Considering the subject matter, I’m going to make this article follow the jump.
All posts tagged sexism
Posted by WildcatJF on June 7, 2012
Well, I suppose this was inevitable, really. Here’s Capcom’s latest attempt to alienate their fanbase: having the 12 DLC characters for Street Fighter x Tekken seemingly complete on the disc but with no legal way of accessing them until after the PS Vita launch, in which case they will (presumably) charge you for the magic words to open the sesame to play as Elena, Sakura, Guy, Cody, Blanka, Dudley, Alisa, Lars, Christie, Jack-X, Lei and Bryan without modding. Fun times.
This kind of bullshit is inexcusable. It really is. I thought ULTIMATE Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 was a terrible way to strip away additional funds from the fighting game fan base (see here and here for more on that), but at the very least it was an honest “the content on this disc is exclusive to ULTIMATE” sort of thing. By hiding away 12 of the SFxT’s cast behind a shroud of DLC with no explicable reason beyond “let’s charge you more for all of the content on this disc – $60 isn’t enough for what we’re giving you!”, is highway robbery, and Capcom ought to be disgusted with themselves. Jason pretty much sums up any further griping I had with his post, so I’ll move on to the other, thornier topic I want to discuss, which is the game being a massive part of one of the worst promotional disasters I’ve seen in recent memory (beyond this, anyway).
Their Cross Counter reality show was a neat premise at least; it was designed to put Tekken and Street Fighter competitors into two teams and the two would challenge each other to rounds to win prizes and such. Witness the teams work out strategies and practice with each other to get better, the thrill of the battles with their rivals. Novel idea. Alas, this intriguing notion was quickly sullied thanks to a large dose of misogynistic behavior that is unacceptable. Miranda “Super_Yan” Pakodzi, a member of Team Tekken, suffered multiple cases of sexual harassment, mostly from the Team Tekken coach Aris Bakhtanians, which led to her forfeiting her spot and departing the show. Here’s a link with Super_Yan explaining her reasoning for her leaving.
There’s two major problems here. One is easy to spot – Bakhtanians had no right to be such a jerk to Super_Yan, and stating that his rudeness is because “sexual harassment and the fighting game community are “’one and the same thing’” (Penny Arcade) is both ridiculous and insulting to the majority of fighting game community. As a casual fighting game fan, I certainly do not want to be lumped in with sexist pigs. I also know a few others more passionate than me that would be offended as well. But Bakhtanians’ atrocious behavior is seemingly okay with Capcom due to the absolute lack of …well, any sort of reprimanding for this sickening behavior. To my knowledge Capcom hasn’t even said ANYTHING about this beyond a canned PR piece:
“The views and opinions expressed by cast members in the live internet program “Cross Assault” do not reflect those of Capcom. As a company, Capcom believes that everyone should be treated with respect,” a Capcom representative said. “This particular issue was brought to our attention and has been addressed. We sincerely apologize to anyone that was offended by any comments expressed during the show.” (Penny Arcade)
We don’t know what this “addressing” means, and as far as I’m aware Bakhtanians remained a part of the show to its conclusion.
Super_Yan’s exit, especially in the wake of her being noticeably distressed in her last fight, should have been a clear indicator something was amiss, and there’s no shortage of evidence of Bakhtanians’ sexist remarks, which “included speculation on her bra size, suggestions that he was going to ‘smell’ her, and a proposal that she mud-wrestle another female gamer, with the winner going on to fight him” (Forbes [yes, it has gotten THAT much traction]), thanks to the nature of this being…a TV reality show.
Alas, even with all of the gaming press putting a well-lit spotlight on the skeletons that lurk in the fighting game closet, it wasn’t enough. A Level Up Wednesday Night Fights event, recorded a day after this all went down, featured Marn and Christian “poking fun at the whole situation and talking about what NOS girl they would hit.” (Shoryuken) First of all, when one person is being an ass, it doesn’t excuse you to join in the asshatery. Second of all, it cast a further cloud over the community as a bunch of misogynist dicks, and, again, as a casual member of this group, I don’t want that association AT ALL. It makes all male gamers, fighting game fans or not, look like moronic douches who can only think with their penis. And it alienates the potential female fan base that would love to be a part of the scene, but can’t escape the overbearing and archaic chauvinism that some of the male sex believe is necessary to be a gamer. It absolutely is not, but it takes much more than me typing it to make a change in the overall atmosphere of the gaming populace.
