Friday, April 25, 2008

EPISODE SIX: "Pr0N."

Presenting Episode Six; which can be thought of as a sort-of followup to Episode Two. We discuss (well.. I discuss, at least) the somewhat uncomfortable and not-at-all clearcut issue of objectification of women in the video game medium, the likely cultural/societal reasons for it, the ramifications of these design choices on gamers and gamer-culture, possible solutions and any other serious-sounding excuse I can find to run suggestive pictures of the girls from "Dead or Alive." Helloooooo, web traffice ;)



This is the first one of these to hit where I haven't used the sound-speed editing at all, so I hope people aren't too dissapointed to learn how dull my normal speaking voice is.

Overall, I'm happy with how this one turned out considering actually picking a definative point of view was kind of a challenge. On the one hand, as I admit more-or-less upfront in the video-proper.. I not only COMPLETELY understand "why" game designers tend to present their female characters in these ways - I don't see a damn thing wrong with it in the broad sense: You want characters to be appealing, and it doesn't get much more appealing than a sexy, large-breasted girl wearing next to nothing jumping around with ninja skills and yelping in Manga-nese. It's not a new phenomenon, look up a 1940s comic book character called "Phantom Lady" sometime. On the other hand, when you take a step back and look at the medium objectively the fact that characters as ridiculously proportioned/costumed as Mai Shiranui or "Soul Calibur's" Ivy tend to pass entirely without comment (other than "whoa," I mean) well... that says and implies a lot of things about game culture and NONE of it is especially flattering.


So... it's not that I want to see Team Ninja sign all the girls up for reduction-surgery or anything, but we DO probably want to be more aware of how this fits in to the culture, perceptions and all of that. I mean, just keep in mind: The "Tomb Raider" series has NEVER had a single installment that was anything other than average as an overall game, but was SOMEHOW popular and well-known enough to warrant two huge-budget movies starring an Academy Award winner. Lara Croft has TWO movies while Link and Zelda don't have ONE... entirely on the basis of digitally-rendered titties. That's what's known as letting things get out of hand, people.

18 comments:

a-curious-query said...

Your commentaries on the state of gaming are very keen. This installment was, in my opinion, your best thus far. Keep up the fantastic work, Game Overthinker.

Albert said...

Two words: This rocks.

JeffroEX said...

Personally, I think this was one of the best videos you've made. I like how it's really you're voice, and not sped up. When it's sped up, it seems like I can hear the buzz in the background easier, and when it goes from fast to normal, it seems like you are talking slow. Ever think about doing two part series to avoid the speed up? Just a thought. Like Curious said, I love your presentation on the material. Keep up the good work. I'd rather reply here then have my reply get lost on youtube.

Kevin said...

This is a great video, with awesome support and evidence. Easily could be presented as a lecture in a university or something bigger. Great work.

One thing I've always noticed in games too is the inverse correlation between armor for females and how much 'protection' they actually give. In many MMOs and RPGs, quite often high-level armor pieces that supposedly give more protection barely qualify as a supportive bra.

Mattsworkname said...

Been impressed with each of your Game overthinker rants, and must admit, many of your arguments are the same ones I belive myself. I keep breathlessly waiting for you to actually discuss some of the more controversial items in the world of gameing, such as DRM, Piracy, Jack thompson, Importing and region encoding, that kinda stuff. Still, whatever you do discuss in the future, I'll be more then happy to pay attention and listen to your ranting, as it always makes me smile a little.

Aurabolt said...

I love your rants man because you have a very strong outlook over the gaming industry and the societal and cultural influences that effect it. I have Asperger's Syndrome, and although being 21, I am not ashamed to say that my gaming industry knowledge is quite high, my comprehension is pretty much a shithole.

Here's the thing, though. Personally, men should be able to do something like this; we're not Neanderthals or any of our baser evolutionary states, and we have all have the capacity to control how we react to something that is attractive and what effects us. As such, we should be more than capable of getting our dicks in check, heads and egos firmly planted in their upright position, and defend this fact alongside our female counterparts.

And personally, there's nothing wrong with Peach from my standpoint, even for usual normalcy. Some guys do want a cutie over tremendous, suffocating amounts of sex appeal

Kyle said...

Hello.

I am a new fan. I mean, I've seen and loved Angry Video Game Nerd stuff and liked it. This vdeo was features in a community blog on Destructoid.com, and I have seen it 3 times so far. I just went back and caught myself up on the series.

