Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Why Your Voice is Important

A couple of weeks ago, a GamerGate and NotYourShield supporter passed away at a young age in an apparent suicide. I don't want to give out her name, just in case it gets misconstrued as politicising her death or capitalising on it for my own gain (either for clicks or just to talk about my own stuff). That isn't the case. However, her death affected me more than I thought it would.

I actually didn't know the young woman in question. I recognised her face when news of her death was posted but I can't recall ever speaking to her on Twitter. The reason her death affected me was because of something a friend of mine said about her: "She told me, nearly a year ago, she didn't feel that her voice was important". One of the reasons I wish I'd spoken to her was because in the past, I've felt the exact same way.

The thing is, whatever you're committed to fighting for -- gender equality in video games, ethics in games journalism or more mainstream stuff like combating intrusive DRM in games -- it can feel like you have a ton of great points to make but they rarely, if ever, receive the recognition or awareness you want. That sounds selfish or egotistical but everyone wants to feel like their opinion connects with someone. For example, I've no doubt that every single person reading this can formulate a perfect rebuttal to Anita Sarkeesian's Tropes Vs Women in Games videos. There are many, many videos on Youtube doing just that but some of the most well thought-out arguments end up falling to the bottom of the pile and don't often get noticed as much as they should.

I probably don't know how lucky I am; this blog doesn't set the world on fire or anything but I have a very friendly audience and a few people on Reddit who are kind enough to "signal boost" a lot of the things I write, especially the last few posts. I appreciate it a lot. Some posts have even been linked to by writers more high-profile than me, who I respect a lot. However, it still often feels like no matter what I say -- or anyone says -- about the subject of gender issues in gaming, it doesn't make a dent in the flawed "gaming is anti-woman" narrative. That can make you feel like your voice and opinion is unimportant.

It's a little more complicated than that. I don't update this blog very often anymore and there are a variety of reasons:
  • Laziness
  • Other priorities
I have other commitments to deal with apart from writing this blog. I mentioned studying game design, so I have to balance continuing with that as well as work. I've had to put writing commitments on hold for other sites too.
  • The narrative pushed by mainstream gaming sites remaining unchanged
As mentioned above. To this day, mainstream gaming media pushes the narrative that gaming is a "boy's club" in spite of ESA statistics (page 5) that suggest it's actually fairly equal. No opinion pieces are written to rebut this claim or the idea that gaming is sexist. Women who disagree are treated as if they don't exist and men who disagree are dismissed because of "privilege", "patriarchy", "mansplaining" or another excuse to not actually answer the points made. It's reached the point where even bomb threats against GamerGate meetups receive little, if any, coverage by mainstream gaming sites. Presumably because reporting on diverse groups receiving harmful threats would damage the "harassment-endorsing boy's club" narrative that has been built up for years.
  • Waning interest in gender issues in gaming
Related to the above point. Seeing nothing change makes it hard to care about staying current concerning gender issues in gaming. That, and the majority of articles on the subject tend to be from mainstream gaming sites and therefore either clickbait, full of inaccuracies, incredibly dull or a mix of the three. Videos suffer from the same problem. Although I've written about articles/games/videos in great detail in the past, it feels like it can only be done for so long without regurgitating the same information.
  • Better/more high-profile writers than me covering the same subject
This happens quite often. Back when I started this blog, I wasn't on Twitter and since I joined, I would say there's been a big positive and negative shift when it comes to how I approach gender issues. The positive shift is that I no longer feel like one of the few people talking about the subject, which I did back when the only places I had as an outlet were Gamespot comments sections and the TV Tropes forum. There are thousands of people talking about gender issues in gaming, who roll their eyes at the claims made by outraged social justice warriors who don't care about facts. The negative shift is that I used to take to this blog whenever something annoyed me on a gaming site and needed to be responded to whereas now, I go on Twitter to see what the people I follow thought of it.

The many articles of Adrian Chmielarz on Medium are some of the standout articles that I may not have seen without being on Twitter. Liana Kerzner's five-part series "Why Feminist Frequency almost made me quit writing about video games" is another bright spot. Whether other people are more eloquent, have a platform seen more people or simply have an interesting twist on their argument that I don't, I find myself more tempted to direct people to their points rather than write my own nowadays.

So, with all of this in mind, why is YOUR voice important?

I've heard it mentioned a few times that movements aren't made up solely of leading figures but of many smaller voices. I always thought that sounded a bit like a cop out but it's true; with a bunch of supporters making the same argument, gamers have made a movement out of what would otherwise be a few dissenting opinions on various websites. Without the "smaller" voices, the videos and opinion pieces by more prominent figures would be easy to dismiss. With them, on the other hand, it makes it harder for game journalists to do and remain credible. Instead, it exposes them as being agenda-driven rather than reporting on issues objectively.

The reason that seems like a bit of a cop out is because you still won't receive the same acknowledgement as a lot of people making the same argument and still feel like the things you say aren't being read. Plus, if you're anything like me, you don't have any intention of making videos and you don't live anywhere close enough to attend a meetup with other like-minded people. Hell, you may not like social media or may not want to go through the effort of writing an article/filming and editing a video. However, these things don't mean that your voice isn't important or isn't being heard.

You don't know who your words affect. There are tons of people who lurk on forums without posting or browse Twitter without having an account. Who's to say that one of those people won't see your intelligent, well thought-out point and use it in their own article or video? Although I can't recall any specific occasions -- I tend to give credit for good points I've heard people made -- I'd be very surprised if it turned out I hadn't done that at least once. And I know it's definitely happened to me, with both Adrian Chmielarz, mentioned above, and Milo Yiannopoulos (in the line "leveraging a tragedy to her own political benefit").

Plus, think about this; what's the big deal about popularity anyway? There are hugely popular sites like Buzzfeed, Polygon, a bunch of Gawker sites and more that have only achieved popularity through clickbait. So many of their articles and videos offer nothing of any substance but hey, they're popular! On the other hand, there are independent news sites, blogs and gaming media sites all over the internet that offer objectivity, intelligence and substance in ways that popular sites based on clickbait can't even comprehend. If you feel like your voice isn't being heard, take solace in the fact that you're still speaking out. You are like an independent news site. You have credibility and moral fibre for expressing your opinions when you aren't even sure if anyone will ever read them.

If you want a tip for making your voice heard, here's a practical piece of advice: post on Reddit, not Twitter. Twitter is like everyone shouting over a crowd of other shouting people, trying to get noticed. Reddit, and other more conventional forums, are closer to a discussion.

Finally, don't give up. You'll never know who you could reach or what impact you could have if you give up. Your opinions are valued more than you know. Even as someone who is normally pretty cynical when it comes to people who try to be motivational, I believe that. You never know when your opinion will be the one people take notice of, rally around and support/defend, whether it's as an article or in the comments section of an article.

