Greedy Goblin

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Representation of women in MMOs

The feminist plague is upon the gaming community once again, this time against cosplayers.

I mentioned many times that I don’t like feminists, because they don’t see that the “Devil is sexist”, aka the problem source is overall horrible and sexism is its smallest issue and fixing the sexism wouldn’t make the problem significantly smaller.

So the countless feminist writers (read the Tobold article for links) are upset that women are put to display in costumes that show lot of female skin. These costumes are modeled after in-game characters who are similarly dressed, despite their job would need armor, and their male colleagues indeed wear body armor.

To see the solution, imagine that you are really a male warrior, preparing for a battle against the undead. You can die in this battle and the undead hordes can break through, run over your land, killing everyone you knew and rising them as mindless undead slaves of the evil necromancers. Would you, the young, heterosexual male prefer a young, attractive female warrior next to you to wear something really sexy? Or would you prefer her wearing proper armor so she can actually fight next to you?

Forget the rights and respect and personality of women, care only for your own needs and wishes. Who would you prefer on your side marching against the skeletal horrors? A babe wearing heels, make-up and string bikini or a muscular, scarred, barbarian woman who obviously never heard the term “hair styling” but swings a pair of large axes like they were feathers?

The problem with the MMO games is that you are not roleplaying a warrior facing the undead hordes, fighting for the survival of himself and all he loves, even if the lore says so. You are roleplaying a spoiled punk who is in perfect safety from losses and will get rewards just for showing up, regardless of his performance. The undead horde is no danger to you, so the battle capabilities of your female comrades are irrelevant.

Why were losses removed from MMOs? To make them “fun”. However by doing so, objectives were removed or made trivial. Objectives are inclusive. You win in a battle exactly the same moment when every other member of your side (save for the dead) wins. Your victory is their victory too, so you have every reason to help them win. Actions that would harm them would harm your common goal, so harm yourself too. Would you be an asshole with the spaceship pilot next to you, knowing that your alliance will need every single pilot in the upcoming war? Oh, I forgot, you didn't want that region anyway, so why not drive her away for a good laugh?

“Fun” is objectifying: the other person is just a tool to provide you personal fun. And the most obvious fun usage of a woman is as a sex toy. However, this is not sexism, a fun-oriented homosexual or a woman equally objectify young men. Also, the same objectification happens between men too, even if not in a sexual way: they should provide you company in “having fun”: laughing on your dumb jokes, bring you beer and let you win in darts.

Another serious difference is that to reach an objective, you are better off utilizing the knowledge of your teammates. Asking for their opinion, discussing with them, taking their ideas seriously increases the chances of the victory of the team. On the other hand, no one but you know what’s fun for you, so others cannot contribute with their ideas, only by mechanically following the steps you want them. For maximum fun, you should do the talking, the others should be limited to applauding you. Objectives foster discussion, fun fosters "STFU nerd".

Sexist, racist jokes and random asshattery runs rampart in “for fun” groups, while totally not tolerated in a professional place where work must be done. The stunning difference between PL FC-ed Foxcat fleets and TEST-only battlecruiser fleets still haunts me (For that reason, I really don't want to experience a frig or destroyer fleet. Ever.) If you don’t want to be subjected to sexism, racism, homophobia or general jerkiness, avoid people whose goal is to “have fun” like the bubonic plague. In gaming, avoid casual games where bad group performance is rewarded, because it openly rewards “fooling around and having fun”, at your expense of course. Look for competitive games and ambitious groups in games.

Finally a fitting joke:
Feminism is the idea that women are equal to men.
Considering how lowly the average man is, this is probably the least ambitious idea in the history.


Anonymous said...

Can you clarify one point? People who play for fun are racist/sexist/homophobic people who should be avoided?
that was your point wasn't it?

Druur Monakh said...

But, but, if battle capabilities don't matter, why are the males are still given armor? Why grimy battle plates, instead of something showing off their chiseled abs?

After all the other players, following /their/ own wishes and desires, deserve to have something yummy to look at as well.

Anonymous said...

Female warrior in armored lingerie in a videogame essentially sacrifices utility for sex appeal.

Woman in the real world wearing things like high heels, push-up bras, ass-shaping pants, makeup, etc. essentially sacrifices utility for sex appeal.

Can someone point out the difference to me why I should be outraged at one thing but not the other?

Unknown said...

Wow you really hate fun gevlon.

I think you are taking a very extreme stance and generalizing this way too much, based on an experience with the worst null alliance.

I still don't understand why having fun and being good are two mutually exclusive things. Why can't we have a game where you can have fun if you want, but at the same time if you want to get serious about things you can also.

Why can't I be going on t1 cruiser gangs this week, and planning to take sov with my supercarrier fleet the next?

