Thursday, July 10, 2014

Semper Invictus

Before I start this, I'd like to dedicate this article to S.R. Holliwell, the author of a well-researched and well-written set of analyses on the works of Hideo Kojima with regards to depictions of misogyny and transphobia. These articles have been stricken from the internet, I assume because she got tired of being harassed about them. If there is one person in games who should have been writing, whose works should have been getting recognition, it's her, and not people who are writing about how games need to be More Fun And Less Serious, or about how games journalism is Totally Corrupt (for the ten thousandth time).

Anyways, on to the article.


The second most-read article I've written was "How To Write Empowering Female Characters". In that article, there was an examination of the concept of "agency", as well as the greater concept of portraying characters as though they are people and not just cardboard cutouts. Pretty simple stuff. At the end I mentioned WWE wrestler "Kharma", who differed from other women in the WWE because she was presented first and foremost as an aggressive, powerful figure instead of eye candy. I mentioned that the WWE should consider hiring some female MMA fighters to add that sort of credibility and power to their women's competitions.

But I never wrote an article about female MMA fighters, and that's basically a huge oversight on my part, because essentially Women's MMA is 90% of the things that I wanted out of videogames before I gave up on them as a medium. Here's the checklist for depicting combat well:

1) Combat is realistic and meaningful.
2) Combatants dress and behave in ways that indicate they are taking things seriously.
3) Combat, and its participants, are treated with respect.

These are pretty simple rules, I think. I'm not going crazy here (at least, not with this specific set of rules). And there's games that fulfill those standards - well, a few at least. Tom Clancy's stuff was pretty consistently good about that sort of thing. Rainbow Six 3 was a respectful, realistic, intelligent shooter that easily included female characters with no major overhauls necessary. GRAW2 has the best "tough lady" faces in video games. But most of the time, games are pretty dumb about this, because games make combat to be "fun", and by being "fun" they also end up being "stupid".

Whereas, conversely, MMA in real life is a sport where people are getting punched in the head. As a result, competitors and spectators tend to take it pretty seriously. They wear practical clothing. They do their hair up so it can't get yanked around - and if they don't, they at least know there'll be repercussions. They're not there to "look good", they're there to fight. It's simple stuff. And it's basically all I wanted out of games, at least in terms of depicting characters.

So here's the funny thing about women's MMA, right: I don't have a lot to talk about. It's basically fine. Women are competing seriously. The commentators are treating them respectfully as athletes and fighters. You get cool natural moments because this is an actual fight instead of a staged event. Everything is right where it should be. I mean, the thing is, everything that happens around it is more balanced because there's that strong core of serious respect. There's women in MMA who flaunt their sex appeal, and the difference between that happening in MMA and that happening in a video game is pretty obvious too: it's a real woman doing it, under her own agency. She's not being disrespected for it. It's simple stuff. That's the thing about MMA, though - it's real. It treats fights like they're real because they are. It treats women like they're real combatants because they are.

It'd be silly to say that there are no problems in the MMA world, but compared to gaming it feels like there's a more real chance of actually undoing those problems. Yeah, Dana White is a misogynist asshole, and the entire Invicta company was founded as a way to get away from him, but hey. Martial arts is founded on principles of respect. You know what isn't? Gaming. There is no underlying expectation of respect in gaming. The only principles in gaming are "if people will buy it, make it". Anyone can throw out a "market research" explanation for depicting women in a certain way, or, failing that, they can go for the equally eye-rolling "artistic license". You don't get that shit with MMA. Fights are fights.

Of course there's still assholes who follow MMA - it's a bloodsport, after all. Of course there's still people making derogatory comments about WEAKER WOMEN. Of course there are MMA fighters who are pieces of shit. It's an inevitability. It's still an event that takes place on Planet Earth, after all. On the other hand, you have companies run by and for women - the kind of thing that would get overwhelmingly swarmed and harassed in the gaming world. You have a backbone of "this is real combat" that adds a level of objectivity to the proceedings. There's a strong core foundation of "hey, this is a serious sport" that helps solidify the community in the face of shitty human beings. Gaming would be fucking blessed if it had a single woman - fictional or non - as intense as AnnMaria De Mars. Fighting is serious fucking shit.

