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"Are we all 14 years old over here?"
June 29, 2012 6:53 AM   Subscribe

Nobody does this to men in the industry. Nobody says Cliff Bleszinski is wearing such a tight shirt today, and oooh I'd love to rub my hands all over him. At least not to the point where he's uncomfortable at tradeshows. Likewise nobody sexualizes male characters. Some may argue that Kratos represents an unrealistic image of a male, but there aren't massive forum threads dedicated to whether and how people would like to have sex with him. Kratos, Marcus Fenix, and their ilk, are the object of power fantasies, not sexual fantasies. There is a huge difference there. You want to be as cool and powerful as Kratos. Again, nobody wants to be Lara Croft all the time.
Video games and Male Gaze - are we men or boys?
posted by griphus (124 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
When I asked him why these ladies were in dominatrix gear, and why they had to remove their nun costumes before coming to kill Agent 47, he said the ladies are "dressing as something less conspicuous, getting up to their mark, and revealing their true colors."

That's... really unbelievably stupid.
posted by ook at 7:04 AM on June 29, 2012 [21 favorites]


As horribly sexist and misogynist that gaming culture can be sometimes, I am also glad that there's enough intelligent and insightful commentary on the issues that we can critique ourselves and the gaming culture as it is and try to push it in the right direction. I wasn't hearing this kind of stuff 10 years ago, but I'm definitely seeing more and more introspection in gaming journalism, and that can only be a good thing.
posted by symbioid at 7:11 AM on June 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


Over to you, Team Superhero Comics.
posted by Artw at 7:14 AM on June 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


I would fuck the living hell out of Kratos.
posted by Sternmeyer at 7:15 AM on June 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


If Crysis' main character was female, in addition to Maximum Speed, Maximum Strength and Maximum Armor, there'd be Maximum Cheesecake. Stealth mode would just make the suit invisible, not the wearer...
posted by Foosnark at 7:17 AM on June 29, 2012


I would fuck the living hell out of Kratos.

Actually, I buy Kratos specifically as an object of sexual fantasy before I buy him as a person you want to be like. Kratos is powerful, but he's also mean and cruel and mostly causes meaningless suffering for no reason. The distinction he's drawing between the ways in which male and female characters are idealized is mostly true, but Kratos is a bad example.

At least, I think so, maybe there are people out there who want to be like Kratos. Maybe there are people for whom God of War is something other than an exercise in seeing just how revolted you can be by a player character before it becomes too awful and you have to turn it off.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:19 AM on June 29, 2012


I'm in the Firefall beta. The female engineer model has one leg and asscheek totally exposed, for no apparent reason. Also, when she upgrades a turret, she says "turret accessorized!" It's like Malibu Stacy: The Game.
posted by heathkit at 7:20 AM on June 29, 2012 [16 favorites]


nobody wants to be Lara Croft all the time

(Looks at Lara with male gaze) Badass, sexy, young, rich.
(Looks at mirror with male gaze) None of the above.

Well, hell, I'll volunteer.
posted by tyllwin at 7:21 AM on June 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


Google "Kratos gay porn" for the Rule 34.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:27 AM on June 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


(Looks at Lara with male gaze) Badass, sexy, young, rich.
(Looks at mirror with male gaze) None of the above.

Well, hell, I'll volunteer.


yes. because women only exist in mirrors under male gaze. we have no hopes, dreams, wishes, talents, emotions, or any other innumerable human qualities. we are mirror chicks with purely narcissist-prop qualities. sigh. /tired sarcasm
posted by fraula at 7:28 AM on June 29, 2012 [13 favorites]


Likewise nobody sexualizes male characters. Some may argue that Kratos represents an unrealistic image of a male, but there aren't massive forum threads dedicated to whether and how people would like to have sex with him. Kratos, Marcus Fenix, and their ilk, are the object of power fantasies, not sexual fantasies.

This seems to be ignoring the fact that many fan communities that have a high percentage of women (fan fic, etc.) have plenty of interest in slashfic and whatnot that sexualizes male characters. Fans sexualizing characters is not really the problem, the problem is that female characters in video games tend to be designed completely around fan service, much more so than female characters in other types of media. It's inherently difficult to make a lot of characters in video games have depth beyond their appearance because so much of the gameplay involves purely visual aspects, but even when game designers have opportunities to make more interesting female characters they usually fall back on cliches that don't expand the role of women in their games.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:28 AM on June 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yup, male characters are power fantasies, female characters are sexual fantasies. It's almost as if power an sexuality were the bare-bones sexually selected traits!
posted by karmiolz at 7:29 AM on June 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


I've been saying CliffyB is pretty attractive since back in the days of dialup
posted by smackwich at 7:32 AM on June 29, 2012


fraula, I think tyllwin was saying that when (s)he looked in the mirror at themselves they did not see someone who was badass, sexy, young, and rich, and that they would happily be Lara Croft all the time in order to be badass, sexy, young, and rich..

Maybe I am misunderstanding your comment, though?
posted by mbatch at 7:33 AM on June 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


I am male and was exactly saying that I would happily be Lara Croft all the time in order to be badass, sexy, young, and rich. Oh, did I leave out the life of adventure and travel?
posted by tyllwin at 7:36 AM on June 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yup, male characters are power fantasies, female characters are sexual fantasies. It's almost as if power an sexuality were the bare-bones sexually selected traits!

Male characters aren't just power fantasies, though. The perspective character may be a super-hero but video games in general have the movie problem: almost all background and side characters are male, with a variety of ages and body types, with one generic sexy woman character and maybe another woman as the sexy scientist, if you're lucky.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 7:37 AM on June 29, 2012 [10 favorites]


I've been saying CliffyB is pretty attractive since back in the days of dialup

Yes, strange that the article picked him. It's been an injoke in gaming for a while to refer to him as "dreamy".
posted by ymgve at 7:39 AM on June 29, 2012


I think that's exactly why he was picked as the example.
posted by griphus at 7:40 AM on June 29, 2012


Like at least one of the commenters on the article, I'm embarrassed to say that I recognized the butt-shot at the head of the article as being from Miranda Lawson from Mass Effect 2 & 3 (mostly 2). The in-game rationalization for her having a more-or-less painted on costume is that she uses her sexuality as a tool/weapon. Of course, that's a handy excuse to objectify the character even more than her real-life model, Yvonne Strahovski, is on Chuck.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:43 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I remember a big ol' discussion about this on mefi a few years back, and I tried to find pornographic pictures of J Allard. All I found were pictures of J Allard as a pirate.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 7:44 AM on June 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Plus everyone knows, all attractive women are manipulative and use their sexuality as a tool/weapon*

* in almost every film and game ever made.
posted by lith at 7:47 AM on June 29, 2012 [16 favorites]


You know what has a really vocal, really strong and really overwhelmingly female slash fic/fan porn gottafuckem community?

Team Fortress Two.
posted by The Whelk at 7:48 AM on June 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


"On my planet, women have no sexual inhibitions or personalities."
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 7:49 AM on June 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


who the fuck would want to be Laura Croft when you already basically are Maya Amano
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 7:49 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


and you don't like climbing or jumping a whole lot
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 7:50 AM on June 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


While we're on the subject, I'm sad to report that my two minute search didn't find any porn involving CliffyB. So Rule 34 has at least one exception.
posted by ymgve at 7:51 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


This link from the original article was a bit head-'splodey:
As part of their promotion for Street Fighter X Tekken, prolific game developer and publisher Capcom funded a reality show called Cross Assault, where competitive Street Fighter and Tekken players earn their chance at $25,000. It only took one episode of the show for a female competitor, Miranda "Super_Yan" Pakozdi, to be inundated with lewd sexual comments from the live chat, fellow competitors, and even from her own coach, Aris Bakhtanians, a well-known champion of the fighting-game community. She went on to forfeit the match and lost her chance at advancing...

When asked on a later episode by Justin Rae, Twitch.tv’s community manager, "Can I get my Street Fighter without the sexual harassment?" Aris replied:

You can't. You can't because they're one and the same thing. This is a community that's, you know, 15 or 20 years old, and the sexual harassment is part of the culture. If you remove that from the fighting-game community, it’s not the fighting-game community...it doesn’t make sense to have that attitude. These things have been established for years.
I bet Aris Bakhtanians get's crazy laid. I'm talking Objectivist-level sexing going on.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:52 AM on June 29, 2012 [12 favorites]


I haven't played God of War, but after googling for pics of Kratos I would probably at least make out with him.

So the article gets that much wrong, there are absolute forums on the net full of het/queer people discussing the fuckability of male videogame characters. The lack of awareness about that is absolutely part of the greater problem of women's invisibility in gaming.

