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6:24 PM on 02.07.2015

10 Bad Arguments from Pop Culture Critic apologists

The reason I titled this "10 Bad Arguments from Pop Culture Critic APOLOGISTS" instead of "10 Bad Arguments from Pop Culture CRITICS" is that, from my experience, pop culture critics don't actually make arguments. They criticize things a lot, and they tell you THAT certain things are wrong, but they never seem to get around to telling you WHY something is wrong, or, to the extent that they do, they do so by making assertions that they never bother to back up with anything.

So, as much as I'd like to address the arguments made by pop culture critics, I can't, because there are none for me to address. Even if there were, they still probably wouldn't be worth addressing, because my criticisms of those arguments would likely just go ignored by pop culture critics, who, ironically, never seem to acknowledge or address any of their own critics, except to accuse them of harassing them. Pop culture critics seem to have a habit of holding themselves to different standards than they like to hold other people.

Because I don't want to "harass" anyone, I will not be mentioning or referring to any particular real person here. Any references to a specific pop culture critic will be to a hypothetical one who I'll call Marge Simpson. Not the Marge Simpson from The Simpsons, though. That Marge Simpson is a fictional character. This is a different Marge Simpson that I made up. Which I guess makes this Marge Simpson a fictional character too, but not the same one. In fact, this Marge Simpson hates the other one for being a "problematic trope." Buzzwords!

Anyway, in no particular order, here are 10 bad arguments made by pop culture critic apologists.

#1 "Game designers have a right to create whatever they want, but Marge has the right to criticize it."

I don't disagree with this statement at all, and it would actually be a really good argument if not for one little thing. No one is actually saying the opposite. There is no one saying that it is or that it should be illegal for Marge or anyone else to criticize games. We are simply questioning her criticisms or arguing that they are invalid. So this is a straw man argument.

It'd be like if I were to claim that McDonald's food had Ebola in it, and then, when you asked me why I thought that, I responded by telling you that I have the right to say that. That would be a non-sequitur, because you weren't suggesting that I didn't have the right to say that. Of course, the one difference here is that, in this case, I actually probably don't have the right to say that. I'm guessing that McDonald's could sue me if I said that their food gave people Ebola. But, for some reason, Rockstar can't sue me for saying that their games give people misogyny, even though I have no more evidence for that claim than I have for the claim that McDonald's gives people Ebola, which, incidentally, is none at all. Maybe I have to say that McDonald's "REINFORCES" Ebola, but more on that later.

#2 "Are you seriously saying that media has NO effect on people?!"

No, I am not saying that. This is another straw man. It makes no difference whether or not media has ANY effects on people, because that is not the debate. The debate is whether or not media has the particular effects on people that you claim it does. It may be the case that media has all sorts of effects on people, but still none of the ones you claim. Going back to my McDonald's analogy, a person who disputes that McDonald's gives people Ebola wouldn't necessarily be disputing that McDonald's has ANY effect on people at all, such as making them fat. In fact, they probably wouldn't dispute that. However, proving that McDonald's has effects on people doesn't make me any closer to proving that McDonald's causes Ebola.

#3 "You can enjoy some aspects of a game while still being critical of its other aspects."

This is something I hear pop culture critics actually say themselves rather than just letting their apologists say it for them. I know I said that pop culture critics never made arguments, and I stand by that, because this isn't really an argument. Really, I don't know if a lot of the things on this list could technically be considered arguments, but the people who say them seem to think that they're arguments, and I hear them often enough, so I may as well include them and address them.

The implication that gamers have a hard time criticizing games they like is demonstrably false. Gamers criticize games all the time. For examples,

-Gamers are critical of games' character rosters. If someone's favorite character didn't show up in the latest Smash Bros, you can bet that people are going to hear about it.

-Gamers are critical of games' stories. Remember when people petitioned to have the ending of Mass Effect 3 changed?

-Gamers are critical of games' content. If your game has a preorder bonus that people feel should've been included on the disc at retail, you can be sure that gamers are going to be none too pleased.

-Gamers are critical of games' graphics. The example that comes to mind here is Revolution 60, but I don't want to say that because I don't want to be accused of being a misogynistic harasser. Or is it a harassing misogynist? Either way, think of some other game that looks like dog shit and pretend I said that.

Gamers are critical of games, in my opinion, to a fault. I actually think a lot of the criticisms that gamers have of games is unreasonable, but that's neither here nor there. The fact is that gamers have no problem criticizing games, and are often the harshest when it comes to criticizing their favorite games. Arkham City is one of my favorite games of all time, and I still can't get over the plot hole involving Talia in the Sionis Steel Mill, even though I feel like I'm the only one in the world who noticed it.

In the same way that objecting to the claim that games have a particular effect on people is not saying that games have no effects on people, rejecting a particular criticism of a game as being invalid is not saying that games are beyond criticism.

#4 "Women and minorities are underrepresented."

It's hard to be completely sure what people mean by this, because one thing pop culture critic apologists don't seem to like is follow up questions. From my experience, that's usually about the time they become hostile and start insulting you, and that's if they haven't blocked you already. So, if I'm misrepresenting what people mean when they say that women and minorities are underrepresented in media, I apologize in advance. I've tried countless times to get people to elaborate on this claim, and have been unsuccessful in doing so.

What I think they mean by this is two separate things, both of which I will address here.

