause at hand?

Sorry for the awful run on sentence there, best I could do in time alloted, gotta run outta here soon.

On preview, yea this is an analogy with all the trappings that come with it, but I can only hope people will understand that I'm bringing it up in good faith and as I try to understand/explain viewpoints here.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:58 AM on June 13, 2012


Also, as an example, I'd like to present things like this. My sister-in-law is a big promoter of retaining women in STEM fields (which I wholly agree needs to be addressed) so this is something quite personal to me.

There's no controversy in this even though some misogynists quietly (or not so quietly) say stupid shit like "girls can't do math". It's 100% positive and genuinely looks at new policy that can actually help.
posted by Talez at 10:59 AM on June 13, 2012


At the very least, both articles above convey very clearly why the hate directed toward her isn't a "symptom of internet," so I don't understand the parsimony with which some here choose to read what has happened here--as if she should have followed some sagely "practical internet caution," she could fan away the community shitstorm of misogyny rolling in over the subject of video games to properly talk about the cloud of misogyny over the subject of video games.

What? Stop.
posted by dougmoon at 10:59 AM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


> I have to wonder if the main reason no-one uses Google+ is that we have all seen what the comments are like on YouTube (their other social website).

No, they all left G+ because they can't troll and harass people under their real names.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 11:00 AM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


0xdeadc0de: "No, they all left G+ because they can't troll and harass people under their real names."

The number of idiots posting with their Facebook profiles on newspaper comment sections around the world would belie this assertion.
posted by Phire at 11:01 AM on June 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


It appears the fuck-twits who wished to cow her into silence inadvertently netted her considerable mindshare and funding. Yey internet! :)
posted by jeffburdges at 11:02 AM on June 13, 2012


Does Tomb Raider's Lara Croft really have to be a survivor of a rape attempt?
posted by homunculus at 11:05 AM on June 13, 2012


Not every reaction to something bad happening can be positive. Stop trying to police her reactions -- can't we just agree that something terrible happened, she talked about the something terrible, people rallied to support her. I don't see why she needs to be criticized for not reacting to people spewing insults at her in exactly the way you would want her to react.
posted by peacheater at 11:08 AM on June 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Not every reaction to something bad happening can be positive. Stop trying to police her reactions -- can't we just agree that something terrible happened, she talked about the something terrible, people rallied to support her. I don't see why she needs to be criticized for not reacting to people spewing insults at her in exactly the way you would want her to react.

This could have been phrased better.
posted by Fizz at 11:11 AM on June 13, 2012


Talzez/Roland: different strategies work for different projects at different times.

Had she chosen to heavily moderate the comments on her own video, I would have supported that decision as well. Or I would have if I had had any idea she was doing it, which I probably wouldn't have because that is the nature of your proposed course of action.

However, given that harassment of women is a fact that is frequently denied and minimized, I think it's absolutely wrong to claim that it's a mistake on her part not to delete the comments. They're a public record of "this is what it's like to be a woman on the internet right now," and people other than those directly affected need to see what it's like.

Fizz - was that a sort of tone-deaf joke..?

lord_wolf - I'm sorry. It is, unsurprisingly, even worse for women of color.

The only way I can think of to turn this particular ship around is to just relentlessly make noise about it. When the next Hitman trailer or the next Tomb Raider gaffe happens, we need to be willing to talk about the reasons why they're unacceptable. Journalists need to get in there and ask devs why they made those decisions, and there has been some indication that the Tomb Raider dev (for example) got a partial hint about why people weren't thrilled.

Video games are another aspect of our shared culture, and as such it's a long, slow, perpetually incomplete process trying to improve them.
posted by kavasa at 11:14 AM on June 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Am I the only one who has an optimistic view of humanity and believes that most (like 90% or more) of the people who make these comments are unsocialized adolescent and per-adolescent males? And that response isn't some consciously thought-out conspiracy to enforce male privilege and status quo?
posted by gagglezoomer at 11:18 AM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Her skin is still bare on the arms and there are going to be rips and tears on her clothes, but it won't be about being revealing. It's a way of saying that through these tough situations, there is a beauty and vulnerability coming through. I think that is sexy in its own way."

Jesus christ what is wrong with these people.


Is the fact that she survives tough situations or is revealed to be a real person and not just 100% badass that you object to?

I fail to see how the picture on left here is any different/worse than this.
posted by VTX at 11:18 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Those dickwads should all be rounded up, given weapons, and dropped off together on an Island in the middle of the ocean. Double plus bonus if the Island is nothing but barren rock and hot lava, such that they are forced to resort to cannibalism. Triple plus bonus if, after creating a raft out of the bones and skins of his vanquished foes, the lone survivor crosses the ocean only to discover that the Island is on another, uninhabited, planet.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:20 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lot of angry nerds out there.
posted by stormpooper at 11:24 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is the fact that she survives tough situations or is revealed to be a real person and not just 100% badass that you object to?

I think maybe it's the notion that surviving attempted rape has a 'silver lining' because it makes the victim endearing to people (mostly men) who will want to protect them. They're quite literally saying that rape builds character.

I fail to see how the picture on left here is any different/worse than this.

Very few people in the world find themselves in Indiana Jones's situation, especially in the parts of the world that play video games. A tragically large number of women are the victims of sexual violence, however, including in the parts of the world that play video games. Indiana Jones is a fantasy; a woman being the victim of sexual violence is depressingly mundane.
posted by jedicus at 11:25 AM on June 13, 2012 [16 favorites]


Is the fact that she survives tough situations or is revealed to be a real person and not just 100% badass that you object to?

Maybe it's the fact that they see sexualizing a female character who has, as part of the story line, been the victim of attempted sexual violence as a step up from just sexualizing a female character by putting her in skimpy clothes.
posted by elizardbits at 11:26 AM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


VTX: The goal with Lara Croft is for the player to see "a beauty and vulnerability" coming through some gameplay mechanic of sexual assault--somewhere in there, that is "sexy in its own way."

The difference, as others have stated many times above, is the intent of a ripped shirt male character is never to portray vulnerability, beauty--because the male power fantasy, abbed and glistening, burnt, scratched but undaunted--is meant to power on, and so it's not an object of the male gaze, but a vessel for the male player.
posted by dougmoon at 11:26 AM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


VTX: "Is the fact that she survives tough situations or is revealed to be a real person and not just 100% badass that you object to?

I fail to see how the picture on left here is any different/worse than this.
"

It's not the torn-up clothes I object to. It's that Lara Croft's clothes are torn up because of "beauty and vulnerability" and sexiness. That statement sums up the point-of-view of the people making this game. She's a delicate flower who needs to be protected.

Indiana Jones' shirt is torn because he has shit to get done and he can't be bothered to worry about his sleeves dammit.
posted by specialagentwebb at 11:27 AM on June 13, 2012 [15 favorites]


It's like "hey, look how evolved we are, we put Lara Croft in pants instead of booty shorts, and made her proportions more realistic!" Great, nice work, but then they follow this with "oh and also some dudes try to rape her and her clothing is torn sexily!"

I just. Why.
posted by elizardbits at 11:29 AM on June 13, 2012 [17 favorites]


Indie has huge muscles for butt kicking. New!Lara looks pretty untoned and underfed. Her clothes are formfitting, and while Indie's show more skin, they also promote more active movement.

"She literally goes from zero to hero... we're sort of building her up and just when she gets confident, we break her down again."

Ew! Why? Why not let her get confident and stay confident?

It's almost like they're afraid of strong ladies.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:29 AM on June 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


Is the fact that she survives tough situations or is revealed to be a real person and not just 100% badass that you object to?

I think he's objecting to the idea that even though the tears in her clothing won't be revealing, the takeaway point from the developer is "that's also sexy." which is kind of a fuck you to the entire idea. frankly, tears in clothing for a female protagonist aren't necessarily problematic when they're not used to show cleavage or in some way be a kind of mock nudity. but if you want a character to be hard or rugged, then I think a lot of people would appreciate it if that didn't also have to be beautiful or sexy.
posted by shmegegge at 11:29 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


In other words, the male player is always the hero. With a male character, he is the hero! With a female character, as in Tomb Raider, he protects her like a hero!
posted by dougmoon at 11:30 AM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I fail to see how the picture on left here is any different/worse than this.

Oh, oh! I know this one, I know this one! Is it: Because no one is trying to rape Indiana Jones?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:32 AM on June 13, 2012 [20 favorites]


I'm not accusing her of troll baiting for funds at all,

Ok, then I will. So much of this is typical 4chan uber-troll behavior that is good motivation gone terribly wrong. As one 4chan sarcastically quipped "let's harass her so she can make her point easier."

For better or worse her kickstarter campaign sits at $100,783, with the plurality of backers pitching in $25. For a free web miniseries.

Reprehensibly trolled.
posted by danl at 11:32 AM on June 13, 2012


fucking ugh.
posted by shmegegge at 11:33 AM on June 13, 2012


Is it too late to re-theme the new Tomb Raider where you take on the role of a spectral, all-seeing father who must safely guide his daughter to a Purity Ball?
posted by dougmoon at 11:33 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used to write for a gaming site. For free, because I liked them, and it was practice with a different audience. At one point, the site guys decided that everyone who wrote on the front page needed to do with our real names attached to our gamer nym.

So I quit donating content. Put my professional name out there, to a demographic which is provably hostile to women? Oh, hell no. I wasn't willing to open myself up to that level of harassment.
posted by dejah420 at 11:34 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


gagglezoomer - first, you have to come to grips with the fact that you do not know what the commenters look like. And in fact the "harassers are just adolescents" idea is something that the Fat, Ugly, or Slutty-moderated panel at PAX east 2012 explicitly addressed. Their conclusion was that, based on the evidence available to them, it is very much adult men doing the majority or all of the harassing.

Second, I don't think anyone thinks misogyny is a conscious expression of a conspiracy. That's sort of the whole point here, in fact. What we see is a culture where many, many men feel that women have no right to speak. When a woman does speak, they all reach for the same tools to silence her, not because of a conspiracy but because that's the approach they've learned in the culture.

VTX - when you find yourself going for that sarcastic quip as a way to address a position you're not getting, you could maybe back off from that impulse. You read empath's post and you didn't really get it. Ok! That's no bigs. But when you just spit at it instead of asking an honest question, that makes the whole thing more difficult to address.

In addition to the clarifications others have made, I specifically found the quote amazing because it's concluding this guy's sort of meandering defense of the trailer as not-sexist. He has all these reasons it's not sexist, he's really talking up the ways in which they're trying to explore a concept for the character, etc. And his concluding thought is "also it's hot."

Ok? So a game dev's earnest attempt to not be sexist concludes with a statement about the sex appeal of the series' main female character. Thus the sort of head-shaking bewilderment here.

PhoB, this article from RPS was a nice look at the really interesting things they could do with the "starting from a not-badass" position.
posted by kavasa at 11:34 AM on June 13, 2012 [12 favorites]


God DAMN it, internet. Videogaming is just about the last bastion of geekdom that has not completely taken over my life: half because there's such a $$$ barrier for entry into console gaming ($200ish per console + $accessories to play one $40 game, with 3+ consoles required to cover your basic availability options? IT IS TO LAUGH), and half plus another third because the misogyny embedded in geekdom seems to always come off as SO MUCH WORSE from videogameland. (So $240ish + fatuglyorslutty, good times.)

Now the iPhone app store has opened a lot of gaming doors for me! I get excited about iOS ports of existing games because I can take part in the gaming-culture-touchstone for about the first time since Oregon Trail.

But perhaps I am so new, I've wound up in situations like buying the game Majesty, based on iOS game site recs for real-time strategy games*. Because what no Wikipedia editor added and no game journalist bothered to mention in all the non-spoilery "Buy this great old game that's on sale!" reviews I read was anything about the quest in which your enemies are literal, monstrous Feminist Harpies you must kill. Or how your female hero-warriors, the Paladins, all have names like Manhater, again literally.

Is there an app for "bleaching my iPhone clean from the inside"?


* you should MeMail if you have the hookup for charming turn-based RTS on iOS, because by now I've played through all of Highborn so many times I can do it in my sleep
posted by nicebookrack at 11:36 AM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh, oh! I know this one, I know this one! Is it: Because no one is trying to rape Indiana Jones?

For one, neither picture show or allude to rape. For two, male victim rape is a threat to any adult man who has a chance of being put in jail. I think Indiana Jones qualifies, and perhaps more so due to engaging in illegal activity in questionable jurisdictions.
posted by danl at 11:37 AM on June 13, 2012


It's not the torn-up clothes I object to. It's that Lara Croft's clothes are torn up because of "beauty and vulnerability" and sexiness.

That isn't my take at all. My impression is that she is tough, a survivor but she can still make mistakes, she can still get hurt. She is still a human being. I don't understand why it's not okay for me to find that sexy. If she couldn't get hurt, she may as well be a robot, an object ad nothing more. The new Lara Croft seems more like a real person to me.

Maybe I'm wrong but we won't really know until the game comes out.

For last time, can we please drop the rape angle? Can we just pretend that they decide to drop the rape scene from the game?

Indiana Jones' shirt is torn because he has shit to get done and he can't be bothered to worry about his sleeves dammit.

My wife disagrees with you.
posted by VTX at 11:38 AM on June 13, 2012


Could it be said that this discussion on tactics kinda boil down to some people saying that groups like Westboro Church members picketing visibly are a net-positive impact to the cause of tolerance and human decency in the world because they draw attention to the crazy, nasty side of things...

At a funeral to mourn the death of a young person killed in war, the WBC shows up and says "God Hates Fags."

In a project designed to address sexism and misogyny in the gaming world, people show up and make sexist and mysogynistic comments.

The difference is entirely one of relevance. If you were making a documentary about, say, the mistreatment of prisoners, wouldn't one of your first steps be to prove that that mistreatment does occur? You may argue that its obvious to anyone that this kind of behavior happens, but I'm not sure it can hurt to make it even more obvious.
posted by parallellines at 11:39 AM on June 13, 2012


VTX: " Can we just pretend that they decide to drop the rape scene from the game?
"

This is disingenuous. They didn't drop the rape scene from the game. They explicitly said that the reason the rape happened is because rape is humanizing, and that rape is what makes you want to protect the character. The clothing choices for Lara are explicitly stated as evoking beauty through vulnerability....after they've decided that she needed to be raped to be relatable.

How can you even separate this discussion?
posted by Phire at 11:40 AM on June 13, 2012 [14 favorites]


By pretending, of course!
posted by dougmoon at 11:41 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are video games art?

Movies and books contain all sorts of horrific things, some people get off on them. Do we ask movies and books to drop scenes we find offensive ?

These are just questions, if Tomb Raider were a movie featuring a rape or attempted rape would we ask that they cut it?
posted by Ad hominem at 11:43 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not the torn-up clothes I object to. It's that Lara Croft's clothes are torn up because of "beauty and vulnerability" and sexiness.

That isn't my take at all.


Um. Your take is kind of irrelevant when the actual designers of the actual game have actually stated that this is the actual reason her clothes are torn up.
posted by elizardbits at 11:43 AM on June 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


PhoB, this article from RPS was a nice look at the really interesting things they could do with the "starting from a not-badass" position.

For what it's worth, I have no trouble with a character starting weak and growing strong. It's more that she grows strong and then is knocked down a peg again. I've never, ever seen that kind of "arc" with a male character in a video game. Not even Lester the Unlikely!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:43 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ok, then I will.

That's absurd victim blaming. She didn't post it on Reddit, 4chan, etc. The trolls and harassers came to her.

For better or worse her kickstarter campaign sits at $100,783, with the plurality of backers pitching in $25. For a free web miniseries.

As the Kickstarter points out, she offers her web series for free, but it's hardly free to produce. There's hardware, software, and professional services involved, plus simply having money to free up the time to produce it. Have you ever worked on a podcast or video podcast? A ten minute episode can take hours to produce. Plus some of the backer levels have physical products attached, like stickers, postcards, and DVDs.