And sexy male characters, whether or not they're pretty, are attractively fuckable because they're also badass/smart/stylish/funny/cool/awesome. Female characters always HAVE to be sexy/pretty first--everything else is a distant second--and their fuckability is measured by their breasts and ass, not their charisma. When's the last time someone went "Joe Badass McNinja from Warcraftis so hot because that tight leather makes his dick look so hot!"
posted by nicebookrack at 7:52 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah, but lets not forget Rule 35. "If rule 34 does not exist it will be created almost instantly upon request"
posted by Twain Device at 7:54 AM on June 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Let's Be Friends Again had one of the best "go fuck yourself" commentaries on the Cross Assault thing.
posted by griphus at 7:55 AM on June 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here I was thinking that the target market of most video games were 14 year old males. Presumably adults would have other interests. What we need are more strategy/puzzle type games aimed at adults who like to kick back and play video games. Crass commercialization is crass. Anyone up for a game of Myst?
posted by pdxpogo at 7:55 AM on June 29, 2012


i know there are people who think "cliffy b" is attractive

gears of war, though
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 7:56 AM on June 29, 2012


To be a bit less snipey about it, I do agree that Lara is over-sexualized in her character design. I just think the argument about that is weakened by saying that she's just a sex fantasy.
posted by tyllwin at 7:56 AM on June 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Gamasutra, as always, getting to the table with the interesting story only between 8 and 180 months after everyone else. Also, it looks like this article may have taken an entire twenty minutes to write, which is a good bit more attention than a lot of their stuff gets.

Seriously, the author spends twenty-nine paragraphs trying to convince us that maybe we're not treating women so well in gaming, and then tacks on a bit at the end titled "Defeating Male Gaze" which sounds like it maybe proposes solutions or offers up some useful examples or something but in fact is just more of the same. Even the parts which are arguable (nobody sexualizes male characters, unnecessarily sexualizing a female character immediately invalidates all of her other attributes) are just cribbed from other articles featuring those same dubious points. It is not really useful to just say "Hey, we have a problem here" anymore. Everybody who's going to agree with that statement is already agreeing with it (and the rest of the community is apparently too busy sending threatening emails to Anita Sarkeesian to even read your article, presumably because they are subhuman). We need a little more substance in this discussion.
posted by IAmUnaware at 7:57 AM on June 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


i know there are people who think "cliffy b" is attractive

gears of war, though


I've just learned that the Gears of War guy is also the Jazz Jackrabbit guy. It's still messing with my head.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:57 AM on June 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


So the article gets that much wrong, there are absolute forums on the net full of het/queer people discussing the fuckability of male videogame characters. The lack of awareness about that is absolutely part of the greater problem of women's invisibility in gaming.

It's not that it doesn't exist, it's more that compared to the number of people discussing the fuckability of female videogame characters, it's insignificant.
posted by ymgve at 7:57 AM on June 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


Also of possible relevance (and worth posting even if it isn't): the beginning of the Manly Guys Doing Manly Things storyline dealing with Nier Syndrome (scroll down for some history). Worth going through at least to the group shot of various other macho videogame characters that are afflicted, as well as Marv from Sin City.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:59 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Of course, that's a handy excuse to objectify the character even more than her real-life model, Yvonne Strahovski, is on Chuck."

I laughed out loud at one line in the least season, when Sarah (Strahovski's character) went on a rant about all of the skimpy garb she'd had to wear over the course of her career. It sounded very much like Strahovski speaking to the fourth wall.

Then I thought about it a little more, and I wasn't sure this was actually all that funny.

Anyway - regarding female characters from videogames, I'm a dude who would quite like to be a female Commander Shepherd. (Well, hopefully with a better ending than Mass Effect 3, but still). You'd have to work hard to come up with an unattractive FemShep model (and I don't know if it's even doable), but the character is very much *not* a sex symbol. She's a highly trained and capable warship commander and special ops trooper, and her sex is very much less important than these other qualities. No one in-game really cares that she's female; everyone cares that she's a badass. Even the FemShep romance arcs genuinely begin with, "Wow! You're really capable, and I admire you greatly, FemShep!"
posted by Mr. Excellent at 8:00 AM on June 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Halloween Jack: Like at least one of the commenters on the article, I'm embarrassed to say that I recognized the butt-shot at the head of the article as being from Miranda Lawson from Mass Effect 2 & 3 (mostly 2). The in-game rationalization for her having a more-or-less painted on costume is that she uses her sexuality as a tool/weapon. Of course, that's a handy excuse to objectify the character even more than her real-life model, Yvonne Strahovski, is on Chuck.

You might succeed in explaining away Miranda's costume (which was really not all that ridiculous), but I'd like to hear someone come up with any other explanation for what the character Jack wears into battle.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:00 AM on June 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think the article meant that Kratos can't be considered sexually attractive to some people.. but that when the art team sat down to design him, his appeal to female (and gay) gamers wasn't on the top of the list of traits they assigned to him.

It just seems incredibly common for some of the defining traits of female characters in games to have exaggerated features and skimpy clothing. I am more then willing to bet that when most art teams sit down to design a female character, the size of her boobs and butt are talked about.
posted by royalsong at 8:02 AM on June 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I preferred Laura Croft way back in I guess the Tomb Raider 2 days of just past that, where I remember running her around her giant mansion (because she's rich from raiding tombs) with a physics pony-tail (at the time I don't remember any breast physics, and trust me at that age I would have, and physics are cool). I think at that point she was more than a sex fantasy but I don't think that lasted long. It's a real shame. It's a real shame what happened to the character of Samus from Metroid. Although, it does make sense at the end of a long day to take off your work clothes.
posted by fuq at 8:05 AM on June 29, 2012


No one in-game really cares that [Commander Shepard]'s female; everyone cares that she's a badass.

Considering that this is the game trilogy that gave you Miranda and Jack (as mentioned above), I credit that more to them having to allow for both male and female Shepards, and they really didn't want to do more writing than strictly necessary so they wrote most of the game to be gender neutral.
posted by ymgve at 8:09 AM on June 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


30 years ago, Custer's Revenge and Beat' em and eat 'em (NSFW pixels and audio) were released for the Atari. Whether video games have matured since is open to debate.
posted by elgilito at 8:09 AM on June 29, 2012


when most art teams sit down to design a female character, the size of her boobs and butt are talked about

Even more so than in live-action or comic book media. If you cast Kat Dennings in something because you like her acting, her character will have an impressive bra size by default. If you create a game character with large breasts, you have to computer-engineer that Gainaxing.
posted by nicebookrack at 8:10 AM on June 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


This seems to be ignoring the fact that many fan communities that have a high percentage of women (fan fic, etc.) have plenty of interest in slashfic and whatnot that sexualizes male characters.

Yeah, except that in many (most?) cases, those fans are writing hundreds of thousands of words of fiction in which the sexualized male characters are also having long, intricate conversations about their Thoughts and Feelings regarding themselves, the world they live in, the situations they're dealing with, and their relationships with other characters. In many cases, the fanfic author seeks to add more depth and nuance to the characters. Even in the "plot what plot" variety of porny fanfiction (which is hardly the majority of what gets written) the goal is to represent the characters as recognizable, complicated, distinctive individuals. That's the advantage of reading sexy fanfiction instead of just picking up random erotica. (Well, that and the fact that well-written fanfiction is often of a much higher quality than your average erotica, but that's a whole other conversation) The fact that the men aren't objects is a huge part of what MAKES the fanfiction sexy and interesting to its readers.

Of course there's a ton of shallow, ill-concieved fanfiction written by women about male characters, but that's not the goal.

And you know, taking a step back -- what we're talking about here is the FAN culture, not the original property that the fanwork is based on. So if I, a person who is a fan of Male Video Game Character, really don't want to see that character through a super-sexualized filter? I don't have to, because MVGC is only presented that way in fandom. It's very easy for me to play the game (or watch the television show or read the comic book) and just avoid that super-sexualization entirely.

Whereas the problem many people have with how women are often treated in video games (and by pop culture in general) is that they're so frequently reduced to their sexual appeal, or presented in a manner that makes that sex appeal a primary and exaggerated aspect of their character. It often feels like any personality that they're given is just window dressing for their super-sexualized bodies and clothing; that their professional lives or personal backgrounds mostly just serve to spice up their basic function as the objects of sexual fantasy. Even in a game like Mass Effect, which is absolutely MUCH BETTER than average at creating well-rounded women characters, we're presented with EDI the sexbot, who I LOVE but who also mysteriously has camel toe, for which their can be no explanation other than "We wanted to make sure straight dudes knew she has a robot vagina." This isn't sexy fanart, it's the GAME ITSELF, and there is NO WAY for me to avoid that super-sexiness as a player. The same goes for many of the other women characters, and as a woman who loves Mass Effect and other similar properties it kind of breaks my heart.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:12 AM on June 29, 2012 [21 favorites]


Mass Effect, a series I enjoy very muchly and with some surprisingly strong writing and characterization for a Space Opera Action RPG-thing, also has an entire race of all-female hot blue aliens who are famous concubines as well as scientific geniuses.

I mean you know what you're getting into there, Jack's Brave Warrior Nudity doesn't even register as unusual.

(Goes back to writing Arcade Gannon fan fiction)
posted by The Whelk at 8:12 AM on June 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


[Public service announcement: there is a message underneath the commenting box that we require you to take to heart when you comment here. Otherwise you don't get to participate here anymore. Knock it off with the name calling. Act like a grown-up.]
posted by jessamyn at 8:17 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


The way that female characters are portrayed/dealt with in almost all games is pretty shameful. It's also pretty shameful that way that women are treating in the gaming community.