What’s truly disheartening about all this is the wonderful being that is the Internet. While there have been several people who have taken Bakhtanians to task for his sexism (me included), there’s been nearly as many who have defended him. Many commentators on the Web, thanks to the delightful anonymity of the Internet, have showcased the same bigoted behavior as Bakhtanians, if not more. It’s appalling to know that many immature males have enough conviction (or lack of forethought) to throw their online weight into the sexism arena. In that light, I must applaud inkblot of SRK who has a made a strong statement following the WNF fiasco:
Neither SRK nor Evo in any way condones the behavior from last night. To make this perfectly clear, we are pulling the Evo seeding points for WNF’s first season in 2012, as well as SRK’s sponsorship of WNF. I personally have a lot of confidence in the Level | Up team to set a new standard for themselves and hope to work with them in the future. For now though, that’s not possible.
That was a bold stand to take, and I wish Capcom would have done the same with their show. Banning Bakhtanians from competing and/or stripping away his coach title would have been appropriate for his lewd and unjust behavior, and if it was done in a quicker fashion, perhaps Super_Yan would still have been an active participant. What’s done is done. We need to progress, men, and evolve beyond these inhibiting, horrific stereotypes that some males feel the need to propagate.
So, to come back to you, Capcom, in light of your audacious behavior that has yet to cease since last year, I’m saddened to tell you that I’m through. Until I see a distinct change in your company’s PR, I refuse to provide you with any further money. I will buy your games used. Between screwing with your customers via DLC magic lamps to letting such a unfair and sexist environment permeate your sanctioned marketing ploy, I see no reason to maintain a business relationship with you until you show me more professionalism and good will towards your fan base. Your link from LVLs. is removed, and I will make much less noise about your upcoming titles because I just don’t care anymore. Resident Evil 6 was a game I was really getting excited about, and I’m sure that I’ll continue to keep an eye on it, but I have to tell you I’m afraid Leon’s chapter will be DLC and that it’s actually on the disc waiting for me to pay out additional money to enable its playability. You’ll find a way to disappoint me. I hate typing that, but I just know. I will remember you for all of the good memories and great games of your past, and nothing you do now can ever take that away from me, but the way your company currently is run has tried my patience too far.
UPDATE – Holy fucking shit – there’s PRESET COMBOS LOCKED ON THE DISC THAT REQUIRE DLC. So not only are we not receiving the full amount of characters at launch, we’re also not receiving the full potential of ANY SINGLE CHARACTER at launch. Just when I thought I may have been a bit extreme last night composing my conclusion here, you’ve complete gone and justified my anger. For fuck’s sake, Capcom, this is more than highway robbery, it’s outright implicit deceit.
Posted by WildcatJF on March 6, 2012
Hey guys and gals.
With my Scott Pilgrim review ever-pending (I’m having trouble motivating myself to doing it), I figured I’d fill the awkward silence with another haughty article about sexism in video games. In light of a certain, recently-released Wii game I dare not mention (*cough*), I figured it was about time for me to get my anti-misogyny game on. And as per usual, this is all my opinion, so don’t get your panties in a bunch if I say something you disagree with. Even if you are wrong.