The first is that people have a more difficult time relating to or enjoying a character that is not the same race or gender as themselves. I might be compelled to believe this if not for the fact that so many of the most popular characters in games(as well as in other forms of media) are not even human. If people have no problem relating to or enjoying characters such as Sonic The Hedgehog, Donkey Kong, Yoshi, Kirby, every Pokemon, Ratchet & Clank, Banjo & Kazooie, and countless other examples that I could go on naming, I see no reason to think that they would have trouble relating to or enjoying a human character who is a different race or gender than they are.

The other thing I think they mean is that there is more market demand for female and minority characters than what the industry is currently meeting. If this were true, it would be pretty easy to know. All we would have to do is see what percentage of games currently have female/minority characters, and then see what percentage those games make up of overall game sales.

So, for instance, let's say that 10% of action adventure games star female protagonists. If that 10% makes up 20% of sales of action adventure games, that would indicate that there is way more demand for action adventure games that have female protagonists than what is currently being met. While I don't have the sales numbers, I can safely assume that this isn't the case, because one thing I know about corporations is that they like money. If they had this kind of evidence that there was more demand for female protagonists, there's no conceivable reason why they wouldn't already be making more games with female protagonists.

Also, while I don't have the actual sales numbers, I can see when something is being produced less than it's being demanded. I can see this by simply going to the store and seeing if it's actually possible for me to find the thing in question. When there is greater demand for something than is being met, stores tend to sell out of that thing. If it were true that there weren't enough games with female protagonists, it would be impossible for stores to keep copies of games like Tomb Raider on their shelves. They would constantly be sold out. We're seeing this now with Amiibos. Certain Amiibos are being underproduced, and, as a result, those Amiibos are next to impossible to find.

Also, games with female protagonists would, on average, outsell games with male protagonists by a lot. If 10% of games had female protagonists and just 20% of consumers preferred female protagonists, while 90% of games did not have female protagonists and 80% of consumers did not prefer female protagonists, then the average game that had a female protagonist would sell more than twice as many copies as the average game that did not have a female protagonist. In fact, if it were true that there was all this demand for female protagonists that was being inexplicably ignored by the industry, it would not be unfathomable, and would in fact be likely, that a game like Tomb Raider would be outselling a game like Call of Duty. Obviously that isn't the case, because the claim that there is more demand for female protagonists than is being met isn't true.

#5 "Even when there are female characters, they're usually just designed to appeal to straight men."

Yes, because, if you go to a Christina Aguilera concert, the first thing you'll notice is that it's entirely straight men in the audience. Same with Madonna, or Beyonce, or Katy Perry, or Britney Spears... None of them have any female or gay male fans. It's all straight men. And every time they come out with a new Barbie or Bratz doll, it's always little boys who want them. It's never little girls. The concept of a sexy female figure is something that exclusively appeals to straight males, and there is absolutely no evidence to contrary. So I guess I have to give them this one.

#6 "About 50% of gamers are women. Game developers are ignoring half their audience."

I covered this for the most part in #4, but basically this is a misleading statistic. It's meant to lead you to believe that half the people playing games like GTA and God of War are women. This isn't the case. While true that about half of all gamers are women, that's only if you count everything that could even remotely be considered a video game. Yes, I suppose that, technically, a person who plays Farmville is a gamer in the same way that, technically, a person who reads the fortunes inside of fortune cookies is a reader. Still, we don't wonder why the latest Stephen King novel doesn't make more of an effort to appeal to fortune cookie readers.

Just because lots of women play games, that doesn't mean that lots of women play any particular game. Lots of black people listen to music. That doesn't mean that lots of black people listen to Jimmy Buffett.

#7 "No one is saying media make people sexist. We're saying that it reinforces problematic views about women."

This is another case where I try to get people to elaborate on what they mean and they never do. What is the difference between causing sexism and "reinforcing" sexism? Are you saying that games make people who are already sexist even more sexist? If so, how did you determine that? How do you measure how sexist someone is, or determine that they're more sexist after playing games than they were before playing them?

I really don't think there's any difference between saying games cause sexism and games "reinforce" sexism. I think "reinforce" is just a weaselly word that people use to say that games cause sexism without actually coming out and saying it, that way they can deny that they were saying that when called out on it. It's just a way for them to have their cake and eat it too. This is one of the reasons that I have much more respect for guys like Jack Thompson than I have for pop culture critics like Marge. At least Jack had the balls to come out and say what he really meant.

#8 "Look how common X trope is!"

I'm trying to address all of these without resorting to using words like "stupid," but for this one I think I have to make an exception. This one goes way beyond stupid. It's borderline retarded. It boggles my mind that anyone could think that this is a compelling argument, or whatever they think it is. I honestly don't know what they think.

Basically, this is where people claim that a particular thing is bad, and then they go on to talk about how common that thing is, as if that somehow proves their original claim that said thing is bad. For instance, they'll say something like, "It's bad for women to wear bikinis in games," and then they'll list a bunch of examples of games that have women wearing bikinis. It's like if I were to just declare that the color blue is bad, and then, in order to convince you of my claim, I just started naming a bunch of things that are the color blue. The sky, the ocean, blueberries, Mega Man, some cars, Blue from Blue's Clues, those dancing sharks at the Super Bowl, Captain America, Smurfs... Are you convinced that blue is bad yet?

I don't know what else to say about this one. So moving on...

#9 "This game has a sexist message, because one of the villains said something sexist."