I backed it almost immediately after the Kickstarter was announced, weeks before I found out about the harassment. She had reached all of her goals and then some before she mentioned the harassment. She did not ask for extra money to counter the harassers. There's absolutely no evidence beyond your fevered, victim-blaming imagination to support the notion that she was trolling for more money. This kind of harassment happens every time any woman (or man) brings up sexism in video games, whether it's a commercial endeavor or not. Nothing she did (apart from bring up the subject) had any effect on it.

For one, neither picture show or allude to rape. For two, male victim rape is a threat to any adult man who has a chance of being put in jail. I think Indiana Jones qualifies, and perhaps more so due to engaging in illegal activity in questionable jurisdictions.

There's so much wrong with that argument that I question whether you are even arguing in good faith. Indiana Jones never spends time in prison, is very rarely threatened with imprisonment (a brief time in the Last Crusade is all I can think of), and there is never even an implied threat of sexual violence against him.
posted by jedicus at 11:44 AM on June 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


For last time, can we please drop the rape angle? Can we just pretend that they decide to drop the rape scene from the game?

I mean, a huge aspect of the discussion is the way that women are represented in video games, and Lara Croft's part in it centers largely on the rape angle, so...I don't know. It's kind of a big deal, because if it weren't there, the approach to Lara wouldn't be nearly as problematic. Getting beat down and overcoming adversity is a part of any protagonist's story in any video game; the problem here is that she can't be treated like any other male protagonist - she has to be threatened with sexual violence and it has to be pointed out that her overcoming the odds is somehow tied to her sexiness.

And to be clear, what we're talking about here is the developer's apparent attitude and comments on the game he's making. No one's pretending to have played the game, no one's saying what it's like in the actual game and/or reacting to that. It's just that it'd be awesome if the guy could have just said that the game is about Lara overcoming adversity and becoming a badass and left it at that, without having to also remind us that her sexual desirability is supposed to factor into it somehow.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:45 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Forget it Metafilter, it's 4chan.
posted by Bonzai at 11:48 AM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ad hominem: "If Tomb Raider were a movie featuring a rape or attempted rape would we ask that they cut it?"

That depends, why is the rape scene there? Just because something is art doesn't mean it's immune from criticism. There's a lot of media criticism about using rape as the "easy way out" to show that a character has flaws, and it's problematic from the "creating decent art" point of view as much as from feminist critique point of view.

There's also been plenty of backlash against the Dragon Tattoo series/movies for glorifying sexual violence unnecessarily, for example...Lisbeth could've had a pretty fucked up childhood and be just as humanized without the graphic depiction of the interaction between her and her attacker (details intentionally kept vague for spoilers).

Furthermore, when the creator of something comes out and explicitly states their intention, I think it's perfectly valid to criticize their intention as being informed by misogyny, either latent or manifest.
posted by Phire at 11:48 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the problem there, Ad hominem, is that I don't see very many big studio games asking interesting questions with such "gameplay innovations" as "hey, protect our time-honored sexual object from a rape!" as much as I see them successfully engineering a product again and again for what they seem to have correctly perceived as the overwhelming desire in the market.

And I think it is super fair to take a step back and ask, OK, what the fuck?
posted by dougmoon at 11:49 AM on June 13, 2012


nicebookrack - wuh tuh fuhhhhhh D=

danl, VTX: the trailer features attempted rape. The game literally has a QuickTime Event where you press X to not get raped. It's in the game. It's in the trailer. It's something the devs have explicitly made into a very important part of the game.

It would make no sense whatsoever at all to "drop" the "rape angle," which is not an angle at all but instead an overt part of the game.

Incidentally, this is exactly why it's important that people see the comments made on Sarkeesian's kickstarter video. Because every time someone says "I wasn't really ok with this depiction of a woman/women," people show up to go "but Indiana Jones is hot!" and "why don't we just pretend that this doesn't exist," and "but we need to be able to depict bad things in fiction," and "this isn't really important."

Right?

I'm sure neither VTX nor danl would send rape threats to a woman. However, they're inhabiting a mental space where it's basically impossible to criticize the depiction of women in games even if they would probably never make a blanket statement to that effect. It's just that if anyone brings up a specific example, they have defenses for it.

The question is "is the sexual vulnerability of Lara Croft necessary to her character development? If so, why is it never ever necessary for male characters?"

When was the last time the camera lingered on a guy's ass in one of your games? When did it do so when he is in immediate danger of being sexually assaulted?

One of the things I'm secretly loving about the upcoming Firaxis X-COM title is that the screenshots just have men and women of multiple nationalities and ethnicities because of course they do, it's the future. The women's power armor doesn't have a god damn boob window, they're just out there killin' aliums like everyone else.
posted by kavasa at 11:53 AM on June 13, 2012 [20 favorites]


Dammit Google! You censor Chinese internets, and that makes you worse than Hitler. You don't censor American internets, and that makes you three times as bad as a double-Hitler! GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER

I don't want to see Google actively censor YouTube comments. I want to see Google provide simple tools for video posters to manage comments, options such as "a user must have at least one approved comment on a post of mine/a friend's/anyone's in order to make comments without approval" or "a user's comments must be approved if they have ever had a comment deleted/downvoted on a post of mine/a friend's/anyone's."

As it is, the YouTube comment management system is just terrible, basically amounting to "free for all", "everything must be approved every time", or "no comments allowed."
posted by jedicus at 11:54 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just donated $10. I imagine there are lots of people who would have missed this project if not for the backlash. So that's some sort of silver lining. (And no doubt this has been said more than once in this giant ass thread. Curse you MetaFilter.)
posted by chunking express at 11:54 AM on June 13, 2012


"These are just questions, if Tomb Raider were a movie featuring a rape or attempted rape would we ask that they cut it?"

To me, it's not the issue of having a rape scene. It's that the rape is used explicitly to manipulate the audience into feeling something the creator doesn't believe the audience would feel otherwise. It's calculated. It has nothing to do with the plot, the character, or exploring the dynamics of the issue.

I would have the same problem if, say, the Black Widow were 'almost raped' because Joss Whedon couldn't think of a better way for me to feel protective of her. Does that make sense?
posted by Tevin at 11:55 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've already said why I think the rape angle is a separate issue!

People really seem to be hanging their hats on the rape thing. It seems lazy and I don't think it's central to the Lara Croft = Tough but vulnerable discussion. No one here thinks the rape is a good idea, everyone here thinks that it portrays women poorly so it doesn't really add to the discussion. But what if she just gets beat up by enemies and/or the environment and the character reflects that.

So if I do something sexist but I state that the reason I did it wasn't to be sexist, that's okay? I think that the audience's reaction and the final product will be more important than the developer's intent.

If your argument is that most of the men who play this will feel protective because they're sexist patriarchs, that's fine. You're probably right. I won't feel that way but I've already learned that I'm an outlier in that respect.

I'll feel protective of her because she is my character. I'll think she is sexy because I find tough, capable, intelligent, and human sexy. I'm done.
posted by VTX at 11:57 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


As the Kickstarter points out, she offers her web series for free, but it's hardly free to produce.

I think that's the point. danl was pointing out that people were paying $25 for something they would have ended up getting for free if they sat on the sidelines.
posted by King Bee at 11:57 AM on June 13, 2012


kavasa said it better than I could. Thanks kavasa. I'd favorite you again if I could.
posted by emjaybee at 11:58 AM on June 13, 2012


"These are just questions, if Tomb Raider were a movie featuring a rape or attempted rape would we ask that they cut it?"

There are other issues, but one point is that movies as a medium, while far from perfect, are not nearly as bad as video games when it comes to how women are characterized. The video game medium and the culture surrounding it carry a lot of baggage that makes difficult topics like rape very hard to handle appropriately (setting aside the fact that in this case the developer was hardly even trying).
posted by jedicus at 11:59 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Back around the turn of the century I was 16 and had a blog. There was a webcam on it. I was not a "camgirl," no sexy pictures or paysites or anything like that, it was just a picture of my face and a way to meet people who I could talk to at my level. Most people who stumbled across my website looking for the slutty kind of thing left pretty fast because they realized it wasn't that kind of site. I had it for years, maybe three or four starting around age 14. It was just a diversion, a way to meet people to talk to.

So one day I noticed some harassing comments being posted on some parts of my site. "Show us your tits" "yr a slut" type of things. These were things I hadn't really encountered before. Since I was hosting the site on my own server it was easy to check IP addresses, and somehow I figured out that the comments were being posted by a group of boys I went to high school with. With whom I hung out regularly. Whose homes I visited to socialize. Two of them were among my closest friends.

I remember two feelings: one, violation, because this was a personal space I had set up where I could be myself, and approach the world without hiding or being shy. Two, pity, because these were my friends, and yet, this was the level of discourse they had available to them.

Anyway, the harassment stopped, because I talked to the one closest to me and mentioned that I had a website and "these idiots keep posting shit on it but luckily I can track them through their IP addresses and soon I'm going to take it all to the police. Oh, your IP address? That's like your home address, but for your computer." This was pretty much BS but whatever, they didn't have a clue, so they stopped. Although some of them kept reading it for years...

Eventually the closest friend confessed and apologized. So I was able to verify that yeah, the guy who sat behind me in AP History was the one who had encouraged me to take off my shirt online, anonymously.

Of the five people that were involved, they all grew into functional adults, as far as I know. Two of them tried to sleep with me after we all graduated. I'm not in touch with any of them anymore.

Remembering this makes me sad, because, well, it would be nice if we could all just get along. But on the other hand, maybe it is something to grow out of. Who knows. Teenagers aren't really known for impulse control.
posted by newg at 12:03 PM on June 13, 2012 [27 favorites]


VTX, no one has an issue with you saying that you feel protective of the characters you play. We have an issue with you saying that the creator's choices about "ripping her clothes in order to make her seem sexy by making her seem vulnerable after a near-rape" is the same as Indie getting hurt.

It's not just that she survives tough situations. Hey, if her clothes were ripped after rappeling down a mountain with no belay to get away from a bad guy? Awesome. It's that her ripped clothes are explicitly meant to call back to her sexual vulnerability, and that the creator couched this (the ripped clothes) in terms of the beauty of weakness, rather than the strength of her character. That's shitty.

The problem isn't that she gets beat up by enemies and is in dangerous environments. It's that the creators think that this isn't enough. If the rape didn't happen, and her clothes are artfully but not revealingly torn to reflect the dangers of her lifestyle, and not the beauty of her vulnerability, I highly doubt anyone here would be calling the creator sexist.
posted by Phire at 12:04 PM on June 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


I think that's the point. danl was pointing out that people were paying $25 for something they would have ended up getting for free if they sat on the sidelines.

But that's not actually true. For one thing, at the $25 level they get producer credit, high res downloads, and access to some research materials, all things that are not available for free. For another, they may encourage Ms. Sarkeesian to add even more material to the series. For another, Kickstarter backers are free to remove their pledges at any time up to the deadline, and some do, especially after a project reaches its funding threshold. Having extra backers past the minimum is a buffer against people who decide they're fine with what they get for free on the sidelines. Finally, they may simply want to make a public show of support in the face of harassment, not unlike organizations like Planned Parenthood that sometimes use a "pledge $X per protester" fundraising model.
posted by jedicus at 12:05 PM on June 13, 2012


I'll feel protective of her because she is my character. I'll think she is sexy because I find tough, capable, intelligent, and human sexy. I'm done.

I'm genuinely interested in how these things happen at the same time. There's a weird disconnect here: she is your character, but you aren't her. I mean, unless you think she, your character, is sexy because you, playing as her, are tough, capable, intelligent, and human.

So if she is already your character, why are developers contriving these situations to put some much needed investment in her for the players? She is you! What else is there?
posted by dougmoon at 12:07 PM on June 13, 2012


The only epidemics in video games of players not being protective of their characters are n00bz and maybe this.
posted by dougmoon at 12:10 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


So the main objection is that it seems cheap and exploitative. If it really has no bearing on the character or the world of Lara Croft then it is worse than pointless. I'd like to see a playthrough of the game to see what, if any, effect it has on the character and the game world.

I'm just trying to peice this together. In videogames the character is a proxy for the player, while you are playing Ocarina Of Time Link becomes an extension of yourself. You feel the danger Link is put in. In games like Amnesia you absolutely feel a sense of terror as you run through the dark. I'm wondering what effect the scene in Tomb Raider will have on the player. If it is just cheap and titillating then I have to agree they would probably be better off without it.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:11 PM on June 13, 2012


/Shrug. I don't think youtube policing comments just a wee bit is a bad thing. This folks want to make a flag with these sentiments and wave it around, publish a newspaper, whatever, groovy. They can make a I Hate Women and Especially Jewish Women and All Women are Cunts mag and sell it on the street corner.

And I don't think Youtube is Hitler/worse than Hitler. Just displaying a lack of care that is not consonant with their ethos of 'don't be evil' or whatever the fuck it is.
posted by angrycat at 12:11 PM on June 13, 2012


VTX - it got brought up because you quoted empath being agog at something the dev said with regards to Ms. Croft's appearance. The argument we're making here is that her presentation as a sexily vulnerable woman is inseparable from the manifestation of that vulnerability in the game.

So it's not that we're concerned that some people will think Lara Croft is hot or whatever - great! It's that the game is being specifically plotted and designed to appeal to the worst aspects of our culture's position towards women at the same time as they're trying to work towards some arguably feminist or empowering ends.

This stuff is never simple and straightforward, it's always messy and intertwined.

Or what Phire said.

emjaybee - thanks! =) Although I should really be out running, aiee.

ad hom - it's sticky. The RPS article I linked above talks about the effects her killing of her would-be rapist had on him. Personally, I'm looking at the overall gaming context the game is occurring in, and I'm seeing things like the utter and complete absence of male characters in sexual peril. I'm seeing the repeated use of the female body as a sexual prop. I'm looking at how, for example, the Dragon Age games are in some ways empowering for women while at the same time each and every woman has a really massive, pendulous yet perky set of breasts.

If Samus Aran were the standard depiction of women in games, then Lara Croft as a departure from that standard would be interesting and valuable. However, as much as they're trying to concentrate on her character in the game, she is not a departure from the standard in many ways. She's just more of the same, and the stuff she's serving as a continuation of is not really great.

Hope that helps.
posted by kavasa at 12:20 PM on June 13, 2012


For one thing, at the $25 level they get producer credit, high res downloads, and access to some research materials, all things that are not available for free.

OK, but I doubt that a producer credit was really the impetus for someone to donate the $25. The high res downloads, maybe. 695 people donated $1, for which all they get is a "thanks". That's pretty good. 1106 people did it for $10, and they get their name in on the FF website, which isn't much.

Finally, they may simply want to make a public show of support in the face of harassment, not unlike organizations like Planned Parenthood that sometimes use a "pledge $X per protester" fundraising model.

This is the impetus for me, and probably all the people who donated $10 or less. I just wanted to donate. I don't care "what I get" for it, the series is going to be made with or without my donation.

When was the last time the camera lingered on a guy's ass in one of your games?

The only one that comes to my mind is the opening shower scene from Heavy Rain, and even then this is a bad example because there is a scene later where you control a female character in the shower. Then, as soon as she gets out, 2 guys have broken into her apartment and you have to fight them off. Ugh.

Also, notice that most male superheroes have capes that come down to their calves/ankles, so you couldn't see their ass even if you wanted to. For some obvious reason, the female capes usually end at the waist. It is ridiculous.
posted by King Bee at 12:21 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm genuinely interested in how these things happen at the same time. There's a weird disconnect here: she is your character, but you aren't her. I mean, unless you think she, your character, is sexy because you, playing as her, are tough, capable, intelligent, and human.

So if she is already your character, why are developers contriving these situations to put some much needed investment in her for the players? She is you! What else is there?


Because I'm not like most gamers I guess.

She is my character in the sense that I control the character so I'm responsible for he/she/it and any thing bad that happens to the character is my responsibility. But I'm still watching a story that happens to a character. I think it's easier to identify with a character in a video game vs. a movie because of that control. I mean, I feel like a badass when I make Batman sneak around and take out a bunch of bad guys silently but I don't feel like I did those things myself. It's still something that the character did as part of the story. I'm not the character but I guess most people project themselves onto the character more than I do.

