Is it just me or is the discussion of sexism in the air? No, seriously. It's becoming an increasingly common topic with each passing day. I just keep bumping into discussion of it. Shoot, two people got fired from their jobs due to comments of varying sexist-ality on Twitter!
I THINK I found the root of most of this: Tropes vs Women in Videogames.
Basically there's a YouTube channel called Feminist Frequency that did a series called Tropes vs Women and now wants to do a videogame based series. Problem was, she used Kickstarter to earn money and earned a ridiculous amount and well...that caused backlash.
And now everyone can't stop talking about sexism in videogames!
This is actually a subject that's very important to me. See, as a kid, me and my older sister were always allowed to rent one thing each. I'd get a game and my sister would get an anime But I realized if I could find a game with a female character, I could get TWO new games to play that week! So I became VERY well acquainted with the girls of the 16-bit era...of which there were quite a few. They're a HUGE part of my childhood! So...you know...being told that they don't matter or having them be completely ignored is kind of a THING to me.
Well I figured I'd throw my hat into the ring and try to write an article on it and I watched TONS and TONS of videos and read a bunch of articles on Sexism, Feminism, all sorts of shit with peoplke varying from Feminists, to ranting crazy people, to just...fucking EVERYONE. Every damn opinion I could get. It made me fucking dizzy!
Well I learned one very important thing: I am COMPLETELY unqualified to talk about sexism (250 hours in Rumble Roses XX, 60 hours in DOAX, another 60 in DOAX2, Gal*Gun on both 360 and PS3 with DLC, and the only positive reviews of Oneechanbara and Blades of Time on the internet, also just beat Oneechanbara Z Kagura). Not EVEN gonna try! ...and yet WOW do I have opinions...ON the opinions!
I've spent the past few weeks TRYING to solidify this into a coherent article for the blog but it just isn't working. This shit is INSANT FLAMEWAR BAIT and is a VERY touchy and complex subject that brings up VERY PERSONAL and incredibly varied opinions so I need to tread carefully in a more public context. However, I just now realized that the LJ is a good place to just let it out. Throw what I have at a wall and see what people say...mostly Baines.
First of all, to any Feminists out there, PRAISE SOMETHING! Find SOME kind of positive example! ANYTHING! Seriously, almost all I can find is complaints and indeed there's plenty to complain about, but that's ALL I can find! When all you do is complain, it doesn't give developers much to work with. ESPECIALLY because all the complaints run together and give the impression that you're utterly unpleaseable! At this point it seems what they want is a Female character who is clearly female but isn't sexualized and is strong without resorting to violence while simultaneously being equal to the men but NOT being the same as the men as that would just make her a man with boobs, she has to act feminine without falling into a female gender role but she can't fall into a male gender role either and...you DO all realize that's completely impossible, right?
That's the big thing I realized. You can't please everybody, you can't please a group, and Feminists are a GROUP of people. Like any group, each and every one of them has their own tastes and opinions and as such you can't please 'em all. I know some women have no problems with a character being sexy as long as she's competent and a well developed interesting character, while other have their problems ENTIRELY with the characters being too sexy or with them using violence. Meanwhile others still WANT their characters to be insanely sexy and use their sexuality as a weapon!
Anyone remember when Bayonetta was being called the best female character in videogames...or THE ONLY FEMALE CHARACTER IN VIDEOGAMES as that dipshit MovieBob/Game Overthinker once said. (Oh yeah, I'm STILL mad!)
On a similar token, men need to shut up about sexism in videogames. Seriously, someone was pointing to the "hundreds" or articles on the subject and they were all written by men. The issue here is that men take things too far and major publications sensationalize things. I mean seriously, anyone that brings up Custer's Revenge in discussion is an idiot. That game was never relevant, no one liked it, no one got off to it. It's an ancient curiosity that existed entirely as a gimmick. The issue is that since men aren't offended by any of this REALLY, they exaggerate shit and go too far and don't know what the boundaries of "acceptable" and "unacceptable" are and the result is that they add to the feeling that feminists just CAN'T be pleased!
My point is, say SOMETHING positive. Even if it has negative shit with it. I read some articles about how pro-feminist Sailor Moon is and about the positive aspects of the Disney Princesses. They still complained about the outfits or certain things about the Disney movies, but rhey still praised SOMETHING! Saying "This character would be great is she just wore a sweater" is FAR more productive and less irritating than "All female videogame characters are awful, here's why!".
Know what's really funny? I know a girl that LOVES the Hyperdimension Neptunia series. The games currently being held up as THE MOST HORRIBLE MISOGYNIST GAMES ON THE MARKET!!! And this girl likes them. She's even teamed up with another girl to make a Left 4 Dead mod that puts the characters into the game. Why? Why does she like the game? Because the characters are cute and the writing is funny.
Yeah, I ain't gonna call those games the best representation of women or anything, what with how they exploit their characters sometimes. Lots of tentacles and lesbians and whatnot. But at the same time, everyone complaining about them is doing it at face value. They see scantily clad underaged girls and immidiately begin calling foul without knowing what's actually inside.
