Updated as of 26/08/2010 – please leave a comment and a link if you think an article deserves to be linked here.
There has been such a massive response to the previous post, and there have been a flurry of relevant posts and podcasts. Most of them were not response to my post at all, but I think many are worth a read or a listen, but please let me know if there is a particularly relevant article I missed. I am planning some posts on questions that came up in the responses to the original post, but if you have any specific questions or anything you want me to write about in more detail, please drop me an email. These are mainly pro-feminist links, but if you have a well reasoned ‘opposite’ viewpoint that doesn’t resort to hitting every note on the feminist bingo card, I will happily add it to the list.
I’m generally looking for articles that go a little bit beyond the obvious ‘I’m a girl and I can game and it’s bad to discriminate against women or stereotype them’ type posts.
I do think the gaming culture has come a long way, but there is still a little way to go to get things to be a lot more equal. Also, this image confuses me. I’m not sure whether it’s great for showing that girls are powerful too, or horrendous for basically being fanservice. I’m inclined to lean towards the latter, sadly.
- Gender Roles In Gaming @The Lazy Sniper
So I suppose the personal does remain political. But I do know that come what may, I will not simply erase myself from the world of fantasy. I didn’t come this far to simply retreat at the first sign of difficulty or bigotry.
- Problematically in the Voice of a Night Elf Female @The Border House
I felt a brief stab of guilt. My refusal to hide my cheeks, or wear a shirt to cover any of my Avatars cleavage may contribute to the acceptance of this negative attitude, especially since I am a female, and I have found that anything that is sexually female charged becomes more layered with intent if you’re a real girl.
- A Bit Too Much Cheek @Pugnacious Priest
The Obscurity made a return this week in the form of Gender Bias in videogames. We got a huge response on the topic, and covered it at some length. We’d also like to thank Kim Baker, Education Liason Manger of Blitz Games Studio for talking to us for the show.
- Episode 12 @The ObscureCast (Also worth checking out Episode 11, the one I appeared on)
As ever, I’m not saying that Blizzard are the bad guys from a Joss Whedon show, I’m not saying that they sit around cackling, rubbing their hands, and devising new ways to be mildly sexist because they hates teh wimminz. It’s just that for all the gender-equality you get in character creation, Blizzard’s conception of a Warrior, or a Warlock, or … well pretty much anything except a healing spec really … defaults to male.
- Girls, Girls, Girls @Righteous Orbs (This post pretty much inspired mine)
Their looks (quite traditionally RPG ‘sexy’) were largely defined by the game’s artists. Their role in the games (as defined by the gameplay) was to be rescued (more or less), hang around in the dark tower, bicker with the other inhabitants and occasionally give the player rewards and secret bonus sex scenes. Making them into interesting characters fell to me and I decided that the best tactic was to make them fun, knowing, twisted, quirky, amusingly bitchy and each with their own gravitation towards the more fun side of fantasy evil.
- Interview: Rhianna Pratchett, Narrative Designer @The Border House
Games with female leads don’t sell. At least that’s what Activision believes, looking at top software sellers in any given year for evidence and choosing only projects that go with the trend, sources claim.
- In-Depth: No Female Heroes At Activision? @Gamasutra
So taking the above there there is no reason within the universe as defined that females shouldn’t be at the same level as males. They can hit as hard, heal as hard, melt faces with equal vim and vigour, bash metal into armour with the best of them, craft potions and so on. It is a universe where there is true equality of potential, there is no reason within the universe that males and females should not be equally represented at the top table.
- Equal Opportunity Mob Killing @Paw Prints at the Portal
We talk quite a bit about mages here, but the “feminism” aspect has been pretty quiet. It occurs to me that a lot of people reading this may be coming to the blog solely for the mage aspect, and yet some people don’t seem to get why we say “feminist” in the blog description. A lot of the flak we get for promoting ourselves as feminist is the same flak any person gets for saying that f-word, but I’ll take a few moments to go over basic tenets and terminology, dispel some misconceptions, and talk about how feminism interacts with WoW.