And I don't normally say this but I feel compelled to, given what I've been writing about; thank you for reading.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Censorship in Games - Are Developers Pandering to the Wrong Audience?

In spite of not following gender issues in gaming as closely as I used to, I still follow plenty of people on Twitter to keep myself informed of what gaming's most easily-offended critics are currently annoyed about and how gender issues play a part in gaming nowadays.

It isn't like there has been a shortage of issues to write about. For Street Fighter V, Capcom released an update that switched camera angles for two characters -- Cammy and R. Mika -- to make their poses less provocative. There have been two localisation changes for Xenoblade Chronicles X; adding more clothing to a bikini-clad thirteen-year-old character and removing a slider to change a custom female character's bust size. The Western release of the newest Fatal Frame game has several revealing alternate costumes omitted, replaced with costumes paying tribute to Samus and Zelda instead. And most recently, Koei Tecmo US has chosen not to release Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 in the West, only for Play-Asia.com to criticise the move and pledge to sell the English-language version released in Asian markets through their website.

There are two reasons behind all of this censorship/refusal to ship games to the West. The first is specific to Xenoblade and Fatal Frame and it's due to Nintendo's steadfast family-friendly image. They're basically doing the exact same thing they did back in the late eighties and early nineties, when they would censor minor instances of nudity, as was the case in games like Final Fantasy VI, seen here:

Examples from the Japanese Super Famicom/GBA, American SNES and Western GBA releases of FFVI.
Where this falls apart is when games like Fatal Frame deal with horror, death and suicide and these are somehow considered less controversial than a woman in lingerie as an alternate costume. The number of games that feature dismemberment, disembowelings and beheadings are somehow considered acceptable compared to a game featuring women playing volleyball. The gaming media has stirred up a non-controversy to such an extent that Japanese developers are under the impression that all Western gamers are uncomfortable or offended by sexuality, rather than just a very vocal minority with high-profile positions. And no talented game developer wants to be called a 14-year-old boy by some talentless hack at Kotaku.

Which leads to the second reason: good ol' fashioned prudishness. I know I've said this before -- probably several times -- but it's remarkable that an audience who claim to want video games to "mature" as a medium have such a fundamentally immature attitude towards sexuality in games. What kind of adult feels threatened by a bunch of polygons on a screen? Essentially what we have here is a tiny contingent of critics who feel it is appropriate to bully and shame developers into making the games they want, based on what they feel is suitable for all Western audiences. Gaming critics have reached the peak of entitlement and the worrying thing is that they're the ones being pandered to by game developers now.

Obviously, there is nothing wrong with characters in games being sexually attractive. Developers have a right to create any kinds of characters they want and audiences, men and women, have the right to enjoy them (as a matter of fact, one of the criticisms against Xenoblade's removal of the bust size slider was that it prevented large-chested female gamers creating characters similar in appearance to themselves). Petty authoritarian bullies stomping their feet and throwing a tantrum because they feel uncomfortable is their issue. It isn't the developer's responsibility to change their game because of hurt feelings.

Regarding Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, game developer American McGee wrote this on Facebook regarding the whole issue. He isn't the only person to speak out against this type of censorship. Following the news that DOAX3 wasn't going to receive a Western release, a female voice actress tweeted this:

(The tweet has since been deleted so, out of respect for the voice actress, I've redacted her name. I wouldn't want her to suffer online harassment or lose voice acting work for speaking out against feminism.)

Apart from the obvious reasons why this is an issue -- games having content removed/not being localised because of puritanical outrage -- it's also an issue because of the recurring claim from gaming's Social Justice Warrior and feminist critics that "we're not coming to take your games away". Katherine Cross wrote about it on Polygon, also quoting Carolyn Petit saying the same thing. Jim Sterling said it about Anita Sarkeesian too.

Yet it's remarkable when censorship of games does occur, how quick this same crowd preaching about sexism from their soapboxes acts as if they don't have any real power whatsoever. As if these same journalists who have given countless column inches to Anita Sarkeesian for the past three years, who called game developers 14-year-old boys, awarded Bayonetta 2 lower scores due to being offended by a sexualised character rather than anything to do with the game's quality, warped #GamerGate to be about sexism rather than ethics in journalism and gleefully used a mass shooting to their advantage tell people to get over Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 not coming to the West are suddenly the least-influential people in the games industry.

As Anita Sarkeesian is so fond of telling us in her Tropes Vs Women videos, "these examples do not exist in a vacuum" and I've only mentioned a few examples. Do these people really think high-profile gaming sites and Kickstarter/Intel-funded Youtube critics who have been arguing against sexually-attractive women in games for years are completely unrelated to sexualised elements in games being removed for the West (or the games not being localised at all)?

If so, it sounds like another example of playing the victim to me; even with their monopoly on gaming journalism and the many years of hammering home the same warped sexism narrative, they still insist that they're helpless, silenced victims.

I actually planned on writing about Feminist Frequency's new video -- Jonathan McIntosh's "5 Ways Men Can Help End Sexism", the first video from Feminist Frequency I've watched in around two years -- but had more to say on this subject than I thought. I may write about McIntosh's video too because, even though it's more of what we've come to expect from McIntosh and Feminist Frequency -- Jonathan sounds more like Anita than Anita does, bizarrely -- it is a hilarious video.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Anita Sarkeesian's Interview with Wired UK

The Conference is a yearly event in Sweden where "creators, communicators and innovators of all kinds" arrive to discuss digital media and give speeches on working in creative industries. As she did back in 2013, Anita Sarkeesian took to the stage, discussing what it's like to be the victim of abuse online.

What I'd like to focus on is a follow-up article done by Wired UK, which is something of an edited highlights version of Anita's talk. Let's start with this:
There are three ways in which men attempt undermine women online, Sarkeesian tells the audience at The Conference in Malmo: through the denial of women's earned accomplishments, the denial of their life experience, and the denial of their professional expertise.
Those three ways that men -- not simply critics of Anita's or the social justice warrior crowd that has chosen gaming as its scratching post, specifically men -- attempt to undermine women online are three of the things I'd like to focus on.

The Denial Of Women's Earned Accomplishments

In the case of Anita, I can see how she'd feel like she is a victim of this. People have criticised everything about her methods, from her Kickstarter campaign, to art theft, to using videos without the permission of their original owners.

