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Big Hed



Joined: 04 May 2006
Posts: 1607
Location: Melbourne, Australia

PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:03 am Reply with quote
I have newfound hatred for autotuning. Laughing

The matter of strong women in video games has a long way to come, I agree. Lara and Samus are the two contemporary examples of the problem that come to my head, though I'm sure there are more.

Like Zac, I think that the sign of a strong woman (in any medium) isn't merely a product of her performing more or less identically to how a man would in Narrative X, contingently discounting romantic and physiological particulars. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Robert said something to the effect of prioritizing writing a good story--the implication seeming to be that the characters could then grow organically out of it regardless of sex/gender. To me, characters thrust into that kind of environment inherently lack agency (relegating them to the status of reagents, as it were), which of course is no good. But maybe I misunderstood.

I think to claim that men and women are completely identical barring certain biological things, and applying that philosophy to storytelling, detracts from the texture of the human experience. This isn't to say that men and women aren't, broadly speaking, equally capable agents--just that in spite of being so, we often act differently. Are these differences often rooted in sexuality? Definitely--but I'd still argue the differences are a matter of varied strengths rather than weaknesses, all other things being equal. Anyway, I'll admit that teasing these differences out is a matter of great subtlety and finesse, because they aren't huge obvious things--hence I keep throwing around "differences" in such a vague way. It's also why, I think, the statement that "to write a good woman, just pretend you're writing a man" is misconceived. In fact, it frames the issue as if ideal human traits are inherently masculine. What happened to women being the fairer sex? Wink

TitanXL wrote:
If you're given the option of picking gender, then it's not really a good example to use for a good female character. Especially when, in Bioware's case, all the promotion material plastered the male version on the boxart and posters.


Exactly.

Another example in the same vein that Zac brought up--which really frustrates me because I'm normally a big fan of how they treat female characters--is Halo Reach. I think giving players the choice to play Noble Six as either sex was a mistake. They should have absolutely either locked Six in as a man, which would've been fine and dandy, or as a woman, which would've been fan-f***ing-tastic. What better storytelling platform with which to reintroduce young male gamers the notion of a true FPS heroine? And they could've easily pulled it off--they wrote Kat and Doctor Halsey very well, both in the same game!

Add: As far as costuming undermining characterization, particularly in Japanese games, goes, if it's believable-sexy (full plate suits included in this category), whatever. I think the ultra-skimpy outfits are ridiculous too, and the reason they erode any character-building efforts is because, well, why the hell wouldn't she wear more than a micro bikini when she's putting herself on the receiving end of hollow-point rounds/sharp edges/plasma bolts or what have you.

To close, even though he contradicts me, I've got to quote Principal Skinner: "It's the differences...of which there are none, that make the sameness...exceptional!"
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ikillchicken
Space CowboySpace Cowboy


Joined: 12 Feb 2007
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Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:55 am Reply with quote
To me, writing for females by pretending they're men is fine as a first step. It's a decent way to eliminate the more glaring instances of shitty and sexist writing. In the long term though, I really would like to see more than that though. This kind of thinking is ultimately a crutch. It encourages writers to pretend gender doesn't exist. It never really addresses the underlying issues with how gender is represented and long term I really do think we need to get at this. Long term I don't just want to see a world of completely gender neutral characters. I certainly want to see some characters where gender is unimportant. However, I want to see games with characters that are uniquely female too. (As well as uniquely male characters although we already have that).

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I don't disagree with your point but while Yukiko was a healer but Chie kicked monsters in the face. So there's that. Laughing

Also, Hilda from Soul Calibur IV is in full armour. (Although some of her alt costumes might not be).

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The thing is, I don't actually think games like DOA or Lollipop Chainsaw are a problem per say. If you're gonna pretty much just say "This is a game for men. It is meant to apologetically titillate" then that's okay in that isolated case. Will that alienate female players? Of course but that's okay. Not every games has to be for everyone. What absolutely, undeniably is a problem though is when this kind of thing (albeit to a relatively lesser degree) dominates the industry.

That's one of the concerns I have with where we're headed though. It seems like when something like Lollipop Chainsaw comes out it gets torn to shreds by people who want to be progressive. And hey, that's not the end of the world or anything and I applaud what those people are trying to do. I just feel like we're stamping out the most extreme cases which really isn't itself the problem and meanwhile a lot of the more subtle but also more prevalent stuff persists.