- Enough about fire, let’s talk about the “Empowered” bit @Empowered Fire
Whenever those questions are brought up, I hesitate a bit. I can’t rid myself of the feeling that if we talk about perceived differences between male and female players, in the “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” tradition, you’ll easily enter the land of stereotypes. The more you talk about them, the stronger they grow. Eventually they’ll have such an impact on our mindset that we start to hold them for truth, imprisoning women and men into tiny boxes they can’t easily escape. We get boob trapped.
- Musing over boobs and my liberating lack thereof @Pink Pigtail Inn
Of course, this doesn’t mean that there might not be elements in a game. Obviously Castronova’s work dealing with economies of MMOs is measuring something that actually happens in our games. Game creators also do have their own agendas, and they might use the medium of games to encourage people to support their worldview, just as an author might write an essay to persuade the reader.
- Games as a Mirror @Psychochild
But I do think the focus was in the wrong place here. I don’t need women to be in the Victory statue – because I’m in my own Victory statue. I was there for the Lich King kill – I’m a Kingslayer. I was there for the screenshots of my guild killing the bosses in ICC to get there. I don’t need a statue to tell me that I’m victorious – I have the titles, the loot and the achievements (and soon Val’anyr) to speak for me. That should be fulfilling enough. Why do we need an NPC, not even with a player behind the character to validate what we do?
- It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s Azeroth @Stories of O
Episode 3 now available, titled…If You Were a Hot Dog. Good Times! Now with our first ever girl on girl segment…get your minds out of the gutter folks! (Pewter says: Xia makes a great point about female sexuality.)
- Episode 2 @The Sundering Podcast
It’s not a one way street. Creators have responsibilities to their readers and should not abuse them in the name of art, because they can have long-lasting effects throughout the entire span of the work. While each person approaches a work of art in a different way, and each work differs from medium to medium, I can think of a few principles creators should keep in mind.
- Creator Responsibilities @MMO misanthrope (in response to Psychochild)
It also quotes former employees of development studio Treyarch who assert that the forthcoming action adventure True Crime: Hong Kong, was originally an entirely different game entitled Black Lotus about an Asian female assassin. “Activision gave us specific direction to lose the chick,” a source on the project tells the site. True Crime: Hong Kong has a male lead.
Activision and the problem with women @The Guardian Technology Blog
As a rule, my co-workers in the computer gaming industry are over 90% male. At Kerberos, my co-workers are also extremely nice, the sort of men who have no “issues” or hostility toward women in general. In fact, they have a certain amount of subconscious resistance toward the idea of harming a woman. Without me there to push them? I don’t think the idea of making a “dead girl” prop would ever have occurred to them.
- Gamazon: Dead Girls Have More Fun @Gamasutra
No, World of Warcraft isn’t intended to be an after school special, but I don’t know any gamers who would consider it to be mindless entertainment, either. This isn’t Tetris. This has a STORY, and that story is the backbone of why the game is so popular. Even people who don’t leap feverishly on every new bit of lore know who Arthas is. How could you not, unless you skipped most of the questlines in WotLK?
- World of Womancraft @Tami Moore (Very good response!)
You may think it’s hypocritical of me, seeing the art and fiction on this site. But those are my choice. And it’s supposed to be an ironic juxtaposition of “come-hither” sexuality used by a dead person. But a lot of you, and I hate to point my finger at men but most of you are, don’t get that. I can see the confusion – look at the art on the Blizzard site for female blood elf death knights sometime. The one I found looked alive, was on all fours, had breasts the size of her head, and was wearing painted-on black leather. And this is the only model I’m given on how I should act.
