11:15 pm - 11/27/2012
Apologies to all as we all dealt with a rough month and half, and some static going ons between posts. I will try to resume my usual daily posts starting today. Let's rap, I would love to hear what everybody thinks about the gaming community in general lately with stuff like sexism, racism, and homophobia being brought up time and time again with seemingly little progress being addressed? I personally can't go online that much for consoles so I never really experience the online components for multiplayer games and can't comment on what's being said.
ajremix 28th-Nov-2012 06:49 am (UTC)
Actually, good timing. There's a hashtag a friend of mine has been promoting on twitter called 1reasonmentors that's basically women (and a few men) volunteering their services as mentors for women looking to get into the gaming industry, also for those who feel harassed in the work place. A list has also been complied for easier viewing.

It's not enough to be aware of the issues the industry has, the people involved need to be proactive and this, I think, is a definite step in the right direction.
dan78 28th-Nov-2012 09:10 am (UTC)
When people pay for something, they feel themselves entitled, they think that they can do whatever they want baceuse they HAVE PAID for this. That's why there are so many rude persons in online game lobbies. And overally, online games are overrated (especially MMORPG-s).
nevermademe 28th-Nov-2012 02:13 pm (UTC)
looooool @ people commenting in that homophobia article saying, "I only use 'gay' to mean something's annoying, not that it's actually gay, so it's okay!" or, "I know other gay people who say, 'that's gay,' so it's okay for me to say it!" and completely missing the point. i feel like i get pissed off by something like this everyday in the gaming community
glenngunnerzero 28th-Nov-2012 03:14 pm (UTC)
I feel like anybody who thinks like that doesn't have any empathy at all. "You do not dictate how people react to things." I should start linking that post to everybody who says anything discriminatory to somebody.
ayashi 29th-Nov-2012 10:49 pm (UTC)
I agree, but I was a little happy to see that some people commented saying they would try to work on saying it less and removing it from their vocabulary, rather than what I normally see which is 100% defending themselves and denying that they could possibly be hurting anyone with the way they use those words.
world_dancer 28th-Nov-2012 02:41 pm (UTC)
I think there's some progress in regards to race (or maybe I just don't play the worst out there). Telltale's Walking Dead Season 1 stands out in that area in particular for the two protagonists (Lee the ego character and Clementine, his ward) being people of color, but in all, I am seeing improvements in black & Hispanic characters not just being gang bangers, which appears to be the default setting in games. Asian characters still appear to be only Kung fu masters (gang-related or otherwise) and/or sexy Dragon Ladies (a problem created by the intersection of race and gender).

I don't really have an opinion on GLBT issues and gaming because it doesn't come up if what you're playing doesn't have a romantic subplot, which in my case is Dragon Age (good, there are same sex options. About the only problem I see is that there are no characters that you can ONLY get through same sex play, which I believe there should be), The Witcher (in which you play the straight white male main character of a series of Polish books, so I'm good with it), and maybe the Nancy Drew games (again, you're playing as a straight white female character with an established relationship based on a series of books written in the 1930s. Maybe someday George will turn out to be bi, but short of that, it's just faithfully replicating a book). Note: I haven't played in any huge MMORPGs, so I haven't seen how bad some of the chats are. I think it's the anonymity that gives people the idea that they're free to be the biggest jerks possible.

On the issue of gender ... Yes, it falls down. I think there's a couple of reasons. The obvious one is trying to sell the straight males with T&A. I'm not even sure that works in gaming, but the media types still seem to be pushing it.

But I think there's another problem with idealization. Male or Female, games try to sell you an "ideal" body. You cannot be fat. You often can't be ugly (V:tM: Bloodlines stands out for letting you play a Nos and for using stats to determine appearance, but that game is about 10 years old now). You will be a buff, idealized figure of your gender. And the ideals sold are both sex-related. The difference is that less dialog focuses on how good-looking a man is and more is related to his skills. Even in a non-romance game, something will be said sexually about a woman most of the time.

nevermademe 29th-Nov-2012 02:06 pm (UTC)
Going on a slight tangent off your second point, I think one of the things people need to focus on is why is it that all lgbt characters are only allowed to exist in romantic plots? Why are all video game characters straight until proven gay? In a game like Halo there aren't any mentions of sexuality or romance (maybe some mild flirting with Cortana), but I don't think anyone would try to argue that Master Chief isn't straight. However, why couldn't we have a game like Halo where it's common knowledge that Master Chief is gay, but it doesn't change anything about the game? Why can't there be games like Halo, Left 4 Dead, Call of Duty, etc where this is no romance mentioned, but one of the characters is gay? People will try to trivialize it bye saying sexuality doesn't need to be mentioned and stuff like that, but it already is when every character in those games is automatically assumed to be straight even without evidence.
world_dancer 29th-Nov-2012 05:56 pm (UTC)
Without a mention of a romantic partner or some sex-related fetch quest, the orientation of the characters is unknown.