I don't deny that Anita has accomplished many things but not all of them are what I would call "earned". She earned her degrees in Communication Studies and Social and Political Thought. I'd certainly say she's earned everything she's gained from giving college talks around the U.S. on sexism. She's marketed herself well, it can't be denied. I wouldn't say she earned any of the money that was donated to her through Kickstarter or given to her by Intel. That's a different kettle of fish entirely. Likewise, is making videos really an accomplishment? Not especially. Is being critical of them "denying" that accomplishment? Not at all. However, the Tropes Vs Women series has been watched by a lot of people. Again, that's undeniable and it certainly is an accomplishment.

It also makes me wonder whether fictional women are being included in that statement too. If so, there are plenty of people who would seek to deny the accomplishments of video game heroines entirely because they have a quality they disapprove of (such as a large chest). Take Lara Croft for example; prior to the reboot, there were thirteen games named, or spun off from, Tomb Raider. There were two feature films. Three novels. An animated series. A fifty-one issue comic book run. A place in the Guinness Book of Records as the "Most Successful Human Virtual Game Heroine."

The character herself is intelligent, witty, cultured, a capable hunter and survivor (of a plane crash, no less). She's also a published author and in spite of her wealthy upbringing, remains grounded and easy to root for.

In spite of all of this, many feminist critics have reduced Lara Croft to being nothing but a pair of breasts. The idea that these are the same people asking for strong female characters in video games is laughable. No matter how you cut it, that is the denial of women's earned accomplishments.

The Denial Of Women's Life Experience

Let's just stop and think for a second; since Anita Sarkeesian came to prominence, who is the biggest demographic whose voices have been consistently ignored by both her and the gaming media? Women.

Look at the short paragraph I quoted above. "Three ways in which men attempt to undermine women online". The narrative that is constantly being encouraged by Anita is that she is the victim of widespread abuse online and all of the perpetrators are male. Yet there is a sizable contingent of Anita's critics who are women. The closest I have heard to Anita acknowledging their existence was in a report on a college talk she did -- unfilmed, as Anita allows filming of her talks on abuse but not on gaming -- when she said something along the lines of "I've received criticism from women but not abuse".

However, to listen to Anita or the many gaming news outlets that report on her (or Zoe Quinn, Brianna Wu or anyone else currently in the spotlight), it sounds as if there are only two sides: the infallible hurt party on one side and the inevitably demonic, foaming-at-the-mouth male abusers on the other. Nothing in-between.

What do you call ignoring the many women who disagree with you if not "denial of women's life experience"? What do you call it -- other than arrogance -- if you feel you can speak for women as a whole and not take others' life experiences on board? Life experiences that aren't ones of sexism, abuse and oppression.

While we're on the subject, ignoring your male critics is just as big a denial of their life experiences too. Regardless of the sex of your critics, their life experiences are no less significant than yours and no more worthy of being dismissed.

Yet that's what gaming journalists have done; erased women from the discussion. When women "step out of line", so to speak, they cease to exist. That is, if they aren't accused of having "sockpuppet" accounts; men using female avatars. Again, assuming that women couldn't possibly disagree with Anita can only be described as arrogance.

The Denial Of Women's Professional Expertise

Once again, since Anita came to prominence, whose professional expertise has been consistently ignored? Women.

If you frequent Twitter, one of the responses to the accusations that #GamerGate is a misogynist movement has been to popularise this image of women who work within the games industry. It's a way of highlighting the hypocrisy of the gaming media; in spite of their claims of being progressive and pro-woman, they have made zero effort to raise awareness of or promote women who actually work in the games industry:
Left-click to enlarge.
Instead of putting any of these women in the spotlight, gaming sites devote article after article to women who often have little-to-no experience in the games industry. I can't quite put my finger on a particular reason why: the cynic in me wants to say it's because a retrospective of the several-decade career of an accomplished female developer doesn't earn as many pageviews as a "culture critic" ranting about how everything is sexist.

Alternatively, it could be because, through their desperation to appear "pro-woman", no gaming website dares to deny a platform for the Anita Sarkeesians of the world to speak for fear of being labelled misogynistic. And if you read that sentence and thought, "but wouldn't a spotlight on one of the successful female game developers work to counteract that?" bear in mind that even raising $23,000 for the Fine Young Capitalists' game -- with concepts taken from women all over the world and the game itself being created by an all-female development team -- wasn't enough to quell the accusations that #GamerGate was against women in gaming.

Basically, several of the women in the image above have had their professional expertise dismissed outright by the gaming media and many a critic, in spite of them being far more experienced in the games industry. For instance, Mari Shimazaki, character designer for Bayonetta, was hit particularly hard with arguments such as, "just because she's a woman doesn't mean she can't be sexist". The statement itself isn't incorrect but I'm failing to see any respect for her professional expertise.

Similarly, where was the acknowledgment of Gabrielle Toledano's expertise when she spoke out against the trend of blaming the lack of women in the games industry on sexism, when there are other factors in play? As the executive vice president and chief talent officer of EA, she is likely in a far better position to judge than a wealthyYoutuber or the developer of Depression Quest. How about Christine Phelan's expertise, when she challenged the viewpoint that because she's female, she must face sexist behaviour in the games industry at the hands of her male coworkers? In an interview with TechRaptor, Jennifer Dawe, developer of Seedscape, expressed concern that the fearmongering caused by gaming's critics may push women out of the industry more than invite them in.

Also, let's not forget that female developers can be accused of being "sockpuppets" too. Just a couple of evenings ago, I was directed to this on Twitter:

Left-click to enlarge..
I wouldn't normally take issue with a single example but "Ernest W. Adams", who is making that accusation, is the founder of the International Game Developers Association. Pretty darn significant for him to be assuming female game developers couldn't possibly exist.

Keep in mind, that's only covering women working within the games industry itself. What about fellow outsiders who don't agree with the sexism narrative, or at the very least take issue with some of the arguments put forward by its proponents? I've written before about Liana Kerzner's excellent five-part series called "Why Feminist Frequency almost made me quit writing about video games". Liana is a writer and producer who has worked in her field for over a decade. You don't have to be in the games industry to have professional expertise and Liana Kerzner is far from being the only woman to oppose Anita's viewpoints.

To sum up all three of the points argued by Anita in her talk at the Conference, this denial of women's accomplishments, experiences and expertise certainly exists. Yet she's one of the biggest proponents of doing this (or, if she isn't, certainly hasn't shied away from the spotlight or spoken out against the media for not focusing on other women). In fact, she's actively profited from it; with the media arguing that the games industry is a horrible place for women and gaming culture is a toxic environment for anyone who isn't a straight white male, Anita Sarkeesian appears to be proven correct from an outsider's perspective. The more women are ignored and their experiences eliminated from all mainstream discussion of gaming, the more Anita can speak on their behalf.

The "too long, didn't read" version of this can be summed up as follows: regardless of sex, skin colour, sexuality or any other characteristic, everyone is ignored in the sexism debate. Non-white, non-male, non-straight people cease to exist if they disagree with the sexism narrative and straight white men are all lumped into a "misogynist abuser" category.

