#1ReasonWhy More story != more words My mystery flight

Help! I’m in a nutshell!

(19) June 25th, 2010


Why am I in a nutshell?! How did I get in a nutshell? Who put me in this nutshell?! I’ll tell ya who. The dullard who wrote this, on wiki.media-culture.org:

“Whilst there are some video games that appeal to women there is a greater need for games to be designed by women for women. The video game industry must recognise the growing need for more female friendly games. Most women want to play games that encourage interaction between users and help foster friendships and relationships.”

I’m sorry what?

I don’t need my games made by women for me to find them interesting and relatable. Define a “female friendly game” exactly, you condescending prick. Are we supposed to only enjoy point-and-clicks that contain an abundant amount of pink and glitter and rainbows? That sucks, I freaking hate pink.

There are some issues with equality in games, some big ones, and I’ll write about exactly what’s wrong with it in-depth one day, but you know what? I signed up for it when I started pursuing a male-dominated past time. There are things the industry could do to make it nicer for women, but I don’t think it involves pandering and changing industry policies and actively trying to make women like games. There’s no push for the sewing industry to include more men for the sake of gender equality. Why do we need to do that in games? Gamers come in all different shapes and sizes, I don’t want to be categorised as a “girl gamer”, I’m happy with just “gamer” thanks. It’s reminiscent of the Actor/Actress debate. I get annoyed when people feel the need to put people in boxes like that. Can’t I just be under the “gamer” umbrella? Why do I need special games just for me? Why do I need to be pandered to and condescended because a game might make me feel sad about my self-image. Puh-lease. Give me what everyone else is playing, if I don’t like it, I’ll put it down and try something else. I’m a big girl.

Mentoring women designers in the games industry purely because they’re women is dumb. You shouldn’t get a job purely because of the genitals you were born with. We’re not all precious, timid, unique little butterflies that need to be taken care of. If a girl wants to work in games she should work her butt off to get there, just like anyone else.

Yes, a lot of women video game characters are hypersexualised and overdone. But how many Average Joe’s do you see playing male video game characters? Does Kratos make boys skip lunch and feel bad about themselves? It’s a caricature. A larger than life depiction. It’s par for the course. You don’t see a call for male characters in video games being dulled down because it makes the men feel inadequate. Suck it up girls! We’re stronger than this. You don’t need your character to resemble you in any way in order to enjoy it. Relate to their mission, their objective.

Stop treating girl gamers as different. We’re not, we like games, just like guys. We don’t need a special “section” in development houses populated entirely by women, making games for women. What gamers look for in a game is exactly the same no matter who they are: entertainment and escapism and FUN. Stop trying to suck the fun out of it by making sure no one is offended or upset. They’ll vote with their wallets if they don’t like it.

It feels good to get that out. Breeeeathe…. Rant over. I gotta zip!

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19 Responses to “Help! I’m in a nutshell!”

  1. Joaby says:

    Honestly how many fucking Cooking Mama games do we need anyway?

    Also on a more serious note I’d wager the vast majority of women do actually need games specifically aimed at them for them to even get involved with games, and I’d wager that you don’t fit into that majority. The reality is that no, girl gamers aren’t different. But girls are.

  2. Ceylon says:

    At the same time, though, I’ve seen boys whining about how they could possibly relate to a female protagonist, being that women are so damn different (that enormous .01% of our genes) and alien and all. The gaming world isn’t always female-friendly, and changing that at the source would probably do more than one more ‘imagine: fashion designer!’ game.

    Bringing women into the industry purely because they’re female is ridiculous (although mentoring them because the industry is sexist isn’t), but fresh blood would always be a good thing: just look at E3 this year. Anything that stops one more space marine game is fine in my book.

    Plus there’s the old quip about how romance novels are porn for women — if women *are* so focused on story, as a gender, and men are visual (admittedly reductive), bringing in the storytellers doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

  3. Leena says:

    I agree with you guys, to be honest. I think what gets under my skin though is the notion of separation, if games start to be made specifically for women, and I don’t enjoy them, or I prefer the games not specifically made for women, what does that make me?! It’s a whole new way of being judged. I’d prefer we all play the same games and they have elements that appeal to everyone rather than separation.

    It irks me and I’m not 100% sure why. :P Grumble grumble. Can’t we just all play together?!

  4. Talia says:

    I know this fellow is being a bit of a dick, but to be honest I agree with him. I think should be more ‘female friendly’ and I don’t mean more pink and full of cute things. I mean less totally marketed at men. I find female characters in games really quite offensive. I don’t care if she’s porno hot and totally going to do you at the end of the game. I want a girl I can respect who doesn’t look like a fucking real doll. Female roles in gaming narrative are rarely considered legitimate in the character development.

