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eye roll (Gaming)

by Kermit @, Raleigh, NC, Monday, December 02, 2019, 18:12 (10 days ago) @ Cody Miller
edited by Kermit, Monday, December 02, 2019, 18:18

If someone somewhere did have an issue with it, I don't see VR as significantly different from an FPS or even a third-person game in that regard--plus [what cruelLegacey said]. I think as a mass phenomenon among gamers this is a straw man (or person), but it seems fairly common these days to assume the idiocy or bigotry of a big swath of the population on any subject (and it certainly is flattering to do so).


I don't assume idiocy or blatant bigotry. Those people are the tip of the iceberg. And what you don't see are all the subtle biases that are milder version of this that are nevertheless harmful. And if you don't see a difference between VR and third person in this regard I don't know what to tell you.

I see a lot, friend, and just to be clear: I don't buy into the Anita S. narrative about harm overall. I find her conclusions simplistic and unscientific--she reminds me of Jack Thompson. And yes, there is a difference between third person and VR, but you skipped over my mention of first person, which is much less different. I do get your point--there is a weird feeling with VR when you look at your legs and they're yours/not yours simultaneously, but your post was explicitly about rejecting the experience because of the gender, when gamers have been inhabiting characters of the opposite gender for a good while (and men have been identifying with female protagonists [and often very effectively creating them] for a very long time). As I said, I don't think VR represents a leap significant enough to matter here.

I am not talking about just PLAYING as a female character. I'm talking about empathizing with one. And this is something people struggle with. Even me.

Of course you can speak for yourself.

This is the other side of the same coin, but I have a huge issue with the argument that I can't relate to or identify with a protagonist who doesn't share my physical attributes or biographical details. F that noise all the home.


Why then do nearly all playable female protagonists in games either:

1. Fetishized (e.g. Bayonetta)

It's a fun fantasy and young men especially get a little buzz from female nudity. Maybe they shouldn't (but they do and always will), and maybe it represents a gateway drug to other media that can be damaging to their relationships, and maybe game developers should ideally make their female protagonists fully clothed and normally proportioned females (like Konoko), but I'm not a stickler for dictating what's appropriate in creative works (and I remember when anyone who tried to do so was ridiculed as a prude). Similarly, I didn't scowl at the little gasps I heard in the theater when Brad Pitt removed his shirt in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Human beings naturally respond to human beauty, and I don't know how we can expect otherwise.

2. Masculine (anyone doing masculine things like shooting and fighting)

Action games gonna have action.

When are you ever asked to actually identify with a female character? It's not often.

Most games suck at characterization generally, but some are getting there as the story telling matures. Given the audience for most computer games has traditionally been male, developers and publishers might play it safer than they should. Not the gamers' fault.

Why did Dontnod go from publisher to publisher dozens of times, only to hear the same thing? 'We love it, but can you make Max a boy?"

Because publishers are risk-adverse--that they perceive a female protagonist as a risk is the problem, but I'll get back the problem in a moment. (Seems that Dontnod now have male protagonists in their newest game. Please don't call that a regression.)

You've seen Ex Machina, which is the perfect example. The Turing test was a metaphor to see if men could empathize with a woman. And if you hated the ending, then you failed. There's a reason why Caleb was set up as the main character. Why the audience was primed to see the world through his view. The test then was whether you could empathize with Ava. And judging by reactions very few could.

I didn't much care for the ending, and I reject your hypothesis that the reason I didn't care for it was that I couldn't empathize with a woman. It's ludicrous to claim that that's the only reason why someone might not care for the movie. Maybe I thought it was overly didactic in its insistence that I get its "message."

A comic is going around about the author's experience as a kid. In class, they were asked to talk about a fictional character they admired. He chose a female character, and was laughed at. The teacher then suggested he choose a boy character instead. Meanwhile the girls were free to choose male or female characters to admire with no backlash or embarrassment.

Is this a real anecdote? I mean, I believe it, but I don't know that it's dispositive for your case.

We actively discourage men to identify with women.

I think this in kind of true, but what I mostly see is denial that it's possible for men to identify with women. Psst. We're getting closer to the problem.

>There's a big push for strong female role models for women. But where is the push for strong female role models for MEN?

I'm not sure what you mean exactly, but if you mean male protagonists that show their feminine side, I can list many sensitive male protagonists dating back 50 years or more. Holden Caulfield, call your office.

First and third person games still rely on empathy. The character is not you. You see them on screen or else in cutscenes.

Not in Half Life.

But in VR? It's you. So it's a fantastic opportunity. But this is squandered when all you do is shoot and render disembodied hands.

I'd argue that when I read a book with a female narrator, that's more immersive than VR. And I have no problem having empathy for the protagonist. Some men might, but I think overstating that problem is the bigger problem. We're being taught that we can't understand anyone who doesn't share our identity, and the double-bind is that we're told we should identify even while we're told we can't. That's how mixed up we are about these issues. If gaming does affect how men treat women, the problem is games' addictiveness, and how that can keep men isolated from social situations in which they learn to effectively interact with flesh and blood human beings.

Lest anyone try to read between the lines and attribute all kinds of crap to me, I believe all people should be treated with respect. I don't care for exploitive media, but i also think we can easily err in over emphasizing its effect on behavior. I don't think most media makes us shoot or rape each other, and I think most of us can tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Well-drawn characters of any gender in any creative medium can serve as role models to anyone, as they always have. As a kid, I loved Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird. My best (female) friend idealized Huck Finn. It's all good.


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