I don't know. Maybe this is just how it has to be to start us off. I think long term though what we really need is parity. There's room for the titty fighters as well just so long as the majority of stuff handles gender better.
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DmonHiro



Joined: 06 Jan 2007
Posts: 1918
Location: Romania, Bucharest

PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:36 am Reply with quote
It sounds as if Zac doesn't like moe anime... weird...
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AmpersandsUnited



Joined: 22 Mar 2012
Posts: 65

PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:57 am Reply with quote
Big Hed wrote:
In fact, it frames the issue as if ideal human traits are inherently masculine. What happened to women being the fairer sex?


funny you should mention that. It becomes a frequent topic of debate on /v/ and /co/ when the subject of female leads pops up. It reminds me of this one excellent blog post on the subject I can't find right now, but I do have a picture summary that generally says the same thing you just did on what the media thinks that femininity is bad, masculinity is good Winkhttp://oi50.tinypic.com/​3520jec.​jpg I wish I could find the guy who started the mentality trend of a woman being a woman is sexist and thwap him one.
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Big Hed



Joined: 04 May 2006
Posts: 1607
Location: Melbourne, Australia

PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 5:03 am Reply with quote
AmpersandsUnited wrote:
funny you should mention that. It becomes a frequent topic of debate on /v/ and /co/ when the subject of female leads pops up. It reminds me of this one excellent blog post on the subject I can't find right now, but I do have a picture summary that generally says the same thing you just did on what the media thinks that femininity is bad, masculinity is good Winkhttp://oi50.tinypic.com/​3520jec.​jpg I wish I could find the guy who started the mentality trend of a woman being a woman is sexist and thwap him one.


While that picture does make arguably valid points in those specific cases, I have no doubt it was designed as a double-troll. I'm a little surprised I haven't seen it on /a/. Razz
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ikillchicken
Space CowboySpace Cowboy


Joined: 12 Feb 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 7:02 am Reply with quote
AmpersandsUnited wrote:
http://oi50.tinypic.com/​3520jec.​jpg I wish I could find the guy who started the mentality trend of a woman being a woman is sexist and thwap him one.


You're absolutely right that femininity is not itself a bad thing. There are absolutely strong and feminine characters out there. That's exactly why I don't subscribe to the "just write them all like men" school of thought. That said, I can't really view this argument as anything but wildly disingenuous as it seems to carry with it the very convenient implication that actually, everything is fine. (Or at least it is in Japan). It dismisses the need for more diverse female characters and justifies the traditional portrayal of women because apparently, that's actually more progressive.

Except that's really not true at all. Not in practice anyway. While there are plenty of characters that are both strong and feminine, the idea that this represents any sort of universal or even general trend in Japan (or elsewhere) is downright laughable. Much more often than not, when a character is portrayed as feminine, it unequivocally isn't because they're progressively "embracing their femininity". To the contrary, it's just boring old adherence to convention. The same conventions that routinely churn out weak, sexist female characters.
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Parsifal24



Joined: 20 Apr 2010
Posts: 285
Location: Holland MI

PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:38 am Reply with quote
Moe and Sexism it's a sticky wicket sure disempowerment as some sort of fetish is offensive. But the definition of Moe has become so elastic that characters as deverse as Yuno Gasai and Yui Hirasawa have been included in the ISML but I guess it's a definition of terms if nothing else.
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vinamara



Joined: 30 Nov 2008
Posts: 228

PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:38 am Reply with quote
Alyx Vance is probably one of the best female character to ever grace a video game. She is strong, kicks ass but is also feminine and possess charming wit and humor.
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RogerSterling



Joined: 30 Apr 2012
Posts: 69

PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:48 am Reply with quote
NOW.... I understand why Zac loaths "fan service" & "Moe"

Moe as I've always known it since April 2009 (when I first learned the term after "K-On!" & "Haruhi"season 2) has always been about "Cuteness of Character" - Even Wikipedia agrees with me (with foot notes!) http://en.wikipedia.org/​wiki/​Moe_(slang)

On another note having spent time in the "Summer Lovin" stream argument thread - I now understand why Zac isn't a fan of "Moe" - he thinks it's sexist? or as a Male Feminist he despises certain representations of females. I discovered "Moe" shows like "K-On!" & "Haruhi" & "Index & Railgun" from place Sankaku & Anime Vice & MAL and I never saw 'Moe' as being demoralizing or protective of women?? what is that?