The Wired UK article doesn't end there. It mentions two statements by Anita that have been some of the most heavily-scrutinised over the last few days:
"I am an expert on the depiction of women in video games. I know my stuff and I'm pretty good at what I do."
"My analysis is very well researched -- it's double and triple checked."
The following picture from the Conference also tends to accompany the first quote above:

For those of us who have followed Feminist Frequency for a substantial period of time, this raises a bunch of questions. The one that springs to mind immediately -- and this is not intended to sound snarky, rude or critical at all -- is, "if Anita Sarkeesian is an expert on the depictions of women in video games, why does she get so many things wrong?"

That is a genuine question, not intended to be insulting or amusing. The Tropes Vs Women in Games series contains a lot of incorrect information. As tempting as it is to write out all the ones I can recall, it feels like everything that has already been said about Anita's failure (or refusal, in some cases) to report on the depictions of women (and men) in video games accurately. However, a Twitter user named Jasperge107 is putting together a gallery of Anita's inaccurate claims -- although only 6 out of a total of 25 have been completed so far -- and Adrian Chmielarz wrote an article about Anita's controversy over Hitman, which she revisited during her conference speech. Yet while both of these go into detail about specific errors Anita has made, they only scratch the surface when it comes to the number of mistakes Anita has made.

The fact that Anita considers this analysis "well researched", which was "double and tripled checked" does not strengthen her viewpoint in any way. All it means is that she was very thorough when being wrong.

The second question that is raised by Anita's claim that she is an expert is how can she claim to be any such thing when she has never engaged in a debate over her views in the three years she has been in the public eye? She hasn't even debated her claims with a village idiot, let alone a fellow expert. In fact, consider the ways she has walled herself off from all criticism; Youtube comments are closed. She blocks people on Facebook and Twitter with alarming regularity. Filming is not allowed at her college talks. Even her Wikipedia page doesn't have a "Criticism" section and the "Reception and public appearances" header does not contain any criticism of her work.

This all takes place under the guise of "preventing harassment" but if your definition of "harassment" is having your viewpoints challenged, how can you possibly claim to be an expert in your field?

It also goes without saying that putting up a big slide about how much of a genius you are is incredibly arrogant. Humility is obviously not Anita's strongest suit. Although if I was in her shoes, with every gaming website singing my praises and one person even comparing me to Rosa Parks, my ego would probably be too inflated to consider being humble too.

There is one final quote I would like to focus on before ending:
"The cultural norms of male-dominated spaces can be changed."
There are three problems with this statement; firstly, assuming that the things Anita dislikes (violence, sexuality) are "cultural norms". Secondly, assuming they need to be changed. Thirdly, assuming that gaming is male dominated.

Since the first point is debateable and the second is obviously just Anita's own opinion; I didn't write a blog following E3 but she and her producer, Jonathan McIntosh, were famously complaining about the violence in Doom being "the norm". They didn't give reasons why it shouldn't exist but still shamed it for existing and the people who enjoyed it. It's the Jack Thompson argument, only in 2015, by people who are supported by the current generation of gaming journalists. Just like their arguments against sexism, it's their sensibilities that are being offended, nobody else's, yet they speak as authorities on what should and should not exist in the medium.

That's a separate issue though. What bothers me is the third point: the idea that gaming is "a male-dominated space".

Every year, the Entertainment Software Association publishes an "ESA Essential Facts" guide and makes it available online to read. You've probably already seen it but if not, it's available to view here. The pages are filled with helpful infographics about game genres that people are playing, the age of players and the gender of the players:

Now, read into the slight dips and rises in female players however you like but speaking as a general overview, the number of women and girls playing games has held steady for the last five years and it's in the 40-50% range. Or, to put it another way, around half of all gamers are female.

For Anita, feminists, gaming websites and the mainstream media to continue pushing the idea that in this day and age, gamiing is still "a male-dominated space" is ridiculous. It could not be further from the truth and the facts above prove it. Unless these critics are being pedantically literal and saying that a 12% difference counts as a hobby being "dominated" by a particular sex, the evidence works against them.

What's more, Anita's claims demean and insult the women she claims to be fighting for. Plenty of women were fans of gaming before she came onto the scene. To say something that basically boils down to "this pasttime needs to change before it's appropriate for women" is condescending. It basically treats women the same as children and, as was the case with female game developers, ignores women who have been enjoying gaming for years. What's more, when gaming has an almost equal split between the sexes before you start campaigning to end sexism in gaming, that may be a pretty good indicator that (a) it isn't male-dominated and (b) it doesn't need someone to change it because women are clearly capable of enjoying gaming without it being changed.

It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same for Anita Sarkeesian and the media. The actions that have served her well in the past continue to serve her well in the present day and her arguments are as flawed as they ever were.


I apologise for the long wait between blog posts. In the last year, a lot more people opposing the "games are sexist" argument have started to speak out, on bigger platforms than this one. There are some excellent articles on sexism in games on TechRaptor, Breitbart, Metal Eater, Medium and more. It feels like the voices speaking out are more diverse too, as well as having a wider range of backgrounds; journalists, academics, people within the games industry and many others have raised objections to what they see as an unjustified attack on gaming (because, when developers, games and gamers themselves are all being insulted and told "gamers are dead" and "gamers don't need to be your audience", we're long past the point where it can be called "criticism").

So while all of the raised awareness about the issues of sexism in gaming and the flawed arguments put forward by gaming's critics is wonderful, it makes things trickier for me. I know the more voices speaking out, the better, but it can be a bit disheartening to see a better writer than you talking about a subject you wanted to write about, on a larger platform than your own. It's an exciting development for gaming and gamers as a whole but it puts me in a trickier position.

That's why I didn't write an article after E3. I started it but never got back to it. I may go back to it at some point, just because some of the arguments put forward by the gaming media after E3 were pretty ridiculous but there was a lot of backlash against those flawed articles by gamers and gaming's supporters.

Feel free to leave a comment below and ... I never check my themalesofgames@gmail.com e-mail anymore but you can send me an e-mail if you like. Follow me on Twitter, @TheMalesOfGames.

Edit: A big thank you to /r/KotakuInAction for all the attention this post has received. It's much appreciated.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

What Studying "Critical Approaches" is Actually Like

Over the past two months or so, I've been "fortunate" enough to take part in a "Critical Approaches to Creative Media Products" unit that deals with many of the same issues that we have read about and heard talked about in the games industry over the past few years. I don't know if it's anywhere close to the same as the "Social and Political Thought" class that Anita Sarkeesian took but the themes and language used are very reminiscent of her videos. The class itself isn't horrible ... but all the thoughts you have ever had about "cultural criticism" not being a real job are reinforced by it.

