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Talking to women about TtWaV


Jonathan Holmes has a video coming out about once a week called Talking to Women about Videogames (TtWaV). I love it. The videos have this quirky/friendly quality right out of the box. They have a lighthearted humor to them. At first, I was just going to keep watching them because they were a pleasure to watch. But soon after the videos started, opinions started rising in the comment section. I had no idea these videos would cause such a stir. Or maybe more to the point, I didn't know that people would say exactly the things they would say.

To make sure I wasn't crazy for liking the show, I made sure I took a closer look. I analyzed the videos a little more closely and tried to figure out what made me like them so much. And I read some of the words on Jonathan's blog post that I had initially skimmed over or skipped. No offence to Jonathan or his writing, but I had only enjoyed the videos 'at first' and had not read the rest of the blog post. This was just an attempt to save time. And, of course, once I read all of the text I found that his writing was very insightful, and as pleasurable to read as his video was to watch.

After hearing some complaints about the series, I did a little experiment and showed my girlfriend. I figured she was the perfect one to talk to about TtWaV because she's a gamer and she often talks about how girls still aren't well represented in video games. The last game that she liked the females in was Gears of War 3, and I agreed with her. The problem was that we couldn't find a way for her to play as the female characters in the campaign. I think she was mad that I randomly got to play Anya when she was stuck with Marcus. It was a bummer, but at least the women were well represented. Anyhow, her reaction to TtWaV wasn't great. It was pretty neutral.

The first thing she pointed out was how excruciating it was to watch these girls talk to this douche (Jonathan's character in the video). She asked me if he was really like that, and I said no, kind of. Well - I said something like, "No, um, I mean, I don't think he is. Hmm, well, I really don't think he's really like that. I've always liked his blogs and he's only been friendly and smart as far as I can tell." Someone else did a blog talking about TtWaV and Jonathan gave the impression that he didn't know exactly if people were going to 'get it'. And at this point, after talking about it, I think me and my girlfriend fully understand and quite like the show. I'll try to just outline why we like it, and maybe why you guys should give it a shot and keep tuning in.

First, foremost, and on the top of the list of things these videos do well: They represent women favorably. Jonathan, please keep these videos going and stay consistent on this. Lots of men and women have been trying to find some sort of way to represent women 'correctly' in our media - especially in video games. I find these women to be refreshing! The very thing that the audience should look upon in awe is that these women are real. I don't know whether or not these videos are scripted, but either way the conversations come off as 'real', convincing, and genuine. I heard parts of the videos are set up before hand, but I'm sure lots of the conversation is unscripted. If not, then the interviewees have just done a good job.

Treating women with respect, despite the name of the video, is the number one reason to watch these videos and read the rest of the text underneath. The women can be described as 'the voices of reason'. They play the part of 'being reasonable' in the face of wild internet rumors, trolls, and general uproar about trivial things. These women are saying exactly what I want to say about the 3DS nubs, which happens to be mostly: "So What? What's the big deal?" Brilliant.

Also, guess what? There are pretty girls in these videos. They are pretty, and carry themselves in a respectful way. Not once did my girlfriend wince at how the girls were dressed or sigh at any of their comments. Not once did she say, "Ugh, these girls are just there to get attention." Nothing like that. I think it is an accomplishment on a higher scale than even Anthony Burch's HAWP (Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin'). Ashly seems super respectable even when she's pooping on beds, for sure. But Holmes has a whole cast of super women that we can take seriously. This is especially refreshing when three women from the videos reject any supposed value that could be taken from the viral pornstar video with Jo Garcia twiddling a pair of old controllers that were kind of taking the place of her nipples. The contrast between the Jo Garcia video and the "Gears 3 isn't perfect?" video was clear: We all get what a pretty girl is defined as in the media, but Jo Garcia's video was insulting, embarrasing, and ultimately forgettable (You should have seen my girlfriend's face when Jo Garcia took the stage). Jo Garcia lets her body define her as a person, and that's just not what most women want to be defined as. Sure, Holmes's videos show pretty girls, but 'pretty' probably isn't the point. Women pwning Jonathan with a reasonable retort to his subject matter is the point.

Some people have questioned the title of the show, saying that perhaps it should be: "Talking to people about Videogames". But I think that would miss the point and miss part of the opportunity here to talk to women that can enlighten the poor interviewer with their common sense wisdom. I would even say that these are the women that other women are looking for in the videogames themselves, not Bayonetta and, for sure, not Jo Garcia. We should encourage Jonathan to give these women a platform, not open it up to men just to be politically correct. Especially not when (let's face it), men have been the dominating force behind video game sales for years. Let me suggest it is way past time to hear what female gamers think. What better way than to pit them against the chaos of videogame fandom, news, and what used to be a mostly male dominated industry. I'm reminded of how awesome our beloved Elsa is to our Destructoid community. She would be great in one of these!

Jonathan Holmes takes center stage as the interviewer who is searching for these women. He has admitted to having these girls already waiting to be interviewed, but he searches anyway to one side in one of the running jokes in the series. There are no women to that side, but sure enough there are women on the only other side to look.

I believe that Jonathan plays the part of the media, the internet, or our public hive mind. Like I mentioned earlier, all of the controversial game news that, as gamers, we are all paying attention to - all the chaos, that's all played by him. Though I think most of us know that Jonathan isn't 'that guy', but my girlfriend didn't know at first. With the videos alone, it's hard for people to tell that Jonathan is actually not a dickhead and actually a well known and loved personality on Destructoid. Anyone with enough of an attention span can get the joke, but if I have at all convinced you to watch the videos, please read the post below it that he writes as well. Comment on the opinions and keep the show going with your attention.

Because of this duo of reasonable women against Jonathan's nonsense, a beautiful thing occurs. As gamers, we see that it isn't always common to be ranting about the little details in the industry. I'm reminded of Pach Attack on Game Trailers. Pachter doesn't know a lot of the weird details we all can get in a fuss about. His response to the 3DS crap was basically that people are crazy if they think that nubs alone will take down all of Nintendo. Even a jaded gamer like me can see these videos and chuckle at the little reminders for me not to take the industry so seriously! The voices of reason tend to say, "Take it easy, don't brush off all games without online multiplayer! That would be too bold! No need to miss out on great games accidentally!"

Also, isn't this simply just a nice way to report game industry news?

To sum this all up: There are a lot of things in these videos that are not what they seem. Holmes is not the fool he plays in the video, the girls are not there just to show their tits or GTFO, the interviewer is not the voice of reason or even a mediator, and it is a 'great' idea to talk to women - not a bad one. I hope everyone continues to 'get it' and enjoy the show for the reasons I've mentioned and perhaps for reasons I haven't. My girlfriend and I will continue to watch. And I will keep reassuring her that Jonathan is not a dick.
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About Fame Designerone of us since 7:47 PM on 01.31.2010

I've been working on developing video games for a few years now. I put up a blog on here to share what I hope will be sensible and interesting articles about game design. The "Fame Design" name came to me when I thought, "I want to be famous for only one thing: video games".

At the moment I'm developing new games in Flash. So I expect to share experiences in being an indie game developer. I often find myself wondering if I should be working in Flash, HTML5, XNA, or the iPhone/iPad SDK. Time will tell.