Who am I? I'm a guy who plays video games, talks way too much about comics and movies, likes Godzilla and Robocop, and lives up in Wisconsin. And yes. We get that much snow. Why should you read my blog? Because when I write I have fun, make up bullshit lists, and when I do get a little serious with some blogs I try to be insightful and use resources and facts to try and back up my opinion as much as I can. And if you don't follow my blog, I'll send you a picture of a sad kitten who wants some love.
Also, I tend to debate a lot and get up on a soapbox a bit from time to time. I like to debate for the sake of debating and I tend to find it fun to get other peoples perspectives on things, and sometimes I like to play devil's advocate a bit just for the sake of it. Basically, don't take me so serious sometimes even if it seems like I am being serious.
Youíre all on Destructoid, Iím not going to pretend you didnít read the article Jim posted about the #1ReasonWhy thing on Twitter. If you really need a short tl;dr Iíll sum it up with ďsexism is badĒ. I had a few things I wanted to talk about in regards to the whole thing and I didnít really feel like wasting it all in the comments section of the article, so I broke it out into a blog.
Let me preface everything by saying that Iím fully aware that sexism occurs way too much in the video gaming world, and it does trouble me a great deal. Thereís a lot of hot topic views on this issue as a whole that Iím going to avoid talking about though, because thatís just a burning fire I donít want to get close to right now. There are a few side things regarding it all that I wanted to share my opinions on though.
The most Ďhot topicí thing Iím probably going to talk about is in regards to objectified women within video games. Does it bother me if a woman in a video game dresses in a blatantly sexual fashion? To be perfectly honest, not a single bit. Iím a guy, I like hot girls, sue me. I also know plenty of women it doesnít bother either, to be perfectly honest. And hey, thousands upon thousands of women wouldnít spend their own time and money to cosplay as questionably dressed characters if they were offended by said characters. I know cosplayers donít represent all females; Iím just using it as part of my point.
Honestly, I do think the issue of objectified women characters in video games is a tad overblown. The reason I think itís such a big deal is because thereís a lack of more relate-able decent female characters to balance out all of the hyper-sexualized stuff you see out there. In other words the issue isnít that thereís so much of one thing, but itís more that thereís a lack of another thing. There's too much peanut butter on the sandwich, not enough delicious grape jelly. If there was a stronger stable of good video game heroines in the industry I donít think people would have as much of an issue with some of the more Ďquestionableí stuff thatís already out there, because different strokes for different folks.
Can I play devilís advocate for a moment and suggest a potential reason for why we donít see more good female heroes out there that doesnít involve blatant sexism? When you, for example, look at all of these studios that are closing shop after a game doesnít live up to sales expectations, look at some of the losses Sony or Nintendo are putting up, or look at how physical media sales have been declining recently, perhaps studios/publishers are a bit more concerned about maintaining their current male dominated audiences instead of expanding outward? Is it a likely reason or excuse, probably not, and you could probably make a counterpoint to my question by saying that via appealing to more female audiences you could potentially have them replace other customers you have lost. Iím just throwing it out there for the sake of discussion.
Moving over to the topic of women working within the game industry, it seems like thereís a lot of discussion about why there arenít more women in the industry in general. Again for the sake of discussion, has anybody suggested that maybe a reason more women donít work in the industry is simply due to the possibility that women just have less desire to work in the gaming industry than men?†
If you arenít following me, allow me to make a comparison to a sports issue. Major League Baseball has had a steady decline in the number of African-American baseball players in the league for several years now. Nobody is suggesting that thereís a racist agenda to remove African-Americans from the game of baseball, they just acknowledge that as a whole the African-American demographic just doesnít care as much about playing baseball at a professional level compared to football or basketball. †Itís a similar train of thought for why Americans as a whole donít care much for soccer (international football) despite the fact that itís crazy popular all over the rest of the world, itís just not our thing.
This is a quote from a project director at Obsidian Entertainment. And this is the ratio before applicants are filtered out based on job qualifications.
(Props to Trev for pointing this tweet out to me)
Maybe thatís a reason why we donít see more females working in the industry, perhaps a large portion of women out there just donít have the desire to work in this industry and are pursuing other avenues that entice them more.
Now Iím not trying to deny that thereís a sexism hurdle thatís hampering womenís chances of getting into the video game industry or anything like that, please donít think otherwise. I just think we need to take a look at all of the factors that go into why more women arenít involved, not just discuss selective issues that make things look worse than they may or may not be. The irony of #1ReasonWhy is that there really is no one real reason why there arenít more women in video games.†
I also think the issues of lacking numbers in good female protagonists and the small percentage of women working in game design are linked. Itís really kind of a common sense thing the more I think about it. A good deal of people who currently work in the industry do so because they were fans of video games when they were younger. More decent female characters means more women playing video games, more women playing video games means more women get interested in the process of making video games, and Iím assuming you can bridge the rest out from there.
The final thing I want to comment about is the whole issue of people saying sexist & offensive things in comments for articles or things such as Hey Ash Whatcha Playin? To be perfectly honest this felt like a weak attempt to cherry pick things in order to gain some sympathy. Anybody who has any sort of presence on the internet at all has had bad things said about them at some point, and is aware that youíll never be able to make everybody happy. This is an issue that really has nothing to do with sexism but rather is a ďpeople are dickheads on the internet in generalĒ issue.
Itís really just ďInternet 101Ē; when someone gets to stand on the anonymous soapbox of the internet they lose any sense of accountability for their words and thus all of their personal or moral filters go out the window. Some of you might be thinking ďbut that means theyíre speaking straight from their mind/heart, doesnít that mean deep down theyíre actually a racist/sexist/horrible person?Ē No and I donít buy that a bit. Those mental filters a person has are a huge part of that personís personality and who they are, thus why nobody has the exact same moral filters. Someone talking on the internet is similar to talking to a drunk person, itís usually loaded with a bunch of stupid crap that a person would never actually say and you shouldnít take what they say to heart (unless itís positive, because optimism is good).
A person saying mean things on the internet is something that these people are just going to have to suck up and deal with. Itís something every public persona has to deal with at some point in time. Thereís effectively no way to fully police internet jerkiness without tearing down the barrier of anonymity that the internet provides, which would also take away a lot of what makes the internet a unique and amazing place. If you ask me the best way to create more female-friendly characters and get more women into playing video games is by getting more women into the industry. This isn't some Jackie Robinson type barrier where women aren't allowed into a boys only club, women already work in the industry and the door has been opened, more women just need walk through the door. This is completely my opinion but external pressure on the industry isn't going to change anything at all and change has to happen from within, both from women and men alike.