When people ask why Assassin's Creed won't treat women with respect, ask yourself: when did AC ever treat anything with respect? When did games ever treat anything with respect? Why are we surprised that a medium based on shallow, petty self-indulgence keeps fucking up when it comes to actual serious topics? How can they stay when they're sixty million miles away? How can they fly when they're free?

Sometimes I wish I'd started taking heroin instead of getting into videogames. It'd probably have been healthier overall.

Support Invicta FC.

25 comments:

  1. You should check out this blog:
    http://0verhyped.com/
    It's dead, though.

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  2. Thanks for dedicating this to me. I finished writing this a couple days ago. You might like it.

    http://ettugamer.com/2014/07/14/metal-gear-solid-1998/

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    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z195aCfuRSU

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    2. Also IDK if you have a Twitter account but you might find success passing your articles to high-visibility feminists like Jenn Frank, Patricia Hernandez, Cara Ellison, or Voidburger. Just be direct about what you're doing and they'll probably be happy to support you.

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    3. "you might find success passing your articles to high-visibility feminists"
      Since you already established that games do not threat anyone with respect, and threat everyone equally as shitty, dont you mean "passing your articles to Humanists"?

      I doubt Feminists are going to be any useful. Like, at all except for a few exceptions:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKgrYVtYSCk
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNsJ1DhqQ-s
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQYiSTPhz4M
      http://womenagainstfeminism.tumblr.com/

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    4. Before i forget.

      Oh hi, @Stephy Holiwell ! I am sorry that the gateway to a greater Internet population has to be dis guy/gal/thing. He/she/it fails to understand that people are bombarded constantly with idiots making hyperbolic claims, baseless assumptions, and half truths, to the point that everyone has become very skeptical about any claim against ANY medium:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNoslgGRRhA
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KA0MgAdX_k4
      http://io9.com/5985199/how-one-mans-lies-almost-destroyed-the-comics-industry

      So of course there is going to be A backlash of understandably paranoid people.

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    5. @Stephy Holiwell

      BTW, do you have an article on Metroid Other M that i could compare to this one?:
      http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/lb_i.php?lb_id=13373815860B43920100&i_id=13373815860I43921400&p=1

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    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    7. I'm sorry I am so late in responding to your comment! I was in a psych ward.

      I removed my previous comment to fix what I perceived as a syntax error.

      Anyway, hi there! If I wrote about Other M I'd have to talk about how unbalanced the mechanics are first, and that looks like it'd break a rule. I mean, for one thing, you almost never incur damage if you double-tap the D-pad or can easily twitch-play because Samus auto-dodges in Other M.

      I also say specific developers' names a lot and make them look bad. I'm sorry about that. Really!

      I say "Kojima women" a lot, but I don't wanna "take Kojima down a peg and climb the social ladder". Kojima isn't a woman-hater. He's a videogame developer, a family man, etc. I may waver in tone sometimes, and I'm sorry for that. I'll try to improve. I'm doing this alone.

      I don't want "a gateway to a greater Internet population". Popularity and validation may have been my fantasy at one time, but no longer. I would like to improve myself and the message I am sending. I plan to make these articles about Kojima's oeuvre noticeably morph as I continue to write them, and hopefully therein will be evidence of my own self-improvement. I also plan to write things other than articles like this.

      A request: Please don't call people "idiots". One of the people you seem to have used that insensitive term against is a dear friend of mine. Let's try to only say things that are nurturing and constructive. Thank you.

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  3. Glad to see you've sobered up a bit, no more rampant abuse of capital letters and similar emotional antics. This piece is actually pretty alright, except for your entire basis of argumentation.

    Quit getting mad at video games.

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    1. haha hey dude you want to talk about someone who needs to "sober up a bit" check out the dude underneath this comment

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    2. realtalk you know me pretty well (being an obsessive stalker and all) and you know that i'll basically rise to any bait, no matter how obvious it is. that's like 90% of my persona.

      how fucking crazy does a person have to be that even *i* look at their posts and go "yeah no i'll pass, thanks"

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    3. "i'll basically rise to any bait, no matter how obvious it is."
      Except on this one for no reason other than you have no actual argument (dismissing without evidence is not an argument), which is standard procedure by your people:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqG_AZX1jL0

      Also, i count this a Character Inconsistency to your E.B persona.

      "want to talk about someone who needs to "sober up a bit""
      Says the person who has an entire blog full of ramblings over the years, as opposed to the person who just made a few comments in a few days. Who do you think it needs to sober up? Or are your ramblings so incoherent that you can't even remember what you wrote, which explains why you think I need to sober up with just a few comments since you dont remember writing much or anything of substance?