Moe as it's always been shown to be is described as "Traits" or attributes about an existing character. I.E. Mio Akiyama ("K-On!") is very shy and easily embarrassed about herself - that "trait" is her MOE attribute. Glasses are a "Fetish" - Twin Pig tails are a fetish. Mugi-chan being an innocent rich girl whose dream is to work at a McDonalds or play mundane board games (because "Ordinary" for normal people is Exotic & Interesting to a mega-rich girl) is her MOE attribute - it's what makes them soo CUTE! and we all know how much the Japan prize "Cuteness" in appearances

The girls teasing each other about their insecurities & cuteness is like Uber-MOE "Cute Squared" - at no point do I even see a Moe girl as being a victim or some 2nd class creature that can't function without a man- if anything I see them surprisingly UN-spoiled by the harshness of life & culture. They're optimistic, they're dreamers, & they don't hate things and rarely do they ever need a man.

You mentioned at around 38:00 minutes of the podcast that you were gonna catch crap for you're "Moe comments" - I'm only posting this because you clearly don't seem to understand what "Moe fandom" actually is. Semas Aran from "Metroid" is NOT Moe - she'd fall into the "Super-Girls" or Bad Girls phenom that happened in comics in the early mid-90's (the birth of Image, Wild Storm, Mad Cow comics) - There is NOTHING "Moe" about Lara Croft then or now. You might be confusing the 'bad girl' sexual craze of Western comics with modern Japanese "Moe". It's Not even a Gender issue. It's a "trait" not a life style.

I am a film student, I have taken feminist studies classes (and got A's)- Laura Malvey, the Male Gaze, 1st,2nd,3rd Gen Feminism - I'm schooled. These have NOTHING to do with contemporary Moe in Anime. You're mixing Western female archetypes with the idealized cuteness of Japan. Just my opinion. You knew someone was going to disagree & object - this time it's me. I really thought this whole time you understand the meaning of "Moe"- hell, they even explain it an old episode of "Pani Poni Dash"(2007) - where a girl freaks out because she realizes she has NO More Traits and fears she doesn't exist unless she finds one.

So remember when Zac mentions the term "Moe" - he means the objectification of any female that happens to have any level of Sex Appeal AND the Oppressed slavery that comes with being a fictional sex object in a MAN's Anime world. NOT the cheery Genki warm bundle of sweet adorable center of Kawaii most Otaku's associate with "Moe" - it's Bad!!

That evil Kadokowa & Kyoni forcing those poor girls in K-On! to play in a band and eat desserts all day - mad men I tell you.
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RogerSterling



Joined: 30 Apr 2012
Posts: 69

PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:52 am Reply with quote
DmonHiro wrote:
It sounds as if Zac doesn't like moe anime... weird...



Zac's a Male Feminist ....for whatever reason. And he clearly despises things he doesn't understand. Excuse me I have naked cam girls to feed. My lust puts food on some women's tables ya know!
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Beized



Joined: 12 Nov 2008
Posts: 119

PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 11:43 am Reply with quote
I think you’re missing the point, RogerSterling, even though you’ve effectively summed it up. Like you pointed out, these traits of moe, the “cuteness of character”, like being shy, or the innocent rich girl, all contribute to characters that are generally helpless, childlike, and are intended to evoke a desire to protect them, like a helpless animal. I think this is what Zac is saying he doesn’t want to permeate western video game culture, the desire to protect a helpless female character that can’t do anything without you, because that would really drag down, if not completely turn around, the progress of creating strong female characters in video games.

In series like K-ON this "desire to protect" is relatively innocuous because there are no real threats, but if you take that same kind of thing and apply it to a character like Lara Croft, who's up against real dangers, like guns, and people that want to kill her with guns, it destroys any sense of empowerment that would come from her overcoming those things, because she wouldn't be overcoming them, you would be shielding her from them.


Last edited by Beized on Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:00 pm; edited 2 times in total
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SoandSo



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 11:49 am Reply with quote
I've always been distressed by the idea that the only way to write strong female characters, or the best way to start, is to write them as "Basically as a man, but just happen to be a woman." This implies that Masculinity is the normal default for human behavior, especially idealized, heroic behavior, while Femininity is a deviation from that; an "other." It's the unspoken school of thought that leads a lot of media being split into either "Written for girls/women" or "Written for everyone else."

There are stories across the span of time starring men that tackle issues as wide as star-crossed lovers to the importance of news to the Hero's Journey to the invention of Facebook to historical epics to the importance of crowdsourcing to the combat of the pervasive effects of Racism and everything in between. But put a woman in the lead role and suddenly, it can only be about romance or shopping or rape or having a baby or overcoming cartoonish male adversity.