Video games are a form of media, just like movies, books, television, and so on. Gamers and non-gamers alike like to fool themselves, thinking that our precious hobby is just a form of entertainment, but truth be told, they still have lessons to teach us. I’m not talking like Aesop-styled morals, at least not all the time, but on a broader sense. The original Legend of Zelda taught pattern recognition; Pokemon teaches technique over brute strength; Katamari Damacy teaches us to roll our way to heaven with a giant, sticky ball of win and LSD; Cruisin’ USA taught us that bird poop can be pretty funny, even in a racing game. Sometimes the lessons are more concrete, like Tales of Symphonia claiming that a person’s origins should not affect how you treat them, or Jet Grind Radio’s persistent mindset of graffiti being the soul of the streets. For good or ill, these messages have been and will always be embedded in the cutscenes we watch, the lore we read, and the gameplay we experience.
Still, not all of these lessons are as wholesome, or even as overt. A lot of gaming companies just don’t think about what it is they’re saying or doing with their games, what impression they’re leaving. It’s no surprise that games can just be sexist because nobody seriously sat down to talk about what they were planning to do with the message they were trying to convey; the sad truth is, it just happens. That sure as hell isn’t any sort of justification, though, and it’s with that I bring you to TEi’s Top Five Most Sexist Video Games.
5// Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball
The name “Dead or Alive” should be familiar to most of you, particularly those into the fighting game scene. Tecmo’s then-fledgling series was at its peak in the Dreamcast days; sure, the gameplay itself was average, and the “story” was your typical J-fighter garglemesh, but by God it had titties! So, so many titties. Yeah, there were (easily forgettable) male characters, but as one of the earliest franchises to feature “jiggle physics” (before Team Ninja and Acclaim figured it out…I think, I can’t find an exact date on that, so I could be wrong), Dead or Alive’s main draw was the female characters and their boobs. Tecmo took it one step further in Dead or Alive 2 by adding a secret “nudie skin” for their ginger-haired protagonist Kasumi, despite the fact that the nipples and genitalia had been omitted. But really, that’s no worse than any of the recent Ninja Gaiden or Mortal Kombat games. The real nail in the coffin? Dead or Alive XTreme Beach Volleyball.
I couldn’t make this game up. It’s too stupid to be a lie! Taking the female characters from the Dead or Alive series – and only the female characters (one male character appears as a plot device), Tecmo put the franchise through a complete genre make-over, from a so-so fighter to a sub-par bouncing boobahs simulator volleyball game.
Once again, the main draw of the game is the sex appeal: fact that these characters have breasts that jiggle, in tandem with how scantily clad they are, drew in a crowd of franchise loyalists and perverts alike. Never has a game about women in a tropical paradise felt so empty and contrived.
To be fair, though, DoAXBV did boast some impressive graphics for its time, and it certainly wasn’t horrible to play. There was an interactive feature to give your girl of choice food and gifts to help her perform more favorably in a match – something I’m not entirely sure is sexist, but it’s an interesting concept nonetheless.
4// Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but I completely forgot about this game in my Zelda article way back when. Of all the shit the character “Zelda” has had to endure over the years, Phantom Hourglass is by far the one to treat her worst. Early on in the game, we learn via cutscenes that Tetra, the captain of a pirate ship and Link’s friend, is the Princess Zelda; this does not bode well for her, because every time a character is revealed to be Zelda in disguise, they’re abducted or locked away soon after. Sure enough, in the same cutscene, Tetra gets kidnapped by a mysterious ghost ship, leaving Link to have to rescue her.
The game is approaching three years old at this point, but if you really care about spoilers at this late in the game, skip down to the next section – but as soon as Link does find Tetra, he discovers that she’s been turned into a stone statue. Tetra spends the remainder of the game locked in the bowels of one ship or another as Link scours the nearby lands for a cure; only in the game’s climax does he manage to revive Tetra, only for her to be knocked unconscious by the end boss.
Wow. That’s pretty awful right there.
The poor treatment of my favorite Zelda alter-ego aside, this game does little to gain the favor of the fairer sex. Female NPCs are almost unheard of; the only noteworthy ones are the floating amnesia-trope cliche, Navi Ciela, Link’s new fairy, and Jolene, a femme pirate captain who helms a sidequest that ultimately goes nowhere.
While not a bad game (because “bad” can never be associated with any Legend of Zelda game…well, almost never), LoZ:PH takes its Zelda Complex as far as it possibly can – maybe to set a new bar. Who knows?