Yes, because the moral of the story is usually conveyed through the villain's dialogue. Oh wait, no it isn't. In fact, if the villain says something, that's usually the writers' way of saying the opposite. The villain is typically wrong. That's what makes them the villain. No one reads a Fantastic 4 comic and thinks that Marvel is taking a pro-earth eating stance because Galactus tried to eat the earth in the comic. Everyone understands that the message is that eating the earth is bad, and that trying to eat the earth is what make Galactus the bad guy.

#10 "Other people who aren't you have said or done bad things. Let's talk about that instead of addressing any of your points."

This is by far the most absurd "argument" on this list, and it's also the one I hear the most often. If I'm understanding it correctly, the idea here is that, because someone may have been threatened or harassed by one of their critics, no one else can ever criticize that person without somehow being complicit in or supporting threats and harassment against them. This is ridiculous, and it goes back to something I said at the very beginning. It's yet another example of pop culture critics holding themselves to a different standard than they hold other people. Do you honestly believe that Marge would stop criticizing GTA is she found out that someone else had made a bomb threat against the developers of that game? South Park was once threatened for doing an episode that mocked Islam. Would pop culture critics say that anyone who criticizes South Park after that incident is somehow complicit or in support of the threats they received? I doubt it.

In fact, when the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists were killed recently, also for mocking Islam(go figure), I seem to recall the same pop culture critics who we're told we should lay off of because they were threatened or harassed by people, making it a point to say that they thought the Charlie Hebdo cartoons were racist. The bodies weren't even cold yet, and already the pop culture critics were pouncing on the opportunity to "pop culture criticize," which, at this point, I'm convinced is code for "be an asswipe."

While I don't believe there was anything racist about the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, the pop culture critics aren't wrong in thinking that, had the cartoons been racist, the fact that the cartoonists were killed wouldn't make them any less racist, and wouldn't make them any less open to criticism. Likewise, if Marge the pop culture critic is threatened by some anonymous dipshit online, that doesn't make her claims any less unsubstantiated, nor does it mean that I shouldn't continue to point out that they're unsubstantiated. If someone threatens Marge, that's a legal matter that she should take up with the police. It has absolutely nothing to do with me or my right to criticize her, and that remains true regardless of any hashtags I may tweet under, by the way. I defy anyone to show me a court anywhere in the first world that would convict someone as being complicit in a crime they had nothing to do with because of a hashtag they tweeted under. Even if you could find one that would, I think, if you were being reasonable, you would have to concede that it was unjust.

Even if Marge were murdered tomorrow in the most brutal way imaginable - I'm talking Noob Saibot Make A Wish brutal - that still wouldn't make anything she says any more valid, and it wouldn't make people's criticisms of her any less valid.

This concludes my '10 Most Whatever I Said The Title of this was.' Hopefully someone actually took the time to read this. If not, it was still worth writing, because, now when people make these arguments in the future, I can just link them here and refer them to the number that addresses their argument.


2:21 PM on 09.05.2014

In defense of "the hate" Part 2: Hyperbole

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about "the hate" in the video game community. Gamers are portrayed as being hateful, mean, sadistic bullies who wish death on those who don't share their opinions. Those who make this characterization of gamers often cite countless examples of hateful, mean, sadistic, bullying, death wishing comments as evidence; which, to be fair, does seem like pretty good evidence.

However, it is my contention that the vast majority of these sorts of comments, not just in the gaming community, but virtually everywhere online, are actually hyperbole, and that hyperbole is a perfectly acceptable way for someone to express themselves.

Just about everyone uses hyperbole all the time, and it's pretty much always recognized as being just that. You might hear someway say, "My wife is going to kill me if I don't remember to pick up milk on the way home," and you do not assume that that person's life is actually in any danger should they forget to pick up milk; nor do you take offense to the fact that they would even joke about something like that. For instance, you wouldn't respond to this person by saying, "Dude, you shouldn't joke about things like that. It's offensive to the families of real murder victims!" You would instead completely understand that the person only meant that their wife would be upset should they forget to pick up milk, and you would think that their saying that their wife would kill them was a perfectly fine way for them to express this sentiment.

So why is it that people, who seem perfectly capable of recognizing and understand hyperbole in most situations, suddenly fail to recognize it when someone they disagree with tells them to fall in front of a moving train? Why do they all of sudden react by saying things like, "You really want me to fall in front of a train just because I disagree with you? You're a terrible person. You literally want me to die just because I don't share your views. I'm so offended, and also morally superior to you!"? Why do people forget what hyperbole is in these situations?

The answer is that they don't. It is my belief that they do recognize the hyperbole in these situations, but are merely pretending not to understand it to villify the other person. In this case, it is actually the person claiming to take offense to the hyperbole who is being the asshole. They know that the other person doesn't actually wish any harm on them, but are pretending to think otherwise in order to make that person look bad. This is not a very nice thing to do, and, if you're someone who does do this, you should stop doing it.

This isn't a tactic that's exclusive to feminists, or Democrats, or Republicans, or Christians, or any particular group. I see people on all sides of pretty much every issue play this game. They pretend not to understand hyperbole when they think they can use it to demonize those they disagree with. Even people involved in the #GamerGate hashtag, which I largely agree with, are not above doing this. Devin Faraci, of Badass Digest, recently came under fire for saying that he has more respect for the terrorist organization, ISIS, than he has for the gamers who are being critical of Zoe Quinn. But no one actually believes that Devin Faraci genuinly thinks that gamers criticizing Quinn are literally worse than terrorists who are cutting people's heads off. Everyone understands that Faraci was using hyperbole. So let's not pretend we don't understand that.

