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Default Gender Roles & Ethical Responsibility @ GamesCritics

September 16th, 2009, 03:21
Mike Doolittle at GameCritics follows up on the recent article on gender roles in Mass Effect and other games with a counter view:
Consistently, I find myself disagreeing with Alex in her views about the sexual representation of females. In her article about Mass Effect, she suggests that the Rachni (a sentient insectoid species in the game) queen's purpose of "breed[ing] lots of children" is patriarchal, as if bees, ants, or any other species of insect could be accused of being patriarchal simply because they've evolved such that the female does exactly that. Nor was I persuaded by the questionable "commodity model" of sexuality that Alex references in her article on Alpha Protocol, a model which I feel greatly oversimplifies the evolutionary and cognitive roots of human behavior (being an enthusiast of evolutionary psychology I'd love to expound, but that would be an editorial unto itself).
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September 16th, 2009, 03:21
uh boy, here we go again.

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September 16th, 2009, 03:49
I admit I'm too lazy to read 3 editorials to get a feel for this counterpoint. But I will say this: Lately more and more mainstream CRPGs seem to be building in these romance subplots encouragin juvenile fantasies of fucking your way through a cast of universally sexy, big-breasted, and fawning female NPCs. While it may not be too convincing to be using the characteristics of a sentient insectoid species to illustrate that the portrayal of women is taking a step backwards in games, it still seems to me a very strange time to be standing up and saying, "Aw, c'mon, there's no sexism in games!"

I mean, I didn't play The Witcher, but…

We wise and learned pillars of the internet forget that GAMES are often played by chilruns, and chilruns have this habit of being easily influenced. I'm not sure where the line is as far as ethical responsibility in this area goes, but I think that if a dev wants to be ethical, both they and we have to acknowledge that there is a line around here somewhere.
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September 16th, 2009, 04:37
Originally Posted by Anderson View Post
uh boy, here we go again.
I was thinking the same thing. I give this thread about 1.5 hours before it's completely hijacked into something else entirely.


Originally Posted by Yeesh View Post
I mean, I didn't play The Witcher, but…
What are you waiting for?
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September 16th, 2009, 05:07
Great article. A lot better than OMG there are no ugly people.

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September 16th, 2009, 10:35
The following discussion in the comments below the article is a lot more interesting than the article itself. Worth a read.
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September 16th, 2009, 10:40
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
The following discussion in the comments below the article is a lot more interesting than the article itself. Worth a read.
Agreed

I like how some people still think of games as a fully artistic expression. I wonder how widespread that notion is, and I wonder if there are still people thinking the same thing about Hollywood.
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September 16th, 2009, 10:50
Indeed. There are definetly artistic decisions in games, but most decisions are definetly related to economics.
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September 16th, 2009, 10:55
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
Indeed. There are definetly artistic decisions in games, but most decisions are definetly related to economics.
Yeah. I mean, naturally it varies a lot and there is no easy way to determine in a general sense.

Also, indie developers are probably in a different position. I'm grateful for that
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September 16th, 2009, 19:26
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Commercial
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September 16th, 2009, 19:32
There were a lot of interesting comments there, some of which begged for a reply, but I think it's a mess I should avoid (I didn't even read the original postings).

But I remember an RPG about ten years ago (not sure, but it might have been Might & Magic VII), where all of the character portraits were white, and the only black people in the game were tribal witch-doctors with bones in their noses ("monsters," in other words). It seemed wrong to me then, and it still does, though I was flamed for suggesting that the developers could have been a little more thoughtful (like allowing a player to have a character with a dark skin).

Yeah, all these (white) gamers complained that "it's just a game" or that they were sick of worrying about stuff like that (meaning racism). No, sorry. I deplore misogynistic music, too. We ALL have ethical responsibilities. Just because you're a game developer - or a musician - that doesn't mean you shouldn't be criticized for stuff like this.

In this case,… I have no idea. There certainly are self-described "feminists" who are as loony as any misogynistic right-wing nut-job. I'm not familiar with the games they mention, so I didn't bother to read further. But I do think these are valid issues.
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September 16th, 2009, 20:03
Really? Ethics in games?

Here is a sure fire way to solve this issue. If no one buys said game then this discussion is over and done with. However if people do buy it then as Stephen Colbert would say "The market has spoken"

Dude it is a game. Now and then. If people don't want to play these games then they don't have to buy it or buy one that is more Politically Correct. Simple as that. I sure as hell don't want the government getting their grubby hands on the devs creative control. That's the markets job.

Ethics in medicine makes sense. Ethics in politics makes sense (there are none, but it makes sense) Ethics in games is ludicrious. It's a fantasy land where the devs create the fantasy. If we don't like what they're creating then we have a choice whether or not to buy the game. No one is forcing anyone at gunpoint to play this or any other kind of game for that matter. It's a wonderful freedom to be able to choose.

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September 16th, 2009, 20:09
Stupid article. Great discussion. Can we get some of the people posting over there to come over here?

