Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Carnival Full of Feminists

Be still my heart, head over to Feministe , who is hosting the Carnival of the Feminists #7 for some great posts on pop culture and feminism. Make sure you check out the blogs featuring sexism in comic books, manga, videogames and how the N won't play the Degrassi episode that deals with abortion.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Pants and Pantyhose

Astarte over at Utopian Hell brings up an interesting point about women and video games:

Women are currently stuck in the realm of “women’s issues” because of this
mentality to pick at only the things in a game that affect women. There is a
belief (and one with good reason) that if a woman is going to look at video
games, all she’s going to complain about are “women’s issues”. That is, how
women look within the confines of the game.

If we want to be taken seriously, if we want some sort of “culture of equality”, we have to step back and take a much less myopic view of the gaming industry. What’s more, we have to make a much more positive view of the industry, and I don’t mean turning a blind eye to the obvious sexism. I mean focusing on things that we like about games.

All around me, game developers are floundering and asking time and again, “what do women want”?! It’s no wonder that they’re doing this because all they are
getting back is what women don’t want. What women want isn’t, surprisingly, much
different than what the rest of the currently-non-gaming populous wants. The
problem is that we’re not talking about what we want. We’re talking about the
things we don’t want.

I don’t want to hear some far-flung idealistic image of the future where all women are regarded in one way or another. I want comments about current games that you’re currently playing and what you like and dislike about them. I want real solutions, not empty navel-gazing.

Her points really hit home for me first of all because 1) I am definately interested in women's issues in games because I feel that they aren't addressed as well as they could be; along with race and sexuality 2) I take part in significant amounts of ranting and naval gazing--therefore I forget to write about or mention fully the things that I really do enjoy about games (see below post). What I want is this: (and in my own time I can write as such BUT) I would love for some major media outlet, whether it be a popular website, magazine, radio show, tv (i.e. G4 or MTV, but I know, wishful thinking) that included with a regular review segment that addresses how the game accounts for gender, race, and other issues such as class and sexuality. It could be a show that specializes in this, it could be it's quirk or kick. It's good to write about such things on blogs and zines, but how to get something like this incorporated on a larger scale so that people who don't actively seek out this kind of critique come across it? So far, I feel that the blog Old Grandma Hardcore has been the most successful at this (though they aren't necessarily in your face). Until then, if more voices in the mainstream aren't heard, games will be hard-pressed to change.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

On Which I Get All Critical

I've been spending quite a bit of time with Dragon Quest takes me back to the first Lunar on the Sega CD. As said previously, it's great: a big, expansive, time sucker, but now I have to sweat the small stuff.

Last night Jessica went all evil. So I progressed through the story, putting all exploration on hold, just to get her back. I was surprised to find myself actually upset by the fact that I was left to leading around three male characters (with one who is annoyingly enough an archetype of the "Lady's Man")--my token female green and gone. The thing is this--when intially playing DQVIII I was pissed that Jessica's breasts had to visibly bounce when she would cast magic. They're huge. Nothing new, I know, in videogames, but still, ugh, my eyes. Then came her costume changes: A cute little dancer's outfit, with more skin, but less bounce. A bunny outfit--fishnets, the puffy tail. (Which makes me interested to learn more about Playboy in Japan.) Costume changes are fun but what about the Hero? Why don't I get to see a little bunny tail on Yangus enormous end when I equip it on him? What about some skin on Angelo who is covered from shoulders to heels?

Granted, I'm not done with the game. A costume change for any of the male characters might come my way, and if it does, I'll be happy.

The thing about Jessica is this: despite the objectification, she rocks. Definately a strong female character that could make Lara Croft weep. It's too bad that the only other main woman character in the game is a NPC who is cursed to be a horse (ha, the feminist symbolism in that, the princess as a woman who is a "beast of burden.") But at least she's a great character with lots of...development, regardless of gender. I know that the writers for this game counted on the player being upset that she was gone for awhile because she's such a great character. I wonder if they knew as well that it would make female gamers frustrated over losing their most identifiable player. The one with the ponytails, larges breasts and "Sex Appeal" as a leveling-up skill.

This all leads me to another thing: If the player is supposed to indentify with the main character of the game, how come we don't get to choose the gender? This way, Jessica's character design wouldn't have bothered me so much. And related to that, why are there so few RPGs where the main character is a woman? ( Which is why I love Xenosaga so.)

Jessica and her "va-va-voom". Lifted from

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

My New Love: Dragon Quest VIII

I bought Dragon Quest VIII with my Best Buy gift card. It was on sale, too. I didn't realize that I would enjoy as much as I do, and that it would suck up so much of my time, but it's my break, so there's no better time to devote myself.

I'm pretty depressed about being back in the office after the holidays, so here's some links that I've been reading (instead of writing, or thinking, for what that matters) to check out:

Mile Zero discusses female avatars in Second Life, along with discussing the issues behind why there are only naked skins for female characters in World of Warcraft. Utopian Hell weighs in similarily as well.

Mile Zero (again) and Kotaku discuss Something Awful's "Worst Gaming Articles of 2005" which leads to an interesting discussion of the term "Gaming Journalism" and how calling reviews journalism is problematic.
I have issues with Something Awful itself, seeing how they rely on phrases such as "If you’re the sort of person that gets Darwinia then the game is for cunts." However, Feministe points out a thread on Something Awful that makes fun of a misogynist site, but as one commentator on Feministe puts it "And really, when SomethingAwful is mocking you for misogyny, you’ve got it *bad.* "

Twisty at I Blame the Patriarchy takes on the sexism of the pill. I could go on and on about this post pointing out that the creators of The Pill made the cycle of pill-taking mimic the rhthym method so that the Catholic Church would give their seal of approval (we all know that they didn't), and how I think the good-ole fashioned diaphragm is a birth control method that is largely ignored because no one really makes any money off of it, and women are taught to be afraid of "down there." Also it is important to think about how affording the pill is a privilege. The post also talks breifly about female sexual dysfunction, something I wrote a paper on this past semester. All I can say is that much more research needs to be done for women and this issue, putting women on large amounts of testerone seems a bit dangerous when the research hasn't been done. The focus, research and money has been mainly on men's sexual dysfunction--women need it badly too.