Random Cranky Bits and Bites

I’m cranky and scatterbrained today, so you get a cranky and scattered post. Lucky you!

Syl asks how WoW affected people’s perceptions of MMOs and of themselves as players. It’s a tough question for me to answer since WoW was the first MMO I ever really played so it is responsible for ALL my initial ideas of what an MMO should be. I guess if nothing else WoW taught me that simultaneous normal and hard modes in raiding are dumb, and if I can see content with only the click of a button, as in Looking for Raid, then I will go see it and then never log on again. Basically I’m a huge elitist casual player. Thanks, WoW. :)

Spinks posted about her personal satisfaction with the SWTOR transfer system, and also wrote briefly about sticking with the game and making an effort to post about it more often. This resonated with me quite a bit! After over a year of hopping around between MMOs and single player games, I declared a couple of weeks ago that I was picking a game and sticking with it, by god, and that game is going to be RIFT. Almost immediately I was beset by worries. The official forums say that no one plays RIFT anymore! How will I raid in another 20 levels (plus gearing) if we don’t have enough Cats in the game? Should I start recruiting? Are clerics still cool? Maybe I should find a guild alliance and OH GOD I HATE GAMES NOW.

I know, I know: lighten up, Francis! Although it was only a couple of sentences, I found Spinks’ posts to be a nice reminder that part of playing an MMO is sticking with it and seeing how it changes and evolves over time. Also, I should write more about RIFT, as she is doing about SWTOR, because if there is anything I enjoy more than having fun in an MMO it’s writing joyously all about it later. No, seriously.

Rohan wonders if people who complain about the portrayal of women in video games understand the marketing reasons why it happens, or if they’re just being “righteous”. Although I’m sure that Rohan’s intensions were good, and I should hope by this point it’s clear that I consider Blessing of Kings to be pretty essential MMO reading, this post totally bummed me out. If someone complained about the way male Asian actors are treated in Hollywood movies to my mind saying “well you just don’t understand marketing”, which is how I interpreted Rohan’s post, is not a valid or helpful response. Yes, it’s driven by a perception of the market and a quest for maximum profit. And?

I have never met a self-identifying feminist gamer who believes that the head of EA or whatever is sitting in his office rubbing his hands gleefully as he thinks of new ways to keep women out of his products. However, whether it’s being done for money or for misogyny doesn’t change how I feel when I hear that Lara Croft is being almost raped so she’s more likeable to male players. From the receiving end, both are exactly the same.

Plus, and to be fair Rohan totally acknowledges this, assumptions that women are bad players or only like easy games or only play for cosmetic reasons are completely dumb and wrong. Letting it go by without comment because it’s just capitalist morality at work only perpetuates the problem.

See also: today’s Kotaku article by a female game journalist who was turned away from the keyboard multiple times at E3.

Wait, I said I was lightening up, right? Sorry, sorry. Here’s something nice: last week I played my very first tabletop RPG! Only there wasn’t a table, per se, because we played it in a Google+ Hangout using the Tabletop Forge app. I’m going to write more about this at a later time, but suffice to say that a) group video hangouts are rad; b) creating a RPG character is actually pretty hard work!; c) it took me a bit to get used to the format, but tabletop games are a great excuse to have a few beer with friends and use silly voices. Yes, I may be the last nerd alive to realize this.

Okay, that’s it. I’m going to go do something happy like kill Guardians in RIFT and think about the perfectly focused and upbeat post I’ll write tomorrow.

Author: Jessica Cook

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6 Comments

  1. What I was trying to get at was about tactics that lead to success. Let me see if I can come up with a decent example in another field.

    Let’s say that you think that too many people are on welfare. You could sermonize against it, denouncing the people on welfare as lazy and shiftless, and counting on social shame/stigma to move people off welfare. Or you could look at how welfare incentives influence behavior, and change the incentive structure to push people off welfare into the workforce.