Games that are played from a first person perspective are different for me though. That change in perspective makes event feel more like they are happening to me.
posted by VTX at 12:22 PM on June 13, 2012


For two, male victim rape is a threat to any adult man who has a chance of being put in jail. I think Indiana Jones qualifies, and perhaps more so due to engaging in illegal activity in questionable jurisdictions.

Neither Indiana Jones nor Lara Croft are real people. The only adverse things they can ever face are things which are designed into their respective adventures by their creators.

What we're talking about here is the way that men and women are represented differently in fiction. If, as you say, Indiana Jones is constantly living under the threat of incarceration and subsequent rape, why is that never brought up as a motivation for him? Why don't we ever see him overcome threats of sexual violence? When he's captured by the bad guys and they're delivering their Bad Guy Speech, just before they leave the room (after which they'll come back and follow through on their threats), why are his escape attempts never lent increasing urgency by the villain saying that before he's killed, he'll be handed over to a pack of horny mercenary goons so they can have their fun with his taut, muscular body first?

Shit, why stop there?

Why not retcon Kratos so that the big painful event in his past is that, as a young soldier, a bunch of dudes from an invading army held him down and pulled a train on him? Would the majority of gamers applaud this newfound character complexity? Would sales go up as this newly-revealed motivation for his anger added depth to the character?

Why not add a scene in the next Uncharted in which Nathan Drake is pinned down by an antagonist three times his size who starts cutting his shirt off him and says, "Ooh, I like a boy with spirit?" Oh, maybe he'd be lying face-down and have his legs kicked apart while he struggles and whimpers - but don't worry, he'll get rescued or knee his attacker in the groin or whatever.

Or why not have Solid Snake get - hmm. Actually, nevermind, I could see Kojima doing that.

Other than that, the point stands. If these things happened to Indy, or Kratos, or Nathan Drake, it would be massively controversial and the outcry would be huge, but these sorts of things are accepted unquestioningly by the majority of gamers (and media consumers of all kinds) when they happen to female protagonists. There's a really unpleasant double standard when it comes to sexual violence, and I'd prefer to give my money to content creators who at the very least don't try to come up with some noble justification for why they're participating in it.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:22 PM on June 13, 2012 [51 favorites]


there are plenty of games with reasonable and grown up depictions of women in them
I know the thread has exploded and stuff, but could we talk about them maybe? I'm really curious. Most of the games I can think of which have good female characters come with caveats. I'm thinking in particular of series like Final Fantasy, Shin Megami Tensei, Silent Hill, The Longest Journey, Xeno____, Mother 3... Games that, generally, feature female characters who are actually interesting and sometimes even offer a different perspective, but which might complicate that good with weirdly sexualized character designs, random portrayals of gender stereotypes, whatever.

That'd actually be an interesting conversation to me! If this project goes in that direction, it could be fascinating. I'm sorta afraid it'll go in the other direction--that most discussions of women in games go--which will end up with more obvious examples of misogyny or a shallower look at characters fairly devoid of personality like Metroid's Samus.

That could still be interesting, if it digs into that a little, but I'm afraid those roots are just full of poison. That all this crap happened to Sarkeesian is indicative of that.
posted by byanyothername at 12:29 PM on June 13, 2012


Teenagers aren't really known for impulse control.

I was going to say: anyone who is actually shocked and confused about how people could possibly be like this don't remember high school, and possibly don't even remember themselves from high school.
posted by fleacircus at 12:29 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's worth noting that Lara croft was one of the first third person shooters, which let teen boys ogle her ass instead of being embodied as her. You aren't being raped in the game, you are watching her being raped, and the designer thinks that's sexy.
posted by empath at 12:35 PM on June 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


I am never shocked or confused when people lack impulse control, but I often am when the impulse eager to come out is a torrent of misogyny.

Maybe the vocal internet video game community is predominately a bunch of teenagers, but the video game community and the tropes that they purchase with their consumer dollars is not just a bunch of teenagers.
posted by dougmoon at 12:38 PM on June 13, 2012


I know the thread has exploded and stuff, but could we talk about them maybe? I'm really curious. Most of the games I can think of which have good female characters come with caveats.
Hopefully the project that has gotten crazy-extra funded will talk about some positive directions some games have gone. =)
posted by kavasa at 12:43 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


byanyothername "I know the thread has exploded and stuff, but could we talk about [games with reasonable and grown up depictions of women in them] maybe?"

One that comes to mind is Lucca from Chrono Trigger. She's a friend of the Chrono, the silent protagonist. She is intelligent and puts together a lot of the different pieces about what is going on in the story.

In the game, each character has a sidequest that explores their character a little more. In Lucca's story, she is given the opportunity to go back in time in order to save her mother from a terrible accident caused by her father. In the game, the player is given the chance to enter a password. If you enter it correctly, the mother avoids the injury. An incorrect injury lets the future proceed as normal.

Lucca's character, ultimately, is not robustly developed, but Chrono Trigger is a game that is less about characters and more about the fate of the world.

I think that Lucca is a good example of a "reasonable" female character because she is strong and capable, but as equally vulnerable as the male characters.

Actually, now that I think about it, the whole cast of Chrono Trigger has some pretty good female characters...
posted by Tevin at 12:44 PM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Jade from Beyond Good and Evil is another great character.
posted by ShawnStruck at 12:46 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess Empath read this statement as: "Her skin is still bare on the arms and there are going to be rips and tears on her clothes, but it won't be about being revealing. It's a way of saying that through these tough situations [this narrowly avoided rape], there is a beauty and vulnerability coming through. I think that is sexy in its own way."

I'm just reading the "tough situations" as basically everything else that happens to her. I've played enough video games that I can guess that the rape scene will be stupid and shoe horned in and done mostly for the controversy that it's inclusion creates. Since I think it's stupid and doesn't really have anything to do with the story, I can pretty much ignore it the same way I did with the stupid airport scene at the beginning of Modern Warfare 2.

If they changed it to a scene where she just gets tied to a chair and beat up, I think there is still a more nuanced discussion to be had about whether the rest of the game/story/character design is sexist.
posted by VTX at 12:47 PM on June 13, 2012


Hopefully the project that has gotten crazy-extra funded will talk about some positive directions some games have gone. =)

That's one of the additions to the project made possible by extra funding ('stretch goals' in Kickstarter jargon). "Positive Female Characters! - Video #11" was the $15,000 stretch goal.
posted by jedicus at 12:49 PM on June 13, 2012


...so not being much of a gamer, someone tell me that this attempted rape scene in the Croft game isn't actually part of the gameplay? The player doesn't actually have to mash a button to keep her from getting raped and she doesn't get raped if the player does nothing, right?
posted by zennish at 12:50 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


zennish: quoting from above: The game literally has a QuickTime Event where you press X to not get raped. It's in the game.
posted by daniel_charms at 12:51 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


...so what the good goddamn happens if the player doesn't press X? Seriously? Seriously? You just watch her get raped?
posted by zennish at 12:54 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay I already pitched into the KS, because WTF anonymous internet misogynists, but:

zennish: quoting from above: The game literally has a QuickTime Event where you press X to not get raped. It's in the game.

WTF developers. That is messed up. Like I could see a non interactive scene where she always gets away happening, but on preview, what zennish said.
posted by juv3nal at 12:55 PM on June 13, 2012


It's basically a glorified cut scene. You just have to suffer through it, wait for it to tell you when to mash which button. You could mute it and not even watch anything else that happens, just keep your eye on the part of the screen where you know the button appears and not pay attention to anything else.

It isn't part of the core game where you get to run around and stuff. I actually don't like those scenes because I'm stuck watching for the button prompt instead of either watching what happens or skipping it entirely (by pressing a button to skip or going to make myself a sandwich while it plays out).
posted by VTX at 12:57 PM on June 13, 2012


See zennish's comment above mine, VTX. What happens if you don't hit x?
posted by juv3nal at 1:00 PM on June 13, 2012


...so what the good goddamn happens if the player doesn't press X? Seriously? Seriously? You just watch her get raped?

You'll just get a "mission failed" screen and have to go back to shortly before you have to push the button. I almost always have to watch these stupid things twice because I set the controller down to watch the scene play out and the story get advanced as that was the cut-scene convention of my youth.
posted by VTX at 1:00 PM on June 13, 2012


>I know the thread has exploded and stuff, but could we talk about them maybe? I'm really curious.

Offhand, Faith from Mirror's Edge is reasonable and "grown up," insofar as you can expect that. The gameplay's great and her/your body isn't treated as decoration nor is it ever put in sexual peril (although she does wear a tank top and is generically attractive). In fact, I wonder if Mirror's Edge 2 would have been along already but for that.

Chell in Portal, obviously. I can only imagine that someone out there has contrasted the sexual politics of the Gravity Gun (male) vs. the Portal Gun (female).

Recette in Recettear? She's cutsy, and she hires boys to do the heavy monster-whacking work, but she's also quite literally the owner.

...so what the good goddamn happens if the player doesn't press X? Seriously? Seriously? You just watch her get raped?

Yeah, that was my first thought. I assume they linger on the PRESS X! qte for longer than necessary, then when it times out they fade to black and you reload the last checkpoint.

Mirror's Edge has a scene like that, except it's a guy trying to smash you off a building and you have to counterattack at the right moment (no prompts!) to grab the pipe before it hits your face. No titillation involved.
posted by postcommunism at 1:01 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is from way up-thread, but:

>>I have a question, for those who are more knowledgeable about Kickstarter than I. This person was trying to raise $6k, now she's got nearly $100k. So... is she just going to get a huge check? Or, more accurately, a normal sized check for a huge amount of money?
>I think it gets deposited into her Amazon Payments account instead of coming in physical check form, but otherwise, yeah.


I can verify this is true, minus Kickstarter and Amazon's portions (about 10% of the whole). Where is In Profundis you ask? I'm working on it! embarassed look

As for the topic of the thread, ya know, I'm not opposed to the odd scantily-clad female in a game really if it's done right, it's a tradition that dates back at least to Gauntlet (helpless rescue object is not "done right"), but holy christ, if anything could change my opinion on that it would be this shitstorm. Thanks a heap socially mal-adjusted gamer masses.
posted by JHarris at 1:02 PM on June 13, 2012


VTX: I've played enough video games that I can guess that the rape scene will be stupid and shoe horned in and done mostly for the controversy that it's inclusion creates. Since I think it's stupid and doesn't really have anything to do with the story, I can pretty much ignore it the same way I did with the stupid airport scene at the beginning of Modern Warfare 2.

A case could be made for making game developers not put these stupid scenes in the games in the first place so that you wouldn't have to any lengths to ignore them.
posted by daniel_charms at 1:03 PM on June 13, 2012


If these things happened to Indy, or Kratos, or Nathan Drake, it would be massively controversial and the outcry would be huge

I think we've just discovered your next machinima project. Fame (and risk of lawsuits, but mostly fame) awaits.
posted by aramaic at 1:03 PM on June 13, 2012


VTX, you're still not really getting where we're (or at least I'm) coming from.

The paragraph goes from "it's not about being revealing" to "but hey it's still sexy." It is literally impossible for this guy to talk about the central character of the game - in a game that's supposed to be about her development as a person - without remarking on how sexy she is in some way or another. The decision to put her in specifically sexual peril is part of this. So it's not about parsing that particular statement in a strange way but rather about the totality of the situation. No one ever ever in any developer interview talked about the ways in which Kratos or whatever is sexy. Has not happened.

You know how when someone says something racist, and gets called on it, and is totally mystified that people were mad about the racist thing they said? That's kind of what's going on here. You're observing the whole situation from a vantage point that's so far removed from that of others that you're having a difficult time understanding what other people are even talking about.

That's not something you should be ashamed of or anything, but I think it's maybe helpful to be aware that that's what's going on.

zennish, here's a quote from that RPS article:
After taking a cringe-inducing beating herself, Lara fled. She hid in the claustrophobic remains of an old wooden shack, but the scavenger leader had little trouble rediscovering her trail. Gun in hand, he pinned her against a wall and began to caress her with a sweaty, salivating lust. Panicking, Lara (via quick QTEs) bit him as he leaned close and then kneed him below the belt. Seconds later, they were kicking and scrambling, surrounded by the sweltering orange of a burning forest.

Seconds after that, a gunshot rang. The scavenger fell backward, left side of his face masked in a thick, sticky syrup of fresh blood. But his eyes are what really caught my attention. They were so wide it felt like they were sucking me in – so overwhelmed by terror and shock and pain and rage and sadness. I felt incredibly uncomfortable staring into them, but it was all I could do. He was a monster, a nameless villain, and probably a rapist, but part of me wanted to hug him because, well, he was seconds away from awful, awful death. After what felt like hours, he finally choked out his last breath. Lara immediately fell to her hands and knees retching. She’d have probably vomited too, but well, she hadn’t exactly been eating much lately.
So I'm not sure what happens if you don't press X. I... I'd be surprised if they actually had a rape scene, but I think you're going to have to repeat that scene if you fail it.

jedicus - yay!
posted by kavasa at 1:03 PM on June 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


I've been a gamer for decades and I absolutely detest having to play online with strangers.

I remember playing Ultima Online back in the beginning which featured the just about the least sexualized game avatars ever. I learned very quickly that playing with other people generally sucked because most gamers have the mentality of 12 year olds. Arguably because a significant portion of the population were 12 year olds, but still. UO tried, I think, to enforce some level of decorum, which may well have alienated a chunk of asshole players.

I've played a ton of MMORPGs since then and 90% of the time I play solo. The best time I ever had playing with a group of people was when I was the token RL straight male playing with a group of openly, unapologeticly gay men in City of Heroes. Every time we'd add somebody to the group who acted like a jerk or used typical zero level gamer sexist or homophpbic insults, they would school him and then ban him. They all left to play WoW before I was done with CoH and I lost touch, alas, but I learned from them that the worst thing that happens when you school a troll is that you never have to play with that troll again - and sometimes that troll will tell all their troll friends not to play with you, which saves you a whole lot of time kicking assholes from your group.

WoW was a nightmare unless I was playing with people I'd known before I started playing.

I've spent the last few months playing (a female Imperial character) in Skyrim (because she looked tougher to me than the male Imperials). Its the first RPG I've played in year that had no online component and its maybe the best gaming experience I've had in a decade or more. Maybe since 'Grim Fandango.' Also, the armor for women in Skyrim is comparable to the armor for men, unlike in WoW where it seems like the female armor was designed for easy access.

So, basically, hell is other people, which is to say the Internet gaming world.

I long for a MMORPG that has a community like Mefi. The fact that one doesn't exists suggests that the companies that run games aren't interested in making one happen; or are afraid that if they insisted their players behave like human beings that they'd lose money; or that they like the behavior of their players and don't see a need to change it.

Anyhow, I am disgusted by how Sarkeesian is being treated (and place the blame both on the gamers themselves and the companies that have allowed "gamer culture" to flourish) and am going to donate to her project.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:05 PM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


The best time I ever had playing with a group of people was when I was the token RL straight male playing with a group of openly, unapologeticly gay men in City of Heroes. Every time we'd add somebody to the group who acted like a jerk or used typical zero level gamer sexist or homophpbic insults, they would school him and then ban him.

This should be a youtube series.
posted by postcommunism at 1:08 PM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Good uses of QTEs:





...this probably tops "worst use" though, so I guess there is a "non-worst" category.
posted by Artw at 1:09 PM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Joey: MeFightClub, I've never really taken full advantage of it, much to my shame and due to recent wedding happenings, but it seems to be a lively and awesome little community.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:10 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the game, each character has a sidequest that explores their character a little more. In Lucca's story, she is given the opportunity to go back in time in order to save her mother from a terrible accident caused by her father. In the game, the player is given the chance to enter a password. If you enter it correctly, the mother avoids the injury. An incorrect injury lets the future proceed as normal.