Let's start with the biggest reason why: there are no wrong answers. Absolutely everything is open to interpretation. Your own ideology and how much you read into things are more important than being accurate; it doesn't matter if the content creator actually did put the same spin into their work that you claim, it only matters that you make the claim and are able to justify it in some way.

Some of you may have heard of a subject known as "semiotics"; the study of the meaning behind signs and symbols. This doesn't specifically refer to signs but can refer to a body of work (a text, like a movie, game or television series). It's all about the "decoder" (the viewer) figuring out the message and the reasons why the "encoder" (the content creator) created the work the way they did.

Is it correct? Doesn't matter. Can you read something into it? If the answer is yes, then you're on the right track.

If you think I'm exaggerating, I'll use an example given by the tutor herself; when talking about the 2001 Tomb Raider movie starring Angelina Jolie, she brought up a scene near the end where Lara Croft visits her father's grave. The tutor's "decoding" of this scene is that the filmmakers and audience are only comfortable accepting a woman in a "masculine" action role if she also sticks to "her place" as a woman and outwardly displays that she's still feminine.

There's a big problem with this. Let's say Lara attended her father's grave in a suit. Couldn't I interpret that as the filmmakers refusing to show that a woman can be an action hero while also being feminine? That she has to be masculine to be believable? Only today, I looked up Jupiter Ascending on Wikipedia and read the phrase "Hollywood typically portrays strong women in action films as "Arnold Schwarzenegger with boobs"," so couldn't that standpoint be argued and be just as valid?

Of course it could. Because there are no wrong answers.

This "no wrong answers" approach is a key aspect of critical approaches that isn't picked up on by gaming journalists. It's all interpretation, based on the decoder's ideology more than the text. Gaming journalists miss this and treat the critique of people like Anita Sarkeesian as fact. Which is unsurprising, since she herself seems to have failed to grasp the fact that the critical approaches subject is based entirely around interpretation. This is why we hear blunt, insulting statements from Anita about people like Toru Iwatani, who she claimed had "regressive personal or cultural notions about women". It's her interpretation but she's stating it as fact.

More than that, and this is another major point that both gaming journalists and Sarkeesian have not acknowledged, even if your interpretation is 100% correct and you've nailed the reasons behind why a game developer did what they did ... you can still be factually incorrect about the game's content. Anita has brought that to the table in spades, cherry-picking examples that support her argument and ignoring the ones that don't (strong female examples and negative male examples). No, violence against innocent female strippers in Hitman Absolution is not "implicitly encouraged". Yes, MaleShep does have his own nickname. No, NPC bodies disappearing does not reinforce women's status as disposable objects. Even if being a "cultural critic" allows you to say whatever you like about a content creator's ideology, you can't ignore facts and evidence in order to prove your point. That is an area where there certainly are some wrong answers.

I don't want it to sound like my Critical Approaches class was horrible and I have to give my tutor credit in some areas. She wasn't on board with the nonsensical "it's impossible to be sexist against men" attitude espoused by Anita and other high-profile feminists. One other significant point she made about sub-cultures vs. the mainstream. An "out-group" vs. an "in-group". Basically, as sub-cultures become more and more of an "out-group", they become more at odds with the mainstream.

You may also have heard a phrase that goes something along the lines of "the oppressors never see themselves as oppressors". Judging from their reactions over the last year, it seems as though there are a bunch of high-profile mainstream figures in the games industry who still see themselves as being part of a downtrodden sub-culture. People like Anita, Leigh Alexander and Brianna Wu see themselves as oppressed, helpless victims being piled on by their oppressors ... but then do a great job of killing that image by landing television interviews, college talks and articles in mainstream newspapers to talk about how oppressed they are. It doesn't matter that they're wealthy. Or funded by Intel. Or the heads of PR agencies. Or were given hundreds of thousands of dollars by their parents to start their own businesses. Or have friends in high places, like film directors and mainstream journalists who are happy to promote them as being victims. They still don't see themselves as being part of the mainstream. Or they do and know how well-off they are but have to keep up appearances for the sake of profiting off their victimhood.

I want to make it clear that I'm not limiting this to those three. Gaming journalism as a whole (more or less) seems to fit this mould. It seems to be a trend with feminism as a whole too; feminist writers and bloggers appear to think that feminism is the sub-culture when, in actual fact, it's the mainstream. In his interview with TechRaptor last year, Daniel Vavra talked about how, "there is a group of people that think they know what’s right and what’s wrong and that they have a mission to make the world a better place and protect the oppressed by any means. They don’t even care what the “oppressed” people think". This isn't specific to games either. It's in all forms of media and ridiculously common in comic books (such as the controversy over the Milo Manara Spider-Woman cover variant). "If you don't like it, don't buy it" is not a phrase they consider acceptable. The demand is that nobody should be allowed to buy it unless it suits their sensibilities. It's very immature. Feminist critique isn't a subculture. It's the mainstream and it has been for about thirty to forty years. Critics of feminist critique are the subculture.


I was surprised to find that I still get at least a hundred visitors to the blog a day, even when I haven't updated for months. I apologise for that but if you read my last update, you'll know that I don't keep in touch with mainstream gaming news anymore. I get by on word of mouth and a few smaller gaming news sites that care more about the games than the politics. We all want to like games and I feel like buying the games I'm interested in is the best way of doing that. If it annoys critics because it has "regressive" portrayals of women, even better.

Regardless of whether people love or hate what I have to say, I appreciate everyone who visits and feel guilty about not updating more often. My readers (and especially commenters) are all great people and I don't want to let you down after you've done so much for me. I'm not going to stop updating, I guarantee that, but as side projects go, this blog is actually pretty draining.

I have to give a long-overdue thank you to Adrian Chmielarz for his numerous links to this blog in his "Top Ten Critiques of Feminist Frequency" article in February. It's much appreciated and his article was a great read. Thanks a lot to Adrian.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Final Fantasy XV's Female Cid

I apologise for not updating in January and I'd be lying if I said that wasn't due to feeling burned out on gender politics in gaming. Since I started this blog, I spent a lot of my time while writing each post seeking out information on the subject, often hunting down as many articles from the gaming media as I could on a particular subject. Even if those articles made me roll my eyes or cringe at the double standards the author happily promoted.

Now -- and I put this largely down to joining Twitter and becoming smothered by the issue -- I tend to avoid these articles and avert my gaze from the latest ridiculous statements from "pop culture critics", IGF judges and game journalists who seem to hate their own audience. I don't see a reason to read something that I know will irritate me but there'll be no point in responding because it will just be ignored. More high-profile figures than me have responded to these criticisms of gaming without any response. It didn't matter whether they were game developers, game journalists or women and minorities themselves (and obviously, there's plenty of overlap between those groups). Regardless of who they were, they were ignored, insulted, added to blocklists or dismissed for being white and male (even when they weren't, bafflingly).