Look at the goons, the bulk of their alliance are made of lolers and "I just want to have fun" crowd, but at the same time they are the strongest entity in EVE, ironically by doing the most un fun things in the game.

You simply have to strike a balance, when to have fun and when to get serious, I still don't understand the assumption about the exclusivity, which is wrong.

And proving that "having fun" is bad is getting old, especially when you try to link it (weakly I might add) to things like feminism.

Gevlon said...

@First anonymous: no. People can be horrible everywhere. Hitler was definitely not a "for fun" person.

However an objective oriented person has a reason to suppress his disgusting aspects, (if you want to keep your job, you won't shout "damn niggers back to the plantation", even if you believe so) while a for fun person has reason to fully embrace it.

@Druur: because the largest audience are heterosexual males who don't find that fun. If most gamers would be gays, or cougars, the characters would be Chippendale boys.

@Second Anonymous: because the mentioned women's utility is often sex appeal. If you work with (male) clients, being attractive can get you business. Show me a female soldier or policewoman with make-up and heels! (the spokesperson or representative detail doesn't count, just those who actually fight)

@Dado R: if you can choose to go around in a cruiser fleet in one week and go on a sov attack next week, then you are already overpowered and either won the game or the game is trivial. If there would be real competition, you couldn't go around in cruisers since the enemy would be on you and you'd have to fight the best you can every day.

Anonymous said...

The demographic of most games has changed now. As of 2013, depending on the game, the population is between 30 and 50% female players. (many sources, but here is the 2012 one)

Lucas Kell said...

Most women in video games fight with finesse and agility rather than bulk, so hulking armour would in fact not be useful to them.

I don't much care one way or another though. Clearly games are targetted more and younger males than any other demographic, and semi-naked females are something that interests that demographic, thus it's a useful marketing technique. There's nothing sexist in it.
Diet coke is targeted more at middle aged females and they use a topless muscled guy in their adverts to fit that demographic.

Content will always be directed at the companies primary target group. AS long as they know where the line is, it's fine, and people just need to stop getting up in arms over nothing.

Gevlon said...

@Lucas: the point is that it's targeted at young men who want to have care- and risk-free fun. While most chess masters are male, I didn't see booth babes in chess events.

Raziel Walker said...

Somehow your article reminds me of Heinlein, even if not entirely applicable:

“Whenever women have insisted on absolute equality with men, they have invariably wound up with the dirty end of the stick. What they are and what they can do makes them superior to men, and their proper tactic is to demand special privileges, all the traffic will bear. They should never settle merely for equality. For women, "equality" is a disaster.”

Anders said...

Personally am tired of females being constantly ridiculed, hazed and objectified. Everybody who has a mother/sister/daughter/female partner should take feminism seriously.

Druur Monakh said...

@2nd Anonymous: In RL, women have a choice.

@Lucas Kell "Most women in video games fight with finesse and agility rather than bulk" Even if I take that at face value (why are women in video games fighting with finesse and agility? Because the male half of the audience is mired down in stereotypes?), there is still a difference between light armor, and no armor.

@Gevlon I was actually trying (and failing) to ridicule your middle part, because it makes no sense at all.

But you're definitely wrong with your equation of "for fun" groups with sexism and racism. I am flying with plenty of "for fun" groups (in frigates and cruisers), and have yet to hear family-unfriendly comms. The only time comms disgusted me was when I was with an alliance which had a clear objective.

Sexism and racism in games are caused by sexist and racist people playing games under the protection of internet anonymity. You can find them in 'professional' group as well as in for fun groups, because their social behavior is not linked with their game performance.

I could even make an argument that 'professional' groups are possibly even more likely to keep sexist and racist people on, as long as they help the team winning.

Anonymous said...

@Gevlon, women do not wear high heels or make-up only because they work with male clients, most women do that even when going out in their leisure time. Actually most girls start these practices high school, sometimes prompting schools in issuing limiting rules. The truth is that many women like to be noticed by men, and men tend to notice shapely, provocative bodies first, all of this to the chagrin of feminists who would like less objectification.

In a videogame there is no need to dress for utility, so you can do crazy things which make no sense in the real world: in Xenoblade you can build one of the PC as agility tank with a build choice which gives him massive agility when being completely naked. Also notheworthy is that in this particular case the PC is a man.

Gevlon said...

@Druur: sexist and racist people can be good performers, but they are destabilizing the team, hence they aren't welcomed in goal-oriented groups. It doesn't matter how good engineer you are, you'll get fired if you chase half of your coworkers away.

maxim said...

One thing you need to remember is that within a game fun is the only reason to have objectives in the first place.

Real life can force some objectives for you, but a game can't do that (barring cases of obsession).

People who want to kill a boss in WoW or achieve terriotiral control in Eve do it because they think it'd be fun.