I with I had seen The End of the World episode back when the Casual-Gamers-will-ruin-things idiocy was at it's loudest.

Anyway. I've bookmarked the blog, and I'll check in often.

Cheers!

Susan said...

As a female gamer, I agree with many of the points you've made here. However, I'd like to add my perspective on a few of them.

The use of pretty women to sell things to women is not a matter of latent lesbian or bisexual attraction - it's a product of the underlying, societal attitude that a woman's greatest virtue is her beauty. Most of the pretty ladies on the cover of Cosmo aren't designed to be people women want, but people we should aspire to be.

I also think it's profoundly unfair to leave the onus on us (the women) to change gaming by showing nerd-boys the joys of real-world relationships. I say this as someone who is primarily attracted to nerdy men, and who initiated the relationship with her current very nerdy husband. Lasting change in how women are depicted in video games will not happen until the gaming industry ceases to be by and large an industry run by males for consumption by males.

janegray said...

Hello,

while I agree with many of the points you've made in this video, I'd just like to point out something.

You basically say that women should be more open-minded and give nerdy gamers a chance. Sometimes it seems to me like it's the other way around.

Too many male gamers still refuse to admit the existence of female gamers, and when they are presented with evidence and forced to admit that female gamers do exist, they get defensive and claim that female gamers a)aren't as good as male players and b)only play games like Cooking Mama anyway.

Try and post in, say, a GameFAQs board, and claim that you are a girl and you beat a difficult action game in its highest difficulty. You are very likely to be told that you are lying, and that you are really a guy.

I'm a nerdy girl, and I've always been attracted to nerdy boys. But why would I date a guy who belittles or outright denies my skill in my favourite hobby? Why would I waste my time with a guy who treats me with suspicion or even hostility as soon as I reveal my gender and my geeky love for "violent/dark/difficult" videogames?

Susan said...

Ooh, good point, Jane.

Tom said...

Jane, maybe that situation could arise from the general audience of said places, young teenage boys who rely on anonymity to be jerks to everyone and compare e-peens.

Speaking from the perspective of a long time (2 years+) World of Warcraft player, i know plenty of women who play that game, and plenty who are pretty damn good at it. Maybe it's a difference in experiences but i think the whole "Women can't play games" stereotype is dying out nowadays.

Although my first and only shagmate (screwed up the relationship before it even became one) could not get past the first pit/hole in the first level of Mario Bros 3. I wish i was making that up, i really do.

squall lee said...

You totally hit the nail on the head with this one when it comes to the nerd relationship with females.

It really makes me think how I, along with other gamers seem to always receive a lot of stereotypes from outsiders. Like being misogynistic, putting too much emphasis on beauty, having unrealistic expectations of female beauty and never in my life being worthy enough to be partnered with that beauty, and strangest of all... I've personally been called "gay" for not being able to attract a female, or have a girlfriend until I turned 18.

Weird but your observations, particularly on how nerds really aren't as creepy as everyone thinks, and have a lot of potential as good companions and mates was right on the money. I mean I don't want to toot ours, especially my horn, but some nerds aren't terribly obsessed with female protagonists and can be caring, acceptive of other ideas, and according to my current girlfriend.... really good in bed (no lie).

And oh yeah, that bit about women placing just as much emphasis on beauty as men... I brought that up in a debate awhile ago and totally blew away my opponent.

The Horror Gamer said...

I just started watching your videos recently, I have watched most thus far. But this one is so far your best one!

DSL said...

I especially liked your blog point about Laura Croft. I have shown this video to most all of my friends as it very accurately sums up how most "reasonable" gamer guys think about women and how they are objectified.

"We know women are people, but it's hard to resist the gravitational pull of Laura's melons T__T"

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Ron Esty said...

that's right, not many care about the handsomeness of men, it ONLY straight women and gay men, because that's such a SMALL population. Granted its not a big a money target as straight men but still...

still think your on the right track, i generally enjoy your videos.

imsmart said...

I am a very heterosexual male, but I HATE unrealistic proportions. This is because even when aroused, my brain won't stop analyzing stuff for a goddamn second. For example, after I saw your later video that pointed out how toddler-like the heads were on anime-style hotties, all anime pornography was instantly rendered useless to me. So I can't just get off on sheer boob largesse; I require a more complete picture, if you know what I mean.

Riksa said...

I'm a new fan, who found his way over here from The Escapist. Just wanted to say that I really like your work. Good and rational insights.

"Bang! We all discovered hygiene." ...pure gold, Bob.