It feels like each individual gamer's voice online matters less than ever before. Game journalists actively try and cultivate communities where nobody has the right to offer a dissenting opinion. Game journalism is basically one very big ivory tower, with journalists at the top bellowing what is "right" to the world while gamers are at the bottom, their criticisms going unheard.

With that said, growing discontent amongst gamers is clearly being felt by game journalists as well and it's interesting to see how it's affecting them. Take Dying Light, for example, which I know very little about other than "it's the zombie parkour game". Recently, Techland, the developer of Dying Light, chose not to feature a quote from a reviewer or game journalist on the posters for the game, instead choosing to feature a quote from Pewdiepie, the Youtube Let's Player.

Seeing game journalists' seething reactions to this shows how petrified they are about their monopoly being broken. Several different sites referred to Techland's actions as "ridiculous", "shady" and "an ethical can of worms". This is ignoring the fact that PewDiePie's endorsement is no different from a celebrity endorsement in any other medium. Authors promote their books by putting quotes from other authors on the back cover. Films sometimes feature quotes from other directors on their posters (one that stands out in my mind was a Quentin Tarantino quote for Kevin Smith's Red State). I can't even turn on my television without seeing George Clooney advertising coffee and Kevin Bacon shilling for mobile phone networks.

What gets under the skin of game journalists is that they are becoming less and less relevant. Why would a game developer seek a quote from a reviewer or website who might give a game a lower score based on the size of its female characters' breasts or other issue unrelated to the game's quality? Or who only gave it a high score because of how many incentives they were given by the developer? When there's a gamer on Youtube with 34 million subscribers as of this writing, why wouldn't you reach out to that audience and use his quotes about your game? There's no reason not to.

This is basically gaming journalists behaving like children and throwing a tantrum because their parents aren't giving them the attention they want but, just like children, they're very, very loud. It seems as if they're afraid that gamers are listening to -- shock, horror -- other gamers, giving their opinions as they play games, rather than game journalists preaching about how horrible gamers are, how all games are sexist and then recommending you buy Gone Home.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the audience that PewDiePie does. I don't, so my voice doesn't get heard as much as I'd like. Game journalists are still the dominant voice in gaming. That's frustrating. Two weeks ago, a writer called Liana Kerzner wrote a five-part series called "Why Feminist Frequency almost made me quit writing about video games". Liana goes into a lot of analysis of Anita Sarkeesian's Tropes vs Women series so far and, as so many have done before her, pokes huge holes in her arguments. If you've read these types of arguments before, I recommend skimming Liana's articles but they're worth reading for her perspective on the matter.

I actually disagree with Liana on quite a few things but she comes at the topic in some important ways; not just as a woman but as a woman whose voice has been ignored and as a woman with a large chest who is being stereotyped by Sarkeesian for her views on women with large breasts in video games. I was surprised by how much it resonated with me; just as Liana is frustrated over her viewpoint being ignored and people speaking for her, in spite of the fact she belongs to the group being spoken for, I feel the same way when it comes to her flawed arguments about men. The gaming press listens to Sarkeesian but does not seek out different opinions as they should and not once have they suggested that peer review may be a good thing. In short, Liana and I are quite alike; we both write ridiculously long analyses on Anita's videos but ultimately, our feelings boil down to being the same. Liana was tempted to quit writing about video games due to Feminist Frequency, which is also a big part of the reason behind my long hiatus (although mine ties into game journalism as a whole but because Feminist Frequency's influence is largely responsible for the current climate, that's a circular argument).

Liana's arguments in part four of her series ties into what I want to write about today and, honestly, something I should've written about a month-and-a-half ago. The big news that in Final Fantasy XV, Cid -- a recurring name for different characters throughout the series -- will be given to a female character for the first time.


The reaction to the latest version of Cid being female reminds me of a few other occasions when a piece of news that should have been considered a victory for female portrayals in games hasn't been welcomed as you would expect. Aliens: Colonial Marines' developer adding female characters was criticised by Carolyn Petit on Gamespot, for example. Anita Sarkeesian dismissed Princess Peach's inclusion in Super Mario Bros. 2 because it was "by accident" because it was a modified version of Japan's Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic. It feels like a similar story with Final Fantasy XV.

I don't want to describe the female version of Cid as being "monumental" or "ground-breaking" for women in games but if you're a fan of the Final Fantasy series, it is significant. Having a Cid in a Final Fantasy game has been a theme since Final Fantasy II in 1988 and the size of the role each Cid plays varies depending on the game. However, they tend to have something in common; providing the protagonists with transport for getting around the world (often an airship). This seems to be the direction FFXV is heading in too, with Cid being a mechanic. It's likely that she provides -- or repairs -- the car we see the heroes travelling in during each of the gameplay trailers.

So what's the big issue with Cid?

I plan on keeping my criticism here very short; what we have here is several examples of people who care less about what a woman does and more about how a woman looks.

First of all, let's dispel the myth that Cid's design is "the typical Final Fantasy female character". Thinking about female Final Fantasy characters, your mind could go to any number of conservatively-dressed women, such as Aeris, Yuffie, Yuna, Penelo, Ashe and all of the female characters from Final Fantasy VIII, IX and XIII (unless bare midriffs or legs are considered sexualised. By Lightning Returns, some of Lightning's costumes were clearly designed with fanservice in mind but prior to that, her outfits were modest). That's without going back to the 2D era.

Even thinking about other characters, what constitutes being sexualised? Rikku was introduced in Final Fantasy X with a shot focused on her behind but she wasn't portrayed sexually throughout the rest of the game, nor was her outfit revealing. The same can be said of Lulu, who wore a dress that showed her cleavage but was far from being a sexualised character. Even though Tifa is sometimes held up as a sexualised character, you'd be hard pressed to find any examples of her being sexualised in Final Fantasy VII. I don't know if further games and movies changed that.

This is slightly off-topic but it bothers me somewhat that some people -- hopefully a vocal minority -- have stigmatised Final Fantasy with this label about women while BioWare sexualise the hell out of their female characters but receive nothing but praise for being a "progressive" developer. It doesn't make sense but by now, I've accepted that's often the case.