Obviously, the problem of poorly written women being so pervasive that this is a challenged and discussed issue to this day makes that idea clearly false, but the attitude behind it persists. If a female character is identifiably feminine, she is more often than not defined entirely by feminine issues and traits rather than just being a fully-realized person. There are stereotypical tropes of masculinity as well, droves of them, but there's also such a wide range of male characters in fiction that feel like people I actually know that the ratio feels lopsided. And so often, examples of strong female characters, touted by others, anyway, are essentially just examples of masculine traits and behaviors in the body of a women, and that's treated as the proper way to go.

Why is that? Is it accurate to even call strong personality traits inherently "masculine?" I mean, flip the coin and propose someone writes a feminine character that just happens to be a man and what do you usually end up with? A hideous, flaming stereotype. Meanwhile, I know plenty of guys in real life who don't match up with antiquated ideas of gender roles, no matter the sexuality, and yet are still good, self-actualized people. What constitutes strong "feminine" traits?

I once said I had a kinda low opinion of Paradise Kiss and the first thing someone asked me was whether I was a guy. When I said yes, they said my opinion was natural because that show is very much a "girl show." That attitude disturbs me cause it's just adding to the problem. People say the same thing about Kuragehime and I loved that show, largely for it's exploration of feminine issues. My issues with PK stemmed form the unlikeable characters, slightly-off pacing, awkward visual direction and just being kind of boring, but I understood it's points and concentration of feminine issues just fine and applaud it for that. NANA is another quite girly show that deals with a lot of the same that did it a whole lot better anyway.

The recent Lupin the Thrid spinoff, for as much of a boring, uneven dud as it was, did contain a rather interesting and kind of brilliant idea couched away in it's overly expositional cop-out finale. spoiler[Over the course of the series, it's heavily implied through numerous flashbacks that Fujiko has suffered some kind of traumatic psychological and sexual abuse in her formative childhood years by a fiendish cult run by a domineering male figure. In the end it's revealed that not only is the real culprit a young girl, so to speak, she's also the real victim of the abuse shown throughout the series and Fujiko herself was merely hypnotized recently. She was always promiscuous and murderous, and tells her oppressors, as Colony Drop put it, to go **ck themselves for presuming her admittedly undesirable character could only be borne through the sexist cliches of rape and mental damage. She is unmistakeably a woman, and yet she is not defined as being a woman...well...she kinda is, being a stereotype and all, but the point the anime is attempting to make is that she, more than just being a woman, is herself, without question and without apology. There's something a little brilliant in that.]


Perhaps the problem is a need for more female writers? The entertainment media in general could do with a vaster view of feminine issues beyond just defaulting to "rape" coughLaraCroftcough or "baby" coughOtherMcough or, my personal favorite, "rape that leads to baby." But then again, do female characters even need to address "female" issues to be strong? Is it really true that only male characters can represent the "everyman good guy" who tackles profound, universal conflicts and ideas? Why do tropes and ideas have to be split into "masculine" and "feminine"?


Last edited by SoandSo on Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Chagen46



Joined: 27 Jun 2010
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:05 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
I've always been distressed by the idea that the only way to write strong female characters, or the best way to start, is to write them as "Basically as a man, but just happen to be a woman." This implies that Masculinity is the normal default for human behavior, especially idealized, heroic behavior, while Femininity is a deviation from that; an "other." It's the unspoken school of thought that leads a lot of media being split into either "Written for girls/women" or "Written for everyone else."


It's not the best, but it's better than writing in a sexist way.

I simply follow that philosophy--I view my female characters no different than my male ones. I simply ignore gender when writing. It's much better than trying to acknowledge gender and inadvertently writing some really sexist.
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Hypeathon



Joined: 12 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:07 pm Reply with quote
I think for a female character to be compelling and well-told at all, be it in a video game or not, the story just needs to be truthfully told according to what matters specifically to the main character. Not that this is a video game example and despite me not having seen this movie yet, this is why I really like Brian McDonald's explanation on what makes the movie Norma Rae so great on his Invisible Ink Blog, which frankly it really makes me want to see the movie myself. And this just an addition to many other things about Brian McDonald about his theories on storytelling and the craft behind it that I like.
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DmonHiro



Joined: 06 Jan 2007
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Location: Romania, Bucharest

PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 1:37 pm Reply with quote
RogerSterling wrote:
NOW.... I understand why Zac loaths "fan service" & "Moe"


Really? Just now?


RogerSterling wrote:
DmonHiro wrote:
It sounds as if Zac doesn't like moe anime... weird...



Zac's a Male Feminist ....for whatever reason. And he clearly despises things he doesn't understand. Excuse me I have naked cam girls to feed. My lust puts food on some women's tables ya know!


That was a joke. Anyone listening to this podcast since episode 1 would know that Smile
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