If none of you have heard of this game, I wouldn’t be surprised.
An underground hit by 3D0, BattleTanx’ entire plot revolves around a virus that has wiped out 99.99% of all females in the world. The protagonist, Griffin Spade, has been separated from his fiancée, Madison, as the government has taken possession of her. The story mode revolves around Griffin’s quest to rescue his fiancée (yet another victim of the Zelda Complex), tracking her from one major United States city to the next.
Again, this is too stupid for me to make up.
That’s all well and good I guess, because what it really boiled down to was you customizing tanks and blowing the unholy fuck out of everything and everyone you saw, and from what I remember it was a genuinely fun game. That should outweigh the plot contrivances, right? You’d figure that, at least, but we’re not so lucky. To take it one step further, the game’s multiplayer mode was a capture-the-flag variation of the single player’s gameplay, but rather than an actual flag, or a briefcase full of intelligence, or some other magic maguffin, the “flags” are women being held captive in your enemy’s base. Nothing screams sexist objectification like making women the basis for your points system.
I love this game, with all sincerity. While Gearbox Software didn’t exactly make a masterpiece – really, it’s not that noteworthy – I have a lot of fun with it, even if it gets samey after a while. But Goddamn is this game misogynistic! There are literally five women in the entire main body of the game in a world rife with NPCs and mission-givers: Lilith, one of the four playable characters who prances about scantily clad while wandering a post-apocalyptic desert planet; Patricia Tannis, an insane archaeologist whose personality is otherwise dull as cardboard; Helena Pierce, the leader of a small village called New Haven; some unnamed Cortana wannabe whose motivations are never made clear; and Danielle Steele, who has about ten seconds’ screen time before she gets impaled through the womb and eaten by a Lovecraftian nightmare. All five of these characters are two-dimensional; Tannis and Pierce, who do nothing more than give you missions, could be replaced with Bounty Boards (little interactive menus in the game’s world where you can accept anonymously-requested missions) and nobody would miss them. Cortana appears to the players infrequently and never has anything noteworthy to say. Steele is a fucking joke, and even Lilith is unimpressive – which says something, because even though the other three playable characters in the game are about as well-developed as a bowl of Rice Krispies, they at least have something interesting about them. Lilith’s role is The Quintessential Tits, with a smattering of Being a Bitch.
There are no other female NPCs aside from Tannis and Pierce. There are no female enemies aside from Steele, and you don’t even actually fight her.
Granted, two of Borderlands’ downloadable content packs, Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot and The Secret Armory of General Knoxx introduce two new female characters: Moxxi, the world’s hottest MILF who, despite her tactless attire, is reasonably sexy, and Athena, an ex-assassin who has turned against her former employers, the Atlas Corporation. Athena is forgettable, only appearing in Secret Armory‘s opening cut scene, and one more early on in the DLC, but Moxxi is a really interesting character. There are a lot of NPCs who have robust personalities, but Moxxi’s is the most interesting.
This doesn’t sound too awful bad, right? The lack of female characters is just part of the problem, because Gearbox’s misogyny is incredibly subtle. You never really notice that all of the enemies or NPCs are male until somebody brings it to your attention…nor do you realize how many non-human enemies have vaginas for mouths. Skags, one of the most common creatures you’re forced to fight, have maws that will put the fear of God in any male, and the Destroyer, the end boss that eats Steele, also boasts a pretty impressive vagina dentata. The most overt, though, is the Rakk Hive boss, whose lower face (I guess it’s a mouth) literally looks like an anatomically correct vagina. The creature also has the most graphic death of any enemy in the game, which is a testament to Gearbox’s true feelings of the fairer sex. You can burn enemies alive by lighting them on fire or infecting them with corrosive acid, you can decapitate them and blow them up into chunkins, and you can even electrocute them – but these bodies disappear with time, and you just sort of forget about it. Boss characters, like the Rakk Hive, aren’t even that special; you kill them, they fall over dead, and that’s the end of it. The Rakk Hive is the exception to that rule, though: when you kill it, it falls over and its ribcage explodes, revealing quivering organs and bones that you can actually climb up to and stand in, if you’re a clever enough platformer like yours truly. As a matter of fact, the creature doesn’t actually die – you can still see it breathing as it lies there with its innards exposed to the sunlight. Why? Why only this boss? Because it’s symbolic of everything Gearbox views a woman to be? Who knows for sure? It’s best to draw your own conclusions here.