Also, this is the most intense goddamn moment in that game. And it's entirely optional and easy to miss too, I played through Chrono Trigger twice (out of many times, thanks New Game +) before I discovered that sequence.

Your whole party falls in battle dooming the world to eventual destruction by an alien monster Lovecraft would be proud of? LOL RELOAD.

You fail to execute a series of strictly timed tasks that results in a fade-to-black, a synthesized scream, and afterwards your character's mother's had her legs ripped off by a machine? NIGHTMARE FUEL.
posted by JHarris at 1:10 PM on June 13, 2012


Oh and VTX I should remark that a lot of us see a connection between things like Lara Croft and that Hitman trailer and the specifically violent, sexual language that's being used against Sarkeesian. This is why we're really not down with the idea of a literal or metaphorical blocking out of the entire screen except the part where you see the button-push prompt. My perspective is that this sort of stuff has real world consequences and that's why it's so important for us to give it the unblinking big-picture examination.
posted by kavasa at 1:14 PM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Also, this is the most intense goddamn moment in that game. And it's entirely optional and easy to miss too, I played through Chrono Trigger twice (out of many times, thanks New Game +) before I discovered that sequence."

It's been a good five years since I've played it, and even more since I came on it the first time but yah, whew, it's quite the moment. IIRC, there's no music, either, and the silence is terrifying.
posted by Tevin at 1:16 PM on June 13, 2012


Aside from the violence against women in games. I noticed a trend in e3 demos of emotionally realistic violence, rather than just physical simulation. Both the Last Of Us demo and the Watch Dog demo had violence that made me cringe, largely because of the animation and voice work. You're not just murdering a faceless ai bot, but someone who behaves and looks recognizably human. It made me uncomfortable watching it.
posted by empath at 1:19 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's worth noting that Lara croft was one of the first third person shooters, which let teen boys ogle her ass instead of being embodied as her.

That's kind of a misleading way of putting it because there's nothing unique about having a third person view of the player character, the vast majority of all games before and since Tomb Raider have featured an on-screen protagonist. Tomb Raider was one of the first 3D platform/shooter games but only because it had just become technically possible at that point, it was just one of many 3D games with an onscreen character when it was released in 1996, along with Mario 64, Crash Bandicoot, Resident Evil, etc. Oogling Lara Croft was a major part of why that character was designed the way it was, but the same is true for 2D fighters or RPG characters or any other genre of game (which is obviously part of the point of Sarkeesian's project).
posted by burnmp3s at 1:19 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


A case could be made for making game developers not put these stupid scenes in the games in the first place so that you wouldn't have to any lengths to ignore them.

Amen.
posted by VTX at 1:20 PM on June 13, 2012


Long thread, and maybe someone covered this, but I've been having a thought lately. Basically, people are lazy. And one of the great examples of lazy is people who use the internet to harass others. They could actually leave the house (effort,) find someone who offends them (more effort,) think of a meaningful insult (effort plus insight,) and prepare to get punched (danger.) For the most part these people wouldn't dare say these things in public, so the internet has become their toilet. It's sad and not harmless.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:20 PM on June 13, 2012


The problem being that when somebody wants to apply coercion to anonymous speech because they don't like the viewpoint, they only need to claim "predatory behavior and harassment" and the speech goes away, even if the claim is utterly baseless.

Yeah. I really want to end this kind of harassment, but I have major problems removing the anonymity of the internet. Not everyone is anonymous for evil intent. Some people have very valid reasons for being anonymous.

Another thing: that kid in England who faced charges, according to the newspaper, got it for simply saying that he was glad someone was going to die - which, while it's kind of a jackass thing to do, I don't think should be made criminal.
posted by corb at 1:21 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Basically, people are lazy."

What if all this hate and vitriol is in fact, not the product of 500,000 LAZY people but one VERY ambitious person?

There's one person who's responsible for all this hate and vitriol. Said hatemonger has constructed some sort of program that will generate sexist/racist/agist/-ist epithets directed toward anything that raises the ire of said hatemonger.
posted by Tevin at 1:23 PM on June 13, 2012


[...]which will end up with more obvious examples of misogyny or a shallower look at characters fairly devoid of personality like Metroid's Samus.

Well really what Samus is is the silentest of the silent protagonists. You're supposed to identify closely with her because the whole point of (the best) Metroid games is exploring a huge alien world.

Of course, the original game doesn't even reveal Samus is female until you win, and quickly enough too. And if you complete the game fast enough you see her in a bikini. So, Metroid: some parts good, some parts bad. (From what I hear, Other M pushes the line further towards "bad.")
posted by JHarris at 1:26 PM on June 13, 2012


burnmp3s, that may be, but Lara Croft didn't just materialize in front of the video game's camera with giant triangle boobs and some serious booty shorts--she was designed with that camera's eye in mind.
posted by dougmoon at 1:27 PM on June 13, 2012


The RPS folks are not known for taking it easy on games they think look stupid or exploitative, but that preview of a small part of Tomb Raider has mostly good things to say about it as a meditation on violence and such. Don't you think we should at least wait until we actually see the thing, as I asked earlier, before we make assumptions about how and why any particular scene works or does not work? The only evidence we have is the RPS article and it was quite positive.
posted by Justinian at 1:27 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I know the thread has exploded and stuff, but could we talk about them maybe? I'm really curious.

The ones that immediately spring to mind:

the female you're ostensibly "rescuing" in braid is (spoiler alert) actually just someone who left you for good reason and you're doing nothing noble by portraying her as in need of rescuing. it's basically the ending to the game, but you learn that she's a real person with real needs separate from your own and what you end up doing, by playing out this fantasy of being her hero, is learning that.

this is a kind of outlier really, but GlaDOS is a "female" (yes, she's an AI. feel free to discount it for that reason. I don't happen to) villain who is neither sexualized nor infantalized nor objectified, but is still monstrous, terrifying and incredibly funny without ever being made evil because of her apparent femininity. I bring it up because lesser writers/developers could easily have made her a robot with a barbie body saying sexually cruel things and they didn't do that.

from the same game: Chell. she is handled so neutrally, yet reasonably, that her gender does not define her, nor is it in any way ignored that I can think of. biggest flaw, if it is one, is that she suffers from Gordon Freeman's general blankness, story-wise.

the female characters from Psychonauts. all of them individuals presented as people with back stories that make sense without sexualizing them.

Jade from Beyond Good and Evil. Capable, intelligent, fleshed out. Extremely well written character that anyone can identify with without being an empty everywoman.

A number of characters from the fallout series. too many to list, frankly.

I'm sure there are plenty of others, but that's a quick list.
posted by shmegegge at 1:31 PM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the Portal games are wonderful as far as female characters. Although, speaking of GlaDOS and Chelle, my god, Portal 2, WHAT'S WITH ALL THE FAT JOKES?

Yeah, okay, it's kind of funny when the theme comes around again later in the game with Wheatley, but, man.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:34 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


GlaDOS also hates orphans.
posted by Artw at 1:37 PM on June 13, 2012


I know the thread has exploded and stuff, but could we talk about them maybe? I'm really curious.

Commander Sheperd from Mass Effect.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:37 PM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


WHAT'S WITH ALL THE FAT JOKES?

I think people forget that Chet and Erik were part of the Portal of Evil network along with Seanbaby and Fat Chicks In Party Hats.
posted by empath at 1:38 PM on June 13, 2012


Justinian, you can watch the trailer here.

And as always, my point remains that none of this stuff happens in a vacuum.
posted by kavasa at 1:38 PM on June 13, 2012


GlaDOS also hates orphans.

True. Really, GlaDOS hates us all. But there's a huge cultural thing of criticizing women by calling them fat, so I'm less "WHAT ABOUT THE ORPHAN JOKES?" in this instance (and, really, what's up with the cruel pranks - wtff, GlaDOS?)
posted by rmd1023 at 1:49 PM on June 13, 2012


burnmp3s, that may be, but Lara Croft didn't just materialize in front of the video game's camera with giant triangle boobs and some serious booty shorts--she was designed with that camera's eye in mind

Right but so was every other character that has appeared on screen in a video game. My point was not that male gaze isn't a big reason or even the primary reason why Lara Croft looked and moved the way she did, my point was that male gaze had nothing to do with the fact that it's a game where you can see the character you are playing. To me empath's comment was suggesting that being "embodied as" the character rather than seeing the character was the default in games at that time, which it wasn't. There were only a handful of popular first person games back then, and while first person shooter was a big new popular genre that still exists today it was by no means the default perspective that you would have expected a new 3D platforming and exploration game to have.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:51 PM on June 13, 2012


"One of the character defining moments for Lara in the game, which has incorrectly been referred to as an 'attempted rape' scene is the content we showed at this year's E3 and which over a million people have now seen in our recent trailer entitled 'Crossroads'," Gallagher wrote. "This is where Lara is forced to kill another human for the first time. In this particular selection, while there is a threatening undertone in the sequence and surrounding drama, it never goes any further than the scenes that we have already shown publicly.

"Sexual assault of any kind is categorically not a theme that we cover in this game."

This directly contradicts a statement made from Crystal Dynamics Executive Producer Ron Rosenberg to Kotaku last week in Los Angeles.


Crystal Dynamics doin' the backpedal (kotaku, read comments at your own peril)
posted by juv3nal at 2:01 PM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


They hate women. Or they love privilege. Either way.

I'd really like it to be more complicated than that, but I can't honestly say that anything I've seen suggests it is.


I do think it's more complicated, but not a whole lot. I think these guys have terrible social skills, stemming from (and feeding-back into) poor self-esteem, which has encouraged them to dive deep into gaming as an escape, where their poor social skills are not an issue (but which also feeds-back into atrophied real world social skills). Due to these poor social skills, they have had terrible interactions (rejection, etc.) with women, which leave them feeling consistently emotionally hurt by women. To protect their own egos, so the rejection doesn't hurt so bad, they go all sour grapes "Fuck women! Buncha bitches." etc. etc. -- i.e., the insecure guys can't be the problem, no, no, because they're perfect in every way, it's the women who are big meanies. Which is, of course, elicits hostility and unpleasant reactions from women, and the feed-back loop continues.

No excuses; just my take on what's going on here. It's all very sad.

(Of course I don't mean to imply that all gamers have poor social skills. But I do think there's a significant overlap in that Venn diagram.)

tl;dr FOREVER ALONE
posted by LordSludge at 2:02 PM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


You're right, burnmp3s.

I do think though, as empath says, the camera does let you ogle Lara, but it doesn't let you ogle Mario. You can stare at his abstracted butt all day, but where's my plumber's ass crack?
posted by dougmoon at 2:06 PM on June 13, 2012


damn, that is just ugly - utterly mindless abuse and hate speech
posted by pyramid termite at 2:08 PM on June 13, 2012


"I do think though, as empath says, the camera does let you ogle Lara, but it doesn't let you ogle Mario. You can stare at his abstracted butt all day, but where's my plumber's ass crack?"

A better analogy would be Shadows of the Empire which came out around the same time. It, too, is a third person game and IIRC, one could certainly ogle Kyle Katarn's 2-polygon ass if one were so inclined.
posted by Tevin at 2:10 PM on June 13, 2012


A better analogy would be Shadows of the Empire which came out around the same time. It, too, is a third person game and IIRC, one could certainly ogle Kyle Katarn's 2-polygon ass if one were so inclined.

This is not dat ass of which one speaks but a haphazard collision of blocks. Doesn't ogle have intent?

This is nothing compared to Tomb Raider in its gigantic triangle box, a temple to itsattentively crafted ass within.
posted by dougmoon at 2:18 PM on June 13, 2012


Justinian, you can watch the trailer here .

That is terrifying. I won't describe it in detail but there is an attack and she kills her attacker after a struggle for a gun. It really isn't in any way sexy so I can't think of how the games producers could have described it as such.

It is worth it to watch the clip before you come to any judgements about it.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:21 PM on June 13, 2012


Back of the prophetic Tomb Raider box: SOMETIMES A KILLER BODY ISN'T ENOUGH
posted by dougmoon at 2:22 PM on June 13, 2012


Really, if that is a QTE I would probably end up with a broken controller after freaking out pounding x to get away. That shit is scary.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:26 PM on June 13, 2012


It is worth it to watch the clip before you come to any judgements about it.

The attempted rape may be gratuitous, but it's not sexy. Nor is Lara presented as being especially sexy. But I'm not sure the rape is at all required to establish the character if that trailer is any evidence.
posted by tyllwin at 2:36 PM on June 13, 2012


But I'm not sure the rape is at all required to establish the character if that trailer is any evidence.

The guys from Giantbomb discussed this on their most recent podcast, having just returned from E3. From what they were saying, it sounded like the rape is not so much to establish Lara's character, as it is to establish the dangerousness of the situation she finds herself in, and the evilness of the bad-guy characters. (Or at least, just as much.)
posted by rifflesby at 2:43 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jade from Beyond Good and Evil is another great character.
Jade is actually a really good example of what I mean about a character who's pretty well written, but complicated a little bit by cliches and a kind of male gaze sexy appearance. It's way subtler than most games, but I guess there's still this implicit assumption that the player is male that colors her. I like Jade, though. Beyond Good & Evil is the only game I can think of off the top of my head to really convey any feeling of motherliness (the kids, and their home, are just so kidly and homely that they give me an almost automatic sense of affection).
posted by byanyothername at 2:47 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I also like Lucca because there are just not enough Genius Science Girls in the world.
posted by byanyothername at 2:48 PM on June 13, 2012


>Due to these poor social skills, they have had terrible interactions (rejection, etc.) with women, which leave them feeling consistently emotionally hurt by women

I don't think these kinds of griefers actually need a negative interaction to start behaving like they do. More often you see them online telling each other the same old story in which they are preemptively cast as the foreveralone, with or without any real interaction to base that on. When you're a boy who moan because the universe hasn't assigned you a girlfriend yet, then the cute girl in your english class becomes just another reminder that you haven't yet received that to which you're entitled. Her non-sexual presence in your life is taken as rejection in and of itself. And a girl invading your rightful space of videogames/internet? Outright mocking you. Man the battlements. I think this is true even after the foreveralones inevitably find a significant other.

In fact, I don't even think they're really griefers, as they attack people like Sarkeesian out of genuine outrage instead of just to be dicks.

On preview: the hint of rape is gratuitous because it's there as an "oh yeah, Lara's super bangable" moment. It's titillation with plausible deniability. If they really wanted to establish evilness they'd have the bad guys kill a cat.
posted by postcommunism at 2:50 PM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


as it is to establish the dangerousness of the situation she finds herself in, and the evilness of the bad-guy characters. (Or at least, just as much.)

I'd say it does that, I'm still freaked out and I only watched the clip on YouTube. Playing the game you would probably be in full on fight or flight mode.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:51 PM on June 13, 2012


"I also like Lucca because there are just not enough Genius Science Girls in the world."

Another thing I like? She's effective in the game as fighter and not just as a healer/thief/buff. It's really rare to see girl characters wield serious firepower like that.

Also she invents a teleporter/time machine like it's no big deal.
posted by Tevin at 2:52 PM on June 13, 2012


Oof, just read through some of those archived youtube comments. There are one or two encouragingly calm replies, but the rest of it is the standard "nuclear response to the slightest perceived insult" thing.

I can remember getting annoyed at people not liking what I liked when I was a kid, but I wonder if you can grow out of this level of animosity.
posted by lucidium at 2:56 PM on June 13, 2012


my god, Portal 2, WHAT'S WITH ALL THE FAT JOKES?

I think it's probably to show GlaDOS as a jerk? She's hardly endearing herself to a player with those comments; it doesn't strike me that the goal is to get high-fives and "good ones!"
posted by Hoopo at 2:58 PM on June 13, 2012


On preview: the hint of rape is gratuitous because it's there as an "oh yeah, Lara's super bangable" moment. It's titillation with plausible deniability.