I recently attended a gaming event where the organizer wondered aloud why more women don't attend the event. When I attempted to explain that it might have something to do with guys screaming at each other across the room about "raping" them, I was told "if you think that's a problem then you don't belong at gaming events".

I don't know how you fix that. I don't think you can fix that. It's awful. It sucks. I think it SHOULD be fixed. I intend to go on opposing these points of view when I encounter them.

I just don't expect it to ever get any better.
posted by DWRoelands at 8:22 AM on June 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


We are not men, we are Devo.

That, and I just like to shoot stuff in video games.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 8:22 AM on June 29, 2012


There are a whole bunch of discussions rolled up into one, here, and as usual the early stages of the conversation are being devoted to finding out what they are. The only practical way to do this, if you can't rely on real-time communication on the assumption of good faith and attention, is to comment on one thing or another, and get told what the discussion is really about--or at least, what everyone else in the thread wants to talk about.

All of the following are problems a reasonable person may have with the state of computer and video gaming:
  • Games are oversexed
  • Gamers are oversexed
  • Game characters are oversexualized, generally
  • Female game characters are oversexualized, generally
  • Female game characters are oversexualized with respect to male game characters
  • Female game characters are not given as much "hero aura" as male ones
  • Female game characters get their hero appeal and their sex appeal presented in the wrong order
  • Female game characters don't get enough characterization
  • Game characters in general don't get enough characterization
  • Female game characters get far less characterization than male ones
  • Gamers don't take social issues seriously
  • Gamers don't take feminist issues seriously
  • Gamers don't listen to feminist arguments, or arguments from feminists
  • Gamers harass people who bother them
  • Gamers harass women more than they harass anyone else
One may consistently believe in any combination of the above statements.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:30 AM on June 29, 2012 [40 favorites]


As long as sexism and misogyny stay in the gaming community and never make it into society at large, I don't think they'll do any harm.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 8:35 AM on June 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


Boys.
posted by ead at 8:36 AM on June 29, 2012


(Not that that excuses a damn thing)
posted by ead at 8:38 AM on June 29, 2012


Nobody does this to men in the industry. Nobody says Cliff Bleszinski is wearing such a tight shirt today, and oooh I'd love to rub my hands all over him. At least not to the point where he's uncomfortable at tradeshows.

Only a matter of time. The advertising industry is rapidly bringing forward sexist ads towards men as quickly as it can. Romance-novel cover depictions of men will be all over everything in rapid succession, whether or not it is something that women want.

The one thing that some in the feminist movement get wrong is the idea that the "male gaze" is something men want. Its forced down our throat. While there are some people out there who do think this way, the ad people have decided that's how we all want it.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:38 AM on June 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


DWRoelands, That's exactly the reasons I changed the way I interact with the gaming community.

I record game videos and blog about them. Up until a few weeks ago I was doing all of this under a username/nickname that's I use everywhere and is my main email address. After all the vitriol toward female gamers lately, I did a 180 and am now funneling it all through a single brand that I'm doing my best not to connect to myself.

I got scared out of my wits over the kinds of hate that was directed at that one journalist a few weeks ago.
posted by royalsong at 8:38 AM on June 29, 2012


Yeah, except that in many (most?) cases, those fans are writing hundreds of thousands of words of fiction in which the sexualized male characters are also having long, intricate conversations about their Thoughts and Feelings regarding themselves, the world they live in, the situations they're dealing with, and their relationships with other characters ... The fact that the men aren't objects is a huge part of what MAKES the fanfiction sexy and interesting to its readers.

That's definitely true but it's also more of an inherent aspect of fan fiction versus other kinds of media. If you look at the tumblr community there's also a relatively large number of women posting sexualized images of men (and women) that aren't primarily about establishing a lot of depth. My point is that heterosexual female fans have sexual fantasies too and that is represented in their fandom, it's just not catered to in the actual source material nearly as much as male fan fantasies.

And you know, taking a step back -- what we're talking about here is the FAN culture, not the original property that the fanwork is based on. So if I, a person who is a fan of Male Video Game Character, really don't want to see that character through a super-sexualized filter? I don't have to, because MVGC is only presented that way in fandom. It's very easy for me to play the game (or watch the television show or read the comic book) and just avoid that super-sexualization entirely.

I think a lot of that is due to non-hetero-male sexual proclivities being heavily marginalized in pretty much every form of media, at least in the US. If you look at anime/manga for instance, some of the same problems exist as with video games, but the creators as a whole seem to be much more savvy about knowing that different audience niches exist and designing their content around what the fans want. So you have ridiculously over the top fan service aimed at both men and women in various series, along with plenty of series that feature characters who are not sexualized at all. I think mainstream video games in general suffer from a lack of creators being willing to take risks and stray from established formulas, even if there is evidence that there is an audience that they are ignoring by rehashing a few popular types of games over and over.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:43 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd like to hear someone come up with any other explanation for what the character Jack wears into battle.

I think that it's a combination of the tattoos having specific significance for her and wanting to display them, and not needing armor because she has biotic shields. I certainly wouldn't put Jack under the Miranda/Lara Croft column generally.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:47 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know whos dreamy? Gaben.

c'mon man, we need our summer sale and episode 3.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:48 AM on June 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


male characters are power fantasies, female characters are sexual fantasies. It's almost as if power and sexuality were the bare-bones sexually selected traits!

But clearly both traits - being powerful in order to survive, being sexual in order to reproduce - are selected for in both sexes. It certainly isn't the case that only female animals are sexually attractive, or that only male animals are able to do stuff like get resources and keep safe.

It's a social convention that we see things from a male point of view, by which women are seen as resources and men as agents. But that's not a 'bare bones' fact about reality, it's a partial view.
posted by communicator at 8:49 AM on June 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


(Actually, as far as ME2/3 goes, the other character who does fall into the Miranda/Lara Croft column generally is Samara, who displays almost literally a yard of cleavage/decolletage even though she's supposed to be an icy-cold justicar.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:49 AM on June 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


The TF2 Pyro is dreamy. Also, she has that adorable flowery handbag in her locker.

And, like many women in the video gaming industry, she hides her gender and identity so she can actually get some work done and burn some fuckers who need burning.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:50 AM on June 29, 2012 [29 favorites]


The TF2 Pyro is dreamy.

Yeah, dreamy all right
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:57 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


The sexualization and objectification of men in video games is totally dwarfed by that of women. Men are able to escape the objectification of their characters by staying away from the sites writing fanfiction and making slash art; there is also a hell of a lot more diversity in male video game protagonists, both in background, motivation, appearance, and type of games. If you didn't want to play an objectified female character, you would have to rule out 95% of games with female characters. And there are not as many games with female protagonists as there are with male.
posted by schroedinger at 9:33 AM on June 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


To be a bit less snipey about it, I do agree that Lara is over-sexualized in her character design.

From the new trailer? I haven't really played any of the Tomb Raider games, but I've seen lots of Lara Croft pictures in the past decade, and I was expecting overblown physical proportions and scantily clad exploits. But in the new trailer she looks pretty much like my wife does when she's doing outdoor active things. Maybe I wasn't paying close enough attention to camera angles or something, but I didn't get the feeling she was being intentionally sexualized. Sure she's attractive, but it's not an in-your-face thing.

Re-watching it, I noticed a good many cleavage-potential scenes where her arms were positioned to block the shot, and she is not wearing a body-exposing outfit. It actually seems like a pretty natural representation of a badass woman explorer. What am I missing?
posted by chundo at 9:41 AM on June 29, 2012


*gasp*
I had missed the meet the pyro video. I just made squeeing noises here at my desk. I loved the pyro before and this just makes her even more wonderfully insane.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:46 AM on June 29, 2012


chundo - all the porn-moaning, back-arching and the super gross rape attempt QTE that a male character would never be subjected to in a million years.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:48 AM on June 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


From the new trailer?

No, not to me. I think they've toned that down. But I am very aware that many people have a different issue with the new game, and I didn't want to wave a red flag by spontaneously extolling a virtue I find there.
posted by tyllwin at 9:48 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


As the article mentions, it seems like they've made some attempt to draw in the overt porny sexualization of the character (which yes, was not so great right from the beginning - I remember some interview one of the creators did with a gaming magazine when Tomb Raider first came out where he rationalized the aesthetic choices with something like, "Well, I figured if you have to stare at a bum for several hours, it might as well be a great female bum.") But it seems as though any attempt to make things better may have failed since the game has upped the ante into Tomb Raider: I Spit On Your Grave Edition.
posted by naju at 9:55 AM on June 29, 2012


chundo - Also, the same developer who is on the record talking about how the rape scene is designed to make the player want to "protect" Lara is also on the record as saying that he believes the image of a beat-up and bloodied Lara is "sexy and vulnerable in it's own way."