Maybe I’m not giving these guys the appropriate amount of credit, though. Gearbox has demonstrated their love of sophomoric humor throughout the main game and its DLCs, including raving midget enemies (some with face palm-worthy names like King Wee Wee and Meat Popsicle), some bosses having projectile acid-poop attacks, and an enemy whose description is “never trust anything that bleeds for days and doesn’t die.”Hell, they even recently announced a patch to the game that boosts the level cap to 69, which is just…yeah. All the same, their misogyny is either unintentional or unfunny, neither of which give them the pass.
It’s worth noting, I have nothing against women being sex symbols; if men can be, women should be able to as well, and a successful sex symbol is usually portrayed as classy or tactful. Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider games is a fantastic example: strong-willed, practical and independent, yet flirtatious and clever (well, strike ‘flirtatious’ from the list in the remake), there’s a classy sexiness about her. Gum from Jet Grind Radio is another personal preference; she doesn’t show that much skin, but she’s still got this “I’m sexy, so what?” vibe to her. Even Samus, the protagonist of the well-loved and critically acclaimed Metroid series, boasts no modicum of practical sexiness; Sure, her Zero Suit may be skin-tight, but it protects her, fits comfortably inside her Power Suit, and in the event the Power Suit is rendered useless or destroyed, the Zero Suit allows her to remain limber and agile (unless you give the suit impractical, sexist additions that limit her agility, but I’ve already said I won’t get into that subject).
Unfortunately, there’s a difference that needs to be drawn between well-executed sexuality, and outright depicting a female character as a slut. This is where Platinum Games’ Bayonetta comes in.
I haven’t played the game myself – from what I understand, it’s just God of War with a different protagonist anyway – so this won’t be a pan on how the game is executed. The focus of this section will be about the character’s design and fundamentals.
If you look at the pictures, you’ll be able to spot a lot of the problems with the way Bayonetta looks. She’s an anatomical nightmare; abhorrently disproportionate, her physique looks more akin to a Barbie doll than anything meant to resemble a real woman. Usually that sort of thing applies to the bust, but here, her breasts are about the only thing rationally sized; her head is too small, her hips are wider than a Mack Truck, and her arms, neck and especially her legs are too long. If a monkey could have a womanly figure, it would look identical to Bayonetta…except, you know, with fur.
That’s not the tip of this shit-iceberg, either. We’re smack-dab in the middle of an era where freshly-cultivated characters have overly complex wardrobes, as if the guy doing the concept art had no idea when to stop adding things. Bayonetta, while hardly the worst offender, is no exception; her outfit is covered in all sorts of doo-dads and intricacies that make her look more like a joke than a Kratos-wannabe. I think to make up for it, the designer took away from her outfit in All The Wrong Places – the low-cut neckline on the top of her dominatrix suit and the bare back that-almost-reaches-the-butt-crack scream sluttishness. The only thing they managed to do with this balls-ass backwards design scheme was tramp her up.
The part that gets me the most, on a personal level? The six-inch high heels. Yes, I know, the high heels are also revolvers, but stop and think. Any woman reading this article (all…two of your probably) knows that high heels are a pain in the ass, and the taller the heel, the harder it is to do anything but walk. If a person wearing heels as high as Bayonetta’s tried to even so much as jog, her ankle would roll out and send her tumbling, so why the hell does an actionjumpyshooty character like Bayonetta have them? Certainly not out of practicality. There are two reasons this is my largest hang-up: first and most obvious is the fact that heels are considered a staple to the stereotypical woman, and so any “sexy” female character is absolutely required to have them, regardless of the world around them and what they do in it. Second, and this is actually more important to me, is the fact that nobody put any thought into the way she looks. Granted, the sexist nature of her design (anatomy, outfit and all) are atrocious, but even stopping for a second to consider it would make someone realize how impractical those heels are. What the hell was Platinum Games thinking?