This is an assumption that doesn't seem to be borne out by either the developer's statement of his intent (putting her in extremely dangerous situations so that (a) the player will feel protective and (b) to provide the reason for her to evolve into a badass), nor reports from commenters here who have seen the scene in question, and found it horrifying and not in the least sexy.
posted by rifflesby at 3:01 PM on June 13, 2012


as it is to establish the dangerousness of the situation she finds herself in, and the evilness of the bad-guy characters

Sure. It does. And I think it adds to the character to remind the player that there was once a Lara Croft who'd never shot anyone, and that it wasn't an inherent callousness that turns her into the badass killer she will become. But honestly? Why wouldn't "take that one out and shoot her" do just as well?
posted by tyllwin at 3:02 PM on June 13, 2012


Tevin> Another thing I like? She's effective in the game as fighter and not just as a healer/thief/buff. It's really rare to see girl characters wield serious firepower like that.

I see what you did there.
posted by subversiveasset at 3:07 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


But honestly? Why wouldn't "take that one out and shoot her" do just as well?

Well, as a player, if there was a quicktime event to prevent getting shot I would probably fail it at least once to see what happens. With the scene in question I would be pounding the button hoping that I don't fuck up.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:11 PM on June 13, 2012


>Dear The Internet, This Is Why You Can't Have Anything Nice

I beg to differ. I'm not going to get caught up in the gaming aspect of this thread but there are plenty of nice places on the internet, for any value of 'nice'.

Most of the time you have gatekeepers, and nice depends on how close your viewpoint matches that of the gatekeepers. I think most of those here will agree that the mefi bunch do a pretty good job. You wouldn't be here if you weren't getting something out of it.

Subliminally there's a continuous signal being sent out - greed is good. cheating is cool, sex, sex, sex. If you barely qualify as human, you probably don't even notice the programming and we end up with the kind of shit that we see today. Fortunately, most of these animals eventually turn into something more human like. Fortunately, this is the internet. These assholes in the real world can and do do a lot worse.

How to fix? I really don't have a clue. As a species, we're pretty nasty, and this particular problem pales in comparison to our main problem which imo is figuring out how 7 billion people co-exist.
posted by w.fugawe at 3:14 PM on June 13, 2012


But honestly? Why wouldn't "take that one out and shoot her" do just as well?

Well, firstly, gamers are pretty used to seeing people getting shot, so the idea isn't as shocking or scary. Secondly, it's obvious that a threat of death holds no water -- if Lara actually gets executed, there's no more game. But a rape is something that she could conceivably suffer if you as the player/Lara don't prevent it.
posted by rifflesby at 3:18 PM on June 13, 2012


I just watched the trailer on youtube. Meh. It's the usual "beat the crap out of a lady while showing her body contorting in sexy ways and making her panicked breaths sound a lot like sex sounds" stuff. The rape is pretty in line with that. I honestly find that kind of game/movie titillation grosser than, you know, just big tits, because it equates breaking a woman physically with sexiness.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:23 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is an assumption that doesn't seem to be borne out by either the developer's statement of his intent, nor reports from commenters here who have seen the scene in question, and found it horrifying and not in the least sexy.

Having watched the clip in the RPS link, I can say the camera tracks his hand down her body when he assaults her. Grammatically, this says, hey eyeball, check out this body just as it conveys all the other uh ohs the developers may intend.

Also, reading the same link, for a game supposedly not about the same Tomb Raider franchise which has made no bones about its sexual objectifications, the developers still have plenty to say of her sexiness and where it comes from and how her clothes will or will not be ripped and how they are letting her keep a little baby fit, etc.--it just does not compute.
posted by dougmoon at 3:26 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I see what you did there.
Puns are what happen to fools who challenge the mighty Lucca! Bahaha!
posted by byanyothername at 3:29 PM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


"If they really wanted to establish evilness they'd have the bad guys kill a cat."

Okay, if you guys are so evil, why don't you just ... EAT THIS KITTEN!

More on point -

Can any of you name a videogame in which a central male character is threatened with rape? Even with the implication of the possibility?

As has been pointed out in this thread, there are situations in which that is perceived as being a real and present possibility (e.g. in prison), so it could easily be applied to a male character if the sole object is to make them seem more threatened or what have you.

I suspect there's not going to be a lot of examples.
posted by kyrademon at 3:31 PM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I guess I don't understand giving these developers benefit of the doubt when they've left little as they go a clambering toward I Spit on Your Grave: the Video Game.
posted by dougmoon at 3:36 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know the thread has exploded and stuff, but could we talk about them maybe? I'm really curious.

From my limited gaming experience on iOS: Space Miner, a very fun and funny game that I'm replaying so I can read everybody's lines. Your default character is male Joe or female Jade, and I'm having too much fun playing as Jade to switch. There's one other female character in the small cast, semi-antagonist Ms. Frost; they've both got the Sexy Female Character design going on, but overall they're emphasized as just people. Weird, sarcastic people. (Arguably less nuts than the male people.)

Really, Space Miner reminds me of Ace Attorney only with more angry robots and blowing-stuff-up. More games like this, please! PHOENIX WRIGHT, SPACE ATTORNEY?!
posted by nicebookrack at 3:43 PM on June 13, 2012


I think part of the problem with the trailer is that a lot of problems with someone using rape as "really horrible thing designed to make you feel afraid." part of that is the triggering effect on survivors. but part of it is that rape is very very difficult to handle intelligently in media. even with the best intentions, you run the risk of turning something that is incredibly damaging and complex into a reductive Bad Thing that - mostly unintentionally I'd wager in this instance - dismisses the real trauma of the event. When the idea is to say "Rape is the worst thing, right? That'll really make this guy stand out as a villain" the end result is that the act becomes about the perpetrator, rather than the survivor. It's a difficult thing to really nail down the nuance of, so I'll try to do so by listing a few things I thought about after watching that trailer:

- Lara beats the guy up and kills him, preventing the assault from going any further. could this make viewers who survived an assault feel, as survivors often will, that they didn't act to prevent their own assault? will it rekindle feelings of guilt and shame?

- we have problems in our culture with depictions of rape, generally. how a woman is dressed can be perceived as "asking for it" by the (to be generous) insensitive and cruel. Lara is wearing a tight shirt and hot pants, basically. do they address that side of the issue? Not just for the character, but for a society that watches this and will form its often insensitive and cruel judgments of any female in media?

- anyone who survives something like this has a lot of inner turmoil they'll carry with them as baggage, and the developer comments and trailer seem to imply that the ultimate effect here is to make her a hardened badass, which seems... insufficient and unrealistic. Not to say that they needed to make the rest of the game a therapy session, but someone surviving an assault and ultimately becoming a badass is just unrealistic in a way that I don't think helps the way assault is perceived generally. bear in mind this is a prequel to games that established this character as a sexy, objectified type who has been known to quip with ridiculous innuendo as part of that objectification. They seem to be trying to humanize her, and I don't know that this contributes well to that.

- frankly, the scene seems to be saying "her female-ness makes her vulnerable. like so." I'm generally not thrilled by things like this. as though the message is "she's a hot girl in the jungle. fucked up shit is gonna happen because that's a disadvantage she has being female." did they intend that? I'm positive they didn't. but it's out of character, even for the typically reductive character of Lara Croft.

At the end of the day, rape is a difficult enough problem to tackle in a depiction that being able to address concerns like these is basically a requirement. At least for me as an audience member. I think they made a mistake. I don't think they're shitty for it, but I think they mis-stepped pretty badly, especially because as others have noted there are plenty of ways for a storyteller to make someone a terrifying bad guy that don't involve this particular minefield. When you make media in a culture like ours, that has such a turbulent relationship with how we view sexual assault, handling this topic can contribute to the problem of depicting women and the culture surrounding that. I think this contributes to the problem, though not as badly as many many other instances I can think of.

Basically, I think they made a bad decision here, and if I were them I'd strongly consider eliminating it if development time allowed.
posted by shmegegge at 3:46 PM on June 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


I have to say I really appreciate this thread for letting me know never to get that game. Because let me tell you, if I started randomly playing a game, and then there was a "If you don't push this button fast enough, you're going to get raped!" I would be down a game console, because there would be a fist-shaped hole in it.
posted by corb at 3:47 PM on June 13, 2012


oh, and part of the problem that I forgot to mention, when the developer acknowledges that the rape scene is a one-off thing that the rest of the game doesn't really address... that sort of just makes the scene one in a Parade of Badness, and that's too reductive of the act to make it necessary or even good for the story.

done now.
posted by shmegegge at 3:48 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


>it equates breaking a woman physically with sexiness.

Thing is, what they're ostensibly trying to do is good: have an engaging protagonist who's not badass from the beginning and have her character evolve. Usually character evolution just means that the PC gains levels; a best case scenario often has you, the player, becoming more familiar with the gameworld or NPCs and that increase in familiarity (sometimes even affection) stands in for character development. A character-driven game where the character actually grows would be great. Having that character continually battered can even be great too - look at Die Hard. But the first thing that came to mind in the trailer, in the opening but especially when she found her friend all strung up in the cave, was "oh, it's that kind of horror flick."

The parts of it that didn't trigger that impression do look interesting. I would love a next gen action game with protagonists who are less confident in the face of danger, who get injured and struggle but keep pressing forward anyway.
posted by postcommunism at 4:00 PM on June 13, 2012


I already threw away a good portion of my yesterday evening discussing the Tomb Raider reboot, but I have to put my pawn onto the chessboard here. First off, Ron Rosenberg is a producer. Not a developer--a producer. A producer who I'm sure has been sternly talked to by somebody because of his weird depiction of what the game is like. You have to take his statements in context. The E3 demo is a peculiar art, designed to spur controversy and just get the game's name into as many mouths as possible. It's designed, especially in the case of a big-budget game like Tomb Raider's reboot, by a PR team, and the dev team is probably too busy working on the game to even think about it. It's too bad, and I wish it was different, but it's the way things are. This is the story of a failure of a man's communication skills, not of a medium, not of a dev team, and not of a game.

empath: "Aside from the violence against women in games. I noticed a trend in e3 demos of emotionally realistic violence, rather than just physical simulation. Both the Last Of Us demo and the Watch Dog demo had violence that made me cringe, largely because of the animation and voice work. You're not just murdering a faceless ai bot, but someone who behaves and looks recognizably human. It made me uncomfortable watching it."

Good! Awesome. If I ever create something that gets a lot of attention, I can assure you that it won't be about making people feel good. I'll want people to feel uncomfortable and to then ask themselves questions about why they reacted that way, and about what experience I was trying to give them. In the case of the Last of Us demo, which I found fantastically visceral and terrifying, I think they're making great strides in forcing people to feel like shit about what they're doing. I want more video games to explore themes like this, because I want video games to narratively mature.

There's nothing titillating about the attempted rape scene. There's something sexy about how Lara Croft, who in this game is an inexperienced teenager, reacts to and overcomes a stressful situation, a situation of which an attempted assault of ambiguous nature is merely a part. That's not meant to be a statement about women as a whole. I'm not saying "man what's wrong with all those rape victims why don't they just GET OVER IT" even though I'm sure you would love it if I would just say that. I'm saying that this story looks like a really cool one, and it seems like a solidly considered direction to take Lara Croft as a character. Not because an attempted rape is the only way to make a character have gone through hardships, but because I believe that an attempted rape is one valid hardship for a character to go through.
posted by BV at 4:00 PM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am nowhere near articulate enough to explain how reading the descriptions of that scene is making me go hell the fuck no. But thanks for the summary, and I mean that sincerely: some of the gaming enthusiasts I know have been assaulted, and now I can tell them to avoid that game because nothing would rip the joy out of gaming faster than seeing a scene like that in the middle of play.
posted by zennish at 4:03 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Interesting female characters that leap to mind: Elaine Marley, Carmen Sandiego, Chell and GlaDOS, Nico Collard.
posted by painquale at 4:06 PM on June 13, 2012


Can any of you name a videogame in which a central male character is threatened with rape? Even with the implication of the possibility? I suspect there's not going to be a lot of examples.

None come to mind off the top of my head, no. But then, there aren't a lot of video games set in prisons that I can think of. Google tells me there's one called The Suffering, but I've never played it. Maybe some day there'll be a video game adaptation of OZ or Pulp Fiction? Or Deliverance?

As a game developer myself, if I were writing a game where I needed the possibility of something really outrageously horrible to happen to a male protagonist, I might well consider a threat of rape. But it seems like it would be more difficult to construct circumstances where that's a credible threat, than it would be with a female character. The common assumption (which I have no idea as to the accuracy of) is that a woman could be raped anywhere at any time, whereas a man is unlikely to be raped anywhere other than in a prison.

But if you're making a list of truly awful things that might happen to a character, male or female, it does seem like rape would be at the top of that list.
posted by rifflesby at 4:10 PM on June 13, 2012


you know, cloud crossdressing in ff7 is something i wonder if you could get away with, nowadays
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:13 PM on June 13, 2012


p.s. I doubt that I personally would have gone with the rape sequence, if I were writing Tomb Raider. Rape is horrible, but it's a horrible thing that anyone could think of, and probably the first answer anyone would give if you asked them "What's the most horrible thing you can think of that might happen to a female character?"

Rape is too easy a solution to that problem. I bet Ithe developers could have thought of something just as (or at least nearly as) horrible, and more surprising, if they'd really tried.
posted by rifflesby at 4:17 PM on June 13, 2012


A prison break game seems like a pretty sweet conceit that hasn't been explored. It could be a mix of planning and action, like Rainbow 6. Or, if you make it an open-world game like GTA or Bully, the fact that there are barriers around the environment would no longer seem contrived.
posted by painquale at 4:18 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's nothing titillating about the attempted rape scene.

the camera following the hand over her body is kind of gross in a lot of ways but no, the attempted rape scene isn't okay for not being titillating. it's crappy because lara croft, as a woman, is subjected to (attempted) sexual violence in a way that a male character would not be. which sucks!

I'm not saying "man what's wrong with all those rape victims why don't they just GET OVER IT" even though I'm sure you would love it if I would just say that.


Who would love it if you would say that, and why would they love that?
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 4:25 PM on June 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Say what you will but if we have already established that a portion of gamers have a grudge against women it might do them some good to be confronted with this.

BTW I watched the trailer on YouTube not the clip on Kotaku so the human sacrifice part shortly before the attempted rape might have colored my perception.

What's the most horrible thing you can think of that might happen to a female character?"

It seems like it might be, judging from the reaction to it. We as a society produce things like The Human Centipede and I don't remember a huge outcry. Being turned into a human centipede is like an an 11 on shit that will ruin your week.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:26 PM on June 13, 2012


There's nothing titillating about the attempted rape scene. There's something sexy about how Lara Croft, who in this game is an inexperienced teenager, reacts to and overcomes a stressful situation, a situation of which an attempted assault of ambiguous nature is merely a part.

There's nothing titillating about Lara Croft's attempted rape of ambiguous nature, but the end result is something sexy.


That's not meant to be a statement about women as a whole. I'm not saying "man what's wrong with all those rape victims why don't they just GET OVER IT" even though I'm sure you would love it if I would just say that.

what

I'm saying that this story looks like a really cool one, and it seems like a solidly considered direction to take Lara Croft as a character.

What so far evinces solidly considered here?

Not because an attempted rape is the only way to make a character have gone through hardships, but because I believe that an attempted rape is one valid hardship for a character to go through.

Yeah, but this isn't a thoughtless quick time event of just any "valid hardship" pulled out from the hardship barrel. This is rape. It has a context beyond that.

Does a rape take hit points? Does surviving gain you experience points? What will be the dimensions of the gameplay alongside the so mature storytelling of the future Rape Escape games? How does it integrate into multiplayer?

What in anything about the video game community of E3 makes you think this is a good development given the current state of women in games?
posted by dougmoon at 4:28 PM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


The common assumption (which I have no idea as to the accuracy of) is that a woman could be raped anywhere at any time, whereas a man is unlikely to be raped anywhere other than in a prison.

Although it doesn't tend to get the attention it probably should: Men are often raped (or at least subjected to sexual violence) in wars.