      "how fucking crazy does a person have to be...."
      Apparently not too crazy since you say "i'll pass, thanks" to almost all your comments, even from your followers:
      http://exploringbelievability.blogspot.com.ar/2014/03/ludonarrative-dissonance-primer.html

      I guess Bones Sama and flack-w count as crazy too?

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    4. haha yeah that's the good shit

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    5. Hey I do agree that games are largely terrible but the thing is, they're not gonna change and if they are they're going to change with time and creativity from the smaller spaces. Angry bloggers are just kind of treated like goobers. Like, ask someone on the street who's worse, a guy who plays too many video games or a guy who never stops being mad at video games and I think they'd lean toward the latter. It seems like you've tried to educate in the past, but that just gave way to slightly above-average ranting about how everything is terrible, which it may or may not be hey whatever.

      Also, if you haven't played it yet, I'd suggest Kentucky Route Zero, I think you'd actually like it.

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    6. Actually if I was having a conversation on the street with someone and I characterized myself as a person who's sick of games being overly violent and misogynistic, I actually would get more support than a person who says that they're tired of games being disrespected. You know, because - really, I hate to break this to you - the average adult doesn't actually have a great view of video games.

      Good luck trying to explain your anime rape VNs to your parents, though!

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    7. Probably, this is because respect is earned and complaining about it doesn't help. Activism, or whatever looks like activism at any given time (even engaging in equally worthless complaining on the internet), is always going to be more respected than cries for respect because there's an inherent positive connotation to being anti-[insert something bad here].

      The notion that art effects 'society' is objectively unprovable and the claim is largely rooted entirely in fallacy. Also: what does intent matter if the end result is the same? Movies with child nudity may have a perfectly decent intent but the end result is that it'll likely draw pedophiles anyway.

      Games will become better in time or they'll drop off the face of the earth. No amount of meaningless complaining will help, or has helped. Especially with an audience as tiny as yours or mine. Note how MrBtongue, our mutual idol, mocks the nature of complaining and instead seeks to actually educate through his facade of self-aware 'tasteful, understated nerdrage'. You should take that to heart.

      Also, I don't like anime, or rape, or VNs, so I don't think anime rape VNs would be my cup of tea.

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    8. "a person who's sick of games being overly violent and misogynistic"
      Yet here you are asking not only for more violence like the one presented at MMA, but to be carried out by women punching each other in the head. Cant live without the violence eh?

      "I actually would get more support than a person who says that they're tired of games being disrespected"
      But would you get any support by saying you ALSO want games where women get punched in the head while being as real as possible? :D

      As for misogynistic, have you ever killed an endless wave of mook in ANY game? chances are that they are males. Objects that exist to be disposed off in the name of cheap thrills. I would have said that everyone is objectified and disposed equally, but the women have backstories and even names.

      As for games promoting misogyny or anything "evil" of sorts:
      http://richarddawkins.net/2014/06/bad-video-game-behavior-increases-players-moral-sensitivity-may-lead-to-pro-social-behavior-in-real-world/
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9Ju-1I1DTU&list=UUmb8hO2ilV9vRa8cilis88A
      http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130531/19495123281/researcher-tries-to-connect-violence-video-games-during-murder-trial-gets-destroyed-during-cross-examination.shtml

      When you are ready to actually argue with evidence at some point in your not properly justified life, give me a call.

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    9. "The notion that art effects 'society' is objectively unprovable and the claim is largely rooted entirely in fallacy."

      This is an interesting statement, Al. I'm going to file it next to the one where you claimed that it's impossible to objectify fictional characters.

      It's really pretty funny how much you claim to value art and games, but then at the same time you're incredibly committed to the idea that art and games don't affect people, don't change people's minds about things, don't make people feel certain ways, etc etc etc. You want "art", but you also want to say that art doesn't affect the way people live their lives. That's curious.

      Now, the thing is, a lot of people will trot out the classic "video games don't make you violent" stuff. They'll say, hey, games never made ME kill anyone in real life! But of course you wouldn't, because we live in a society with cops. So it's "objectively" impossible to prove that video games don't make you violent.