Hyperbole is a very useful way of expressing certain ideas, sentiments, and opinions, and is an important part of language and commincation. Let's not ruin hyperbole just to portray those we dislike or disagree with as villains, or to serve our own vanity by pretending we're so much morally superior to those who have used hyperbole against us. And, if anyone still disagrees with me, please shoot yourself in the face.


5:53 PM on 09.03.2014

In defense of "the hate."

Recently, a bunch of developers supposedly signed some petition urging gamers to stop "hating." We've also been hearing a similar rhetoric from journalists for a while now. It is my belief that there is very little, if any, actual hate going on in the gaming community, and what is actually occurring is that accusations of hate are being used to disparage those who dare to challenge the narrative that's been shoved down our throats for a while now.

Most, if not all, of what's being misconstrued as "hate" is actually hyperbole, which is something I might address in more detail in a later blog depending on how this one does and if I feel like it. For now, I'd like to address the most popular example of "hate" in the gaming community as of late; the alleged death threats against Anita Sarkeesian on Twitter. This is being brought up all over the Internet as PROOF that gamers are a bunch of hateful, misogynistic, ...nerds, for some reason.... because the people who write about games for a living were all jocks in high school? But I digress.

Basically, the narrative as of late has been that Anita had just recently put out her latest video pointing out what she alleges to be misogyny in video games, and some gamer got so upset over this that he decided to threaten her life in hopes of silencing her once and for all, and we know that this was the case, because.... Refresh my memory. How do we know that this was the case again?

How exactly did we conclude that the person responsible for those Tweets was a gamer, or that their motive for sending the Tweets had anything at all to do with Anita's criticisms of video games? Where is the evidence for that? Where in the Tweets are video games or Anita's criticisms of them ever mentioned? Anita is not a video game critic. She's a pop culture critic. She has spoken out against what she alleges to be misogyny in pretty much every form of entertainment, from music, to movies, to television, to even Legos. How do we know that the person responsible for those Tweets wasn't someone from the Lego community who was upset about what Anita has said about Legos?

Or, for that matter, how do we know that the Tweets had anything to do with her work at all? The person who made the Tweets seemed to know the addresses of both Anita and her parents(I'm assuming that was the part of the text Anita blacked out in the screen cap she posted). Who's more likely to have information like that? Someone who knows of Anita from her professional life as a pop culture critic, or someone who knows her in her personal life? Why assume that the Tweets were from a gamer rather than from an obsessed ex-boyfriend of hers, or even that it was a poorly thought out prank by one of her friends? How do we know that she doesn't have a stalker? How is it, exactly, that we've eliminated every single possibility other than that it was done by a gamer because Anita criticized games?

Even if we ignore everything that I just said and conclude that it definitely was a gamer, why would that one gamer be considered to be reflective of the gaming community as a whole, or even of a significant fraction of it? How is that any different than saying that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold are representative of the gaming community because they both played Doom? LOTS of people play video games. Of course bad people are going to play them too. Maybe the person who wrote those Tweets was a gamer, but I bet they were also a fan of music and movies. Does that mean that there's a problem with hate in the music and movies communities?   read

7:45 PM on 07.30.2014

My Crazy 'Batman: Arkham Knight' Prediction That's Probably Wrong

This could potentially be a huge spoiler on the off chance that I'm right. I'm probably wrong, though. So you should read on anyway.


I think that Scarecrow is dead. I think he was eaten by Croc in the first game, and it isn't really him terrorizing Gotham in Arkham Knight. I think that someone else, possibly the Arkham Knight or whoever he/she is working for, is using Scarecrow's fear gas, and every time you see Scarecrow in the game, it's just a hallucination created by the fear gas.

My reasons for thinking this are that the Arkham games have a reputation for leading players to believe X only to reveal Y. Characters turn out to be someone other than who we think they are, and the person who ends up being the main villain usually turns out to be someone other than the person we thought was the main villain at the start of the game.

A lot of people think that the identity of the Arkham Knight will be the twist of this game, but the problem with that is that everyone is expecting it, and, at this point, people have guessed every possible candidate for being the Arkham Knight. Unless they manage to come up with something completely out of left field, like having the Arkham Knight turn out to be Alfred or something, I don't see how they can surprise by revealing who the Arkham Knight is. Just the fact that everyone is already sort of expecting the Arkham Knight's identity to be a twist sort of kills the twist. The thing that made the twists in the previous games work was that no one was expecting them before playing the games. That's why I think that the Arkham Knight is just a red herring, and the real twist is that Scarecrow has been dead this whole time.