Wait, no, that’s a rhetorical question. We all know what was really keeping them occupied.
Oh, and did I mention that Bayonetta’s outfit is made out of her own hair, and that there are special moves that strips her clothes away? And that she gets naked at the end of every boss fight? Yeah.
Anyway, that’s TEi’s Top Five Most Sexist Games. Yeah, they’re all sexist against women, but is that to say that there are no games that are sexist against men out there? Not at all! You just have to understand that I’ve never played a game like that, nor can I remember any off the top of my head. It doesn’t mean they aren’t out there! In fact, if you know a game that IS sexist against guys, leave a comment, because I’d love to do research into these games, maybe even play them if possible. That’s your homework, people, from me to you.
Posted by TEi on September 13, 2010
Kotaku had four of their interns try out an indie game over at E3. Head on over there to read their takes on “Hey Baby!”, which plops you into the role of a sexually harassed woman walking down a street as cat-callers deride her. At any time, the player may choose to gun down their assailants with a machine gun, which results in the popping up of a tombstone with that particular jerk’s catchphrase in proud view.
I have to agree with the interns that this is NOT a good way of handling the issue. I kind of wish Kotaku itself would have stood a little more behind their opinions, actually. On a gameplay point of view, does it succeed? Kate Finegan says:
Ironically, “Hey Baby” kind of reminds me of your average zombie shooter in the sense that humans (in this case, all male) surround you with their blank stares and awful noises (in this case, the completely fail pick up lines. “I’m not hungry today, but I would love to eat you”? No thanks). In this case though, I’d say even the worst zombie shooter is better than this.
The game is a little conflicted about what exactly it’s aiming for, as Amber Nichols reports:
Now, about the actual content of the game, I can say that, even though I am a woman, I have never hated men enough to be able to relate to this scenario. As straightforward as “Hey Baby” seems though, I found it had a rather confusing message. I could shoot tons of guys into oblivion or I could press 2 and summon hearts out of thin air while handing out compliments. The hearts did nothing, as far as I could tell, except place me in a thick red fog if I made enough (which almost felt like changing things up, except not).
To add to the confusion I felt like “Hey Baby” was condemning men but at the same time included men who did nothing and were therefore un-killable. I assume this meant that men who pine after you are bad, but men who lay back and are completely unaffected by you are good. I believe this would imply that women should waste their time on those who aren’t interested. There may be a deeper meaning here but I’ll stop before I’m even more confused.
I don’t think women should be objectified like this, and making a (murder) simulator for it is a little odd to say the least. Aulistar Mark makes a brilliant deduction:
Mute the game and remove the cheesy pick-up lines off the tombstones and you have a training simulation for anyone with a inkling of going postal (I’d keep this game far, far away from USPS employees)
Does this bizarre premise even present any sort of relief? Lauren Orsini says no:
However, this game didn’t resolve any of my anger. Shooting at defenseless sexists wasn’t satisfying. No, it wasn’t because of how crudely done and unrealistic the game was engineered. It just felt like excessive force. Men don’t catcall us because they’re trying to intimidate us, even though that’s often the result. It’s pure ignorance; they think they’re being smooth and complimentary. They need a sexual harassment class, not a bullet to the head.
Well put. This is not a proper solution for the unfortunately prevalent issue of sexism. It’s going to take much more than putting a virtual gun into the virtual hands of virtual women to blast virtual male assholes to resolve it. While I’m fairly positive this will see some sort of a release, hopefully another indie game developer will properly tackle this touchy subject with a bit more class and a lot more maturity.
Posted by WildcatJF on June 24, 2010