    Female characters DON’T make me feel bad about my body, they make me feel bad about the way women are perceived on a whole in the gaming community. In allowing this perception and hyper-sexualisation to go by without comment, we allow the behavior to be some how considered acceptable. More women in the gaming industry would surely mitigate this ridiculous level sexism.

    I don’t agree that women should be given a ‘leg up’ if they under qualified in the industry but I would certainly like to the see the ‘the games industry is a man’s world’ mentality lessened by a huge degree.

    So much of the ‘hard core’ gaming scene is utterly tailored to men, its style, its objectives, its characters, its gameplay is directly targeted at men. That doesn’t mean women can’t enjoy it but it is in large part why women are a minority in hard core gaming. Just because it is a male dominated pursuit does not mean women who are interested in it should feel they have to put up with the sexist bullshit in games and the gaming community. I may have tits and use vent but it doesn’t mean the ‘tits or gtfo’ should be in any way acceptable! It’s not a matter of needing special games just for girls but have games that are genuinely unisex.

  5. Leena says:

    Absolutely, I’d prefer games that are unisex as well, appealing to both males and females, over games that are ‘single sexed’ (for lack of a better phrase).

    What he’s saying is somewhat true, but it all depends on the way we go about it. Could more women in the industry help? Probably. But that doesn’t mean we should be giving them unfair advantages to get the numbers up. It’s all in the execution, IMO.

    Women being objectified is a problem everywhere, not just in games. I resent notions of fixing it in game as opposed to fixing it in the real world. I’d rather see the cure for the disease instead of the band aids to help the symptoms, and I definitely don’t think I’m on my own on that limb.

    Women should be treated with respect and kindness in games, but they shouldn’t be pandered to and treated as ‘special’. Just a FRACTION less offensive would be enough. :P

  6. Campbell says:

    I’m a Boy Gamer, and proud of it!


    Anything that panders to (and therefore reinforces) the notion of Girl Gamers, and some ridiculous separation of gaming as being targeted differently at different genders, is a stupid idea.

    You make a good point about the hypersexualisation of female characters not being a really big deal, I think. I think it ties in with the notion that when someone’s an out-and-proud “Girl Gamer”, they’re more likely to complain about these things *because* they’re trying to make a scene and trying to garner attention – thus the whole self-applied Girl Gamer tag. Either that or there’s overly-PC SWASPMs (that’s single white anglo-saxon protestant males) trying to make the world A Better Place because they have nothing else to do with their lives There’s a whole raft of stereotypes and generalisations there, but I hope you catch my drift.

    TL;DR just bloody make games so I can enjoy them.

  7. Perkino says:

    I half agree. I agree with this part:

    ‘there is a greater need for games to be designed by women”

    How many games these days are 1st person shooters,3rd person action adventures or equipment/conversation obsessed RPGs? Maybe if there were more of a gender balance in the people who design and make the games then we might have a greater range of games to play. And maybe if they had more women to make games for women then you would have less guys second guessing what types of games women might enjoy. “Gee they spend a lot of time with babies and in the kitchen, that’s probably the types of games they’d like to play… duuuuurrrrghhh” It’s like suggesting I should play games where I worry about balding, iron shirts and rewire the surround sound.

    PS Nathan Drake does make me skip lunch and feel bad about myself. He’s so hawt.

  8. Campbell says:

    P.S how YOU doin’, Leena?


  9. Joaby says:

    @Campbell There are chick flicks. Why can’t there be chick games? Why is that a stupid idea? Wouldn’t accurate targeting of your audience be better than just shifting out anything and hoping it sticks?

    Talia demonstrates why there needs to be gender specific targeting. I like my games characters to look like pornstars. Because i have a penus.

  10. Ceylon says:

    @Joaby There’s a difference between ‘porny’ and plausible, though. Look at your beloved MGS4, for example — there’s no real reason that a biomolecular scientist would have her shirt hanging open.

    It’s hot, sure — for polygons — but it lessens the perception of the industry if most games have pornified women in them. Many games aren’t realistic, per se, being FPSs or fantasy slashers or what have you, but when women are just eye candy — a hetero girl is gonna have trouble relating to that, for one, and it makes gaming seem immature.

    (Gender done well? Portal. I did a triple-take when I saw Chell; there was no pandering, no commentary, she was just a lady — and it was realistic.”