The other reason I think this is that the Arkhamverse version of Scarecrow seems to be heavily influenced by Freddy Krueger. So why not go all out and have him be a dead guy who continues to terrorize the person he hold responsible for his death(Batman) in his nightmares. I'm not saying they make Scarecrow a ghost or anything like that. It's not actually Scarecrow doing the terrorizing, but it's never actually been Scarecrow doing anything that Scarecrow does, if you think about it. Jonathan Crane is just a guy. He poses no threat to Batman whatsoever, but the idea of Scarecrow, which is an illusion created by the fear gas, does, and, as long as the fear gas exists, there's no reason why that idea can't continue to live on and be as much of a threat to Batman as it ever was. So, while having Scarecrow turn out to be dead the whole time will probably upset a lot of Scarecrow fans, I can't think of anything more fitting for the character than to have him continue to haunt Batman from beyond the grave.   read

10:44 PM on 11.19.2013

Latest Tropes Vs. Cow Dumping is very reasonable

Cow dumps are not very comfortable to look at. Really, smelling them isn't either. I've always preferred to taste them. Just kidding. That's my idea of opening with humorous banter.

Anyway, the newest(mooest?) cow taking a dump video is out. We're finally out of the 3 part 'Cows Dumping in an Open Field' section and moving on to a new thing. Mostly, it's about the cow dumping inside a closed in area.

More than in previous videos, the cow seems to emphasize the point that it can crap on your toothbrush without crapping on everything you own, and so, therefore, it's inconceivable why you would have a problem with it crapping on your toothbrush. It seems like an attempt to nip any dumb counter arguments in the bud. Like at 0:22, where the cow explains that there's no reason why you can't brush your teeth with cow shit. In fact, cow shit is actually better for your teeth than toothpaste. The cow provides no evidence for this claim, but, as usual, if you point that out, it must be because you're an angry toothpaste lover who hates all cows. Of course, I doubt that'll cool any of the hot fingers(let's face it, you guys have very attractive fingers) just itching to yell about having cow shit on their toothbrushes. What babies.

To quote myself from my own subconscious thoughts, "Hey everyone, I'm a passive aggressive twat!"   read

11:28 PM on 06.11.2013

Nintendo's Smash Bros. 'joke' causes trouble

Nintendo caused a bit of a storm during its new Smash Bros. character reveal.

The problem arose when Wii Fit Trainer, A WOMAN, said in her character introduction trailer, "Feel the burn!" This blew up on Twitter and other social networks, as people questioned whether or not they'd just heard a joke about venereal disease.

Among those to chime in on Twitter was Jonathan Blow, who Tweeted, "I haven't done anything relevant since 2008, and I desperately need attention."

For what it's worth, I doubt that this was intended to be a joke about venereal disease. If anything, the real offensive comment is the one at the end of the trailer. "Wii Fit Trainer WEIGHS IN"? Really? Just because she's a woman, we have to bring her weight into it?

In any case, jokes about venereal disease, made intentionally or not, are embarrassing and need to go away. Forever. And the only way to do that is to apply a special cream twice daily.   read

4:47 PM on 05.18.2013

Another Blog About Gender Stuff In Games

This originally started as a reply to someone else's blog, but it started getting pretty long. So I decided to just make it into my own blog.

Game companies don't have an agenda other than that they want to make money. They design their games based on what they think will sell. If you aren't seeing the types of games that you want with the types of characters that you want, it's due to the fact that game companies don't believe that those games will sell. They could be wrong, and I'm sure they are from time to time, but, in most cases, my guess would be that they're probably right.

I personally don't feel that there is a gender problem in video games. I don't believe that anyone has made a convincing case for that. The people who assert that there is one seem to be under the impression that most female gamers want games that are more or less the same as the games that most male gamers want, only with a female lead character who dresses modestly and doesn't look like a super model. The problem is that there's no evidence that that's what most female gamers want. If there were, that game would already exist.

I think that a lot of us so-called "hardcore" gamers tend to forget that there actually are video games that aren't in the action-adventure genre and don't involve shooting things. A lot of female gamers simply don't care how Lara Croft is dressed, or whether or not the female lead in Remember Me gets to have a husband, because a lot of them are too busy playing things like Angry Birds or Bejeweled. Those are video games too, and, when people cite those statistics that nearly half of all gamers are women, they conveniently leave out that a lot of those women are playing FarmVille; not BioShock.

As for the female gamers who do like playing action-adventure games, why assume that all of them have a problem with those games in their current forms? It's really easy to look at a character like Bayonetta or Juliet from Lollipop Chainsaw and conclude that those characters appeal exclusively to straight men, and that women must either not like them at all, or would at least like them more if they'd put some clothes on.

But look at Britney Spears. Britney Spears looks and dresses like she's something straight out of some 14 year old boy's wet dream. Yet, if you look at her fan base, most of her fans are women and gay men. So there's obviously something about the image of an attractive woman who dresses provocatively that is capable of appealing to more than just straight men. This, by the way, is the point that I'm most interested in hearing feminists, or just anyone who thinks sexism is a problem in games, address. How do you rationalize claiming that the idea of a sexy woman in skimpy outfits only appeals to straight men when that claim is demonstrably untrue, as we have multiple examples, most notably in music, of that image appealing to women and gay men?

It's also not really fair to make the assumption that, just because someone is a female gamer, they would prefer to play as a female character. They may not care one way or the other. They could also prefer playing as a male character. There are plenty of male gamers who will tell you that they prefer playing as female characters. Why couldn't the opposite be true?

I can understand the frustration of the people who do want games with female protagonists who possess characteristics that are different from the ones commonly seen in female characters in games today. However, that's no different than the frustration you would feel if not a lot of stores carried your favorite kind of ice cream due to the fact that it wasn't a very popular flavor. It doesn't mean that there's a gender problem, or that what female gamers want is being ignored, or that game developers think women should be locked up in Josef Fritzl's basement(Don't bother looking up that reference if you don't get it. You'll be disturbed for days).

