HIGH BRO-FIVE, BROS! You (yes, you, and you know who you are) can feel very proud of yourselves.
In 2011 it looked a little bit like the gap in attitudes about women in gaming had started to close. That women no longer had to prove that they deserved to be at the video game table. True equality hadn’t been achieved, but big strides had been made, right?
Thank god 2012 came along and showed that the No Girls Allowed Club was still alive and kicking in video games. After all, if women played video games, WHAT WOULD MEN HAVE LEFT? We all know that women are only good at destroying the joint. If you accept one female playing Call of Duty before you know it that title will be full of flowers and ponies and unicorns and not the manly totally awesome violence that’s a boy’s birthright.
It might have looked for a while there like gamers were moving away from being dominated by the kind of men who see “women” as a synonym for “mother who loved me too much and not enough”, but we’ve fortunately swung back. Here’s a breakdown of some things month-by-month.
Kotaku kicked things off by identifying possibly “the most sexist gamers on the planet” who were complaining about the strength of Nuns in Shogun 2. HAHAHA, oh hindsight, you rascally scamp. Those guys didn’t even come close. And funnily enough, Nuns caused problems later on in the year too.
If there is ever a category of gaming that is purely for men, it is fighting games. Because men are best at fighting everything in real life , which is perfectly transferable to electronic simulations. In February some people involved in a broadcast fighting game show thought that perhaps the female competitors shouldn’t be exposed to sexual harassment. Fortunately the coach of one of the teams was around to express the entirely sensible point that “The sexual harassment is part of the culture. If you remove that from the fighting game community, it’s not the fighting game community“. Absolutely right – if I can’t ask a woman to take off her shirt when playing a fighting game, it’ll totally ruin my experience.
There was also the case of BioWare writer Jennifer Hepler saying that she’d like more focus on writing in games and to see more good writing in games over combat systems which she wasn’t really into. For these comments (made over five years ago) she was called CANCER INFECTION BLIGHT VERMIN DISEASE SEWAGE PLAGUE WASTE, was invited to kill herself over Twitter and received harassing phone calls at home. Which is entirely rational behaviour from her mostly male audience. How dare BioWare games focus on stories?
BioWare managed another rare feat in 2012 – not only did they ruin the entire Mass Effect series forever through bad endings and including a real world female character that most people would miss, they also forgot who their player base is: straight white males. That’s right – with all the homosexuality and equal attention for women and … err, other non-male things, I guess, they’ve clearly forgotten who buys their games.
It was obvious that ever since having gay characters in Jade Empire (released 2005 for Xbox, 2007 for PC) that the studio was clearly ruined for all time and was close to death for not meeting the needs of its customers. And when someone pointed out how “making us male gamers [...] happy” should be BioWare’s focus, along comes some BioWare-employed moron who writes about privilege and inclusiveness and a heap of other things that didn’t stop Star Wars: The Old Republic SUCKING HARD (and not in that completely-hot-lesbian way that is acceptable to straight white males).
The Oatmeal pointed out how easy women have it in online gaming. If a woman screws up, everyone is nice to them, whereas if a guy makes a tiny little error, they get yelled at. Woman having it easier when gaming online is a stone-cold fact that can never, ever be refuted.
Tentacle Bento – a card game based on a type of anime porn that involve women and particularly inquisitive tentacles – launched with a Kickstarter but were knocked back. Fortunately Mike Krahulik of Penny Arcade – a gaming comic site with a very large reach – was there to tweet his support for the game and let his followers know where they could send money to support the game. Because if you start even vaguely censoring titles that involve the sexual assault of school-age girls, the terrorists win.
Batman: Arkham City was a great game, only enhanced by the female characters generally being downplayed and the main ones referred to as ‘bitch’ all the time. There were some complaints about this, but fortunately Rocksteady decided to completely ignore the issue and release the Harley Quinn Payback’s a Bitch trailer to promote its new DLC.
Nuns again cause issues, with those in the Hitman: Absolution trailer being the kind of super-sexy assassin hit squad nuns who Hitman violently kills. IO Interactive were of course surprised by the criticism this trailer (which was in no way marketing chum, designed to stir up the sharks of outrage) received – after all, aren’t they giving the people the “fun” we all wanted to see?
Before June, you wouldn’t have heard of Anita Sarkeesian; during this month, she seemed impossible to get away from. Her foolish attempt to do a bit of gender roles examination within video games provoked the entirely sensible backlash against her that featured personal abuse, death threats, rape threats and a bunch of public character assassinating. Because video games are for boys – always have been, always will be – and we don’t need intellectual women coming along and messing things up, thanks very much.