All-in-all, Cid's critics basically pushed aside the fact that for the first time in a Final Fantasy game, Cid is going to be female. They ignored the important point that she is working in a traditionally male-dominated profession. All they focused on was her body and her outfit. It staggers me that the critics can so unironically and harshly judge fictional women based on their breast size and their attire and then complain that there are no good female characters. When you judge women so cruelly that you think "revealing clothing = bad character" and "large breasts = zero worth", that's the type of conclusion you arrive at. The same critics have attempted to retcon Lara Croft from being a tough, intelligent, witty, independent icon of the PlayStation and most successful female video game character of all time -- the Guinness Book of World Records even says so -- into nothing but a sex object or teenage boy's fantasy.

Plus, male Final Fantasy characters are unrealistically attractive too. From around a dozen androgynous hunks to plenty of gents sporting the open-shirt look, men's bodies and clothing in the Final Fantasy series has long been as over-the-top as the women's, if not more so. Yet it gets ignored or dismissed as -- you guessed it -- a "male power fantasy". Lack of awareness and objectivity concerning male characters is always a stumbling block when these arguments are made about female characters.

Also, and this should go without saying -- in fact, many of these points should -- but there is nothing wrong with making any character attractive or giving them revealing clothing. That does not automatically make them a bad character, nor does it make them sexualised. From what we've seen so far, Cid is not sexualised.

I think with announcements of this nature, we see a significant divide between two groups of people; those who actually want to see more good female representation in games and the entitled bunch who think stomping their feet, playing the victim and demanding their own way will override a game developer's creative freedom. Final Fantasy XV's Cid is a better example of how to make a female character own a traditionally-male role than, say, Jason Aaron's female Thor, and deserves to be treated as such. She should be judged on her own merits as a character and not, as her critics want, as an object.

Besides, even if Cid was sexualised, God knows male blue collar workers have never been sexualised, right?

Finally, and I'm not going to go into this at all, if you want to see true hypocrisy, look up the reactions to the sexualised male hero of Mevius Final Fantasy, an upcoming mobile game. If you ever needed proof that gender equality is certainly not being argued for in games, go and read some of the celebrations by feminist gamers over a male character being sexualised. It doesn't come as a surprise how quickly they abandon their principles over sexualised characters when they're not the victim, nor can they deny it exists against men. Yay equality?

Leave a comment or e-mail me at themalesofgames@gmail.com. My posting may be more sporadic from now on.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

My First Flash Game - "My Dinner With Jonathan"

Part of the game design course I'm enrolled on is learning how to make games using Flash, so earlier this month, I made a short game to practice coding (basic stuff like changing frames and triggering animations). As I mentioned in my last blog post, over the past couple of months, Jonathan McIntosh -- producer of the Feminist Frequency Tropes vs Women in Video Games series -- has been getting a lot more attention on Twitter for his often bizarre statements. That led to the "#FullMcIntosh" hashtag being used to describe some of his most ridiculous tweets. He's gradually stopped being a behind-the-scenes figure and has become more prominent, to the point of appearing in a Feminist Frequency video himself.

So naturally, I decided that my game should parody Jonathan McIntosh.

I explain a lot about the reasons behind the game on the "About" screen but basically, my criticism of the Tropes vs Women series has been ignored. Everyone's criticism of the TvsW series has been ignored, unless it's very easy to dismiss (as was the case with Doug Walker in August 2013). Yet the views of McIntosh and Sarkeesian, as flawed, unproven and blatantly untrue as they are, still receive recognition in game journalism circles. With that in mind, I've joined everyone else who's said "screw it" and decided that parody is a far better way of raising an objection than scrutinising every line of a Tropes vs Woman video.

I actually put more of an effort into it than you might think; I trawled McIntosh's timeline and the #FullMcIntosh hashtag for some of the most ridiculous things he's written and many of them were so ludicrous that I could put them into the game unaltered. Others were exaggerated slightly and a few were entirely fabricated (which meant I had to think like McIntosh. It was arduous). I made a list of actual Jonathan McIntosh statements and highlighted the ones that ended up in the game in some form or another:

Left-click for larger view.
Bear in mind that this is my first Flash game ever, so I'm pretty happy with how it turned out overall. As you can probably tell, I'm not much of an artist but coding-wise, I learned plenty from it.

However, if you want a far more fun parody, about a week after I posted my game on Twitter, someone posted a link to a game called "Vivtest - Xmas Edition". If you're familiar with #GamerGate, it features a lot of references to figures who are, apparently, opposed to more ethical behaviour from game journalists. And yes, Jonathan McIntosh makes an appearance as well.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Tekken's Lucky Chloe - Not Coming to the US?

Three days ago, a new character was announced for Tekken 7. If you're familiar with Japanese idols, the new character, Lucky Chloe, appears to draw a lot of inspiration from them; her fun, unique outfit, bubbly personality and slightly forced use of English phrases ("Engrish") is somewhat reminiscent of idol stereotypes.

She looks like a fun character. Her moveset is entertaining to watch and, in my opinion, her outfit and personality both have a ton of charm.

Yet at the moment, there's a rumour going around that due to fan complaints, Lucky Chloe isn't going to be released in the U.S. Only Europe and Asia.

Because this is a rumour, it may be debunked in a few days and this will all become a moot point. For the time being though, it's started a conversation.

You can read TechRaptor's article on this story but basically, when the character trailer was released, there was a backlash against the character on both Youtube -- read the comments of the video above -- as well as NeoGAF and even directed at the games director, Katsuhiro Harada, on Twitter. I'll come to why this backlash occurred later on but Harada's response is the issue; responding to people bothering him on Twitter, he made the claim that Lucky Chloe would be exclusive to Europe and Asia.

I should say that I'm in Europe so even if this is true, it shouldn't affect me. Having said that, I feel bad for U.S. Tekken fans who aren't getting a character because of a vocal minority of complainers.

The complaints themselves were bafflingly varied. Some said that Lucky Chloe didn't fit in with the rest of Tekken's cast, which is ridiculous. As a long-time Tekken fan, Lucky Chloe wouldn't even be in my top ten ridiculous characters. From fighting bears, kangaroos and dinosaurs to robot girls and old men doing somersaults, Tekken's cast has always been more ludicrous than serious. The only reason we don't consider characters like Yoshimitsu and Devil more ridiculous is because they look cool.

For people making the claim that she doesn't fit in, Tekken has had cutesy, anime-esque female characters since 3. Just look at Ling Xiaoyu's Tekken 3 ending. The central Mishima family storyline and conflict is like something straight out of an anime. People acting like Lucky Chloe is a step too far seem to be making excuses. Being too "moe" or fanservice-y is not new to the series at all.

Those aren't the most worrying complaints though. Read this NeoGAF post:

Left-click to enlarge.
Once again, people have been complaining about how a female character in a game is dressed. In this case, this poster went as far as say she was only included to appeal to fetishists (specifically singling out Harada himself and claiming that's the reason for Lucky Chloe's inclusion). There's also a ton of cultural insensitivity towards Japan and Japanese gamers.