It just means that you happen to like something that isn't very popular, and therefore isn't in very high demand, and therefore isn't as likely to be produced. And that sucks, but it doesn't mean that anyone is doing anything wrong. It's just an unfortunate part of life. We all have things that we like that aren't very popular and aren't likely to ever be made. I, for one, would like a Batman game called "Barkham Asylum", where the entire game takes place in a dog pound for the criminally insane, and all of the Batman characters are replaced with anthropomorphic dogs. Even Catwoman would be a dog. Unfortunately, I'm guessing that game isn't in very high demand, and, even if they did make it, all the dogs would probably be dressed like skanks. So I know how you feel. However, that doesn't change the fact that there is no sexism problem in gaming.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I look forward to hearing how wrong I am in the comments.   read

6:44 PM on 03.14.2013

Siblings Before Prostitutes

In light of the whole controversy surrounding the "Bros Before Hos" trophy in the recently released God of War: Ascension, I thought that I would share my thoughts on the whole situation.

First of all, let me start by saying that I think both sides are partially correct, even though the only time you'll ever hear me agreeing with one of the sides is when I'm conveniently trying to pass myself off as a person who can understand where both sides are coming from. You see, I'm taking the moderate position on this issue. This means that I'm being reasonable, because, as everybody knows, the moderate position on any given issue is inherently the most reasonable one, for reasons that no one has ever bothered to explain.

When I first became aware of the despicable, misogynistic trophy in question, I was absolutely appalled. As a man who is able to overly empathize with women, thus proving how not sexist I am, I'm being completely sincere when I say that seeing that trophy made me understand what it's like for women who struggle with breast cancer.

And, to those of you arguing that this trophy is not misogynistic(How nice of you to take time away from beating your wives in order to share your views with us, by the way), please don't be ridiculous. What else could a trophy called "Bros Before Hos" mean other than a statement by the game's creators that 100% of all women are literally prostitutes? Are you actually going to argue that words are sometimes used to mean things other than their original literal meaning? Don't be stupid. That never happens. That's why, whenever rappers say that they're pimpin', they're immediately arrested for confessing to committing a sex crime.

But, for the sake of argument, let's just go with the ridiculous premise that, by using the word "ho" in their trophy, Sony Santa Monica Studios weren't calling all women prostitutes. So what? They were still being insensitive to women. As the self appointed spokesperson for all women, I can say with absolute certainty that seeing the word "ho" in any context is offensive to every woman on the planet.

I'm glad that Sony Santa Monica Studios did the right thing and changed the trophy to "Bros Before Foes." That name is actually better, and so that's all that should matter. There's no reason for either side to be bothered by this change since this in no way creates a precedent for developers to be bullied into changing the content of their games every time someone is offended, nor is there any chance that a developer may ever be pressured into compromising their game in a way that takes away from its overall quality for the sake of not offending someone. So there's nothing to worry about.

The real issue here has to do with the gaming community. I think it's sad that the issue of sexism in games can't be talked about without the gaming community shouting down anyone who tries to start a dialogue about the possibility of sexism existing in games. Just look at Anita Sarkeesian, for example. All she did was try to create a dialogue with her video that had comments and ratings disabled, and she's immediately shouted down by the fact that some people have the nerve to not agree with her. Many of them have even been rude and insulting, which is the same as shouting her down, since, as we all know, receiving rude and insulting comments prevents you from being able to express your views and opinions. That's why no one has ever been able to use the Internet to express any point of view or opinion whatsoever.

In order for us to have a true dialogue on the issue of sexism in gaming, we all have to be willing to come together and allow one side to completely dictate what the dialogue should be. We have to stop debating whether or not sexism in games is a problem, and instead focus on debating whether it's a major problem or a really major problem. Also, we have to stop with the personal attacks on the character of anyone we disagree with, you sexist, misogynistic, pigs.   read

7:41 PM on 06.15.2012

Words I Typed About Tomb Raider

I've never been a big Tomb Raider fan. In fact, I don't think that I've played Tomb Raider since the PS1 games, and, even then, it was never for more than a few minutes. So it should come as no surprise that I haven't really been keeping up with all of the latest news about the upcoming Tomb Raider game. I watched the original trailer that was released for it, and thought that it was interesting that they seemed to be taking the series in a new direction, but I haven't been keeping up with it much since.

That is, of course, until this year's big E3 reveal, where they announced that the game was going to be sexist. Not being a fan of the game, I didn't actually realize that that's what they were announcing. All I saw was a new trailer for the game. It wasn't until several days later that a bunch of angry people on the Internet explained to me that the trailer was about how the game was sexist now, and they were even nice enough to explain it to me without my asking or wanting them to do.

This actually sparked my interest in the game. Could the game that so many people grew up masturbating to really be sexist now? And, if so, how? Is Lara now only getting paid a fraction of what Nathan Drake makes for starring in a similar game? Is there a controversial scene in the game where Lara gets a stupid Barbie toy with her McDonald's Happy Meal, while her brother gets a much cooler Hot Wheels toy? Is no one forced to pay for Lara's birth control?

It turns out that it's something much worse than all of those. They've made Lara Croft weak. The once strong, positive female role model who millions of girls weren't allowed to leave the house looking like has now been reduced to some dainty damsel in distress who can't even properly aim a bow and arrow without apologizing to the innocent creature she's about to brutally murder with it. At one point, Lara even declares how she hates tombs, presumably because tombs have no mirrors for her to powder her nose in.