In a similar vein, Ubisoft used Aisha Tyler in its E3 announcements and (unlike most women at these events) actually had her say something about gaming. An attractive women talking about gaming at a gaming-related event? That’s completely off-target for the video gaming demographic – what could Tyler know about gaming anyway?
Crystal Dynamics totally wimped out. After announcing that Lara Croft would have to go through an attempted rape in the grim-and-gritty reboot to the Tomb Raider series and getting a lot of people excited, they walked it back so that the most she faces is more garden variety not-sexual-assault-he’s-just-standing-very-very-close-to-her. Oh, and lots of building her up to break her down again. Because women can’t start out strong – that’s just too unbelievable.
And finally from E3 was Kotaku writer Katie Williams complaining about male PR reps taking the controls off her and not letting her play because they don’t think that she – as a woman – can. I’m sure they were just doing it so you could take extra-good preview notes, Katie.
Tekken Tag 2 released a great trailer that showcased their female characters. No, not really in-game, but models in tight clothing cosplaying to look like those characters. Now THIS is what the target market wants when it comes to fighting games!
2012 shall go down as the year that True Geeks got tired of all the fake women who come to our events just to bask in Nerd Glory. Joe Peacock rightly tells us how tiresome it is that hot women show up at these events just to get attention from us males. There should be a test or something that stops these women getting in. Guys at these conventions would, of course, automatically pass through the convention gates on account of the XY chromosome set-up being inherently set to ‘geek’.
Borderlands 2 announces a “Girlfriend Mode” that will let the FPS incompetent play with their much superior FPS-skilled boyfriends. How nice of Gearbox! Although if you want to access this mode, it costs extra and was released after the main game, meaning that any girlfriends would be a long way behind the boyfriends who started playing Borderlands 2 at launch. And it’s so typical of women to make us spend extra money on them just so that we can play together.
Stardock’s Brad Wardell and former employee Alexandra Miseta are locked in legal action of different varieties. Miseta has accused Wardell of sexual harassment and in response he’s suing her for ruining the launch of Elemental in 2010. Prior to this Wardell had never mentioned Miseta for being behind the highly recognised problems with Elemental, but he wouldn’t be counter-suing her if he didn’t have a strong case, now would he? Besides, it’s his right as boss at Stardock to be “inappropriate, sexist, vulgar, and embarrassing” and Miseta has no right to complain about it, especially when “[her] nipples look better on TV”.
As a tip to the guys out there: you have to be careful when you put your penis into the hand of a women at a gaming party. Timing is everything. If you do it too soon, it’ll just come across as creepy. Showing women pictures of other women’s boobs that you’ve taken over the course of the evening is always a winner though.
Asking to motorboat women at a gaming convention is also totally cool, provided you film it and can find one that says yes. It doesn’t matter how many said no and felt uncomfortable at the same request because edited video footage never lies.
Three in five female gamers claim to have been taunted or harassed online using sexist language, requests for sexual favours and / or threats of sexual violence. Obviously these women just can’t take an “inappropriate, sexist, vulgar, and embarrassing” joke.
Chivalry turned out to be appropriately named – no female characters were included in the game because it would “overall harm the way the community would play the game” since men and women are unable to play online appropriately together. Now that’s some true chivalry – keeping female characters out of a game so that female players won’t have any chance of suffering abuse from it. I hope all the women said thank you to those devs for excluding them for their own good.
#1reasonwhy trended, with females in the video game industry talking about the kind of negative experiences that mean there are so few women game designers. Probably because they can’t do math – the tag was #1reasonwhy, but it turned out there were hundreds of reasons why!
WB Montreal and Gameloft tried to make women a key part of their end-of-year parties, with WB Montreal allegedly letting you eat off models’ bodies and Gameloft having topless women in body paint on display. Gameloft came out later claiming that the women weren’t supposed to be topless. Damn women! Always taking their clothes off without people asking them to!
The Next Twelve Months:
We guys have set up a pretty good amount of momentum for keeping video games as a safe male space. Now the important thing is to keep focus, ensuring that:
- Women are blamed for standing up and complaining about gender issues in games and also blamed for not doing enough to stand up and deal with gender issues if it really is that important to them;
- That all women working in video games are treated with suspicion at best, hostility at worst and always, always judged in terms of physical appearance; and
- Most importantly, if you are a guy, downplay the issues as much as possible. You can use well-reasoned arguments like “it’s realistic for women not to be as strong as men when killing dragons / aliens”, “most True Gamers are male and the industry is just catering to that” and “it’s just a video game so it doesn’t matter that all female characters look like porn models in it”.
Crucially, don’t change. We need to make sure that video gaming remains as hostile as possible to your mother, your sister and your daughters to ensure video gaming retains its place as something only basement-dwelling manchildren get involved in. That’s the way of the past that will lead us into a glorious future.
Happy New Year, bros!