There’s been a trend this week in gaming: discussion of the issues that are holding the industry back, making it look juvenile, and the awfulness of videogame stories and female characters therein as a focus.
Let’s start with E3, and the return of the booth babe. There’s this article from Giant Bomb, about how, despite an amnesty in the not-too-distant past, we are back to an E3 where a game just isn’t promoted without its own squad of women to stand around the booth, and how this is in no way good for the industry. I remember during E3 podcasts from the floor someone relating how, for a demo session, they had a private booth with stripper pole and dancer in; the dancer spent the entire time sat bored at the base of the pole, as naturally the demo player was there to cover the game for their site, not to have a dance. So why bother with them? Then there’s the amazing moment that Giant Bomb got some hands on time with the 3DS - which in each case was literally tethered to a lady. I mean, seriously.
Next, we have to look at the new Tomb Raider. the E3 trailer suggested to many that this game was a non-stop rollercoaster of Hostel 2-esque female torture porn, and naturally all attention turned to interviews on the subject. From which we got these amazing soundbytes and this pitiful retraction. You can see the scene yourself in that E3 trailer: the guy attempts to force himself on a 21 year old Lara, she knees him in the privates, there is a desperate scuffle, and if the players succeeds in the QTE she kills the man. And that interview clearly points towards this as a mechanic to get male players to engage with Lara. Surely, the worst excuse ever?
And all this inevitably rolls into a final point: the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games Kickstarter, and the shitstorm that blew up around it. Here’s the project lead herself, with some of the examples of the abuse she received for daring to create the project, and you can read more yourselves. Yes, people are STILL posting comments! I can’t even begin to talk about this crap, so I’ll pass you to the esteemed Charlton Brooker to call them the man-babies he and I know they are. And then I’ll move on to the stupid, butthurt reply to the project, here.
Look, there’s a serious, stupidly large pointer on how this idea is bullshit:
The hatred of men by women: “her feminism is just poorly disguised misandry”.
Note: of men by women. So, for misandry to be present in videogames, it would have to be perpetrated by women. Now, I don’t know about you, but last time I looked, games development is pretty dude-heavy. The 3 example characters there in that video? All male designed. So, yeah, not misandry. Number two: have a gander at the pastebin document from them deciding to make it. TL;DR: “that chick is saying we are sexist. WELL SHE IS THE SEXIST”. Add a lot more stupid insults, and you get the idea. Note also: they say they will use none of the money to make the videos, just donate it to charity. In other words: fail or succeed, we’re making the video responses to her series.
Gamers, are you, we, really that sad, degenerate, whiny and loserish? Can we not admit that women in videogames are mostly dull stereotype window dressing, and instead of being butthurt and rushing to defend an entertainment medium, seek to improve it and remove the things the series is about so it is no longer applicable? As a collective, are we incapable of any reaction that doesn’t look like some godawful XBL dialogue during a CoD game? Read the words of great gaming journalist Jim Sterling, and do as he says.
Maybe not, if this is all evidence.