Feminism from a Post-Vitalist Perspective @Deathgrip My Heart
I don’t know what the ratio of men to women is in WoW, but it’s not that impressive anymore. The millions of blogs with the tagline “WoW from a girl gamer’s perspective” make me smile. There are corners in WoW where women are uncommon: hardcore pvp, high end raiding, auction playing, serious tanking. I have a lot of admiration for those women who dare tread in waters they’re not expected to be seen in.
- Refuting Accusations Made Towards My Feminist Side @The Bossy Pally
If WoW is to change you’ll have to change the overall view on women, sex and gender in our society. It’s all in the bigger picture – how women are portrayed, what expectations society have on them, what choices both women and men have to express themselves. The chains of stereotypes and fixed patterns have ruled us for a very long time. Solve it in real life and I’m pretty sure the gaming business will follow. We’re talking about a change of mentality here. Big stuff.
- My survival tactics in a Sterotyped World @The Pink Pigtail Inn (she also did a follow up in a similar tone to The Bossy Pally, and you can read it here.)
If you make it to officer or GM in your guild, you can make sure the women get treated fairly or tell the bigmouth, sexist trialist in your guildchat just how happy you are to end his misery. Whatever rank or position you hold, inside and outside of the game, don’t accept discrimination. That doesn’t mean you cannot laugh about a silly joke.
- So what’s the conclusion? @ Raging Monkeys
Nothing in life is free. A position of power and privilege had drawbacks, but those drawbacks do not change the fact that it is still a position of power and privilege. I can’t help but feel that a lot of people seem to have interpreted what I saw as a post about ways in which discrimination against women has negative consequences for men as a post about ways in which men are disadvantaged relative to women.
- Menz Again: a follow up post @ Righteous Orbs
All of that to say that even in a genre like science-fiction, it’s always the men who are the “strong” ones, the ones who kick ass and take names and even though they have HELP from the women, the women are ultimately weaker than they are. Or at least, that’s my (very basic) reading of gender roles. So if a woman wants to be helpful, useful in this game, she won’t roll a tank (IMHO). She’ll roll a hybrid and be okay with DPS and healing, but the tanking is “for the men”. In my opinion, based on gender roles in our pop culture. And WoW is definitely part of pop culture.
- Being a Woman Who Raids @ Kurn’s Corner
As Kurn said…Abslolutely. We aren’t. We get more shit about “drama” and wining drops when we’re “not really part of the team”, and how much we contribute – much more than any man I’ve ever seen. If you are a guy, you have no clue how hard it is for a woman to work her way into a respected raid position. Every bit of gear, every movement in a fight, every mistake, every wipe that might have been her fault, every drop a Real Guy didn’t win…are all things she needs to get past to succeed. We are not – with few exceptions – taken the least bit seriously. We fight for that part.
- Why I Heal @ Ecclesiastical Discipline
The question then becomes whether privilege is also part of WoW. Of course it is! The people who make it have the Venn diagram of “-isms” as an ingrained part of their upbringing. So, too, do the players. As my old professor would say, “anyone who grew up in a racist society -is- racist, no matter the color of their skin.” Therefore, because people who grew up in a sexist/racist/heteronormative society have created WoW, the game must be expected to contain traces of those traits. It is then up to the people who interact with WoW (creators and players both) to go about rooting out those traces, just as they would with any other aspect of their lives.
- Business and Privilege @ Moar HPS!
As a third (I think I am third) wave feminist, I am really quite ecstatic to see feminism taken to the next level, not just women yelling into the darkness that they exist in a man’s world (vote gaining, bra burning etc, the “militant” type), not just women having being heard coming to grips with and embracing their own femininity yet not having that compromise their cause (mothers with a career, enjoying “feminine” hobbies and jobs etc which is where most people are right now) but understanding how men are marginalised in the same way women are, but for different reasons, of course and how feminism (as an idea and a process of identifying endemic sexism) can be applied to help men as well!
- Sexism and Computer Games and… WOW WTF?!? @ Non Elitist Raiding Diary