Do most people, particularly heterosexuals presume the character is heterosexual? Most likely. But if being gay/straight has no bearing on the plot or characterization, I'm going to wonder why it was brought up. Sort of like JK Rowling declaring Dumbledore is gay, but never mentioning it in the books because it's just not relevant to the story.

In the example you give, it's not a game I've played, but if you go with "common knowledge" how does that work. Someone whispers to you "the Master Chief is gay" and your ego character's reaction is "Umm... okay, so what about the weapons I was trying to buy?" And do you really want gay orientation treated as something that should be dirty gossip? Or are you looking for more stereotyped "gay" behavior to indicate orientation? Because that can work, but it works by propagating stereotypes (hello limp wrist). If everyone just "knows" and never says it to the ego character, then the player is just never going to know unless they get that the other character is treated differently (and again, do you want to encourage players to treat gay people as different than the norm?).

Could orientation be incorporated into more story elements? Certainly. If you're dealing with a family fleeing a zombie apocalypse, it could easily be two same sex partners with a child. You know in Walking Dead that Kenny and Katja are heterosexual because they're married with a child. You know Lee is because he killed his wife's lover. You know Omid & Krista are because they're boyfriend/girlfriend. You don't know Clementine, Duck, Mark, or Ben's orientations because no story elements ever come up to indicate their preferences. And any of the above could actually be bi. If homosexuals are rarely seen, bi people are invisible.

To make orientation visible in games (or books, or movies), it generally has to be directly related to characterization or story elements. Telling the player (reader/viewer) this information has to serve a purpose within the dramatic construct (and of those, stories about relationships are more likely to make this information visible because then the romance or family issues are important information). With race and gender, the group markers are always visible.

Could things be better? Sure. Can't think of any stories where your investigator is hired by a woman to look into the suspicious activity of her wife (LA Noire circa 2010), or where you trade foxhole pictures of people's sweeties around while you wait for a bombardment to stop, and one of the guys hands you a picture of another guy for admiration as part of a team bonding element of the story.

But given progress in terms of having romance options for the ego characters (and for Sims), I can't say it looks exactly bleak. And given that gay marriage is a relatively new thing and not yet legal all over the place, I can't see condemning the products out there at the moment for not making characters more visibly gay. Perhaps the gay community should press gamemakers to work with the team of ladies who write the mannerspunk style. Swordplay and everyone appears to be gay. Or press the EVE online owners to work on an Exalted project (fantasy setting with many gay and bi sig characters). Write Telltale and ask that you see a gay couple in Walking Dead Season 2.

Anyway, that's why I'm mostly neutral on the topic at the moment: it's much harder to make a game involving orientation when close personal relationships aren't what you wanted to make a game about.
nevermademe 29th-Nov-2012 11:50 pm (UTC)
I feel like you're missing the main point and reduced my desire for visibility of gay characters to wanting to perpetuate stereotypes or turn sexuality into "gossip."
JK Rowling revealing that Dumbledore is gay after the books was amazing, and I would love it just as much if Bungie popped up and went, "oh and btw John (master chief) is gay." Why is it brought up? Because it brings visibility and representation to people who are barely seen. We're here, we exist, why aren't we represented? You think that because we live in a world where people like me are denied rights that that makes it okay to not fault developers for a lack of representation? really? (sidenote: dumbledore's sexuality actually is pretty relevant to the story, his relationship with the guy he fell in love with was explored a lot in the last book)
And how does it work? Uh probably the same way you learn anything about a character that's not based on appearance: Back stories, character bios, conversations, prequels, other mediums, from the developers themselves, etc. In Halo all of Master Chief's personal relationships and history are explored through several canon novels, comic books, and even films while the games focus more on gameplay and action. I know all about Master Chief's childhood from the books; This doesn't affect how the game works or plays, but it does affect my perception of him as a character.
With The Walking Dead, how do you know Lee is heterosexual? Because of back story explored through the game in both conversations with other people and Lee himself. What if it was revealed that Lee killed his male partner's lover? How much of that game would change? A few lines with Carly before she gets killed, assuming you make Lee flirt back with her (I didn't), and that's it (granted I haven't played the final chapter). There's no sexualization, romance, make-out sessions, or 69ing in that game and yet you still know Lee's orientation.
What you're saying really doesn't hold up to me. How do I know Zoey from Left 4 Dead went to college and loves horror movies? How do I know about Mass Effect's David Anderson's personal relationship despite the fact that he never flirts, dates, or is shown with any characters in a romance setting during the game? How do I know anything about a character ever that isn't purely physical? I don't expect game developer's to hire shitty writers that think making a character lean over and whisper, "btw ur gay," or perpetuating stereotypes worse than they already have is okay. I expect them to deal with orientation the same way they treat everything else when designing a character and its background and to stop reinforcing heteronormativity.
world_dancer 30th-Nov-2012 05:07 am (UTC)
Well, referencing a game I don't play and a character and atmosphere I'm not familiar with does make the conversation difficult on a certain level. And I'm sure it's the same for you trying to respond to me when it comes to specifics.