  11. Ceylon says:

    P.S. Coz and Talz, you might like this: http://tinyurl.com/yz7w9v4

  12. Jeremy says:

    I have difficulty seeing this as a game-specific issue. There are plenty of games that have ridiculously stereotyped characters, eg God of War. But there are also plenty that have a variety of differently styled characters, eg Fallout 3 or Dragon Age.

    But this translates across to all forms of entertainment. For every 90210 or Charmed there’s something like The Office, or the Sopranos. For each Transformers or Crank there’s a Precious.

    And there are plenty of games that arent gender specific. De Blob, Mario Kart, Wii Sports, Portal, Miami Shark, Plants V Zombies, Peggle, the Final Fantasy games, etc etc.

    Ultimately someones enjoyment of a video game is entirely up to that individual. I think the people that take issue with the way some games are obviously targetted at teenage males are the same ones who are excited that the 27th Prime Minister of Australia happens to have a vagina.

  13. Joaby says:

    When Megan Fox fixes a motorcycle by hanging upside down from its handlebars, do women everywhere cry foul?

    No. Instead, the world rewards what is a terrible fucking movie (for many reasons beyond offending wymyns) with the title of fourth highest grossing title of 2009 worldwide.

    Why? Because people accept that action films will have gratuitous hot chick shots. Why must this be different for games – except that almost every game is arguably an action title therefore specifically designed for a certain demographic.

    As to Portal – hardly your typical game, isn’t it? Female pro and antagonist, zero human interaction, virtually no violence to speak of and you spend 90% of the game’s levels in a ‘tutorial’.

    It’s a game specifically designed to appeal to as many people as humanly possible. Of course it has encouraging female archetypes.

  14. Perkino says:

    @joaby – errr nobody rewarded Transformers 2, in fact it was panned. by everyone. including Michael Bay and Megan Fox! i see your point but a poor choice of example!

    Portal’s an interesting point, it may be a female pro but apart from looks she may as well be a eunuch, i dont think completely desexing/degendering a character is a way to make a more positive female role model, there’s a point between robot and Lara Croft that’s rarely reached.

  15. Joaby says:

    @Perkino errr fourth highest grossing title of 2009 worldwide. Second in the US. It made buttloads of money. Michael Bay never ‘panned’ it, and Megan Fox is a flip flopping idiot.

    Internet savvy individuals might measure something’s worth based on its metacritic or rottentomatoes score, but the reality is that it made a fucking buttload of money and more people (justifiably) complained about the two uncle tom robots than they did about megan fox in daisy dukes.

  16. Justinbiebersballsack says:

    Leenas Jerky knee is jerky. I think you can get some cream for that.
    Its reasonable to have games pitched at specific target markets.
    What that specific product would be….I have no idea and care even less

  17. Perkino says:

    @joaby It may have made a ton of money but that doesn’t mean people didn’t cry foul. It’s a shame people don’t vote with their butts but that’s a problem with blockbuster culture not an indicator of quality. It was duly noted by critics the leering objectification of Fox but yeah your right, it’ll happen again and again and again.

    The problem is the complete lack of positive female characters to balance the soft porn in blockbusters. The only recent example I can think of is Alice in Tim Burton’s recent remake. All too often females characters spend all their time obsessing about men or looks leaving them 2d and lifeless. It’ll be tough to change that in games as it’s still acceptable in every other form of media available.

  18. Joaby says:

    I didn’t say it was an indicator of quality, but it’s a (literal) measure of its worth either way. I didn’t say it was right or wrong either – I said that it was indicative of a system where in gender focused media development would work.

  19. Ceylon says:

    @Joaby @Perkino Portal’s not a perfect example, obviously, mostly because the game itself is so minimalist. Chell never talks, and she wasn’t just desexed — she was a blank slate in every way, a player projection. That doesn’t happen often in other games. (Master Chief, yeah, but…)

    I’m too young to remember much of No One Lives Forever — how much time did Cate Archer spend sneaking versus writhing in a catsuit? And in RE5, as far as I saw Sheva was pretty nonsexual (at least until they made the leopard-skin bikini mod.) Same with Alyx Vance.

    I’m not sure why “appealing to as many people as humanly possible” is a bad thing. I mean, we’ll always have the Extreme Beach Volleyballs of future generations…but making that the exception rather than the norm would probably improve the industry as a whole.

    As to action movies vs. action games, they’re pretty aggressively marketed to “males 18-35,” yeah, but I can tell you my friends didn’t see Casino Royale to ogle the girls. Young-ish men aren’t the only people seeing action movies (or playing ‘action games’), they’re just the most obvious because that’s whom the developers are targeting.

    I think the first company that *does* bring in positive female characters, or at least competent and human ones — instead of plot devices and eye candy — is going to be pleasantly surprised.

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