      You know what IS provable, though? The fact that you're using simulated murder as a form of entertainment. While people are suffering in the world, you are using their pain as a way to keep yourself from being bored. Now, of course, you claim to not be a fan of rape (which I assume means rape-related entertainment as well as the real act), but the fact is, you're already inured to the idea of people suffering.

      And see, the thing about women's MMA, the thing that makes me like it more than I ever liked video games, is that women's MMA is about people who feel pain, but consensually agree to compete with each other. It's a form of "violence", sure, but so is football. So is soccer. It's violence carried out with the mutual consent of the participants, and there's respect in it. Respect for combatants, respect for the sport, respect for the "art" aspect of martial arts. That's the magic of it.

      I know the word "pretentious" gets thrown around a lot at art games, but if you go by the "objective" dictionary definition, then shooters are the most pretentious games that have ever existed:

      "Attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed."

      So when a person's getting a thrill from pretending to be in a warzone, despite having never set foot on one in their life? That's pretentious. When a person's getting the visceral rush from power fantasy? That's pretentious. It's drawing pleasure from qualities that you don't have in real life. Our "society" loves strength. But it's hard to be strong in real life, because other people might be stronger. So what is there to do except go into a safe, moderated hugbox environment where you're pretty certain that everyone you face is going to be inferior to you?

      The thing about gamers, right, is that they spend so much time pretending to be "hard". But how do you cripple a gamer? How do you make a gamer so frothingly upset that they start lashing out with rape threats? How do you get a gamer to write huge, rambling posts on blogs despite nobody ever responding to them?

      You tell them, to their face, what a piece of shit they are. And all the excuses they have about "studies" and "skill-building" collapses in the face of the truth.

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    10. I never said they don't effect people, they obviously can, and have. Society, however? Zero evidence. None at all. The rare, debatable 'examples' of direct violent/sexual influence of art is often one case out of the literal billions that consume art.

      Also, you haven't answered the question, what does intent matter if the end result is the same? Say, I draw a nice naked rear end, and say I have a good artistic reason. Then I draw another naked rear end of similar quality and say it's porn. What changes, other than perception? Do you not think some kids think Saving Private Ryan is totally bad ass and gory and earns their seal of approval or whatever the fuck?

      Also; awww yeah that's the good shit.

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    11. I almost jumped out of joy but holy shit:

      "Good luck trying to explain your anime rape VNs to your parents, though!"

      Does this even necessary? You angry at mainstream gamer (or even society) yet you act exactly like them when they feel threatened. I asked this again: What the fuck happened to you? Couldn't you reread your own most read piece, The Style and Substance, and spot the difference between you at that time and now? The difference is that you write it as it is, to contemplate your ideas with no prosecuting shit, without blaming to everyone and shittalking of anyone.

      Style and Substance piece is one of the best article on character designing I ever read on general term. I use it as my very basis when creating character AND liking a character. I'm occasionaly back here to reread it and hoping for you to sober up. Instead of intellectual piece mind, what I got is yet another ranting and blaming. At least, this time there are many arguments to salvagable there. It could a lot more useful if you just learned a bit or two or humility from this man (or your past self) when writing about empowering woman.

      http://starsbeetlesandfools.blogspot.com/2013/08/writing-strong-women-part-i-how-it-all.html

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  4. "I assume because she got tired of being harassed about them."

    Harassed or "Harassed"? because those are 2 different things. And since ad revenue is not going to appear out of thin air, controversy regarding misogyny and sexism (that may or might not be there) is always the journalists best friend:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QLz0CqtMVc&list=UUyjLGp8hQObJMm4lSQccjFw

    Or she could taking her time into making the research for each topic instead of anything related to harassment: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/OccamsRazor

    "1) Combat is realistic and meaningful."

    With some liberties i presume, because if we make a fight between a man and a woman (like it might happen in a videogame if the random number generator feels that fighting the mutant, the robot, and the eldritch abomination is not hardcore enough) and we make it realistic, then i am pretty sure she is going to lose (assuming they are fighting like MMA). Real life needs lots of nerfing before being fair for anyone.

    And i am pretty sure that people will not be able to enjoy nor take this fight seriously since they will just call the police before it even starts. Its not a pretty sight when the "people are getting punched in the head" part is inflicted by a man to a woman. Its basically the defaul setting of everyone to not allow this to happen to a woman:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15491274
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5L2MBPBl3I

    Even the realistic is manufactured when you arrange conditions to ensure everything will work out fine in the end.