As for your comments, you're talking multimedia expansions, not the game. I have no problem with wanting any of those things, but you haven't stated how you would implement "everybody knows Master Chief is gay" within the game without bringing it up in relation to his romantic partners. Yeah, we know Lee is heterosexual because he had a wife. Now get that across without telling me he had a wife, dated a girl, or is sexually interested in Carly/Lily. This is why I have no clue what Ben's orientation is: there's no scripting of any sort to indicate his interest -- at least not that I've stumbled across thus far.

I understand your desire for more visibility. However, in terms of story, the information has to make sense. The gay people I know do not usually randomly announce that they're gay. The info comes up in conversation when talking about romantic partners (past, present, or hoped for future). In writing terms, I could also see it coming up in context of a back story about family relationships (either abuse or a close bond due to acceptance, because the middle ground is probably not going to be a story/dialog). I think the most obvious of my friends is the one with the fanny pack that says "I heart Lesbians." So if you really feel the need to get game developers to pass out rainbow T-shirts, knock yourself out.

From my perspective, I'd like to see equal treatment. Which means presenting gay people in the same way that straight people are presented in terms of families, dating relationships, and dialogues expressing interest in other characters in the game. Partaking in any standard rituals that straight people take part in (like the rather touching kiss when ships return to port, or the office holiday party).

Extraneous material doesn't get read, not everyone cares to hunt down developer interviews, and prequels and sequels do not always get made. If these things make you happy, more power to you. They'd give you less actual visibility (as they are optional and/or take effort to find), however, than a character having a reason to talk about sexual preference in some way that's meaningful to the story IN the story. What actually happens in the story can't be overlooked.

Beyond that, developers are products of their culture and backgrounds. Considering that gay rights as civil rights have only been getting positive press recently, game developers are actually doing okay with trying to diversify. Not great. Could definitely be better. But I can't say they're doing poorly either given the time frame (compare it to the various struggles and protests of minorities and women and how those dot the timeline over several hundred years). And when they do tackle gay characters, I haven't seen them suffer from the horrible stereotyping that minorities and women in games have had to face (outside of games, yes, but not in games). You're starting with a relatively clean slate.

You feeling differently about the topic is not going to change my opinion based on the games I have played and the relative scale of history. I'm currently optimistic that there will continue to be progress for gay characters in games. If you want things changed faster, then I support you in contacting game designers and organizing to give them your ideas and express your concerns. I don't think you're wrong to want and ask for more.

I just think the direction they're going at the moment is the correct one in regards to gay characters, that they've done a decent job of creating some gay characters and options for gay players, and that there's more coming.
nevermademe 30th-Nov-2012 01:19 pm (UTC)
ok idgi i listed off six ways it could be done, give evidence of how game character's have been fleshed out in real life despite game's not mentioning these things, and then you still say it can't be done. Gr8 job at derailing with "extraneous material doesn't get read..." because canon material put out by developers doesn't matter at all right??? I don't know why you brought Ben up because I'm talking about characters whose sexuality we're aware of. gr8 derailing again. You're obviously not a person involved in the lgbtq community either because you're basically bullshitting out of your ass in regards to how you think we're treated right now (btw so glad you think everything is going great for us!!!!) and despite the fact that you say you're "optimistic" you're incredibly unsupportive and unaware so just stop.
yeezus_christ 28th-Nov-2012 11:18 pm (UTC)
the last game in played online was journey, which doesn't really count because there's no traditional online communication in that game.

but at my peak online play i definitely encountered offensive, ignorant, trollish remarks (usually from sore losers).

i think the first step to solving any problem is awareness and the next, at least with issues of social inequality, widespread public shaming.
most people, especially americans, respond positively to negative reinforcement.
i think if most of the trolls online knew their aggressively offensive comments would be put in a very public forum--not just a gaming forum, but something more akin to the google homepage--with their personal information attached they'd choose their words much more carefully.
voyevoda 29th-Nov-2012 01:30 am (UTC)
As far as sexism goes, I feel like this year it's been talked about quite a bit more than in the past, as far as both culture-wide dialogue goes and also press coverage. Things like the various harassment cases this year (the Bioware writer, Sarkesian, etc), or more recently the #1reasonwhy movement that's gaining momentum, they've all been reported on not just by your usual women-friendly gaming websites, but also a lot more of the major ones. Of course with that has come the usual asshat comments, but there's also been plenty of supportive ones.

One thing I'm REALLY happy to see is one of the results of the #1reasonwhy tag - the mentoring being offered up. More and more industry people are offering their support and help to it, and I think that will do wonders for helping break the ice for women who perhaps don't know how to get in, or how to deal with the drama that might come with it, how to avoid that drama if possible, etc. Just feeling supported by people who have been there already does wonders.

So perhaps nothing is actively 'happening' per se, but even getting a steady dialogue going is a good first step.
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