In contrast to these attitudes, the inherent sexism of Lara's old giant triangle boobs seems almost quaint.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:58 AM on June 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yup, male characters are power fantasies, female characters are sexual fantasies. It's almost as if power an sexuality were the bare-bones sexually selected traits!
In most species females are choosy and males compete to mate with females. This comes out in two ways - males getting big and strong and full of weapons to outcompete other males, and males developing signals of just how sexually awesome they are for females. Colors, giant feather displays, etc. Females are usually pretty drab comparatively.
posted by ChuraChura at 10:06 AM on June 29, 2012


I believe the colloquial theory goes that human females cannot be nearly so choosy about genetics because they must be more choosy about finding males who stick around since humans babies require considerably more resoruces to raise optimally. Female humans are far more showy than females of other species for similar reasons.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:24 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I do agree that Lara is over-sexualized in her character design. I just think the argument about that is weakened by saying that she's just a sex fantasy.

Lara's an interesting case, because she's a character that's been changed in response to the claims that she's 2 dimensional and only a sexual object. The first tomb raider, who only characterisitics were physical. The next couple made her a smart-aleck quipster. the latest installment looks to give her a history and legit personality. She will always end up being the go-to example because of who she was initially, but the developers have, technically, been trying to introduce more depth and character to her. The problem is they still need to keep her recognizable, and it's a testament to her initial poor design as a character that keeping her recognizable remains a barrier to fleshing her out as a human being. Generally, the responses I've seen to making her more human have been "well... it's better..."
posted by shmegegge at 10:25 AM on June 29, 2012


Females are usually pretty drab comparatively.
Well, this how our (female) cousins advertise their sexual readiness. I guess that the males are too dumb to notice more subtle signals. I wouldn't show that to video game makers, it could give them ideas. Lara Croft: Full Estrus.
posted by elgilito at 10:26 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I recently attended a gaming event where the organizer wondered aloud why more women don't attend the event. When I attempted to explain that it might have something to do with guys screaming at each other across the room about "raping" them, I was told "if you think that's a problem then you don't belong at gaming events"... I just don't expect it to ever get any better.

Just want to pop in here to say that I work for a gaming event where that behavior is not tolerated. It's incredibly disheartening that this is something people will still believe. But the only silver lining I can offer is some of us are working on it. Hard.
posted by shmegegge at 10:38 AM on June 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


The headline in this article, for me, is the treatment of the real, live women in the gaming industry - and commenting on the gaming industry. From dismissive to outright threats, it's disgusting.

That said, the depiction of women as sex objects in comics is what kept me - a sf&f fan and now big comics fan - from reading comics for years. It wasn't until I discovered the more mature titles (Sandman, Bone - yes, that is a kid's comic, and yet more intelligent and mature than most of the DC/Marvel catalog) with decent depictions of female characters that I could read them.

Gaming industry: do you want to make the same stupid mistakes? Treat women like they are not your customers, and they won't be your customers.

Also, if I was ever treated the way that poor reported had been treated, I would have grabbed that keyboard out of the PR person's hand, and then written a scathing review of the treatment I received (naming names).
posted by jb at 10:38 AM on June 29, 2012


Lara's an interesting case, because she's a character that's been changed in response to the claims that she's 2 dimensional and only a sexual object. The first tomb raider, who only characterisitics were physical. The next couple made her a smart-aleck quipster. the latest installment looks to give her a history and legit personality. She will always end up being the go-to example because of who she was initially, but the developers have, technically, been trying to introduce more depth and character to her.

I don't think you can necessarily pin all of that on reaction to criticisms though, that's roughly the same path that most video game characters have gone down. Doom just had a generic dude's face and some grunt sounds, Duke Nukem 3D added smart-aleck quips (which wasn't the personality of the original 2D character), and modern FPS generally have much more of a backstory and whatnot. Games in general have moved from having the main character be a simple avatar for the player and toward having a more cinematic narrative experience with more opportunities for characterization and depth. A lot of that has to do with technological improvements, when the original Tomb Raider was released for the PC it would have been impossible to have given it the same amount of voice acting as nearly every modern game has for instance. The problem is less that female characters in games function entirely as sexualized eye candy with no other qualities, it's that nearly every female character is sexualized to a point that is not normal in real life or even compared to most other types of media.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:55 AM on June 29, 2012


I agree completely. I was mostly just responding to the idea that referring to Lara as "just a sex fantasy" is inaccurate. I think it's less accurate these days, though still accurate, and if you consider her back in the day she was much worse. True, a lot of that had to do with the state of gaming and technology generally, but not entirely.
posted by shmegegge at 11:03 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


fraula: (Looks at Lara with male gaze) Badass, sexy, young, rich.
(Looks at mirror with male gaze) None of the above.

Well, hell, I'll volunteer.


yes. because women only exist in mirrors under male gaze. we have no hopes, dreams, wishes, talents, emotions, or any other innumerable human qualities. we are mirror chicks with purely narcissist-prop qualities. sigh. /tired sarcasm
How on earth do you make that leap? Lara is a fucking video game character - barely more than a cartoon. She actually, really, truly doesn't have any hopes, dreams, wishes, talents, emotions, or any other innumerable human qualities. She literally is that shallow - what you see, and nothing else.

If fraula looks at that image, and says, "I'd like these attributes that I see", she isn't denigrating women. She's saying she'd like those attributes. And so would I (except in male form).
posted by IAmBroom at 11:08 AM on June 29, 2012


>And sexy male characters, whether or not they're pretty, are attractively fuckable because they're also badass/smart/stylish/funny/cool/awesome. Female characters always HAVE to be sexy/pretty first--everything else is a distant second--and their fuckability is measured by their breasts and ass, not their charisma. When's the last time someone went "Joe Badass McNinja from Warcraftis so hot because that tight leather makes his dick look so hot!"

This, though, is a reflection of how people's minds usually work.

Men instinctively look at people and immediately sort them, on a purely visual basis.

Women visually sort people, then add on a couple of other layers, which serve to modify their initial visual sort.

It's

"Is she hot? Would I do her?" and "Is this guy a threat? Can I take him?" versus

those things plus

"How do I feel around this person? How will I feel around this person in the future? How many different attractive qualities does this person have, and are they likely to increase? How does this person affect my opportunities, my image of myself, and others' perceptions of me? How does this person connect to my values and beliefs? How might getting to know this person affect the people I already know? How might this person affect the larger story of my life?"

So, yeah, women naturally sort using a greater number of criteria, and weight these criteria differently. It's interesting, though, that this different, equally automatic and mechanical attraction checklist-- one relational, multi-dimensional, and trend-based rather than stark, unidimensional, and largely static-- is often treated within socio-sexual commentary as being morally preferable, rather than as simply a different survival/reproduction strategy.

The presupposition that this different strategy is a morally superior strategy seems to be embedded within the practice of critique just as deeply and frequently as Is She Hot? Let's See How Hot She Is! Again! From Another Angle! seems to be embedded within visual media.

Male Gaze co-exists with Moral Vanity.

Sure, it's fine to be offended by All the Pretty Bodies on Display All the Time; just don't be too surprised by it. Personally, I think a more interesting line of inquiry is, "After I see Stimulus X, what am I telling myself and imagining and remembering that is causing me to feel offended? What benefit am I getting, or what drive am I satisfying, by focusing on this feeling?"
posted by darth_tedious at 11:19 AM on June 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


For whatever it's worth, one thing that really stuck me about the DS game The World Ends with You is that the character Joshua seems to be presented as sexually or at least romantically desirable in an unusually femme sense (for a powerful male character). And I don't think it's too big of a stretch to posit a strong, unrequited yet mutual romantic subtext between him and the main character Neku. Indeed, I think it's what implicitly what makes the narrative so compelling.

Maybe this isn't uncommon in some Japanese games, but it's the first time I've encountered it, and it really surprised me (in a good way). There's so much more nuance to human relationships and sexuality that could be explored even in the context of mostly-action or RPG games.
posted by treepour at 11:19 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was working at Eidos when the first Tomb Raiders (saturn exclusive!) were released. One of the project managers from Eidos was a big fan of cricket, which gave Lara her name. I believe also that the same manager constantly insisted they upped the size of her cleavage - Core Design, I don't think, were aiming to create as sexualised character as they ended up releasing.
posted by davemee at 11:19 AM on June 29, 2012


Bulletstorm is reprehensible for a lot of reasons, but there were some interesting developments about the figure of the female character here.

In essence, the female design lead insisted on smaller boobs and a tougher look.
posted by poe at 11:28 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


are we men or boys?

If Nintendo's output is any indication, we're two-year-olds.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:29 AM on June 29, 2012


Sure, it's fine to be offended by All the Pretty Bodies on Display All the Time; just don't be too surprised by it.

I doubt that anyone is surprised sexualized female video game characters since it's been solidly the status quo ever since it was technically possible to display a sexualized female video game character. It would be similar to people being surprised to find a black character who conformed to a racial stereotype in any Hollywood film from Birth of a Nation onwards.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:36 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


darth_tedious: Men instinctively look at people and immediately sort them, on a purely visual basis. Women visually sort people, then add on a couple of other layers, which serve to modify their initial visual sort.