I remember hearing about one or two games that take place in or during a war.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 4:29 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't know what video games look like in the future, but rape just isn't the province of GAME OVER and MISSION FAILED video games.
posted by dougmoon at 4:32 PM on June 13, 2012


Video games featuring male characters and set in prisons seem to include at least:

Prison Break: The Conspiracy
The Suffering
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Prison Tycoon
Prison Tycoon 2: Maximum Security
Prison Tycoon 3: Lockdown
Prison Tycoon 4: Supermax
Saints Row 2
The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay

If a playable male character is threatened with rape in a single one of them I'll be extremely surprised.
posted by kyrademon at 4:34 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Batman: Arkham Asylum

The better example might be Batman: Arkham City, because you play as Bruce Wayne in the opening sequence and are accosted and shouted at by lots of inmates. None of them are even threatening to rape him, which it seems like they almost ought to, because "it's rich pretty boy Bruce Wayne getting thrown in with us animals", right?
posted by King Bee at 4:49 PM on June 13, 2012


Funnily enough, when you play as Catwoman, inmates do have overheard conversations about how she's just about asking to be, you know, wink wink nudge nudge, in here with all these guys, wink wink? Also, their insult vocabulary pretty much contracts down solely to "bitch."

There is very much an ugly undercurrent of misogyny in gaming. I don't actually think there's more of it, per se, than in other entertainment or culture at large. It's just less subtle.
posted by Drastic at 4:58 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


++Can any of you name a videogame in which a central male character is threatened with rape? Even with the implication of the possibility? I suspect there's not going to be a lot of examples.++
None come to mind off the top of my head, no. But then, there aren't a lot of video games set in prisons that I can think of.

Enzai: Falsely Accused, for one. With the important distinction that it's a yaoi (male/male) game directed at a female audience and specifically targeted for "ooh sexy prisoners in all-male prison" rape fantasy. And that may or may not be offensive, but games in this vein are not pretending that rape is in the game to be a Very Special Episode that builds and ennobles character; it's there because prisons are kinky & non-con is hawt & pretty boys are prettier when they cry, and the game creators and players are perfectly forthright about that.


The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay was also set in prison IIRC, but if a Vin Diesel movie prequel involved prison rape I think I'd have heard about it.
posted by nicebookrack at 4:58 PM on June 13, 2012


Went to find statistics on male rape. Succeded. From the National Institute of Justice website:
Women are more likely to be victims of sexual violence than are men. The National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS) sampled 8,000 women and 8,000 men and found that 1 in 6 women (17 percent) and 1 in 33 men (3 percent) reported experiencing an attempted or completed rape at some time in their lives. Complete report here.
But guys. ONE IN THIRTYTHREE in a random sample. Not prison inmates, not prisoners of war. And I suspect, under-reported. Wow.
posted by likeso at 5:03 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would look it up on TV Tropes but apparently prison rape and all other "mature" topics have been removed from the site.
posted by burnmp3s at 5:04 PM on June 13, 2012


Well, this is where Team Comics can lay claim to the forward thinking skills of Mark Millar.
posted by Artw at 5:12 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


More women get raped than men. I would never argue that point. One reason I specifically restricted the question to prison-set games is that it's one area where those statistics are reversed (quick googling says the rate of male prison rape is somewhere between 1 in 8 and 1 in 4, whereas the rate of female prison rape is closer to 1 in 40.)

"Enzai: Falsely Accused" is an interesting data point, but does seem a little off the topic of the question I was getting at, which is - if women being threatened with rape in a game is an appropriate storytelling device for making your character seem threatened and the villain seem the ultimate in evil, is the same true for men (if we restrict the latter to situations where men are more likely to be perceived as being potential rape victims)?

I think that question makes the differences between the Bruce Wayne and Catwoman scenarios described above rather telling.

I'm not sure exactly what's going on ... whether male characters are less likely to be put in situations where they're vulnerable in that particular way, whether female characters are more likely to have their adventures sexualized no matter what the context, or what.

But I think there is definitely a difference in treatment going on.
posted by kyrademon at 5:19 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would look it up on TV Tropes but apparently prison rape and all other "mature" topics have been removed from the site.

Hm. From what I can tell, it's a blanket removal of any page with the word "rape" in the title. Stuff like incest and bestiality are still there, and oh goody, this comment will be preserved forever in the googly archives, no matter how many times I delete my search history.
posted by elizardbits at 5:20 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I always thought it good of male rape statistics to always stand tall in discussions very specifically about women.
posted by dougmoon at 5:27 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure exactly what's going on ... whether male characters are less likely to be put in situations where they're vulnerable in that particular way, whether female characters are more likely to have their adventures sexualized no matter what the context, or what.

I think both, and also possibly what.

The male rape statistics astonished me, I didn't think the number would be as high. Nor the number for female rape be as low, many other reports give the percentage as being more in the 25% range.

But I think my point was, if the incidence of male rape is indeed that great, why hasn't there been more attention given to this? Not just in gaming (zero?) but in the media in general? I know, shame, societal conventions, but you'd think someone would be talking about this.

Wouldn't this add to the dialectic re not blaming and shaming the victim? Could this help to demonstrate that objectification is indeed a thing - it also happens to men? Could this increase empathy?

(dougmoon, I'm female and yeah a rape survivor and looking for ways to ameliorate)
posted by likeso at 5:36 PM on June 13, 2012


dougmoon, the point here is a suspicion that women are disproportionately threatened with sexual violence in videogames EVEN BEYOND what the already incredibly disproportionate real-life statistics would indicate. I'm not sure how that point can be made without bringing up the statistics.

(elizardbits, my more eyebrow raising FPPs on metafilter, such as the one that linked to pro consensual incest sites, seem to be safely buried beneath mountains of role playing game posts. The moral here is clearly, play more RPGs. It surprisingly turns out to be the less embarrassing option!)
posted by kyrademon at 5:37 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Re: TVTropes, the best part is that it's Google who told them to axe the "adult" stuff in the first place.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:45 PM on June 13, 2012


What's all this?

Hmmm...

Yeah, that sounds pretty crappy, TBH, whoever is to blame.
posted by Artw at 5:57 PM on June 13, 2012


This makes it sound not *quite* so bad.
posted by Artw at 6:08 PM on June 13, 2012


Let me give a random shout-out here to Joe Abercrombie's revenge/fantasy book Best Served Cold. It opens with an evil duke and his flunkies surprise-attacking the female warrior protagonist: they first kill her brother; she then is stabbed, beaten, kicked, clubbed in the head, and stabbed some more; has her fingers crushed, legs and arms broken, and ribs smashed; then they throw her off a cliff, where she lands impaled on a tree and hangs there in the sun for like a week.

It's brutal! And kinda-sorta relevant to this discussion because it's seared into my memory as a shining rare example of Really Bad Shit suffered (and survived) by a competent female character, throughout which no one threatens to rape her at all.
posted by nicebookrack at 6:25 PM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


(From what I hear, Other M pushes the line further towards "bad.")

Apparently the bounty hunter who has rescued the galaxy single-handedly thrice needs to be bossed around by every other guy in the bloody game and hey, here's another allusion to motherhood since BABY METROID - MOTHER SAMUS. It's especially bad compared to M: Fusion where she cooperated with her CO without being a doormat about it.

People who enjoyed GladOS might want to meet her inspiration, the AI SHODAN from System Shock 2.

I have always considered the Tomb Raider games exploitative since there was always a sexual focus on the character (wasn't Lara Croft on the cover of a male magazine around 1997?) and the pitch usually seems to be, 'you can control a sexy woman. Look how sexy she is'. Eugh.

As for the antisocial internet people, I was shocked to see that kind and amount of vitriol without provocation despite having read accounts and sites by female gamers about the online realities they can face. It's easy to select more civilised environments, never read youtube comments, and live in denial, but at least, hopefully, a few people will rethink how they interact online after this.
posted by ersatz at 6:33 PM on June 13, 2012


Also, Other M continues the trend started by Zero Mission and Smash Bros. Brawl of putting Samus in a form-fitting "Zero Suit" for part of the game because the power armor's nice and all but you can't see her boobs while she's wearing it.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:52 PM on June 13, 2012


SHODAN > GLaDOS

because of ambition
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 7:00 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am simply flabbergasted at the amount of intellectual effort and emotion this kerfuffle has aroused. I think many of us here understand what has happened and have expressed our feelings in a mature and respectful manner. If only such passion was aroused about issues that have immediate need of a righteous intellectual mob.

I might be in a minority as a non-gamer but really? Sexism and misogyny is bad and deserves no institutionalized place in games but unless it is censored or the great unwashed masses educated it is not going away. Sex is used to market commodities in our society. The Taliban would stop overt sexism by hiding it from the marketplace. They compel public modesty, I'm pretty sure few are wanting anything close to Taliban "morality" in our society.

This is a tempest in a teapot fueled by adolescents taking the piss out of a sensitive portion of the net. The kickstarter fund raising was a success. Beyond silly name calling and verbal threats no harm has actually been committed. Our would be author and videographer has enough funds to move and implement security if she has any actual fear from this. I am looking forward to her finishing this project and moving on to other important issues.

Sex and passion seem to go together don't they.
posted by pdxpogo at 7:17 PM on June 13, 2012


Would it be a topic derail to examine her subject matter? She seems to be on to something. I played war and cowboys and Indians when I was a dumb kid. I could go on a bit about what's wrong with that, except that kids are allowed to do stupid things.

Maybe training soldiers to observe the spirit of the bayonet is appropriate. Maybe that's not such a healthy thing for any branch of the general population to pursue as a hobby. GTA?

Jeez. I don't even know how to bitch about this properly.
posted by mule98J at 7:29 PM on June 13, 2012


If only such passion was aroused about issues that have immediate need of a righteous intellectual mob. .... The Taliban would stop overt sexism by hiding it from the marketplace. They compel public modesty, I'm pretty sure few are wanting anything close to Taliban "morality" in our society.

This sounds like the "you can't complain about this sexism because more terrible things are happening somewhere else" dismissive fallacy.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:33 PM on June 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


Yup.

This "kerfuffle" impacts on us all, because the ugliness of sexism impacts on us all, in ways small and great, every day. Unnuanced, discriminatory thoughts and actions of one kind can often result in other kinds, and impact on us all.

Sexism and passion seem to go together don't they?
posted by likeso at 7:55 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm wondering if the fact that gamers are being described as the most anti-social guys on the internet is a coincidence.

I have this vague thought that younger males are perhaps often drawn to competition in a way that is both violent and sexual because it's a bit of a biological imperative. I don't know how to put this clearly though.

If you look at human reproductive behaviour in the same way you would look at the reproductive behaviour of animals, I think the pattern of the newly maturing males going out and competing with each other violently for a chance to reproduce is sort of scripted. If there are no females to breed with in your own tribe/community/neighbourhood because they have already been claimed by the older males, you have a choice of waiting to see if you can become powerful enough in your own group to get one or more females, or of setting out on a quest to try and battle your way into winning chances to reproduce in someone else's territory. You probably don't want to try to battle your way into winning chances to reproduce in your own territory because the women the guys there are your own kin and holding a battle at home will hurt your own sisters and brothers. But if you head out to the next valley, or the next village you're not competing with your older brothers and uncles and reducing their reproductive success rate.

So you form some buddy bonds with some other unattached guys your own age and go out and try to kick ass next door and hopefully get a girl. You want to have a better chance than the other guys in your group, so you run a fine line between trying to tear them down so you are the dominant male in the group, and keep the group strong so that you can successfully invade.

I am thinking that gamers are guys in this position, and that the whole game, both in real life and on the internet is for many of them slightly sexually tinged. It's a sperm competition thing. The most successful guy is the guy who manages to kill the biggest number of genetically different guys, and doesn't get his brothers and first cousins killed, and manages to breed with the most females. In this scenario whether the females consent or not is quite irrelevant. They simply aren't allowed to refuse and since the winner has to impregnant the highest number of females he's not going to want to stop to settle down and support his kids and be a partner to the females. He's going to leave it up to the females to cut their loses and keep his kids alive. In this game females are prizes and you don't stop playing when you win the princess, you simply start a new game to try to win another princess.

So if some female joins this group and starts trying to change the rules from the way these guys are playing, their instinctive reaction to her is going to be to try to sexually dominate her -thus the rape threats, and other effluvia that gets thrown at women by gamer guys who are playing this role.

I am theorizing that the guys who are most likely to throw crap at women gamers on the internet are also the guys who will be most likely to end up as gamers, as opposed to competing with other guys on a football field, or trying to get into a better school, or trying to start a business and get rich, or even out there trying to pick women up. The same strong drive that allows a guy to spend 12 hours out of twenty four with a controller "killing" Nazis or goblins will make him direct his aggression and competitive urges onto the internet instead of in a real world direction. He's likely to equate Sarkeesian with Croft. To him she's just a virtual babe and a suitable target for his sexual aggression. They would no more stop the rush to dominate and kill and win for Sarkeesian than if a female character in game were to try to distract them from winning. The attack on Sarkeesian is a zergling rush. To them she belongs to the same world as the screen where they pick between a flame thrower and a Tokarov, not the same world where the might have to go to summer school if they fail to study for an exam.

The game developers who have introduced the idea that you get to see Croft in a rape situation, are working from this angle. Of course they can't just cheerfully explain that they are trying to get their players turned on, although they obviously are with the impossibly sexualized charicatures that they present as female characters. They are probably hoping to get the guys interested both in terms of protective towards Croft, but also of course they want to sexualize her more. I expect they would have written a scenario where the character did get raped if they thought it would captivate their audience -maybe doing it "tastefully" yet evocatively off screen- but they know a reasonably high percentage of the players are not just staring at the Croft character's over-developed butt, but are also identifying with her. There's a high enough percentage of guys who would "put their fist through the game console" so they can't do that.

Just because I am coming up with a theory as to why the gamer guys on the internet have a particularly nasty culture, doesn't mean I think it is a good thing, and that they have a right to post comments making rape threats, and mutilation threats.

It's interesting to me that one of their reactions is to yell at Sarkeesian that they do not want to have sex with her. ("You're an ugly fat bitch and would rather hit myself in the balls than go on a date with you...") It shows how far into their own game they are. That's a remarkable level of cluelessness.

Now this all leads me to a conclusion that I think I would rather have these guys glued to the internet playing multi-player than actually out there in the real world. Since they seem to only understand one game and one role in it, I'd rather not run into them as my co-workers or classmates. I expect some of them might be able to compartmentalize so that the game is only for on line and they can take different roles when they are in real life. The nice thing about the internet is that I can simply go play another game and I don't have to play with these guys.
posted by Jane the Brown at 8:08 PM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]



Prison Tycoon
Prison Tycoon 2: Maximum Security
Prison Tycoon 3: Lockdown
Prison Tycoon 4: Supermax

Hoooooly shit. I was laughing at your hilarious parody of "Tycoon" style games until, just for the hell of it, I googled to see what would come up. These are real. "Prison Tycoon is a business simulation computer game developed by Virtual Playground and published by ValuSoft in July 2005 that puts the user in charge of a prison. Objectives are to keep the prison running, keep the staff happy, keep the prisoners in line, all while trying to make money." Holy shit.
posted by gwint at 8:23 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


People, we have no time to complain about people saying vicious sexual hings to women on the Internet because women on the Internet-computers aren't REAL, or to complain about videogame female characters being raped sexily because videogames are on computers so they aren't REAL, and somewhere in the REAL world right now there are REAL women being stalked and sexually harassed on the street by men, and there are REAL women being raped by men who think of them as sexual objects to abuse!