Of course, not everyone is offended by this new, blatantly sexist take on Lara Croft, and that's okay. Everybody is right and wrong in this situation. It's all a matter of perspective. The people who aren't offended are simply looking at it from the perspective of people who hate women. And that's fine. Like I said, no one is right or wrong here. Or did I say that everyone is right and wrong? I don't remember. All I know is that either everyone or no one is right and wrong.

Still, it's not unreasonable to ask that those who don't think that women should be treated as equals understand where the other side is coming from. Try putting yourself in their shoes. The ones that you won't allow them to wear because you think that all women should be barefoot and pregnant while standing in the kitchen. It won't kill you to look at somebody else's point of view. It doesn't mean that you have to agree with them, or that you have to renounce your belief that Rihanna was asking for it.

If you'll take the time to examine the game from the perspective of those who are offended by it, I think that you'll find that their point of view, while seemingly retarded at first, second, and ninety-fifth glance, actually makes a lot of sense.

All of this Tomb Raider controversy starts making perfect sense once you realize that the people who are offended are total bad asses. Only then can you begin to process statements like, "I like to project myself onto the character, and you made her weak." Yes, because the average gamer is so much tougher than Lara Croft is portrayed as being in this game. That's why they aren't impressed by seeing a woman heroically fend off an attacker before wrestling his gun away from him and shooting him in the head. They do that all the time. Hell, they did it this morning, but you don't see them starring in a video game about it like some kind of drama queen.

They need a protagonist who they can relate to. Someone like Batman in Arkham City. Most gamers play Arkham City and think, "I can really relate to this game. This is exactly the way that I usually single handedly take down gangs of murderous thugs in real life." That is, of course, when they aren't too busy ripping an elephant man's brain out with their bear hands. And, yes, I did mean to say bear hands. That's because these gamers are so tough that their hands are actually much more bear-like than they are human. They're the demographic that Kinect appeals to, because their bear hands are too misshapen to hold a controller. So it's understandable why they'd be offended by a weak protagonist like Lara Croft, who has a difficult time even handling a simple task like overcoming overwhelming odds stacked against her. That's why it's not unreasonable for them to be mad over basically nothing, and to dismiss this game before even having given it a chance.   read

2:51 AM on 02.03.2012

Plight of the Mega Man Fan

Ever since Capcom's recent announcement that Mega Man and Pac-Man would be joining the already impressive roster of characters in Street Fighter X Tekken, Mega Man fans have been irate. You might think that they'd be happy, as the surprise inclusion of Mega Man in Street Fighter X Tekken would seemingly make up for his absence in both Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. But you'd be thinking wrong.

You see, while Capcom's inclusion of Mega Man may seem like a gesture of good will towards fans to those of us who aren't crazy, a few sharp tacks out there have managed to see the truth behind Capcom's actions. They've grown wise to the fact that this was not intended as a gift to Mega Man fans, but rather as a blatant attack on them.

For you see, the Mega Man that Capcom has chosen to include in Street Fighter X Tekken is not the particular version of the character that fans wanted, but is instead a different version of the same character. What the fuck, Capcom?! How can you do this to Mega Man fans after how loyal they've been to you? They've stood by you through your most difficult times. They were the ones there for you when you were getting those death threats for cancelling Mega Man Legends 3. Sure, they were the ones sending the death threats, but the point is that they were there.

Even if you're not a Mega Fan(as Mega Man fans are commonly referred to by me just now), surely you can relate to the Hell that they must be going through. We've all been through similar situations at some point or another. We all know what it's like to have a friend go out of their way to get us a Starbucks latte, only to find out that they got us caramel when they know we like chocolate! We all know what it's like to start up our copy of Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the first time only to find that, to our horror, they used the Twilight Princess Link when we wanted Wind Waker! We all know what it's like to have to smash said copy of Super Smash Bros. Brawl into pieces in a fit of rage, only to feel stupid later when we find out that Wind Waker Link actually was in the game as an unlockable character!

Well I for one am tired of being made to feel stupid! It's time we stood up to bullies like Capcom and let them know that we aren't going to take it anymore. It's time we threw that latte right back in Capcom's face, and told them that they'd better go back to Starbucks and get us chocolate Mega Man like we asked for! (I mean this figuratively, of course. Mega Man fans might hang themselves if they made Mega Man a black guy.)

Because, if we don't take a stand against this sort of thing now, then where does it all end? Mario Kart with blue Yoshi instead of green? Soul Calibur with skimpy outfits that are pushing it instead of skimpy outfits that are going too far? Glover with memorable parts instead of referrences that escape me at the moment?!!

We have to take a stand here and now. This is where we draw our line in the sand. It's time that we told Capcom that we aren't going to support Street Fighter X Tekken under any circumstances. Unless Blanka is in the game. In that case, you're on your own, Mega Man fans. Blanka is way better than Mega Man. He's like a combination of The Hulk and Donnie from the Wild Thornberrys. Plus he can make electricity. None of the other characters can do that. You don't count, guy from Infamous. I don't get why you're even in the game.   read

9:39 PM on 01.30.2012

Feel Free To Pirate This

I just got through watching the latest Jimquisition about piracy, where Jim Sterling argues that the problem is publishers not making their content available in a way that is convenient for consumers. While I agree that this is part of the problem, as Jim made evident by pointing out that piracy has gone down in instances where it's become more convenient for people to purchase content, I still don't believe that this is the main issue.