The reason I'm writing about this at all is because this is the same type of entitled attitude that we see from modern game critics. This demanding nature is becoming frighteningly common. I apologise for bringing up Anita Sarkeesian but in her case, she directed her ire at Toru Iwatani, creator of Pac-Man; in her "Ms. Male Character" video, Sarkeesian brought up Iwatani's desire to appeal to women by making a game based around food. In spite of the fact that this worked -- likely bringing more women into gaming than Anita herself ever will -- Anita referred to Iwatani's "regressive personal or cultural notions about women". Basically, saying either he or Japan as a whole had negative views about women. So either he's sexist or the entire nation is. Once again, cultural insensitivity (possibly outright xenophobia).

Another example that I think is most comparable to the Tekken 7 situation is when Kotaku's Jason Schreier lambasted Vanillaware's George Kamitani over the design of the Sorceress in Dragon's Crown. He referred to him as "a fourteen-year-old boy" and, in a follow-up article, laid the entirety of sexism towards women in the games industry at Kamitani's feet (including such issues as booth babes, yet Schreier himself had no problem dismissing male con-goers as "sweaty male attendees" and ranting about "male power fantasies"). I went over this at the time but there is no reason or excuse for insulting a developer just because you disagree with his creative direction. Again, as sexualisation is less of an issue in Japan, insulting him just because he's more used to drawing what he wants instead of what you want reeks of cultural insensitivity.

The reason I draw parallels between the situation with Harada and the Lucky Chloe critics is because after Schreier complained, Kamitani responded by posting a picture of three of the Dragon's Crown Dwarf's palette-swaps in a possibly-suggestive pose (it's a long story but I cover it in the previous paragraph's link. Schreier added to his insensitivity by branding Kamitani homophobic).

In this case, Harada has responded too and this is where I think Harada may just be playing a joke on the haters. His joke about giving the U.S. audience a "well-muscled skinhead" seems like the same kind of jab as Kamitani's towards Schreier, so don't be surprised if Lucky Chloe is included. On the other hand, his comment about the characters being region-exclusive seems sincere. It's hard to say at this point.

The point is that in the face of this kind of dogmatic insensitivity and outright bigotry towards an entire nation over something as ridiculous a female video game character that we've seen a total of 46 seconds of, who could blame Harada if he decided to take his ball and go home? He'd have every right to. In the face of insulting, entitled critics who think every game developer owes them a favour, why shouldn't he say "screw it" and do as he wants, rather than what they want? It isn't like Phil Fish, who had a Twitter blow-up every two weeks and supposedly cancelled projects left and right in the face of minor criticism, insulting sexual assault victims along the way. This is like a parent teaching his spoiled children some manners using the "'I want' never gets" phrase.

Honestly, what did the critics even think would happen? Did they believe that if they complained enough, Harada would change Lucky Chloe to suit them? Look at the entitlement on one of the comments Harada responded to: "Please add an option to delete any character you do not want to play against in Arcade battle". Did that person really expect that to happen?

I have every sympathy for American Tekken fans who wanted to play a complete version of Tekken 7 without having to import but at the same time, if this is true, it would be a good wake-up call to an entitled crowd who've never been told "no" in their lives. The same people who preach about not judging women on their attires or attitudes in real life are the same ones who love to dictate what women wear and how they act in fiction. I find that unacceptable.

UPDATE: As I was writing this, TechRaptor added a couple of updates in the article above. Still nothing concrete but it seems likely that Harada was referring only to the arcade versions of Tekken 7, rather than the console versions. Fingers crossed.


I didn't update last month, which I'd like to apologise for. Very hectic schedule but on the plus side, I'm now decent at using Adobe Flash. Trying to figure out if I could use it for this blog, somehow. If I ever make a "gender issues in gaming"-related game, I'll post it here. Unlikely though.

I have to give a big, big thank you to Milo Yiannopoulos for linking to this blog in his article "An Open Letter to Bloomberg's Sheelah Kolhatkar, on the Delicate Matter of Anita Sarkeesian" on Breitbart. I've spoken to Milo a few times on Twitter -- although I doubt he remembered me, so him linking to this blog is just a coincidence -- and he's a nice guy. Give his article a read. It's excellent and very comprehensive. At this stage, why anyone continues to give Anita the time of day is a mystery to me.

Also, thank you to the influx of visitors who've stopped by over the past month due to wanting to learn more about Jonathan McIntosh. I've only written about McIntosh a couple of times because I've never thought of him as being especially significant. However, people have become more aware of him because of his penchant for posting unusual, often-nonsensical things on Twitter (such as "we need to see some games that are not fun" because he thinks that's the only way they'll be able to have as much depth and artistic merit as other forms of entertainment). More recently, he's become known for appearing in Feminist Frequency's "25 Invisible Benefits of Gaming While Male" video, which I haven't watched but I did post a brief rebuttal to it back when McIntosh wrote it as an article.

I don't have much to add, although I'm finding it very telling that many of the items they rattled off were less about describing "gaming while male" and more involved with talking about women's experiences. McIntosh and the others in the video seemed content to speak on behalf of female gamers and tell the world what they experience. TechRaptor have another good article on this where the female contributors to the site (and other female gamers) leave their responses to the video. Watch the Youtube videos posted in the comments section too. It's eye-opening stuff.

As time has gone on, it's becoming more and more clear the social justice method of being "pro-woman" makes zero sense. They have zero interest in listening to the voices of women who say there's nothing wrong with the games industry or the gaming community. Women like Christine Phelan (Valve) and Gabrielle Toledano (EA) both work in the games industry and say the industry is nothing but welcoming towards women. Likewise, female gamers speak up regularly about feeling nothing but welcomed into gaming communities. I'm currently enrolled on a games design course and can confirm that both are the case.

So why is it that the group considered "pro-woman" are the ones engaging in scaremongering? Telling women there's nothing but horrible portrayals, sexist male "virgin basement-dwellers" to abuse them and an industry that wants to drive them out? Likewise, consider the opposite; why is it that those of us who say "these female characters are great, female developers are awesome and gaming is a great pasttime for people no matter their physical characteristics" are considered "anti-woman"? Why is driving women out of the industry considered "progressive" by these people? Because we don't stomp our feet and throw tantrums about game content?

It's too late now but I was going to write about Polygon's Bayonetta 2 review, talking about this exact thing. A great game, featuring a strong female character, designed by a woman and appreciated by women on the development team ... yet a male Polygon reviewer dismisses her as "sexualised". Apparently, strong female characters and the hard work of women is irrelevant if a guy playing it feels offended and needs to preach about how hard women have it.

Akiko Kuroda, Producer on Bayonetta 2.

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