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    1. "3) Combat, and its participants, are treated with respect."
      With respect by the industry or the players? I am pretty sure the players are fine respecting whatever character gives them the advantage to win. That is why Storm (a mutant woman) is among Cable (a mutant man), Magneto (a mutant man, survivor of the Holocaust), and Sentinel (a robot), who are so ridiculously overpowered that fans refer to them as the "four gods". These characters have a high amount of infinite combos and exploits that completely destroy the rest of the cast. To make it even worse, there are over four-dozen characters in the game, most of whom are either near-useless in comparison or good only as assist characters.

      Why do i mention what they are after writing the names? because tend to forget (or not care) what they are, despite that 3 of them are mutants who in the context of their series (X Men) are supposed to be hated by normal people. But on games? as long they can get shit done, they will be respected regardless of who they are.

      That is more or less what games have been telling gamers during the years. So of course, they will demand others to earn the respect in the first place and not whine when shit isn't going their way, male or female:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gLDuYs8vWw&t=1m14s
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=WZfxcLMN8r0
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33yEDfU8B9k

      The only way gamers would care about who their characters are is if the gameplay changes based on something like race or gender (like an Elder Scrolls game or like in Ultima III where you can get races and 3 genders and receive bonuses accordingly). But of course, not many games do that.
      http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SlidingScaleOfGameplayAndStoryIntegration?from=Main.GameplayAndStoryintegration

      Of course, caring about its merits can backfire. Is caring about how useful a woman is in a game an act of objectification, because we dont care about her as a person but more as a tool? If that is the case then there isn't a single thing in ANY game that we dont objectify. Men, robots, entire races are measured to see what they are worth to the player in order to win the game, on the same level as we treat loot dropped from an enemy. What is the back-story of any of these people? irrelevant. It is as irrelevant as the flavor text of an unique item that doesn't describe its actual properties. If it doesn't help you win, then it may as well not be there.

      If you mean "Respect from the game INDUSTRY" now that is another thing. I am not familiar with the Rainbow Six series, but didn't it went to shit after adopting a COD style? Didn't its last game use a set piece with a woman being assaulted by a terrorist team in her house or something? I mention this because i am pretty sure the last game exist because obviously the other games sell well in the first place, including Rainbow Six 3 that had female characters. So if they sold well WITH the females included then why aren't there more of those in later games? I guess its plain laziness AND trying to cut corners to maximize profits, as usual. The same fate for Splinter Cell, for what i see:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1DjGnV5dWk&t=9m23s

      "There's women in MMA who flaunt their sex appeal, and the difference between that happening in MMA and that happening in FICTION is pretty obvious too: it's a real woman doing it, under her own agency."

      Fixed.
      -Regards from Captain Obvious.

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    2. "The only principles in gaming are "if people will buy it, make it"."

      As opposed to the MMA or anything on TV? If people watch it long enough, keep making more of that.

      "On the other hand, you have companies run by and for women - the kind of thing that would get overwhelmingly swarmed and harassed in the gaming world."

      You sure about that? http://i.imgur.com/c1qq3kk.jpg
      Because it looks like gamers want people with merits and not charlatans that cant write: https://images.encyclopediadramatica.se/c/c9/Jennifer_hepler_comparison.png

      Here is a woman that actually gets harassed but no one gives a shit. Can you guess who is it?
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhC85L3v8oE&list=UUhi4TtLzwVnMQ5xHwaxWD-g

      Wassat? it doesn't count? Why i am not surprised with your selective justice?

      Or are you just pulling the generic: "Women are not accepted in x field". Why dont you take a seat?
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-6usiN4uoA
      http://eng.kifinfo.no/c62967/nyhet/vis.html?tid=62538
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiJVJ5QRRUE
      http://www.macleans.ca/news/world/the-feminismhappiness-axis/

      "Gaming would be fucking blessed if it had a single woman - fictional or non - as intense as AnnMaria De Mars"

      Video not available in my country. Shit.

      "When did games ever treat anything with respect?"
      If they dont threat anything with respect, why would anyone make it a gender specific problem?

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    3. And on the subject of harassment and "harassment", making Sock Puppets to harass oneself and claim that it is the "Boy's Club / Status Quo" behind it counts as the latter:
      https://twitter.com/Bendilin/status/492694435885363201/photo/1

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