This doesn't describe me at all... but I may be an outlier. Are there any studies you can link which show this to be the case, or is this your own theory? You state it authoritatively, but I didn't think there was any solid research on "women think like this, men think like this".
posted by gilrain at 11:49 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


darth... evo-psych storytelling about "men are like THIS and women are like THIS because SCIENCE" are not actually very compelling. Many persons, myself included, would have to see some extremely compelling evidence before we accepted the stories. This is because it's very very very easy to pick anecdotes and arrange them in a pattern that pleasingly confirms the biases you brought to the table. But then, when you take a look at gender roles across the world and an genetically similar species (different kinds of chimpanzees, mostly) and you see all kinds of variation, it seems very difficult to continue to believe that modern Western gender roles aren't primarily extensions of historical Western gender roles. 150-200 years ago, women were property. 90 years ago, women couldn't vote in America. A few months ago, a woman was called a slut for stating publicly that her health insurance should be required to pay for birth control. A few weeks ago, a woman received hundreds of rape and death threats for starting a $6,000 kickstarter to do a youtube series about the depiction of women in videogames.

So what's more likely?

That your tales about how people evolved - tales for which it's difficult to present evidence for or against - reflect some sort of largely essential aspect of humans?

Or that we're continuing to see the results of our own culture?
posted by kavasa at 11:52 AM on June 29, 2012 [21 favorites]


Also is it just me or is the gamasutra house editorial style almost unreadably dry and bland? I've read a lot of academic stuff in my days, but I struggle to finish the columns they publish.
posted by kavasa at 11:54 AM on June 29, 2012


treepour, Joshua and many of the characters like him are very common in japanese games and even more so in animated shows. Halloween Jack pointed it out a little bit in his post above.

They're generally categorized as Bishounen. which translates into beautiful boy. (or there abouts)

Games that I can think of where major characters fall into this category:

Cloud (and/or Sephiroth) in Final Fantasy VII
Kuja in Final Fantasy IX
Waka in Okami
Luke in Tales of the Abyss
Jay in Tales of Legendia
Yuri Lowell in Tales of Vesperia

They all have different personalities but all fall into the category of not-macho-male-character. They range from fairly average young male (Yuri, Luke) to I'm not sure what to make of you (Waka, Jay) to so feminine and flamboyant that we-are-sure-this-guy-must-be gay. (Kuja)

I will point out that nearly all these games also contain sexualized female characters too. (All links are to google search, I didn't see anything NSFW but beware anyways)
posted by royalsong at 11:56 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gamasutra is basically the industry magazine for video games. It's sort of the Wall Street Journal of video games.
posted by gilrain at 11:56 AM on June 29, 2012


The in-game rationalization for her having a more-or-less painted on costume is that she uses her sexuality as a tool/weapon.

And yet, having sat through the actual game she really doesn't. There's just no non-body of conventional attractiveness shape ladies in space and her characteristic 'perfection' ends up showing through only in the particular attention they put into animating her face. In space, nobody's armour needs padding. Then again Bioware does the sexy-sex for everyone, because you're supposed to be thinking about making them sex each other up, and this franchise is known for its particular success with women. However I freely admit camel toe android was one of the warning signs that something is profoundly wrong with ME3. ME3 also gave you smexy man love to drool over- this was an 'adult' game in the puerile nobody takes their underpants off sort of movie sex, so assuming you're not into people who look like average humans not models, a whole rainbow of sexuality is getting pandered to. Ditto by Bioware's Dragon Age.

But supporting the topic at hand because I'm aware there's a special circle of hell for people who nit pick individual parts of an argument:

When I was but a little girl, and video games were something you begged quarters for in the arcade or got as the first third of as shareware. And there with this game called 'Streetfighter' and there was a female character option. This was just coming out of the sea of blonde princesses and my perpetual disappointment that at that point Barbie was blonde only and Theresa, the brunette model, was dark skinned, so for me it was a moment of ridiculous excitement that hey- a girl! The dinky little educational platformer 'math rescue' got played to death as I watched the girl's ponytail flip when she did jumps. Not doing a drag act was Important in that weird kid logic, that I wanted to be a hero to the same way I insisted that the teacher pick me for fetch and carry errands, lisping that as a prepuberty minor there is no physical reason to make boys carry chairs and not girls. My femaleness was a constant, but I wanted to be a female who did things. Spunky girl narratives mattered to me, and neurologically based physical impairments not withstanding, I intended to be the hero, not rescue bait.

And other games with female protagonists continued to pop up from time to time and I played them too, with more selectivism than they maybe deserved, albeit poorly, and with my friends I played guns, usually as the medic/spy/mage just like in the video games and movies, and all was right with the world until sexuality started to assert itself onto my horizon and I started realizing that the endless parade of boob-ass and class limitations for women was starting to grind me down. Earlier versions of D&D's strength limitations were only tolerable, in my mind, if the rules were tweaked to reflect female athletic performances in ways they exceed men, and nursed on the teat of radical feminism I chaffed for more. And then the market expended and rather than unisex games like Master of Magic and Civilization, where you had all manner of avatar portraits to attach to identical effects or factions (remember that time guys?) the shooters, once their own niche, became the big explosion of stuff to look at, instead of one sort of thingee and Civilization made gender faction dependent to save of animation.

Today I play, almost exclusively, and with deliberate use of the word, chick games like 'the sims' in whatever franchise number EA has spat out most recently, or online text heavy roleplaying games. I'm a typical female gamer, the forty percent who gravitate to the games people call 'not real' or 'not hard core' and you know what? It's the same bullshit in any other sort of entertainment comparison that marginalizes female self indulgence, the same sillies that talk about more women in lit and neglect to shove more men into reading the 55% of paperback book sales that is the monolithic romance market. There's a wee little bit of me pissed that after being abandoned doing the same sorts of build n' explore stuff I liked when it wasn't sex differentiated to play say, Sim Earth or Sim Farm, that now people are flailing around because they want me in their boys club. The petulant part of me says: No, you come over here and take some of my gender baggage, and then I'll take on some of yours! And then I get distracted by gaming again.

The issue of women in games is such a thorny multi-layered mess, because you have the visual depiction of women, the kinds of plotting/story telling people create about women, the gender imbalance in the industry and the situation I'm depressed to call 'internet culture' and have people know what I'm talking about without elaborating. It's the same playground where there was 'female' and there was 'real', which is not doing anyone any favours. I'm going to say this- power fantasy or sexual fantasy, games do not do things like fat people well. (The sims3 makes a valiant effort, though it's way too easy to end up jacked by accident even if it makes the effort to allow stocky, chunky people to be anything including wildly sexually desired and astronauts.) The games that have done female gender well, by and large, don't make a big deal out of it because, from the perspective of being a woman, it's only a big deal when people make it one- though in this world, efforts start from the minute the doctor gets a glimpse of your genitalia and makes their educated guess, but most of the shit to which I must accomplish exists outside of the diamorphic sex differences our species got saddled with, or hell, even my gender valuing culture. The heroic adventures of the person who took the garbage out and wasted all afternoon on mefi can be played equally well by any character. There's more of Chel moving boxes in my life (or Pyro if this darn house move doesn't get off the ground soon) than boob-ass, and if they want better depictions in women in gaming they need to tackle one particular elephant in the room which is that because of the nature of skinny, athletic people and artwork in general and even realism- one of the reason why they're adding boobs as big at the character's head is because adequate armour and people with low body fat ratios do something even more subversive to our culture than women getting shit done- they stop being easily gender identifiable.

Bear with me here, I have a point: a lot of our ability to tell who and what is a man or a woman is based of certain cues that in real life go beyond adipose deposits and are based on gait differences, or to be frank, outfits and hair styling. A fully geared up modern soldier looks like a solid lump in a helmet, as easily shown in this helpful propaganda video and one things humans suck at is gender ambiguity. Drawing people and creating avatars all too often tumbles into realizing that most of us look human first and our physical sex after. The phenomena of boob-ass is also a terrified art designer turning to pandering by turning visual gender signalling up to eleven because admitting that phenomena like male and female cyclists' legs being indistinguishable. If we start being realistic about women's bodies we need to be realistic about the lack of differences and humans, wonderful creatures that we are are so hung up on gender that pegging someone's sex wrongly is a social gaffe. It's not just that the art designers think you're a bunch of fourteen year old boys, they think that you're part of the collective that needs to ask right away if the new baby is a boy or a girl.

I don't mind sexy ladies in games, I just wish it wasn't the only option and I'd love to live in a culture where gender is optional. Industry respect is a cultural problem that goes above and beyond gaming as a niche- and 'sandwich!' type comments and non-consensual sexual aggression are part of the troubling soup that also includes 'nigger/jew/fag' and the concept of tea bagging- so not only do females get targeted for malicious sexual and purely violence minded attacks for the crime of being women, but we have a player base where one subset wants to rape the other male players. Hey dudes, what's up with the homoerotic sexually aggressive culture? Is it because your same sex attraction is not being permitted outside of the boundaries of competition or is it because we've found a way to indulge your violent war fantasies in a safe, healthy way but can't provide you with a nice rape sim where you and some polygons can go at it in a relatively judgment free bubble?