I'll write more once I've resurrected my computer — my system disk let out the magic smoke and I'm reinstalling everything…
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September 16th, 2009, 22:23
Let's not forget that the romance subplots in alle Bioware games always were and still are entirely optional; you can do them if you want to; if you don't want to do them, then don't. If romances and eventually sexual scenes in games isn't your cup of tea, then just don't buy the games that have them. Period. Harsh as this may be, it could eventually lead to developers getting the idea…if said games didn't sell very well…

However, games today need not be treated any different than books, movies or tv-series, plenty of (non-optional) sex to be viewed in those; just take Desperate Housewives. In fact, my guess is that you will see more s-e-x in the above mentioned show than you will in DA: Origins - especially since the game goes blank on your, or rather present you with a black screen when the romance gets - ehm- hot…

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September 16th, 2009, 22:38
Who's objecting to sex in games? At least I only have a problem with stupid juvenile stereotypical sex in games. I'd quite like to see *more* sex in games, only not stupid.
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September 16th, 2009, 23:24
LOL All this highbrow, highly educated discussion of a topic that started in caves thousands of years ago and hasn't progressed much since. And now some people want to drag it into digital fantasy games, that if they are rated correctly as in "M' for mature shouldn't be 'brainwashing' children and will leave the ultimate decision where it belongs, in the adult consumer's hands. Let the game producers live or die by the dollar, like all other 'artistic' endeavors.
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September 17th, 2009, 00:31
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Who's objecting to sex in games? At least I only have a problem with stupid juvenile stereotypical sex in games. I'd quite like to see *more* sex in games, only not stupid.
I'm objecting to sex in games. It's not a moral objection, it's just that sex adds nothing and consumes resources. Sex requires graphical and animation resources, sex requires convoluted story-telling (which frankly tends to be pedestrian enough in our beloved genre). Sex is a waste in a frigging CRPG. Save it for Leisure Suit Larry. Save it for p0rn.

And here's an enlightening tangent, P to the J: There's no juvenile sex. There's no stereotypical sex. The maturity discussion (otherwise worthwhile) completely breaks down once you say Yes, give me sex in my video games. There are gender stereotypes, sure, but once you get to the sex? What's the mature versus immature way to fuck? I'm not being flippant, think about it. What's stereotypical intercourse? Oh, some acts get performed much more commonly than others, but can you really say they become cliche?

I won't even go into the obvious argument that the actual implementations of sexuality in video games runs a spectrum from pandering to embarrassing. I just don't see why anyone would want to encourage this rising tide. One way to keep CRPGs focused on their fundamentals AND to keep them mature is for devs to keep sex out of the games. I'm a big, big fan of hot kinky sex, but I don't need it mixed into everything I do, especially if it takes away from the underlying fun and even coherence of a game.
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September 17th, 2009, 08:25
Originally Posted by Yeesh View Post
I'm objecting to sex in games. It's not a moral objection, it's just that sex adds nothing and consumes resources. Sex requires graphical and animation resources, sex requires convoluted story-telling (which frankly tends to be pedestrian enough in our beloved genre). Sex is a waste in a frigging CRPG. Save it for Leisure Suit Larry. Save it for p0rn.

And here's an enlightening tangent, P to the J: There's no juvenile sex. There's no stereotypical sex. The maturity discussion (otherwise worthwhile) completely breaks down once you say Yes, give me sex in my video games. There are gender stereotypes, sure, but once you get to the sex? What's the mature versus immature way to fuck? I'm not being flippant, think about it. What's stereotypical intercourse? Oh, some acts get performed much more commonly than others, but can you really say they become cliche?
Looks like we're talking with different definitions here. By "sex" you just mean the depiction of the act; I meant sex as a part of the story or gameplay. I agree that depiction of the actual sex acts adds precious little to the game, in general — about as much as, say, your average cutscene. We could very well dispense with those (or else demand genuinely higher quality of them). Prince of Persia: Sands of Time is the only game I can think of off-hand where the sex scene was emotionally moving and not just stupid — but it has been done, which means it could be done, and IMO should be done, again.

But sex as a part of the story or gameplay… yeah, I would like to see more of that, and I would like to see it done better. The Witcher came close, IMO — the romance and tail-chasing quests were a quite a significant and IMO well-done and well-integrated part of the game, even if the actual collecting-card game was only marginally less stupid than BioWare's way of dealing with the topic.

I won't even go into the obvious argument that the actual implementations of sexuality in video games runs a spectrum from pandering to embarrassing. I just don't see why anyone would want to encourage this rising tide. One way to keep CRPGs focused on their fundamentals AND to keep them mature is for devs to keep sex out of the games. I'm a big, big fan of hot kinky sex, but I don't need it mixed into everything I do, especially if it takes away from the underlying fun and even coherence of a game.
Translation: you hate the way sex is generally done in video games now, and would rather have it done not at all.

I agree.

However, I don't think those are the only options. There is the option of doing it well — and that's what I'd like to see more of.
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September 17th, 2009, 08:52
The sex scene in God of War was hillarious and had a gameplay element in it's own.

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September 17th, 2009, 09:42
Though I find it hard to imagine a lot of games being enhanced due to sexual content, I find it much harder to argue that it can't possibly happen.

It's about execution, isn't it? I mean, if done in a manner fitting with whatever you're trying to convey - then it certainly has potential.

The thing is, though, that writing in games and the general perception of what the audience wants is such that I doubt it'd be able to appeal to someone like myself.

I'm very obviously FAR removed from whatever they have in mind for the crap I'm seeing, and this has always been so.

It's only going to get worse, so far as I can see, so I'm not exactly expecting much in this way. Also, the US is still the primary source of games - and we all know their attitude towards sex. It's not like we can expect them to have a relaxed disposition, much less a mature one.
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