So drop the silly hysteria, because the Internet culture that prizes the view of women-in-computers as passive non-human objects for men to fuck or silence, and the REAL world culture that prizes the view of women-in-the-streets as passive non-human objects for men to silence or fuck, are NOT CONNECTED AT ALL.
posted by nicebookrack at 8:25 PM on June 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


pdxpogo, please don't be dismissive about the discussion, emotion (and passion) here. Please try to see it as reflecting some "real world" concerns and experiences, and part of a fumbling towards the education process you agree needs to be implemented.
posted by likeso at 8:43 PM on June 13, 2012


righteous intellectual mob...The Taliban...a sensitive portion of the net...Our would be author and videographer has enough funds to move and implement security if she has any actual fear from this...

are you for real? "sensitive portion of the net"? "move and implement security"? hahahahahaholyshityou'renotjoking
posted by facetious at 8:55 PM on June 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


I am beyond tired of sexism in adult media being dismissed as "just teenagers."

No, seriously, adult men can be pretty fucking offensively sexist. This reason why it "isn't a big deal" women in public deal with rape and death threats is totally weak. Fat, Ugly, or Slutty has audio recordings of a bunch of the men who say these things, and yeah, they're men.

I'm also really tired of women being told it's our fault for speaking up, and if we'd only shut up and pretend to be male everything would be fine. 1) Fuck you, I don't want to pretend to be male. 2) Fuck you, pretending to be male shouldn't be necessary to not get threats of rape. 3) Just fuck you, seriously.

I'm also really REALLY tired of being told that all women who receive violent threats just wouldn't if they followed Mr. Expert's 104,458,235 rules for internet safety. The internet is one of those wonderful place where you can test your theories, Mr. Expert; please name yourself Buffy McBubbles and play WoW. Oh, wait, rule number 1 is never use a female name.

I'm also really, really, REALLY tired of the people who say if we ignored the dipshit sexists they'd go away. 1) Victim blaming, anyone? 2) IT DOESN'T WORK. No, seriously, it DOESN'T FUCKING WORK. For every one that you MIGHT get to go away with ignoring them, there are another hundred ready and willing to step up and take their place. When Fat, Ugly, or Slutty came out, people were shock at how much abuse women received simply for playing games. When I say "people", of course, I actually mean "men, and women who don't play video games online". I wasn't surprised, but then... I played WoW.

These people aren't being sexist assholes to get a rise out of people. They're being sexist assholes to hurt the people they're being sexist assholes TO. That goal? Accomplished at SEND. Anything else is gravy. However, a shitload of them get really uncomfortable when you forward their email to the workplace email location they emailed you from - and yes, men do in fact email sexual offers and rape threats from their work emails.

When you try to cover up for these people, excuse them, come up with reasons why if women just somehow ceased existing the problem would just go away - you're helping them.

If you want to actively spend your time being a sexist asshole apologist... I guess that's your choice, but don't delude yourself thinking you're somehow helping women.

We already know a lot of people people would rather we sit down, shut up, barely eat, and not wear much clothing.
posted by Deoridhe at 9:05 PM on June 13, 2012 [35 favorites]


pdxpogo This is a tempest in a teapot fueled by adolescents taking the piss out of a sensitive portion of the net.

This is yet more of the sort of apologist bullshit that I'm really getting tired of hearing. We have evidence from audio files of harassing gamers- it's not adolescents that were being recorded by Not in the Kitchen. Example. Lots of examples from the "N00dz or GTFO panel . And there's a hell of a lot more examples for anyone willing to do a Google search. Again, it's not kids, but adults doing the harassing.

So let's not hear any more of you trying to diminish this problem by claiming this is just "Boys being boys". This is you being a part of the problem.
posted by happyroach at 9:27 PM on June 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


If only such passion was aroused about issues that have immediate need of a righteous intellectual mob.

You say "if only" as if it isn't, in fact, the case. It is. More passion is aroused by other more immediately desperate social issues. This is not hard to see if you actually go looking.

People are capable of multitasking, of caring about more than one thing. That there are more terrible things in the world does not mean that things that are less terrible but still somewhat terrible cannot be addressed as well; people are passionate about a surfeit of issues, all at once, because people are more complicated and inclined toward being overwhelmed by the problems in the world than would be suggested by some uncharitably reductive notion that whatever you are currently discussing is the only thing you ever care to discuss. To pretend that passion and concern is a strict either/or proposition is laughable at best.

Please let this be the end of that predictable and tiresome derail.
posted by cortex at 9:43 PM on June 13, 2012 [16 favorites]


gauche: "Surely these people have mothers."

And "complicated" relationships with same.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:57 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because complex video games and their platform milieus are an attractive outlet for miserable, antisocial neckbearrds who hate life.

Disregard vitriol (or get someone else to answer comments). Do project. You can safely ignore the shitstorm. They never leave their basements anyway.
posted by clarknova at 10:23 PM on June 13, 2012


I believe that an attempted rape is one valid hardship for a character to go through.

Actually, no it's not. Not anymore. That well has been pretty much poisoned. It's been used too much, too thoughtlessly. Too many hacks have chosen "rape" as the lazy back story for why their female character is such a badass, and a whole lot of us are sick of it.

If you really, really want to use that trope in a game or movie or comic book or whatever it is you're writing, then stop and ask yourself why. And then you damn well better be a genius and do something overwhelmingly great with it, or we're just going to throw your work on the We're Sick of This Shit pile.
posted by straight at 11:25 PM on June 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


I figured Carwoman deserved her own post.
posted by Artw at 11:43 PM on June 13, 2012


I feel sorry for the guy and I feel protective of him. I want to keep him safe and do my best to keep him from having to take a punch. I thought most other people did too, I guess I'm weird.

Probably.

In my own experience people tend to be more frustrated by, than protective off their protagonist. I remember watching my wife play Tomb Raider: "no, don't jump there you stupid bitch. Aaargh, did I tell you to pick up those guns. Oh for ffs why are you doing this now, what is wrong with you?"

Etc.

Tomb Raider doesn't need an origin story and each time they tried it, it sucked donkey balls. What's wrong with just, you know, keeping Lara as an adult woman raiding tombs, why does she needs to be turned into a teenage girl for the gamer to protect?
posted by MartinWisse at 11:51 PM on June 13, 2012


Gamers can get absurdly protective of tiny moving dots if you set up the gameplay right. Decent Interaction buys involvement no crappy cutscene can ever match.
posted by Artw at 11:53 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can safely ignore the shitstorm. They never leave their basements anyway.

The problem is, they do leave the basement. Or if not, should women in general feel safer that the many guys willing to harass us online are a completely independent group from the many guys willing to harass us to our faces?
posted by nicebookrack at 12:10 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was going to post on /v/ once it hit the $120K mark but someone beat me to it. The misogynistic nerd rage is almost palpable.
posted by Talez at 12:25 AM on June 14, 2012


I mean, a huge aspect of the discussion is the way that women are represented in video games, and Lara Croft's part in it centers largely on the rape angle, so...I don't know. It's kind of a big deal, because if it weren't there, the approach to Lara wouldn't be nearly as problematic.

Actually, it still be problematic. Lara Croft doesn't need to be knocked down and build up again; the first Tomb Raider started with her as a competent, strong woman who could take up wolves and lions and T-Rex --oh my-- with nothing but her wits and a gun with unlimited ammo. All a new Tomb Raider has to do is to put modern day graphics on the same game, provide some new and interesting locations for Lara to solve puzzles, jump chasms and massacre the local wildlife of and not making playing her too easy or too hard.

That instead some douchewad producer thinks she needs to be made vulnerable, with or without rape, so that boys will want to protect her is insulting to both female and male gamers, neither of which group had any problems playing the original series.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:55 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


kmz: Why can't people project themselves into Lara Croft? Or is it code for male gamers (the only demographic we care about) can't project themselves into Lara Croft's character? Which is something I would still dispute.

I'm a guy, and this is something that's interested me for some years so I'll give you my take on it.
When I first started playing games that allowed male or female characters I was fine with playing either. After a while I realised how weird people were about the idea of a guy playing a female character - it seemed bizarre to me that people would play orcs, aliens or absolutely anything without batting an eyelid, but playing the opposite gender was absolutely weird. I've had some nasty comments about it on occasion.

Ever since then I've made a point of playing female characters, because it shouldn't be weird and people need to get used to it.

I think there're a couple of different ways you can interpret their reaction:

a) Guys do project themselves into the character and therefore it matters to them that you'd choose to 'be' a woman (to me it's just a character I'm playing). I've had a few things said to me that imply this may be a factor.

b) Guys want to chat women up online and it pisses them off that the woman they're getting on so well with might actually be a guy.

There are others and variations but those are the main ones and I'm not going to write an essay here :)

Tom
posted by lith at 3:30 AM on June 14, 2012


This issue is precisely why I don't voice chat on games anymore. I don't hide my gender, but I also don't offer it. I cannot take the harassment anymore. A bit of the fun that is online gaming has been stolen from me. I felt like I couldn't get on without feeling demeaned, and in a way, violated.
posted by Malice at 4:20 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Aisha Tyler's Facebook post after hosting Ubisoft's press conference at E3.
posted by gladly at 7:32 AM on June 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


charred husk: "
LogicalDash:
"I don't have a problem with stupid 2D fanservice per se, more with the fact that Dead or Alive-type character design is considered Standard Operating Procedure."
As I told my wife while playing Soul Calibur, if they'd have spent the time on multi-player modes that they spent on boob physics, I'd be a happy camper.
"

You're camping in a fighter? I think you have poor strategy my friend. Camping is for FPS games.
posted by symbioid at 10:05 AM on June 14, 2012


Sex is used to market commodities in our society.

Sex translated, as it always seems to be, to "scantily clad, thin, white women with large breasts".

Cars don't show a couple having sex on a car to sell it - they show a "sexy" woman because the implication is that when you see a "sexy" woman she will fuck you.

That would be: part of the problem.

It's not "sex" selling things. That's actually against the law - you can show violence, but not loving, consensual sex in public, and movies with consensual sex actually get higher RIAA ratings than ones with violence and sexual violence.

That's "scantily clad, thin, white women with large breasts" used to market commodities in our society, because for a lot of people, women's bodies are commodities.

Hel, the entire PUA movement (made up, I will note, of MEN not stereotypical pimply teenagers in basements) is based on the idea that if they figure out the right left-right-left-right-up-down-a-b code they can fuck any women they want, because women are world NPCs with cheat codes.


The Taliban would stop overt sexism by hiding it from the marketplace. They compel public modesty, I'm pretty sure few are wanting anything close to Taliban "morality" in our society.

No, actually, shockingly, the Taliban manage to be EVEN MORE SEXIST by not only implying that any woman's body is "sex" (see above for breakdown of women's bodies as an implication that you can fuck them) but also by barring women from appearing in public at all or taking any action in their own name and right! So no, the fucking Taliban is not a feminist ally.

I can't believe I even had to type that.

I mean, I thought it was obvious that an organization which literally maims and kills women for getting educations and being seen in public was NOT fighting sexism, but...

apparently not.
posted by Deoridhe at 10:43 AM on June 14, 2012 [14 favorites]


I think that pdxpogo was comparing feminists (= folks in the thread objecting to sexism) to the Taliban, actually. You see, we would SILENCE THE MENS.
posted by likeso at 10:55 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


More from Alyssa Rosenberg: The Guy’s Guide to Being a Feminist Ally in Video Gaming
posted by zombieflanders at 11:43 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree, likeso, but hat makes no sense - literally. The Taliba isn't doing what they're doing because they're OMESEWAWSUM feminist allies. They're doing it because they're ....sexist. Overtly sexist.

Really, really, really overtly sexist.

Sexist in the "we're photoshopping female lawmakers and the US Secretary of State out of pictures because they're women" overtly sexist.

Taliban modesty isn't less sexism... it's more sexism.
posted by Deoridhe at 12:11 PM on June 14, 2012


Heh, no argument here. But dollars to doughnuts pdxpogo believes that this was A Clever Comparison illustrating A Point About Censureship. Oh, the mastery!
posted by likeso at 12:38 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hel, the entire PUA movement (made up, I will note, of MEN not stereotypical pimply teenagers in basements) is based on the idea that if they figure out the right left-right-left-right-up-down-a-b code they can fuck any women they want, because women are world NPCs with cheat codes.

I realize this is the prevailing opinion on Metafilter, but I have to strongly disagree here. There's some sketchy stuff out there, but most "PUA" material I've seen, despite the "get laid" marketing, is about teaching men how to have positive interactions with women -- the result being, yeah you'll get laid more if you're not creepy, repulsive, angry, and otherwise negative in your interactions with women. At some point, golly-gee-big-epiphany: hey, women, even very attractive women, are just people too who (for the most part) want to get laid with people they find attractive.

When you're coming from a place of poor self-esteem, driven in part by sexual scarcity, you both idolize and vilify women as "other" -- the unattainable solution to your problems, thereby the cause.

Silly thing is, at the end of the day, these guys just need to get laid. But with attitudes like that, what woman in her right mind would subject herself to that? These guys, more than ANYBODY, need "PUA" training to teach them how to act right around women.

I just wish we could call it something else besides "pick-up artistry" -- maybe "Charm School for Losers Awesome Guys".
posted by LordSludge at 1:14 PM on June 14, 2012


When I was about 14 I remember seeing a woman carrying this purse that said, literally word for word, "Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them".

Now I ask you, how do you think that made me feel about gender equality and feminism?

Perhaps the people in glass houses...well, shouldn't throw rocks.

My point being that I hate how this is portrayed as "OMG what's wrong with boys they're so awful". I'm not trying to excuse what these people did but don't for one goddamned second think that women have nothing to do with the problem as well.
posted by MattMangels at 1:28 PM on June 14, 2012


My point being that I hate how this is portrayed as "OMG what's wrong with boys they're so awful". I'm not trying to excuse what these people did but don't for one goddamned second think that women have nothing to do with the problem as well.

what

Sorry, but some stupid t-shirt you saw when you were fourteen has absolutely nothing to do with people telling a feminist media critic she's an "entitled nigger" and a "bolshevik feminist Jewess" with a "masters degree in Whining."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:33 PM on June 14, 2012 [16 favorites]


Now I ask you, how do you think that made me feel about gender equality and feminism?

I guess the answer isn't "It gave you an insight into what it must feel like when someone disses you for your gender (or race or sexuality or whatever else), even if it was only one instance compared to time after time after time of hearing it from all quarters throughout your life."
posted by rmd1023 at 1:42 PM on June 14, 2012 [18 favorites]


"Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them".

That slogan was created by a man, Todd Goldman. Also, outside of some Muslim countries, people aren't stoned any more. Sexism, on the other hand, is alive and well everywhere.
posted by nooneyouknow at 1:52 PM on June 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


I remember seeing a woman carrying this purse that said, literally word for word, "Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them".

Now I ask you, how do you think that made me feel about gender equality and feminism?


I had a packet of chewing gum with that slogan on. Shall I tell you how it made ME feel about equality and feminism?

It made me really sad that this kind of weak-arse stuff was the best ammunition us girls had against the constant assumption that women were basically second rate, in a culture where 'don't be such a girl' was, and still is, an insult. It was like a kitten waving its paw at a slumbering and oblivious lion.
posted by Summer at 2:11 PM on June 14, 2012 [10 favorites]


I wonder if the same ire is directed at the slogan, "Girls rule, boys drool."

I wish the people who bring that up as a serious point of contention would take a step back for a second. Check it out: in a discussion about sexism, where women are talking about institutionalized, systemic discrimination resulting in loss of opportunity, wages, and even the ability to make our own medical decisions...

and the thing you want to complain about is a cheesy slogan you once saw on a purse. A slogan coined by a man, marketed by a man, and profited upon by a man.

Maybe you want to rethink your argument?
posted by palomar at 3:33 PM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sigh. Hit post too quickly. To continue: Out of all the things someone could find to complain about re: men's experience of sexism, that's what you want to talk about. A slogan on a purse. Not about the diminished rights of fathers in divorced families, or paternity leave options, or protection for male abuse victims... nope, it's that damn purse slogan. That's the most important thing.

Good lord.
posted by palomar at 3:37 PM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


My point being that I hate how this is portrayed as "OMG what's wrong with boys they're so awful". I'm not trying to excuse what these people did but don't for one goddamned second think that women have nothing to do with the problem as well.