I like that gaming is trying to police its own via industry critical writing is a step in the right direction, but I can't help feeling that an actual solution gets right back down to the pink/blue valuation scheme that dogs every other industry and threatens it with pay lags for the pink blanket awarded humans. As other people have observed, female designers/writers/programmers aid in reducing gender stupid, but getting us into those niches is enough of a thorny issue that you're going to find yourself teaching math camp to ten year old girls and mentoring your nieces and friend's daughters if you're serious about affecting mass cultural shifts- and we're still competing with people whose priority is getting science out of public schools, not more girls into the sciences, so that's another battle that has to be fought from the foundation up.

I guess my point here is that being so damn hung up on gender, as a species, generates a lot of these problems in the first place because allowing more realism for women means admitting gender is less important than we want to make it out to be, but also the solution to making man games Gaming with a capital G, and woman games some sort of incidental entertainment that happens on a computer is not to try to funnel the women into man land like passage through a one way permeable membrane- you can't just make playing shooters and egalitarian experience without opening the gate the other way. Dudes of mefi: before you ask me to download from the same steam account buffet you have picked for yourself, you must first play a month in mine and tell me intelligently and critically why my games suddenly seem to alienate you where they did not do so before.

Female humans are far more showy than females of other species for similar reasons.


Hello, have you watched men walk around? That natural strut and shoulder/hip ratio is just as inflamatory as our wide pelvic'd lady waddle- and our supposedly cosmetic fat deposit patterns appear to also protect us from heart disease, breasts not withstanding (of which a really large set was, up until recently, not all that normal) and the rest is really variable cultural trappings, at least some of which is male cast offs from bygone times (see, say, ballet). We are not little brown wrens enthralled by trilling suitors, but neither are male humans devoid entirely of song, and if this seems contrary to evidence, remember that we've only recently crawled away from millennia of cultures in which admission that women want to have sex is tantamount to an open invitation to all. Remember, video game style boob-ass is so uncommon in real life as to be anatomically impossible in some artistic representations, and female body specifics don't just exist to make men horny, anymore than a more over developed bone structure and all that redundant body strength was added to men just so I could objectify them behind my sunglasses.
posted by Phalene at 12:08 PM on June 29, 2012 [32 favorites]


Gamasutra is basically the industry magazine for video games. It's sort of the Wall Street Journal of video games.

They should have gone with a stipple ink drawing of a butt for the top of this story then, much more classy that way.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:13 PM on June 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


>evo-psych storytelling about "men are like THIS and women are like THIS because SCIENCE" are not actually very compelling.

>This doesn't describe me at all... but I may be an outlier.

By all means, put aside the "evo-psych storytelling".

Note, though, what most people do and the things to which most people respond.

Is there interplay and feedback between nature and nurture, and can the repetitive stimulation we call culture affect thought and behavior?

Sure.

But to the extent that models of the world modify perception, it's also the case that models modify models, and analyses, too, carry unexamined assumptions. Any critique of X is also an endorsement of some Y.

Is there room for fluidity of behavior and preference?

Sure.

That said, underneath individuals' narratives, and their narratives about their narratives, their behaviors will tend to follow predictable routes, and be amenable to motivation in predictable ways.

The evo-psych Model of History may or may not be true; however, when you look past people's conscious rationalizations, and notice their behavior, evo-psych is quite predictive. And it's certainly the case that social sanctions motivate behavior in one direction or another... but it's also the case that those kinds of social sanctions are predicted by an evo-psych approach.

>when you take a look at gender roles across the world and an genetically similar species (different kinds of chimpanzees, mostly) and you see all kinds of variation, it seems very difficult to continue to believe that modern Western gender roles aren't primarily extensions of historical Western gender roles... A few months ago... we're continuing to see the results of our own culture

Do you really see that much variation? It seems to me that while there are outliers in sexual orientation, the variations in role behavior are largely shifts in mating and survival strategy, based directly on an individual's status within the group and his or her resources.
posted by darth_tedious at 1:02 PM on June 29, 2012


You sound like someone who has figured it all out... for themselves. I'll ask again why we should put any trust at all into your patiently reiterated just-so philosophy. It goes contrary to what most of us know about the world, and, I think, to many of us it sounds like someone lamenting, "It's so obvious... why can't they see, as I do, than men are like this and women are like this."

You're making a valiant attempt at gussying it up in pseudo-academic language, but I'm having a lot of trouble finding the place where your argument goes at all beyond that.
posted by gilrain at 1:12 PM on June 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Evo-psych is predictive? Is it? Because I can make up a lot of just-so stories like your own just-so story that will fit with "Evo psych." You will need to provide a little more evidence for your theories than "This power structure was created because of needs established by my just-so story, whose validity is verified by this power structure."

Evo psych is often used to justify maintaining unfair power structures. Example: Black people are poor and impoverished because they're inherently less intelligent than white people. What other explanation could there be for the poverty among African-Americans and people living in Africa, amirite?

Your little story about male and female motivations is just as offensive. You boil men down to Penis Robots and women down to helpless lambs looking for protection. It is a ridiculous characterization of human behavior.
posted by schroedinger at 1:23 PM on June 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


Oh and in response to this:

""After I see Stimulus X, what am I telling myself and imagining and remembering that is causing me to feel offended? What benefit am I getting, or what drive am I satisfying, by focusing on this feeling?"

The "benefit" of being offended arises from that crazy desire to be allowed access to the same privileges as men, judged on the same merits, and seen as a worthwhile being, rather than as a pair of tits and an ass running around and moaning for someone's enjoyment. Gosh, so irrational!
posted by schroedinger at 1:27 PM on June 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


. You want to be as cool and powerful as Kratos. Again, nobody wants to be Lara Croft all the time.

Assumes all readers are male and/or that no man can identify themselves with a female character.

Certainly my wife sort of kinda wanted to be Lara Croft, as long as she wasn't vexed by the dumb shit Lara pulled off this time...
posted by MartinWisse at 1:32 PM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


"After I see Stimulus X, what am I telling myself and imagining and remembering that is causing me to feel offended? What benefit am I getting, or what drive am I satisfying, by focusing on this feeling?"

This shit again? How bout we Occam's razor this thing down. When I am offended by Stimulus X, what offends me is Stimulus X. The benefit to offense is that it rightly tags Stimulus X as bullshit that cannot continue and something that the offended will then work against.

The idea that people shouldn't be offended by this sort of sexism and wouldn't be offended by it if they just thought about it a little harder is absurdly condescending.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:17 PM on June 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


>Spunky girl narratives mattered to me, and neurologically based physical impairments not withstanding, I intended to be the hero, not rescue bait.

>The phenomena of boob-ass is also a terrified art designer turning to pandering by turning visual gender signalling up to eleven because admitting that phenomena like male and female cyclists' legs being indistinguishable.

>being so damn hung up on gender, as a species, generates a lot of these problems in the first place because allowing more realism for women means admitting gender is less important than we want to make it out to be


These are all really interesting comments.

>Spunky girl narratives mattered to me... I intended to be the hero, not rescue bait... The phenomena of boob-ass

Given that idealized and exaggerated female characters do nothing for you and can even prove wearisome, and that fourteen year-old boys appreciate depictions of pyramid-breasted women, what would you prefer that the game industry do?

a) subtly demarcate the "heroic" action games into two classes, one less visually sexual and one more, or

b) reduce the use of SeXtremity, satisfying one group of customers more and another less,

or some other option?

>>allowing more realism for women means admitting gender is less important than we want to make it out to be

This A=B may not be the only way to read the situation.

I'm guessing that you're guessing that the overt sexuality is there to support (male?) players' gender construct, and sense of self. That's possible. But this leads to the questions of why people play games, and what are the various psychological goods being sought.

Maybe the fourteen year-old males are playing this particular game, the game with the exaggerated, idealized female characters, in part because of the gender exaggeration.

Different people might play the same game for different reasons.

It seems to me that there are at least two levels of identification at work:
1) Me/ Not Me
2) Accuracy/Aspiration

More to the point, these different parameters appeal to different psychological needs. So along with asking, "Why is Game A like this?" it's also useful to ask, "What psychological benefit do I get from playing Game A? What different psychological benefits would a different player get from playing Game A?"

And while it makes sense to be frustrated by the limited array of characters, scenarios, and visual styles offered by the games presently on the market, the most effective solution would seem to be not to argue that skimpy costumes are bad on a moral or psychological level, but to figure out how to structure and market games so that they meet more players' psychological needs, rather than robbing Peter to pay Paula.

On some level, the objection to characters' appearance seems partially a technology issue; no doubt as making and animating characters becomes cheaper, game developers will start offering more options for how a character appears to you, which might well be radically different from how that character appears to one's fellow players.
posted by darth_tedious at 2:54 PM on June 29, 2012


>The idea that people shouldn't be offended by this sort of sexism and wouldn't be offended by it if they just thought about it a little harder is absurdly condescending.