Hmmm... It connects with what you are saying, but in a weird way.
If we take that in games all people want to have fun as a given, then we can further separate people into those who declare objectives and those who stick to "just have fun" mantra.

And then we can wonder why do people who want to "just have fun" not declare their objectives?
Maybe because those objectives are not something one can admit?

Something like "I play Dead or Alive because i like to see bouncing boobs" would be the mild version of this.

Lucas Kell said...

"the point is that it's targeted at young men who want to have care- and risk-free fun. While most chess masters are male, I didn't see booth babes in chess events."
True, but then that's just again highlighting that it's a different demographic. The audience game makers want to attract are generally that care-free fun-loving young male. They are most likely to buy the game and continue to play it.
Can you imagine how the sales of WoW would have been reduced if they'd targeted their game at the same demographic as chess? They definitely would not be record breaking.

Anonymous said...

@Gevlon, sexist/racists people do not necessarily destabilize a team, it depends on the specific team's dynamics and the specific sexist/racist behaviour. I've been in goal-oriented groups who welcomed even incredibly abrasive/extremist people as long as they proved to be smart and able to get things done.

Basically these groups were entirely made of smart jerkasses, but it can work. In these case is the non-jerkass which would actually be out of place.

tweell said...

As long as you are talking about women warriors in MMO's and how unrealistic they are dressed, why not note the least realistic point - that there are female warriors at all!

First, women are too valuable to waste fighting, they produce the next generation. Sending women into battle is worse than eating your seed corn. It's contra-survival.

Second, the best (largest strongest fastest) woman is physically outmatched by an athletic man. There's a reason why there are separate women and men sports - the women simply would not stand a chance otherwise. My older sister once tried to kick my ass to teach me a lesson. She was 22, in excellent shape and a black belt in karate; I was 13, didn't work out and was unskilled. She lost. No, she wasn't trying to really hurt me, but I passed up some of those openings as well.

Third, speed and skill are what you need when you're smaller and weaker, wearing heavy armor isn't going to help in melee combat. Alas, women also average slower reflexes than men. My oldest daughter started to beat up my wife once (I had cracked ribs from a work accident, so she thought I couldn't interfere). She was 17, head of her school's tennis team, but to me she was moving slllloooow. I'm not fast by any means, my reflexes are average at best - for a man.

Woman warriors are like dancing bears, the novelty is not that they do it well, but that they do it at all. Given men's proclivities, the best chance a woman has to beat a man in a swordfight is to distract them - perhaps by showing a bunch of skin and such! Hmm...

Anonymous said...

Missing the point, everyone is. Why they are talking about armor being in any way linked to usefulness is not how games work. You can make an armband act like armour if you want, thats just programming.

It's all about aesthetic. Until either companies don't develop for adolescent children (largest demographic that wants tits on everything), and good luck with that, they are the only ones with the time to play thier games en masse.

or, enough women don't buy the game to make it profitable to remove it.

the only reason women armor has skin is because people either like it, or don't hate it enough to ignore the game. Clearly its not as large an issue as that femenist says.

Personally, I could care less either way, skin is only a click away on the internet, it doesn't matter if my armor is bulky or not. but this rediculous femenist argument comes from some position, where games need to visual display things according to how they function in real life, which they don't.

Buy games that aren't for children, and you'll see the problem go away, just like GG on the chess matches. The game industry has had people trying to shed the 'game for children' image for a while, and thats where the problem is, not because of rape culture, or whatever nonsense someone types to pretend a 'womans studies' degree isn't wasted money

Anonymous said...

Every game I play. ALWAYS on low settings and zoomed out.

For char creation. I don't bother. Head will have some sort of helmet equipped, why fiddling around 2h? I choose male because I'm irl male. yes. I was one of those kids back in the day on muds that where to naive typing their true IRL names into the muds and BBSes. From there I stick to chose male chars for my VR identities. I would love to be not beefy. but I don't have a choice! If the game gives antropromorph options I will chose that race and male gender. Both genders of non-human race will get the same design attention and for the most part look good and fair enough.


creation takes less then a couple minutes. tattoos, scares, boobsliders ... i don't care and I will not notice.

The convention thing and cosplay.
I stopped going to them 20 years ago. If I have leaned anything. People are all like goonswarm and that is why we can't have nice things. "Nice" not interpreted in the pure male lust view. No! "Nice" that people have the freedom to dress like they want. AND "Nice" that if it bothers me that I have the freedom to look somewhere else.
Soon the western dresspolice will be born to have a western counterpart and sisterhood with the muslime part of dress police. So don't worry at all this will be radically solved.

Anonymous said...

"The problem with the MMO games is that you are not roleplaying a warrior facing the undead hordes, fighting for the survival of himself and all he loves, even if the lore says so."

No. Your chains of arguments breaks here. In contrast to real life, in video games, the skimpy armor bikini actually can have the same protective properties like a full plate armor.