While it may be the case that a lot of people pirate content because of convenience, I would guess that a lot more people pirate content because they want to have that content without having to pay for it. So why not just give it to them? No, I'm not some crazy hippy who thinks that we should do away with currency and that everything should be free. I just don't think that things have to always be done the same way through out all of eternity. Just because we've always done something one way doesn't mean that that's the only way of doing it, or that it's even the best way of doing it. It may have been the best way of doing it at one point in time, but things change.

Perhaps there is another way for artists to make money off of their content besides making the consumer pay for it. So I thought I'd share an idea I've had for a while now. I'm probably not the first one to think of it. In fact, I know I'm not, because the pirates have already been doing it for a years now. It's just that it's not an idea that doesn't seem to get brought up very often when discussing the issue of piracy, and I think that it should be.

Is there any reason why artists can't make money the way that most blogs and other sites do? Why can't they just make their content available for free on their own sites, and then make money selling ad space. The more popular their material is, the more hits their site will get, and the more money they'll make selling ad space. This would eliminate the need for a middle man entirely. The artists themselves would be the first place to get their material, and it would be free. So there'd be no reason for people to go anywhere else for their content.

This is basically what South Park does already. You can go to South Park's website and watch pretty much any episode of South Park you want at any time you want. Why couldn't this work for other things. It seems like this would be a much simpler and more affective way of dealing with the piracy problem, and no one would have to go to prison for 50 years.

It may be the case that someone else could come up with a much better solution than this, and it may also be the case that there are some major flaws in this idea that I hadn't even considered. Perhaps this idea wouldn't work at all. The point is that it's time to start considering new things. If you decide that X has to be the answer no matter what, you eliminate a lot of other possibilities from the equation.

Even if my idea isn't the answer, we know that passing bills like SOPA and PIPA(and whatever variations of those bill that we can inevitably look forward to down the road) aren't the answer, and we know that locking up the owners of websites like Megaupload isn't the answer. We know this because we can look and see how other cultural issues that the government has declared war on have worked out. I'm pretty sure that drugs and poverty are still a problem. So why should we expect the government's war on piracy to turn out any differently?

All you're going to accomplish by passing harsher laws against piracy is that you'll get some 15 year old girl to think twice about uploading the latest Lady Gaga video to her Youtube channel, and you might convince some guy who works at a movie theater to not record the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises on his phone and put it on his blog.

You aren't going to stop the people who are actually making a living off of pirating copyrighted material. They have an invested interest in continuing what they're doing, and they aren't going to give up that easily. They're just going to come up with newer and more creative ways of getting around the laws. Which is kind of sad when you consider the fact that the pirates are actually more creative when in comes to finding alternative solutions than the people who are supposed to be selling the content legitimately.

By making it so that the pirates no longer have to compete with that 15 year old girl's Youtube channel or that guy from the movie theater's blog in terms of distributing free content, you're just sending more traffic their way, and helping them make even more money pirating content illegally. Which, in turn, just gives them even more incentive to keep doing it.

Is it really so much to ask that the people who sell creativity for a living be more creative than threatening people with lawsuits and prison sentences when it comes to solving their problems? Because, as it stands now, it seems like the pirates are more creative than the people who legally hold the rights to the copyrighted material in question. So you could actually make the argument that the pirates deserve to profit off of it more. Maybe the pirates should try passing a bill that goes after copyright holders for taking away their business.   read

2:12 PM on 01.19.2012

SOPAking retarded

I'm bored; so I figured I'd write a blog about my thoughts on how SOPA will turn out. Warning, possible spoilers lie ahead.

SOPA won't pass, because too many people are against it since it allows the government to do X, Y, and Z. That's way too much power for them to ask for all at once. However, at some point in the future, someone will propose a watered down version of SOPA that will only allow the government to only do X. People will be less resistant to this bill, as it will seem less scary, and people will buy into the propaganda that piracy is a major problem and that only government regulation can stop it. This version will end up passing.

Then some time will pass, and the government will have failed to stop online piracy(like it fails at everything), and we'll be told that they can't win the war on piracy with just X; they need to be able to do Y. People will think, "Well they can already do X. What's the harm in letting them do Y?" So they'll end up getting the power to do Y.

Then some more time will pass, and the government will still have failed to stop online piracy. So they'll tell us that they can't stop it with just X and Y, they need to be able to do Z. People will think, "Well they can already do X and Y. What's the harm in letting them do Z?" Then they'll end up getting the power to do Z, meaning they'll have eventually gotten everything they wanted to get with SOPA anyway.

Then some more time will pass. Piracy will be as rampant as ever, and somehow the free market will be blamed for it. By that time, the government will be using its authority to do X, Y, and Z for things that have absolutely nothing to do with piracy. Some people will argue that we need to get back to the "good old days" when the government only did X and Y, and others will say that X, Y, and Z can work if they just had more funding. Someone will question whether or not the government should even have the authority to do X, Y, and Z in the first place, and they'll be called an "extremist", since, by that time, most people won't be old enough to remember the government not having that authority, and they'll have been fed a bunch of horse shit about how the sky would come crumbling down and we'd all die if the government didn't do X, Y, and Z.   read

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