Note, though, that this is an idea, but not my idea:

If-- and this may not be the case-- it is the case that you believe this to be my idea, remember that it is, in fact, your idea. It may not be your opinion, and I'm convinced that it is not... but it is still an idea that your thought process is generating.

>When I am offended by Stimulus X, what offends me is Stimulus X.

Stimulus X is something that your senses perceive or your imagination constructs. You then have a reaction to X, based on your beliefs and values. Your reaction(s) might be entirely justified, by some consensus model of this vast and teeming world. Nonetheless, the feeling of offense is a feeling; it's taking place in your mind and body. Stimulus X exists, or is perceived to exist, or occurs to your imagination-- but your response-- your feeling--, howsoever immediate and instinctive or gradual and elaborated, operates within your mind and body.

Stimulus X might be objectively good or bad, but your emotional reaction to X, and your later emotional shifts and imaginative and mental operations in reaction to that initial reaction, are properties and processes of your internal landscape, not Stimulus X.

If that were not the case, then every stimulus would affect every person encountering it in the same way.
posted by darth_tedious at 3:35 PM on June 29, 2012


More to the point, these different parameters appeal to different psychological needs. So along with asking, "Why is Game A like this?" it's also useful to ask, "What psychological benefit do I get from playing Game A? What different psychological benefits would a different player get from playing Game A?"

Well, playing Tetris has proven helpful to PTSD sufferers in breaking flashback cycles, like for hypothetical instance a rape survivor triggered by playing the new Tomb Raider and not expecting the attemped sexual assault scene.

Really, what exactly are you saying with this psych / evo psych tangent? People should only play games / experience art psychologically tailored to their brains? It's not psychologically healthy to find a game offensive, so if I do I should go away and fill my psychocological needs with...therapy? More Tetris? I think I'm too tired for this.
posted by nicebookrack at 3:48 PM on June 29, 2012


>People should only play games / experience art psychologically tailored to their brains? It's not psychologically healthy to find a game offensive..?

Nah. I'm just saying that the most effective, long-term, sustainable way to resolve the problems presented by
a) character depictions that some players find discouraging/limiting/offensive
b) game play scenarios that some players find boring/limiting/offensive

is not through opprobrium, but for designers to think a little more deeply about how to engineer the psychological effects that players want.

Sexy Chix and Pink Unicorn Barbie World aren't the sum total of tools available.
posted by darth_tedious at 4:13 PM on June 29, 2012


>but for designers to think

but by designers thinking
posted by darth_tedious at 4:16 PM on June 29, 2012


Pink Unicorn Barbie World

Because God knows if a woman doesn't like an objectified character it's because she really just wants to play Pink Unicorn Barbie World.
posted by schroedinger at 4:24 PM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Given that idealized and exaggerated female characters do nothing for you and can even prove wearisome, and that fourteen year-old boys appreciate depictions of pyramid-breasted women, what would you prefer that the game industry do?

a) subtly demarcate the "heroic" action games into two classes, one less visually sexual and one more, or

b) reduce the use of SeXtremity, satisfying one group of customers more and another less,

or some other option?


This looks like the ol' market defense to me.

Statistically the average "gamer" right now is 37 years old and has a 40% chance of being a woman, so the idea that a game has to appeal to some hormonal horde of 14 year old boys to be successful is totally false. The video game market in fact is HUGE and soooo many people now from different walks of life play a game on a home system at some point during their week. Over 7 million people own a copy of Diablo 3 at this very moment.

Second, even if we assume that the market is simply a bunch of young men, why would a game with a prominent female character somehow leave these folks "less satisfied"? You've boiled the desires of this market down entirely to the quantity of pyramid boobs in a game, with no acknowledgement of the quality of the gameplay.

Your option b) is a false option, in my opinion. As for the question at hand: What do I want the game industry to do about this issue? Make more games with cool women characters in them. Duh.
posted by jess at 4:29 PM on June 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I feel like we're drifting away from the previous raised topic of how hot Kadien is.
posted by The Whelk at 5:56 PM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I always thought Alex Mercer made that gray hoodie pretty hot, but maybe that's my girlhood crush on Venom talking.
posted by nicebookrack at 6:11 PM on June 29, 2012


but there aren't massive forum threads dedicated to whether and how people would like to have sex with him.

that's because there aren't enough gay men, and women don't want, to have massive forum threads about having sex with him.
posted by cupcake1337 at 6:31 PM on June 29, 2012


>You've boiled the desires of this market down entirely to the quantity of pyramid boobs in a game, with no acknowledgement of the quality of the gameplay.

I don't think I am.

I'm saying that this is one possible factor, for one component of the customer base.

How important that factor actually is to a game's financial viability, and how it affects and relates to gameplay for the aggregate of the customer base, remain unanswered questions.

>This looks like the ol' market defense to me.

Well, it seems to me like a market explanation. Convince game production companies that other approaches are just as financially workable, and you'll eventually get different products.

>Your option b) is a false option, in my opinion.

Why? Do you believe that the Horny 14-Year Old Boy customer segment is outweighed by the Annoyed by Skimpy Costumes customer segment, and significantly enough so that it would financially justify immediate investment in changing the games being produced?

(I believe that this will be seen as the obvious case-- eventually; I'm not sure that the financial case for immediate investment is clear-cut and compelling, as of today.)
posted by darth_tedious at 6:33 PM on June 29, 2012


Again, nobody wants to be Lara Croft all the time.

Quoted for untruth.
posted by effugas at 6:40 PM on June 29, 2012


I don't see how it can be explained by the market. Are hapless game designers eager to create realistic female characters, but they're stymied by the marketing department? As poe's link showed, it seems to be more the case that clueless game designers are designing for themselves, not even realizing that there's an alternative.

Or, look at the PC games that have sold at least 5 million copies. Do Half-Life 2, SimCity, the Sims, Minecraft, and Myst tell you that the market craves sexed-up women?
posted by zompist at 7:05 PM on June 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think part of the problem is the ludicrous hours that people are routinely expected to work in the game industry. It tends to attract monomaniacs, who will not stop working on their game to go out--or, hell, go on some internet forum--and socialize themselves to the point where they can understand an unfamiliar perspective on their game, even with the help of a well informed marketing department.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:36 PM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's extremely weird to somehow separate out the sexism issue while leaving the violence issue as a given. It's like the last hundredsome years of social thought never happened. In real life, mass violence always results in war rape and other forms of sexual domination. It's hard for me to imagine games that are basically vehicles for violence somehow upholding responsible gender attitudes. Violence and sexism are intrinsically and historically linked. It's like wondering why your side-scroller adaptation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is so anti-Semitic.
posted by threeants at 8:17 PM on June 29, 2012


You want to be as cool and powerful as Kratos. Again, nobody wants to be Lara Croft all the time.

Assumes all readers are male and/or that no man can identify themselves with a female character.


As a female ex-gamer, I wanted to be cool and powerful, and I didn't want to be a jiggly sex object meant to be ogled. Most of the time most people don't want to be a psychologically-empty disempowered sex object. Most women don't look at unrealistically-depicted female bodies and feel empowered. As a girl, I had to decide between playing as the uncomfortably-sexual female avatar that made me feel kind of attached because she was a girl, or the male avatar that allowed me to think comfortably about the game and the action and physics that were taking place around me, without feeling weirdly threatened.

So, it doesn't assume either of those things, because a lot of women feel cool and powerful playing as cool, powerful male characters, and I would think it's relatively rare for anyone to feel immersed in an action game while simultaneously identifying with an object meant to be stared at. Being rich and badass would be great, but I was always aware that Lara Croft was a sexual fantasy before thinking of her as rich, badass and young.

Also, with regard to "sexy," it's extremely obvious whether a character is meant to be sexy to encourage player identification or meant to be sexy to encourage sexual objectification. The kind of "sexy" heroine I'd want to identify with would wear actual cool clothes (not just less of them), pick up hot dudes, and be in control. She wouldn't just be a nice bum to look at!

This issue always comes up in these discussions-- a lot of men don't understand why women wouldn't want to identify as "sexy." That's because a sexy male hero is usually shown to have agency in crucial ways, while a sexy female hero is usually about the way she passively looks, or the suggestive/corny asides she makes to the player, or how men encroach (in Croft's case, now almost rape I guess?) her.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:25 PM on June 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


It's hard for me to imagine games that are basically vehicles for violence somehow upholding responsible gender attitudes.

It's not hard for me to imagine an action game with responsible gender attitudes. It would involve having female characters who aren't sexualized and who are generally on par with the male characters in similar games. It is difficult for me to imagine these games becoming the standard, as long as sexy female characters make for easy advertising. Women have power fantasies too-- you could critique them as violent fantasies, as well-- and the only problem here is that game culture in general is dominated by male perspectives.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:29 PM on June 29, 2012


Okay, so let's talk sexualized characters here. I'm gonna go with Dragon Age, because it's what I've written porn of played the most and am most familiar with the fandom of.

I'm gonna choose to ignore half the romantic options in DAO and just talk about the ones who are the most sexualized and whose sexuality draws the most attention: Zevran and Morrigan.