Even if your real life depended on the outcame of the game, there is no reason to prefer your female warrior next to you to wear proper looking armor.

Gevlon said...

Then why do male warriors wear full plate instead of string mankinis?

Anonymous said...

@Gevlon, because the target demographics for most videogames are young males, so the PCs and NPCs are modeled to appeal them. This means very sexually suggestive females (which the target demograhic appreciates) and not too sexually suggestive males (which the target demographic would find creepy/disturbing).

I mean, it's something pretty well known:

Gevlon said...

I'm fully aware of that. The question is why this demographics wants sexually suggestive females instead of challenges, competition, puzzles and winning and how could women find places where they aren't objectified.

And the answer is: by avoiding "for fun" guys.

Anonymous said...

@Gevlon: why "instead"? Sexually suggestive female characters do not imply lack of challenge or competition, it's merely another option to appeal the target demographic. Some game designers leverage it, some do not, some target a completely different demographic and this option would not even work...

In the typical MMO the target is young males, so avoiding "for fun" groups will not automatically avoid objectification: even a "goal oriented" group will mostly have... young male players. They will maybe have a higher "maturity level" which could make them less obnoxious, or strict rules which try to mitigate the problem, with various mileage, but they will still tend to like sexually suggestive females.

Anonymous said...

> And the answer is: by avoiding "for fun" guys.

The worst community I have ever seen is that of every MOBA I have ever played. I fail to believe that those guys are playing "for fun". (In fact, 85% of the abuse seems to be directed towards whoever seems to be bottom ranked at the time. It's still frequently incredibly sexist.)

I feel like avoiding "for fun" groups is treating the symptom instead of the problem just as much as what you're complaining about. I can find entire corporations, or even alliances in EVE that aren't full of assholes: I'm in one, because I got tired of the other kind of thing.

The thing is, to an extent even I wrap it up in "professionalism", but what someone who is tired of that needs to look for is minimum behavioral standards. You can have a group that is not concerned with poor performance ingame while still being interested in making *all* its members feel welcome.

p.s. You should ask some PL members about what comms on PL (super)cap fleets are like. You might be surprised at the degree to which they aren't much better than TEST comms were. (That said, I suppose PL plays "for fun", too.)

Anonymous said...

The question is why this demographics wants sexually suggestive females instead of challenges, competition, puzzles and winning and how could women find places where they aren't objectified.

the same society-juggernaut that teaches girls to buy shoes and boys to buy cars to let them feel good and rise some virtual status. its that "simple" and has to be for the majority. smart enough to run the machines but dumb enough to accept lower pay and longer hours. The perfect slave that never asks the question who owns him/her.

out of this a majority of people will always objectify. not just women. from individuals to groups.

So to cash in as a Gamedev you will have to level yourself towards the majority. The tools for now are sexy young women and mid aged armored men.

Anonymous said...


same reason out of shape gun nuts buy all kinds of bulky body armour. It's a power fantasy. If their target demo liked wearing loincloths and nothing else, you'd see the best armor looking like a loincloth.

Skinny guys wear big puffy jackets all the time, why? They want to look swole

CuteePatootees said...

This article misses the point, as do most of these follow up comments.

The availability of both sexes in fantasy-based settings is a question of variety that leads to choice. Problems as you describe only happen when too little variety is available.

Fantasy and reality are two different things. It doesn’t matter how weak women are compared to men, so this argument is invalid. In reality, people don’t fight Orcs or Dragons, so why is it so inconceivable that women can be as strong as Xena?

Some women players want to identify with a scantily clad warrior model in strategically placed bits of metal, others find this offensive particularly when it is the “only” choice. It sends the wrong message.

Most games will offer two extremes... hot and sexy or fat and frumpy, but there is very little in between. Subliminally, this sends the message that “if you aren’t hot and sexy, you’re fat and frumpy”. This applies to both sexes, not just women. Take a closer look at your character selection screen in your favorite game sometime. If your male or female isn’t hot and sexy, you’re fat, frumpy and bearded. What message is that conveying?

This is why some people (more than just “feminists”), have problems with certain fantasy offerings. Our society has come a long way to reach current standards of independence and recognition for intelligence and capabilities that surpass how we “look”. That said, we still have a long way to go yet. It’s wrong that we have a problem with young people who feel they need to be anorexic or on steroids to be accepted and admired, and that we will only enjoy success and freedom if we are good looking, the right sex, the right colour, the right size… etc.

Fantasy is a form of escapism. It is an opportunity for people to imagine themselves in situations very different from their normal lives. What each person craves to “be” is an individually unique thing. Providing individuals with a large variety of choice in terms of how they want to look as well as what they they can do, or be, are all equally important qualities. More variety in fantasy games will aid society on a whole to battle perception based on looks, sex, size, race, colour, etc.