I would like you to read that comment, out loud, to any woman that you like and respect, after they've read the article that we're talking about.
posted by empath at 4:15 PM on June 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


palomar - this.
I think things are better than they were, however the system still seems to assume that women's jobs are less important and/or lower paid (the latter probably true, sadly). There's also that guys are assumed to not want to care for the children more than necessary. And it all just seems like that's normal and accepted. I feel lucky to have got the children for as much as a third of the time. But we did mostly ignore the system.

By system I'm including cultural expectations and pressures, not just legal or government.
posted by lith at 4:24 PM on June 14, 2012


The existence of greater crimes does not excuse lesser crimes.
posted by MattMangels at 4:32 PM on June 14, 2012


...crimes?
posted by palomar at 5:27 PM on June 14, 2012


No, it doesn't. But the existence of lesser "crimes" sure as hell doesn't excuse greater crimes either.

It's pretty bizarre to read this story, about a woman who's getting death threats against her family, and then say "Well, fine, but a woman wore a snarky T-shirt once, so now I'm through with feminism."
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:29 PM on June 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


One of the advantages of privilege--male privilege in this case--is that can choose whether or not you want to engage with a minority viewpoint/culture. "Feminism is annoying because reasons! I choose to ignore and dismiss it forever, which I can manage because my society is set up to cater to my expectations!"

Whereas minority cultures have no choice but to deal with the pool-o'-monoculture they're floating in, because it's everywhere. "Patriarchy is dumb! I choose to ignore and dismiss it forever! By moving to my lesbian separatist island commune on Themyscira with Wonder Woman."
posted by nicebookrack at 5:58 PM on June 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


RE: PUAs "I realize this is the prevailing opinion on Metafilter, but I have to strongly disagree here. There's some sketchy stuff out there, but most "PUA" material I've seen, despite the "get laid" marketing, is about teaching men how to have positive interactions with women -- the result being, yeah you'll get laid more if you're not creepy, repulsive, angry, and otherwise negative in your interactions with women."

Search for PUA Guide

1) Top result:
The Field Guide to PUAs make it a competition. But it's not gamelike! It's about respecting women! There's a female voice-over, so that proves it!

2) Source Page "Just watching the pro’s run game on women is eye-opening. And the sense of what you can accomplish with women expands. // Then, with your new found confidence, you begin making approaches. And your instructor watches careful [sic]. // After each approach you are “debriefed” and told what subtle changes to make to your game in order to moved things further on the next approach you make. // As the night goes on, each and everyone of your “sticking points” or weaknesses is[sic] corrected and the result is a more socially affective [sic] and attractive you. // The benefit you can get from attending PUA Bootcamps far surpasses that of any DVD course. // Not that informations [sic] is “bad” – per se – it’s just that when you actually get out there and practice under the watchful eye of a master, the results come heavy and fast. // In fact, it’s not unheard of students to actually have sex with women the first night of the PUA training bootcamp. Now, typically you’ll be getting numbers and kisses… but again, some students take things further :-)" [emphasis added]

So, it's a "positive interaction" with a woman to "make your game" to approach "women" and you might be rewarded with SEX! (but most likely just phone numbers and kisses).

(Gods, I hope those women being practiced on are getting paid for that.)

3) PUA Guide
"I think the quickest way to get acceleration in the world of pick up is to by the book "The Mystery Method". This has the core concepts that have been applied to a number of schools out there.

1. I would memorize 1 OPENER
2. I would memorize 3 negs
3. two techniques for her to display interest towards you.
4. A few DHV stories to talk yourself up.
5. About 5 open questions that will help you find out more about her in comfort.
6. About 4 techniques of sexual esculation [sic] so you can get her aroused
7. and of course the kiss close, so you can close her."

Negging.. is literally insulting a woman to make her uncomfortable so you can set yourself apart from everyone else. I've been negged. It is unpleasant. And hearing a man list the different steps and then refer to getting a kiss as "closing" me... like he was buying a house? That is really, really, really gross and discomforting.

4) This one is not so bad, but the "treat her like your little sister" is a little creepy. I get what he's aiming for - don't be so stiff and tease her a little, but... if you're hitting on your little sister, that's creepy. And teasing off the bat can go really wrong, depending on who you're dealing with; different people have different sensitivities. And if I never hear the term "alpha male" again, it will be too soon.

5) Next... "Instead, what you will find is a flood of information, organized in succinct and clear order on how to Locate, Approach, Attract, Seduce, and Lay as many women as you can handle with great speed and efficiency. All kinds of women. Specifically, this guide is geared towards getting and laying HBs (Hot Babes) although that term is subjective and it really depends on what YOU think is hot."

Um... ew. Speed and efficiency... that's really... positive... I guess...?

6) Beginners Guide to Seduction - three articles in "WOMEN COME "PRE-PROGRAMMED" WITH A MENTAL IMAGE OF THE KIND OF MAN THAT THEY SHOULD FEEL ATTRACTION FOR. THIS PROGRAMMING IS BOTH GENETIC AND CULTURAL. WHEN A WOMAN MEETS THIS MAN, THINGS HAPPEN ON THEIR OWN... INSTANTLY. // Now, I personally believe that MOST of this programming is genetic. In other words, women are BORN with it. "

Women... genetically pre-programmed to respond to the same stimulus. Damn, that's NPC in a nutshell!

7) The PUA Guide to Effective Copy - the example of two men trying to pick up a woman is actually used as a metaphor for getting the attention of clients. The option of "she's tired, could you two men fuck off now" is never given. 8(

8) PUA Forum - "usually it gives me about 60% on a bad day.. 70-80% on a normal day.. and 90-100% on a good day"

Wow, stats for ... um... "positive interactions" with women... That's so totally not at all like treating women like NPCs in a game...? I'm imagining women being like baseball cards or something, with the "stats" of who can "pick us up" being on the back and traded among people and... ew. Just ew.

9) Pick Up Artist Episodes - That show about people competing to have... positive interactions with women again! How not... game like.

10) PUA's Guide - "Don’t want to ever fail a woman’s test again? Get the PDF guide so you have the secret formula that will allow you to pass." "Check out my closely guarded “quiz method” and get the hottest girls on the internet emailing you first." "learn how to use house parties to dominate your social circle and get the best girls in your city or town."

Women have tests? NPCs do, and some women might have different basic tests, but they'd be different (like, I do a 'how do they treat servers in a restaurant' with anyone I want to spend time with). I guess I do see that "positive interactions" are only important when the women are hot, though; obviously, non-hot women just aren't important, right?


So, in an informal polling of the top 10 results to "PUA Guide", 1 Explicitly encourages men to insult women to get their attention, 2 are actually a competition to pick up women where you win a prize for being good at it, 1 is a trick to get a high SEO using the term PUA, and 5 explicitly refer to women as if they were NPCs (fictional tests, using stats, and once saying women are genetically coded). One doesn't seem to have any of that sort of thing, but does have a creepy suggestion to treat potential romantic partners like younger siblings.

Sorry, the evidence I'm seeing strongly points to my working thesis of "The entire PUA movement (made up, I will note, of MEN not stereotypical pimply teenagers in basements) is based on the idea that if they figure out the right left-right-left-right-up-down-a-b code they can fuck any women they want, because women are world NPCs with cheat codes," only given the stats (generously 2/10) I'll change that to "Most of the PUA movement..."

And yeah, I know in addition to actual techniques (negging! negging! how is negging positive? Taking advantage of a woman's insecurities is a shitty thing to do! Why are they so obsessed with "hot" women? What is with the Greek letters?) I'm going with marketing - but the fact that the marketing WORKS is part of my point; enough men do view women as interchangable NPCs that can skill-up on, not people, that this is a profitable approach. PUA "techniques" to "get the hottest girls" "90%" of the time do nothing to mitigate this sexism, either; most of them rely on it and expand to even to saying "women are BORN with" a single response to men which can be predicted.

You can't "pick up women." You might be able to pick up a woman (points to #4 for actually using the singular!) but what works for one amazingly doesn't for another, and that's not because our programming is messed up.

It's because we're not NPCs.
posted by Deoridhe at 8:18 PM on June 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


Whereas minority cultures have no choice but to deal with the pool-o'-monoculture they're floating in, because it's everywhere. "Patriarchy is dumb! I choose to ignore and dismiss it forever! By moving to my lesbian separatist island commune on Themyscira with Wonder Woman."

Sadly, even that wouldn't work. 8( Women perpetuate sexism. I know I appearance-police; I can largely keep my mouth shut, but not always. I can get very into other women's "business" in a way I don't with men. It's harder for me to cut myself and other women slack. I've even caught myself victim-blaming and reacting differently to accusations of rape and sexual abuse than I do to other crimes. 8( 8(
posted by Deoridhe at 8:26 PM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wonder if Sarkeesian is going to use the ugly response to this project as part of the research into why people are reacting this way? I watched her older videos on advertising and marketing, and how content "for boys" is full of ideas and ideals about competition, fighting, the generation of conflict and dominating that conflict as part of conquering one's opponents. Conversely, there's a distinct lack of creative problem-solving (in ways that don't involve fighting) or any emphasis on group dynamics and social interaction.

I'd be interested in seeing if there's any cause-and-effect, or at least some concrete analysis that shows how this destructive behavior is a tangible result of "marketing strategies" by companies and media outlets all interested in making some money.
posted by CancerMan at 11:37 AM on June 15, 2012


Can any of you name a videogame in which a central male character is threatened with rape? Even with the implication of the possibility? I suspect there's not going to be a lot of examples.

Mafia II has a prison rape sequence.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 3:22 PM on June 15, 2012


Deoridhe I'm impressed you took as long as you did to deconstruct the various PUA approaches, but I have a feeling it's a problem that will solve itself... Darwinism and all =P
posted by xdvesper at 5:25 AM on June 16, 2012


Sometimes it's hard to be a woman. Especially when you're made out of pixels
posted by Artw at 8:25 PM on June 17, 2012


I suddenly recall being in Powell's Books 10+ years ago and coming across a copy of some terribly straight-faced fawning coffee table digital-photo-essay type book about Lara Croft by Douglas Coupland. This might have been a fever dream. I refuse to google it.
posted by cortex at 9:19 PM on June 17, 2012


Look away!
posted by Artw at 9:34 PM on June 17, 2012


xdvesper: "Deoridhe I'm impressed you took as long as you did to deconstruct the various PUA approaches, but I have a feeling it's a problem that will solve itself... Darwinism and all =P"

You have far more faith in the lower ends of human intelligence and self-respect than I do.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:15 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't want to derail this into PUA-land further, as it's such an explosive topic, so I'll leave this conversation as-is. I do maintain, however, that these guys' behavioral problems stem from (and feed back into) poor self-esteem which can be fixed through training. I'll try to jump in earlier at the next PUA thread. Seems like we're about due...
posted by LordSludge at 2:09 PM on June 18, 2012


Deoridhe I'm impressed you took as long as you did to deconstruct the various PUA approaches, but I have a feeling it's a problem that will solve itself... Darwinism and all =P

Astonishingly, being an asshole isn't genetic. It's learned behavior, reinforced by a community of people.

Equally astonishingly, misogynists can be friends with women (and date!) and still be misogynists. I had a male, misogynistic friend who concealed it very well until several years into our relationship, at which point he got drunk and spouted the most offensive, inaccurate generalizations about women I'd ever heard. I honestly didn't believe anyone actually said those things, outside of bad comedians. I happened to be wrong. Then he said, "Except you, Deo," as if that made it better, and the other male friend who was there was all confused by my being disturbed and upset by hearing my entire gender insulted by someone I had considered up until that point a good friend.

The friend, who thought "all women are gold-digging whores" was an appropriate thing to say (among other, viler things I prefer to not recall), and that I shouldn't at all be disappointed by it, happened to be married and trying to have a child.

You could be right. Being a misogynistic asshole could be an automatic vasectomy. My experience is a little different, however.

I am female, though. We're notoriously hysterical, illogical, and shouldn't be believed.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:37 AM on June 20, 2012


Also, I feel the need to say, I find this dismissive behavior ("they're just teenagers and will grow out of it," "evolution will solve the problem") to be deeply disturbing and offensive. You're essentially saying to every woman who speaks up about the poor treatment that she receives at the hands of these men that we should shut up about it because the men saying those things are somehow "different".

No, they're really not. They are more extreme, yes. They put into words what other people might simply assume, yes. We live in a misogynistic culture, however, that through deed and word says over and over and over again that women are nagging, unfunny, stupid creatures whose primary purpose is to be silent and decorative, and if we are unattractive we should simply kill ourselves now because no one could possibly ever like us, much less love us.

That all of this is incorrect can be a balm some days, but honestly getting that message over and over again through books, movies, comments on the internet, reactions of friends, and reactions of strangers - it wears a person down. To get on top of that a dismissal of the importance of this, a dismissal of how much it hurts to have "sexual harassment" redefined so that two twenty-year-olds sexually soliciting me when I was twelve no longer counts, it's just "unwanted sexual attention" because I wasn't at a job and it only happened once.

Do you have any idea what it's like to not even be through puberty and have someone offer you an act you don't even understand while you're at a street corner? Do you know what it's like to cultivate a mask of indifference because of the cars slowing down so that people yell out their windows at you? Do you know what it's like to dread art class, formerly your favorite class, because every day a classmate offers "unwanted sexual attention"?

There was a ten year old - A TEN YEAR OLD - who was gang raped and the rapists got off because the defense was able to imply she asked for it through wearing inappropriate clothing.

There was a woman who let a drunk friend sleep on her couch. He raped her. He was acquitted because she had let him sleep in her apartment, so that meant she must have consented to have sex with him.

This is the world I live in - a world where even close friends can turn out to hate who I am. A world where if I let a man sleep over, even if it's to keep him from driving drunk, and he rapes me I might as well not bother going to the police. A world where if I talk about the situation in the last sentence, I'm told I must "hate men" because I'm calling "every man a rapist."

My rapist is a nice guy. He has a family now. I see the facebook posts sometimes.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:50 AM on June 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


Chuck Wendig on the subject of being offensive.
posted by Artw at 11:37 AM on June 21, 2012


Can anyone explain why I am getting
Not Found
The requested URL / was not found on this server.
Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

On the Feminist Frequency site?
posted by b33j at 11:22 PM on June 29, 2012


Sarkeesian hasn't explicitly stated why it was down that day, but they were aware of the outage and worked on it. A recent blog post would indicate continued efforts to "punish" her, that included DDoS attacks, email hack attempts, and doxing Sarkeesian's personal info to other sites to encourage more harassment.
posted by CancerMan at 1:34 PM on July 2, 2012


New Statesman: This Is What Online Harassment Looks Like
Since then, Anita Sarkeesian has been subjected to a good deal more harassment. Let's run through the list for anyone who still thinks this issue is about a few mean words.
It's pretty nasty. You're warned.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:24 AM on July 6, 2012


Hey, Let’s Make a Video Game So We Can Beat Up a Female Critic of Video Games!

"In his personal defense, Spurr insists that he wasn’t advocating violence against women."

Of course.
posted by homunculus at 9:14 PM on July 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The mainstream is noticing. I've been seeing links to this in a bunch of non-gaming blogs and online news media that's not particularly geeky. Example: an article on Think Progress.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:32 AM on July 7, 2012


Hey, Let’s Make a Video Game So We Can Beat Up a Female Critic of Video Games!

Uggh I got in to a twitter fight with the game's creator and one of his supporters. What a waste of typing.
The entitlement is strong with these ones.
posted by Theta States at 9:47 PM on July 7, 2012


The odious, misogynist individual in question has deleted his Twitter account now.

Yesterday, after seeing his unpleasant creation, I randomly found yet another individual who thought it was funny to depict a girl being punched in the face for the crime of refusing to dance with him at a dance festival.

Yes, it was "in jest". But Jay Smooth is right: it's still misogynistic even when you think you're joking & it's not ok.
posted by pharm at 3:48 AM on July 10, 2012


bbbbbbububububut ...MISANDRY!
posted by Theta States at 10:13 AM on July 10, 2012


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