Morrigan is sexualized ENTIRELY by her outfit and appearance. She is on all of the game's promotional stuff. Both her hairstyle and her outfit are unique. Her sexiness is tied into the promotion of the game. Her design choices don't really even make sense: her mother is shown in a standard issue raggedy peasant frock and she's got... I don't even know what. They're supposed to be living in the wilds, and her costume is supposed to reflect that-- and it does a bit in the feathery bits and the asymmetry-- but the top is made exclusively to show cleavage. It serves no other purpose.

Zevran, on the other hand, is sexualized by his behavior. He hits on everything with legs; he's the only party member who will sleep with you without question if you ask. Sure, he's attractive, but since everyone in that game has the same body, they're all attractive.

Fans want to sleep with Morrigan because she has nice boobs. Fans want to sleep with Zevran because he would be good in bed.

I'm not sure what the point of that distinction is, really, and I think it's possible that we'll see female characters who fall more in the Zevran camp than the Morrigan one. And it's possible to do the whole design dictating costume when it doesn't make sense in-character to male characters too . Fenris' costume is an example of this: he wears no shoes because... most of the other elves don't wear shoes either. And he shows off his tattoos, which he is a) tortured about and b) mark him when he is a fugitive. It seems likely that this is done for a purely sexualizing reason, since it seems Bioware mashed together a handful of tortured bishonen in order to make him. But in some ways his exception proves the rule, since you'll see him get labeled as feminine, girly or a pretty boy a fair amount.

Also, unrelated to my post but related to the article, from "Anda's Game":
"In fact, the only girls she’d ever seen in-game were being played by boys. You could tell, cos they were shaped like a boy’s idea of what a girl looked like: hooge buzwabs and long legs all barely contained in tiny, pointless leather bikini-armor."
posted by NoraReed at 10:21 PM on June 29, 2012


darth_tedious: Given that idealized and exaggerated female characters do nothing for you and can even prove wearisome, and that fourteen year-old boys appreciate depictions of pyramid-breasted women, what would you prefer that the game industry do?

I really hate the, "this is what the market wants" argument. It in no way justifies anything.
I agree with zompist that it's representative of a deeper problem - the lack of women in the IT industry, which is itself representative of the underlying problem of women being excluded from whole areas of society.

And pretending the market really is entirely 14 year old boys - well that seems like a really good reason to not show them nothing but sexualised, decorated women with no personality beyond catering to the wishes of men, thus normalising this view of women and dooming society to never achieve actual equality.

Yes, I know there are other depictions of women in games, 'badass' coming up a fair amount in this thread, but very few depictions of women in games are positive if you exclude 'wanting to mate with them' or 'wanting to protect the poor helpless woman' from the list of 'positive' responses.

I think it would be fair to say that what's really wanted is depictions of women you'd actually want to be friends with. Or that you'd hate not because they 'use their sexuality as a tool' to manipulate men but because they're just horrible, regardless of what their body looks like or what they wear. Or women that make up a significant proportion of an army, possibly even 50% (without being a lost tribe of amazon women). Or women that display leadership skills without it even being an issue that "she's a girl". Or women that have conflicting emotions that drive them that have nothing whatsoever to do with sex or sexuality.
In short, characters that don't fit into one of a very small handful of shallow representations of women.
posted by lith at 2:20 AM on June 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


To explain my hatred of market forces as a justification - it's like saying it's god's will, like the market's some omnipotent force we can never hope to fight so why bother. The market is for sure hard to control, but it's made up of people and if you can change the way people the think the market will follow. Something understood full well by ad agencies.
posted by lith at 2:40 AM on June 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


I've kind of got a thing for Clippy, but I guess that's not a game so I apologize for the derail.
posted by DJ 3000 at 9:35 AM on June 30, 2012


I think it's extremely weird to somehow separate out the sexism issue while leaving the violence issue as a given. It's like the last hundredsome years of social thought never happened.

cortex made a comment in a Duke Nukem Forever thread a while back that seems apposite:
Killing in video games is (usually) presented as being justifiable killing. You're not just wantonly killing random people; you're killling Bad Guys—often Very Bad Guys, and sometimes the embodiment of Evil itself

Often but (as you dutifully qualify) hardly consistently the case. But this goes to something a lot more fundamental to the umbrella genre that is shooter: the basic game mechanic is shooting at stuff. It's an enduring mechanic because it's a strong, simple, accessible framework for engaging the player in a dynamic test of skill.

It doesn't really matter what you're shooting; what matters is that something is moving, and you need to put a reticule over it (or over where it will be) and hit the button at the right time, and if you don't it means trouble. Moving object tries to connect with other moving object using third moving object.

Everything else is dressing used to sell a game experience that's something other than "THREE MOVING OBJECTS". The problem is, it's really easy to go from abstract "triangle fires dot at square" to "person fires bullet at other person", because it's a readily accessible metaphor that can be built out with other familiar bits of context. "Soldier in the jungle with an M4 vs. guerrillas" isn't necessarily any better a game than "Floobsnark in the gracknarn with a sonic emitter vs. The Slenborn Bacterium", the mechanics needn't be any different, but the effort required to make the former work as an accessible metaphor is a lot less than for the latter.

So we have men with guns shooting aliens, or bad people, or antagonistic people, or innocent bystander people, because (a) people know people, (b) people know guns can shoot things, and (c) people know aliens and people are things that can be shot at. And people (or demons or aliens) have through their agency the ability to move around and fight back, which makes for a more compelling bit of combat.

There could be, and maybe there will be, a paradigm shift in game subject matter to more creative or abstracted ways to frame OBJECT TRIES TO HIT OTHER OBJECT WITH THIRD OBJECT that does away with the tendency to have shooters involve the player pretending to be someone putting bullets into other people until they die. And I think that'd be great, I've steadily lost my taste for Realistic Manshooting as the realism has ramped up over the years, and there are plenty of games already that go in different directions with it.

But there's a tremendous semiotic convenience to putting a gun in someone's hand and directing nasties at them that need killing, and that convenience is likely to mean manshooting has inertia to spare, and we're all going to be afforded the opportunity to shoot people with increasing nuance and granularity. Not because shooting pretend people is particularly awesome or sufficiently morally justified in the diegesis of a game or even necessary at all to the mechanic being fun. Just because it's an easy and familiar way to frame the game mechanic of trying to hit a moving object. It's a weird trick of circumstance in game design.

Slapping a stripper on the ass has far less going for it even in that sense, all else aside.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:06 PM on June 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Personally, I really don't see a problem with over-sexualized women in games, as long as men receive the same treatment. I'm looking at a screen for forty-hours at a time during a long game. I'd be delighted to get some male eye candy. I was very happy they chose Mark Vanderloo to be the model for Commander Shepherd, for example.

Yeah, he's not running around half naked (though the skin tight suit is nice.) I appreciate how they deliberately chose a remarkably handsome guy as the model, and didn't revert to "let's make this a more average looking dude to be more representative of the male gamers yadda yadda yadda."

Because I think that, more than anything, pisses me off when I play games or consume some other type of media: that the girls/women are so often exponentially hotter than the men. UGH. STOP IT ALREADY!!! DO YOU NOT WANT MY MONEY?!?!
posted by The ____ of Justice at 7:42 PM on June 30, 2012


Men instinctively look at people and immediately sort them, on a purely visual basis.

Women visually sort people, then add on a couple of other layers, which serve to modify their initial visual sort.


Lol, srsly? And white people drive like *this*, but black people drive like *this* yeah? Tedious indeed.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 1:39 AM on July 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


tyllwell (Looks at Lara with male gaze) Badass, sexy, young, rich.
(Looks at mirror with male gaze) None of the above.


Lara's an interesting example, because she has always struck me as the closest thing to a female power-fantasy, or at least that's part of why she appealed to me (and some other female gamers I know), and part of why the direction they've gone in with the reboot made me kind of sad. Yeah, she had ridiculous gag boobs, but she was a wise-cracking, dinosaur-shooting grave robber adventuress with a really cool accent, and she was one of very few female characters in 90s mainstream video games who were the sole hero--the star--of the games she appeared in. She was a fantasy character I could project myself into, like Xena or Wonder Woman, someone who I could sort of pretend to be, instead of just watching.

Thing is though, I also know that I wouldn't even have those power fantasies available if they weren't created by men to appeal--sexually--to men. Probably none of them would've seen the light of day, or had successful franchises, if they weren't portrayed as young beautiful thin white women. And that sort of puts a damper on things, you know? I still love Lara and Xena and Diana, but I know that making them characters I wish I could be was always secondary to making them characters dudes would like to fuck.
posted by kagredon at 10:22 PM on July 1, 2012


It works for me, I have bought games because of front covers that were clearly aimed at men.
posted by craig222 at 5:07 AM on July 2, 2012



It works for me, I have bought games because of front covers that were clearly aimed at men.
posted by craig222 at 5:07 AM on July 2 [+] [!]


I'm curious. Do the looks of the male protagonist matter to you at all? Are you less inclined to buy it if he looks or doesn't look a certain way?
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:18 PM on July 3, 2012


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