    In my opinion, feminist gamers are doing too much of the former, and not enough of the latter. And this is the reason that they are not seeing more progress. Sermons only go so far. Attacking the incentive structure will do more for the cause than sermons will.

    But to attack the incentive structure, one must first understand it. That was the purpose of my post. To lay out the logical incentives that lead to things like Crucia.
    Rohan´s last post: Reasons for the Backsliding in Portrayals of Women

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    • I think my problem with how you framed your post comes down to two things:

      1) You’re assuming that feminists can’t sermonize AND attack the incentive structure. Your post also assumed that feminists who sermonize haven’t also thought about why things are the way they are. You’ve made two very large assumptions and both of them, from where I sit, are 100% incorrect.

      2) When feminism and games are bought up (or really feminism and anything, but this is my milieu) one of the first subjects that comes up all the time is whether there’s anything to talk about. Maybe women are just gettin’ all upset about nothing! You can see that exact conversation happening in the comments of your post, and in almost any post on this subject. There is still a great deal of pushback about whether feminism is even valid. Hence, feminists still have a pretty uphill battle of “awareness”, and part of that is, yes, sermonizing and raising awareness and just talking about this shit.

      To my mind, your post was very condescending and surprisingly illogical for you. You assume that we’re not also addressing the incentive structure, and I can’t see any evidence to support that assumption.

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  2. Yeah, that post at Rohan was seriously disappointing. Back when I was paladin’ing it up, that was the go-to place. It’s sad how often I get disappointed when gaming blogs reveal themselves to be steered by men with _no idea_ about women in gaming, feminism, or the idea that women gamers are just possibly going to be angered by posting something like this.

    But I guess we just have to change the incentives in capitalism to not discriminate and be giant ignorant misogynists, right? Which I think means getting outraged and boycotting games, blogs, and everything that portrays women as bad gamers who’ve come to make the game easy and full of pet collecting or normalizes the oversexualized portrayal of women in metal strips. Which I believe leads us back to posting, mailing, and calling out, in an outraged tone, every single instance of misogyny and capitalist anti-feminist bull we see, read, or hear. It’s not like we can change anything else about capitalism at the moment, short of a revolution where all the menz are first against the wall.

    Oh, wait. I guess feminist gamers were on the right track after all. Speak out. Speak up. Be outraged. Vote with cash.

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    • “Speak out. Speak up. Be outraged. Vote with cash.”

      Amen.

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  3. That Kotaku link made me really sad. I can understand stereotyping from individuals outside the industry. When my non-gaming middle aged colleagues discover that I love playing videogames I am usually met with a ‘It’s quite a strange hobby isn’t it? Children play videogames!’ They are outside the industry. They would find it hard to understand that the average age of a gamer nowadays is 30 and rising. These lot I understand. They are remnants of another age when videogames were an unknown entity.

    It’s another matter altogether when you fall victim of stereotype from within the gaming community. ‘You play World of Warcraft? Get a life!’ used to be a common one. Same goes for the treatment of female gamers (and I think it’s more to do with ignorance rather than misogyny). Seems that some members of the gaming community still perceive gaming as the sole domain of the socially awkward male teen virgin living in his mother’s basement. For these so called gamers there is absolutely no excuse. They should come to terms with the idea that, nowadays, gaming is a hobby with mass appeal.

    On a sidenote: I will gladly kick your Defiant ass any time of the day (If I eventually hit level cap)
    Mighty Viking Hamster´s last post: Free 2 Play Here 2 Stay

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    • Oh it’s ON NOW, Guardian! :) Very.. slowly.. levelling.. on.

      And yeah, the Kotaku article was depressing. I feel like it’s one thing to look at the industry and the culture around it as a player — an outsider — but it’s another to know that women inside the industry are in some cases still systematically undervalued. I’m all, “Arrrrrgh, get with the times game industry! You’ll make more money if you just think about it for a minute!”

      PS: I usually think of you as a hamster with an awesome valkyrie hat and the image is very pleasing!

      Post a Reply

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