Similarly, I doubt anyone will complain about Blades of Time because Ayumi is a FUCKING IDIOT and a TERRIBLE CHARACTER but rather because of her skimpy attire and her "infantilizing" pigtails.
...and if I hear ONE MORE PERSON bring up Lollipop Chainsaw as being so horribly sexist I'm gonna punch them in the jaw.
And NO ONE is gonna mention Ar Tonelico 1, the ONE GAME that I found to be horrifyingly offensive and sexist. The game that made ME, Mr.250 Hours of Rumble Roses, uncomfortable.
Know what's even better? No one is gonna bring up WET in this discussion. Ever.
But yeah, so I've been working of an episode on pre-Croft game heroines and started making a list and...WOW! There's a LOT of female videogame characters! Like, this list doesn't even count RPGs and Fighters, which almost universally have a number of female characters. I'm JUST looking at games with female leads and there's a LOT! ...weirdly there was an EXPLOSION of them in 1985. Like...that's the starting point. It was Ms.Pac-Man then Girl's Garden then BAM! 1985! Baraduke, Flash Gal, Wonder Momo, Ninja Princess, Typhoon Gal, Time Gal...1985 was the fucking YEAR of the Gals! Kinda crazy!
It's at THAT point you realize...there's actually a shockingly large amount of female characters in videogames! There ALWAYS has been since the mid-80s! I mean I'd probably say something like 1 in every 5 playable videogame characters are female! Sure it's not the over 50% of the actual real world population but that's pretty darn good for a male dominated medium like this.
The problem is, NO ONE knows about them! For some reason it seems ALL games with female characters are destined for obscurity even when they're really good! Alisia Dragoon has ALWAYS garnered much praise and yet it's NEVER brought up in discussion! What about El Viento? Or the Valis series? Positive OR negative, no one ever brings them up! Shoot, even today with WET this continues! Who brings up WET in discussion like...ever? It's fucking madness!
So...in a weird twist...as unqualified as I am to talk about sexism in videogames, everyone else is unqualified to talk about women in videogames! THEY DON'T KNOW ANY!
So, really, I have one question on my mind. One question that is bothering the fuck out of me. Is this sexist:
Seriously. Is Alisia Dragoon a decent representation of women in videogames? Or is the outfit too skimpy? Or is the game too violent? Or is there not enough dialogue to give the character a personality? Is she just a "man with boobs"?
I think each person will give me a different response.
Also, can I just say that I am HORRIBLY offended by the growing frequency of the term "man with boobs"? The idea being that if a female character doesn't do something that makes her distinctly feminine, she's just a model swapped dude? Because, really, you're telling me that making a female character that is COMPLETELY EQUAL TO HER MALE COUNTERPARTS IN EVERY WAY is somehow sexist?! What's more that she doesn't even COUNT as a female character?! Fuck you. No, really, fuck you.
Also, it needs to be said, the backlash against the new Tomb Raider amuses me. See, I find it fascinating and perhaps even disturbing that 3 of the most boob-tastic game series have tried to tone it down: Soul Calibur, DOA, and Tomb Raider. But each one is utterly botching it! SCV is getting shit because while it ditched the busty older cast, they've been replaced by their daughters while the men get to keep aging. DOA is just plain sending mixed messages. But Tomb Raider?! Oh lord...
See, I want you to find the Extra Credit episode on Female Videogame Characters. Watch it. That episode is fucking ridiculous. It gives such stringent and explicit instructions on how EXACTLY to do a good female character and nothing else will suffice. Now look at the new Tomb Raider. My VERY FIRST THOUGHT when I saw that game was that they were trying to follow that Extra Credit episode TO THE LETTER...which is awkward. Rebooting fucking Tomb Raider to make Lara Croft into a less sexualized and strong female videogame character? Umm...okay. A bit awkward but okay. Then the newest trailer hits and thanks to a near rape scene EVERYONE seems to now be calling it even MORE sexist and that opinion has colored their perception of the entire rest of the game! It's HILARIOUS! The game tried SO HARD to make Lara Croft into that perfect female videogame character and all they got for their troubles is wanton backlash and hate!
I'm not saying the new Tomb Raider isn't the next Other M. I'm just saying that what they were TRYING to do and the result are kind of hilarious...and a damn shame. It's shit like this that prevents us from having the original female lead in Black Lotus/True Crime: Hong Kong/Sleeping Dogs. I'm starting to wonder if all this hair splitting about female characters won't get to the point where people just say "You know what, it's not fucking worth it" and results in LESS female videogame characters.
...and don't try to tell me "But sex sells". In videogames, it doesn't. Not always. Many people actively avoid games that are explicitly sexy under the opinion that if a game is sexy then it must not have good gameplay. So...yeah...
There you go. You may now proceed to have a flamewar and tear me a new asshole. Me? I've gotta figure out how a game where HOMING LIGHTNING is your regular attack can be SO FUCKING HARD!